The land of Scotland and the common good: report

The final report of the Land Reform Review Group.

Part Eight Common Property Resources


1 Two of Scotland's important assets are its natural resources of fresh water and native wild animals. In Scotland's system of land ownership these can be considered 'common property resources' in the public domain, as neither is owned due to their nature. With the water in Scotland's rivers and lochs, this is by virtue of its flow. With wild animals, it is similarly due to their movement and they belong to no-one until they are rendered into possession by being killed or captured.

2 The arrangements governing the management and use of these natural resources are distinctive and important components of Scotland's system of land ownership. Aspects of each have also been topical during the Review Group's inquiry, with, for example, the Scottish Parliament passing its fifth Water Act, the Parliament's Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment ( RACCE) Committee's inquiry into deer management and the Scottish Government announcing a review of fresh water fisheries. [1] [2] [3] Deer management and the management of fresh water fishing rights were also issues raised in the submissions to the Group. [4]

3 The issues associated with the arrangements governing the management of Scotland's natural fresh water, wild deer and fresh water fishing are considered below. First, however, the Group reviews what might also be considered a common property resource - the rights of access held by the people of Scotland over Scotland's land, including freshwater and marine environments. 120 or 25% of the submissions received by the Group in its Call for Evidence, commented on the management of public access. [5]

4 The first two of these topics considered below, public access and natural water, are examples of common property resources where the Scottish Parliament has put in place modern and progressive statutory frameworks. The other two topics, the management of wild deer and of freshwater fish, are examples where this has yet to happen.


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