Land rights and responsibilities statement: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses to the land rights and responsibilities statement consultation, which closed on 10 March 2017.

9. Views on Principle 4 of the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement

Principle 4

The holders of land rights should recognise their responsibilities to meet high standards of land ownership, management and use, acting as the stewards of Scotland’s land resource for future generations.

Question 7: Do you agree with Principle 4 of the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement? Please provide comments.

9.1 46 (74%) respondents answered the first part of Question 7. Of these, 40 agreed with Principle 4 of the Statement. Table 9.1 summarises views by category of respondent.

Table 9.1 Views on Principle 4 by category of respondent

Category Agree Disagree No. of respondents providing a view
National NGOs 11 1 12
Private Sector and Professional Bodies 5 1 6
Community Organisations and their Representative Bodies 3 2 5
Government and NDPBs 1 0 1
Academic 1 0 1
Total Organisations 21 4 25
Total Individuals 19 2 21
Grand total 40 6 46

9.2 Most of the individuals and organisations who provided a view agreed with Principle 4.

9.3 42 respondents provided further relevant commentary in response to Question 7, and their views are summarised below.

General views in support of Principle 4

9.4 A few respondents across different sectors considered this to be the most important Principle in terms of demanding high standards and its focus on stewardship, perceived by some to be the most fundamental feature of land ownership.

9.5 Several respondents, across different sectors, welcomed the emphasis on responsibilities within this Principle as being intertwined with rights to ownership.

9.6 Some respondents specifically supported the Principle’s reach beyond landowners, to managers and users too.

9.7 A few respondents welcomed in particular the bringing forward proposals for Compulsory Sales Orders, although a private company suggested that such orders present practical challenges and will need significant detailed examination and scrutiny.

Views on possible additions to Principle 4

9.8 Two respondents requested that the Principle should make clearer that everyone has a role in looking after Scotland’s land, whether or not they are holders of land rights.

9.9 Further strategies were proposed for inclusion under “What we are doing”: Scotland’s Historic Environment Strategy, “Our Place in Time”; and the Scottish Bio-Diversity Strategy, the Route Map and the Forest Strategy.

9.10 One National NGO recommended adding a reference to landlords being responsible for realising their tenants’ human rights to decent housing which meets repair standards.

9.11 Another National NGO called for:

  • Reference to appropriate development and the right to challenge inappropriate development.
  • More on the value of place, with references to cultural values, natural beauty, and historic built environment.
  • Reference to climate change, biodiversity and enhancement of natural heritage/assets.
  • Reference to the role of enforcement in ensuring minimum standards are met.

9.12 One private company suggested that the Principle should make clear that those with more formal rights to land must not be prohibited or inconvenienced in carrying out their management practices as a result of others using the land for informal purposes.

Views on strengthening Principle 4

9.13 Some of the respondents who stated that they disagreed with the Principle did so as they considered it was not strong enough as currently worded. The phrases, “should recognise” and “high standards” were identified in particular as requiring to be re-phrased, or more closely defined, to make them more meaningful. Instead of “should recognise” respondents suggested “held accountable for” or “fulfil” or “exercise their rights in ways that recognise...”. A few respondents considered that further information and/or examples are required to demonstrate what is meant by “high standards” as the phrase could mean different things to different parties.

9.14 A few respondents commented that they agreed with Community Land Scotland’s views on strengthening Principle 4. These included:

  • Possibilities of including a reference to the issues the Minister must have regard to in drafting the Statement: human rights; promoting respect for internationally accepted principles and standards for land practices; equal opportunities; reducing socio/economic disadvantage; facilitating community empowerment; increasing diversity in ownership; furthering sustainable development. Making clear that in considering the exercise of their responsibilities to meet “high standards of land ownership, management and use”, the holders of land rights should have regard to the matters which Scottish Ministers must have regard to in preparing this Statement, as set out in Part 1 of the 2016 Act.
  • To encourage a changing culture through considerations that might exemplify key land responsibilities, including an aspirational statement at the conclusion of the Statement to the effect that Ministers: “believe that progressive and innovative holders of land rights will wish to exercise their rights in ways which: optimise the land’s productive use, without compromising conservation priorities; furthers sustainable economic growth and development; mitigates and does not contribute adversely to climate change; contributes to achieving climate justice; minimises the effects of flooding; delivers greater bio-diversity; protects and enhances the condition of soils; improves water quality; enhances local environments having regard to scenic considerations; assesses their plans and land decisions against how they will fulfil peoples’ human rights; meets the principle of `responsible investment’; furthers inclusive growth; and contributes to the achievement of the sustainable development goals.” This approach was perceived as explicitly setting out an aspirational standard of considerations which the most progressive and responsible owners could use to judge their actions, and which might also gain wider currency over time among all owners.


Email: Chris Bierley,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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