Chapter 1: Context
Land reform in Scotland: a brief introduction
1. Land is one of Scotland's greatest resources, and is central to the Scottish Government's purpose of achieving a more successful country through increasing sustainable economic growth, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish.
2. Since devolution, the Scottish Parliament has passed a number of land reform measures. In the late 1990s, the Land Reform Policy Group began researching the policies and legislative changes that might be needed to meet Scotland's rural communities' aspirations for change and sustainable development. The Group's report, Recommendations for Action,  led to the Abolition of Feudal Tenure (Scotland) Act 2000.  Following this, the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003  gave the people of Scotland the right of responsible access to land and inland water, and granted rural and crofting communities the right to buy land in their communities. Since 2003, there have been various new legislative and regulatory measures, with the aim of modernising the nation's relationship with its land, and giving communities the opportunity to influence the development of the land in their area.
3. In 2012, the Scottish Government commissioned an independent review of land reform. The Land Reform Review Group (" LRRG") took evidence from over 400 people, communities and organisations, before publishing their report, The Land of Scotland and the Common Good,  in May 2014. The report noted an evolution of the land reform debate and widened the conversation to include urban communities. The report states that land reform should be a continual process, focused on achieving the aim of a fairer society.
4. The Scottish Government welcomed the overall findings of the LRRG's report and committed to bringing forward a Land Reform Bill within the Parliamentary term 2011 - 2016. The Future of Land Reform in Scotland  consultation was published in December 2014 to gather the views of the people of Scotland on the proposed legislation . Amongst many wide-ranging questions on land reform, the consultation asked whether Scotland should have a Land Rights and Responsibilities Policy Statement. A draft version of the statement was published with the consultation.  The question received the highest level of response (87%, or 1018 of the responses analysed), of which 87% expressed agreement to the proposal to have a stated Land Rights and Responsibilities Policy Statement. 
Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016
5. The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament in June 2015. Part 1 of the Bill proposed the creation of a Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement ("the Statement"), and during the passage of the Bill the Scottish Parliament was unanimous in its support for amendments to part 1 of the Bill that provided for the introduction of such a Statement. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016  ("the Act") was given Royal Assent on 22 April 2016.
6. The Act obliges the Scottish Ministers to prepare, consult upon and publish a Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement. This forms a key part of the Scottish Government's commitment to end the 'stop-start' nature of land reform. The Statement is a set of principles with an overarching vision that will guide the development of public policy on the nature and character of land rights and responsibilities in Scotland. The aim is to ensure a proactive approach is taken with land policy and to provide the context within which to consider the ongoing development and balance of rights and responsibilities relating to land ownership, management and use, in order to realise the full public benefits of land in Scotland. The Act requires that the Scottish Ministers must promote the principles of the Statement in exercising their functions.