2. Understand the Situation
What is the current situation in the islands?
Crofting is an integral part of life on many of the islands of Scotland. According to the Crofting Commission's Register of Crofts there are 6,103 tenanted crofts across Comhairle Na h-Eileanan Siar, with a further 258 owned crofts; in Shetland there are 2,129 tenanted crofts and 1,193 owned crofts; Orkney has 65 tenanted crofts and 394 owned crofts; and there is one croft, owned, in Arran. There are further crofts located on the other islands across Highland and Argyll and Bute.
With the Plan, the Scottish Government is seeking to protect crofting for future generations, to help sustain Scotland's rural and island communities.
What data is available about the current situation in the islands?
The Crofting Commission is the regulatory body for crofting, maintaining an up-to-date Register of Crofts containing the records for all crofts across the crofting counties.
The Scottish Government's Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (RPID) is the agent for the Scottish Minister's Estates, much of which is located on the Scottish islands. RPID, as scheme manager for the Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme, maintains a system of data which records the land claimed under subsidy by crofters.
Since 2012 Registers of Scotland, with the support of the Crofting Commission, has established, maintained and updated the Crofting Register. When complete this register will provide a definitive map-based record of the extent of croft land including common grazings and land held runrig, and those individuals who occupy the land, whether as landlord, tenant or owner-occupier crofter.
How does any existing data differ between different islands?
The occupation of crofts can differ across all the islands. In Orkney there are 459 registered crofts, compared to 6,361 in the Western Isles. In Shetland of the total 3,322 crofts, 1,193 are owned compared to only 258 owned crofts in the Western Isles.
At this time there is little or no empirical data available that identifies the differences that exist in the crofting activities undertaken on the islands in comparison with the mainland, and across the individual islands.
RPID, as scheme manager for the Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme (CAGS), is in a unique position to know and understand crofting activities across the crofting counties. It is understood that crofting activities can vary, and different crofting townships will do things slightly differently depending on their individual situation (land type etc), and group township activities may vary between the islands and mainland, however livestock production in the form of sheep and cattle is currently the main activity across all crofting counties.
Are there any existing design features or mitigations in place?
No design features or mitigations identified.