Information

Crofting: national development plan

This plan highlights the core elements necessary to ensure that crofting remains at the heart of our rural and remote rural communities.


Summary of Actions

Page

1

THE CROFTING COMMISSION'S ROLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF CROFTING

10

1.1

The Crofting Commission will expand its current capacity, going beyond the delivery of regulatory functions to further enhance its role in crofting development activity.

9

1.2

The Scottish Government, in partnership with the Commission, will create new Commission jobs. The first stage, in 2020/21, will see two additional development posts in the Western Isles, additional residency and land use officers in the Western Isles and Inverness, and an administrative assistant in the Western Isles.

10

1.3

The Commission will continue to support existing committees and the establishment of new grazings committees to increase active management of common grazings.

12

1.4

The Commission will encourage partnership working between common grazings committees and landlords to encourage diversification of the use of the grazings, including woodland creation and peatland restoration.

12

1.5

By June 2021, the Commission will have reviewed the practicalities and the benefits of common grazings registration, consider when and how the work can be resumed, and report to the Scottish Government with a plan to progress the registration exercise.

13

1.6

The Commission will explore new ways to ensure that entry to crofting is more accessible.

17

1.7

The Commission will encourage a culture of succession and turnover of crofts from people who no longer wish to work them, to those who do, creating opportunities for new entrants.

17

1.8

The Commission will continue to work with those crofters who return their annual notice.

17

1.9

In 2021, the Commission will expand its Residency and Land Use work by:

Following up on those who do not return their annual notice.

Taking action on failure to cultivate and neglect of croft land as well as non-residency.

Implementing policies to require non-resident owners of vacant crofts to let them.

Piloting a Land Matching Service to facilitate the transfer of crofts through assignation or sublet.

17

1.10

In 2021, the Commission, in consultation with other organisations, will produce information for crofters who are considering passing on their croft. This will include information about their options and the implications of these.

18

1.11

The Scottish Government will ensure that there are closer working relations between the Commission and RPID.

18

1.12

The Scottish Government and the Commission will engage with, and actively encourage applications from, women, young people and minority groups, and Gaelic speakers, for the role of Commissioner and Assessor.

19

2

CROFTING REGISTER

24

2.1

Registers of Scotland will continue to work collaboratively with the Scottish Government, the Crofting Commission and other crofting stakeholders to continually improve the Crofting Register registration process for all involved within the current legislation.

25

3

ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

26

3.1

HIE will work with the Crofting Commission and others to increase the synergy between crofting development and the wider rural community development and economic resilience.

29

3.2

HIE will work with relevant partners to encourage innovation and diversification which will create economic opportunities for crofters in rural and island communities.

29

3.3

HIE will work with relevant partners to enhance the attractiveness and resilience of rural and island communities, leading to population retention and growth within crofting communities.

29

3.4

HIE will continue to work with stakeholders with a view to mainstream future skills funding.

29

4

SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

30

4.1

The Scottish Government, through the Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland, seeks to ensure that we have the right people with the right skills, and support inclusive growth.

30

4.2

The Scottish Government, through the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan, will support or create significant numbers of additional green jobs in rural and remote areas of Scotland, with associated skills development and training.

31

4.3

The Scottish Government will continue to improve Scotland's digital skills base, and provide opportunities for under-represented groups, such as women.

32

5

LOCAL FOOD NETWORKS AND AGRI-TOURISM

33

5.1

The Scottish Government will work with Scotland Food and Drink to connect crofters with the network of regional food groups.

35

5.2

The Scottish Government will establish a project group to review the crofting brand marque, and map networks of current crofters who produce food.

35

5.3

The Scottish Government will source support to project manage a crofting food network.

35

5.4

The Scottish Government will deliver training to equip crofters with the skills to market their goods and promote their business.

35

5.5

The Scottish Government will continue to support agri-tourism through the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

35

6

LAND, ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

38

6.1

Under the Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme the Scottish Government will ensure that environmental issues are considered for each investment carried out on land within an environmental designated area.

40

6.2

The Scottish Government will continue to support and encourage management practices that support biodiversity.

42

6.3

The Scottish Government will continue to explore the possibility of introducing a beekeeping package under the Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme.

42

6.4

The Scottish Government will continue to support and encourage action to ensure our native pollinators thrive as part of the Pollinator Strategy for Scotland.

42

6.5

The Scottish Government will continue to provide funding to support the restoration of degraded peatland, and to explore the need to provide funding to support the maintenance of healthy peatland.

43

6.6

NatureScot, in partnership with the Commission, will identify those areas of degraded peatland in the crofting counties with a view to prioritising engagement with crofters and common grazing committees.

43

6.7

The Scottish Government will support or create significant numbers of additional green jobs in rural and remote areas of Scotland, with associated skills development and training.

45

6.8

The Scottish Government is encouraging private sector forestry companies to support new forestry jobs in rural and remote Scotland.

47

6.9

The Scottish Government will support woodland expansion that helps integrate woodland with traditional crofting activities.

48

6.10

The Scottish Government, through the forestry grant scheme, will provide grant support to crofters and common grazing committees to support the sustainable management of existing forests and woodlands.

48

6.11

The Scottish Government will introduce a forestry loan scheme to help crofters and grazings committees with the cash flow challenges associated with woodland creation.

48

6.12

The Scottish Government, through Scottish Forestry, supports the Croft Woodlands Project to provide local advisers to help crofters and common grazings committees assess what is possible and realistic on the land and develop woodland proposals.

49

6.13

The Scottish Government, through the forestry grant scheme, will provide grant support to crofters and common grazing committees to plant trees and create woodlands on croft and common grazing land.

52

7

ADDITIONAL CARBON INCOME FOR NEW WOODLANDS AND PEATLAND RESTORATION

56

7.1

The Scottish Government, Scottish Forestry and the IUCN UK Peatland Programme, will continue to promote the Woodland Carbon Code and Peatland Code to provide opportunities for private sector funding to make more woodland creation and peatland restoration projects viable – for all landowners including crofters.

58

8

WILDLIFE

59

8.1

The Scottish Government, in partnership with NatureScot, will continue to support a Sea Eagle Management Scheme and help mitigate the impact of sea eagles on crofts and farms.

61

8.2

Through the Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme, grant support is available for sheds for lambing, and for CCTV cameras used for monitoring livestock during lambing and calving.

61

8.3

The Scottish Government, in partnership with NatureScot, will continue to support goose management schemes and help mitigate the impact of geese on crofts and farms.

61

8.4

The Scottish Government, in partnership with NatureScot, will continue to support deer management schemes and help mitigate the impact of deer on crofts and farms.

63

8.5

Through the Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme, grant support is available for deer fencing for the protection of crops and grassland, or for deer farming.

63

9

HOUSING

64

9.1

The Scottish Government will continue to provide financial assistance to those crofters who wish to build or improve their croft house, and will prioritise those who are most in need.

64

9.2

The Scottish Government will continue to review annually the Croft House Grant scheme to assess its impact and effectiveness and ensure that it continues to provide much-needed support to active crofters.

65

9.3

The Scottish Government will continue to target support at those crofters and their families who would not otherwise be able to live in the remote and rural areas of Scotland, and work their croft without grant funding.

67

9.4

The Scottish Government will continue to monitor the use of assessment criteria, and refine parameters as necessary to ensure that the Croft House Grant scheme targets priority considerations.

67

9.5

Through the Croft House Grant, the Scottish Government will continue to invest in works that improve the energy efficiency of current and future croft homes.

68

9.6

The Scottish Government will continue to support the delivery of affordable housing in order to meet the needs of rural and remote communities.

70

9.7

The Scottish Government's future ambitions for self-build will be set out in the Housing 2040 route map, which will be published in 2021.

73

9.8

The Commission will continue to work in partnership with council planners, and engage with councils, together with stakeholder organisations, in the production or review of Local Development Plans.

71

9.9

When assessing the merits of decrofting applications which are for the purpose of the provision and development of affordable housing, the Commission will balance the impact on the interests of the crofting community and those of the wider public interest, alongside the impact of the loss of the land to crofting.

71

9.10

The Scottish Government will continue to support crofting communities with any enquiries or applications under the Crofting Community Right to Buy.

73

10

SIGNPOSTING

74

10.1

In 2021, the Commission, in partnership with the Scottish Government, will create an online central signposting portal for crofters, which will also be made available in Gaelic.

75

10.2

The Commission, in partnership with the Scottish Government and stakeholder organisations, will make available crofting factsheets and flowcharts providing information and guidance on a range of subjects.

75

10.3

The Commission and stakeholders will encourage crofting communities to continue to support one another through the sharing of knowledge, information and good practice.

75

11

SCOTLAND'S FARM ADVISORY SERVICE (FAS)

76

11.1

The Scottish Government's Farm Advisory Service will continue to evolve, respond to changing needs, and ensure delivery of high quality knowledge transfer and advisory services to crofters.

78

12

BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE

79

12.1

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that every home and business in Scotland can access superfast broadband.

80

13

CROFTING LEGISLATION

81

13.1

The Scottish Government remains committed to modernising crofting law to make it more transparent, understandable and workable.

81

13.2

The Scottish Government will continue to engage with stakeholders in regard to legislative reform.

81

14

FINANCIAL INVESTMENTS

83

14.1

The Scottish Government will work with crofters through the sector led groups to develop new schemes and approaches to support low carbon sustainable crofting.

86

14.2

New pilots will be co-developed alongside these groups and crofting stakeholders to enable crofting communities to play a greater part in addressing climate change and enhancing biodiversity and the environment.

During the 2021-24 transitional period, support will continue for crofters in recognition of their role as food producers, we will engage with crofters around potential changes to existing support mechanisms so funding begins to work harder to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce food more sustainably.

86

14.3

The Scottish Government will continue to support and invest in crofting businesses and young crofters.

88

CAGS

89

14.4

All crofters will be allowed to apply for CAGS support. As in the current scheme, sufficient business justification will always need to be demonstrated before any approval of grant.

94

14.5

The Scottish Government will continue to explore the possibility of introducing standard costings.

94

14.6

The Scottish Government will continue to explore the possibility of introducing advanced payments by way of a pilot scheme.

94

14.7

There will be updates to the CAGS Guidance for eligible items to reflect advances in technical equipment.

94

14.8

The Scottish Government will continue to explore financial assistance towards the purchasing and applying of agricultural lime, based on soil sampling and analysis.

94

14.9

The Scottish Government will support applications for laptops to help crofters manage their business.

94

14.10

The Scottish Government will remove the need to engage a consultant to help establish a new common grazings committee. Grant support will be given for costs such as advertising and booking halls to help establish a new committee.

94

14.11

The Scottish Government will continue to explore the possibility of introducing a beekeeping package.

94

14.12

The Scottish Government will widen the scope of horticultural works to include tree nurseries, growing flowers, and other ornamental plants.

94

14.13

The current grant conditions will be modified to help ensure value for money.

94

HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS VETERINARY SERVICES SCHEME

97

14.14

The Scottish Government will continue to support crofters and their animals through the provision of a subsidised veterinary service.

97

Executive Summary

The Plan

Development Of Crofting

The Crofting Commission's Role In The Development Of Crofting

Photo credit Georgina Macmillan

Crofting Register

Economic And Community Development

Skills Development

Local Food Networks And Agri-Tourism

Helen O'Keefe

Land, Environment And Biodiversity

Loch Orasaigh

Photo credit WTML/John Macpherson

Sandy Murray

Photo credit WTML/John Macpherson

Lynn Cassells and Sandra Baer

Photo credit WTML/John Macpherson

Ros and Rab Nash

Photo credit WTML/John Macpherson

Additional Carbon Income For New Woodlands And Peatland Restoration

Lynn Cassells and Sandra Baer

Wildlife

Photo credit Colin MacPhail

Housing

Hanno and Anna

Christina Simmons

Signposting

Scotland's Farm Advisory Service

Broadband Infrastructure

Crofting Legislation

Financial Investments

Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme (CAGS)

Donald MacSween

Garrabost and New Garrabost Common Grazings, Stornoway

Future Cags

Cattle Improvement Scheme

Year

Bulls Hired

No. of Participating townships

No. of Crofters Benefiting

2015 - 16

105

96

499

2016 – 17

111

113

498

2017 – 18

111

136

497

2018 – 19

112

117

492

2019 - 20

117

137

494

2020 – 21

115

120

485

Eoligarry Township

Highlands And Islands Veterinary Services Scheme

Conclusion And Delivery

Summary of Actions

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Published by The Scottish Government, March 2021

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PPDAS776966 (03/21)

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