Publication - Independent report

One million acres by 2020: strategy report and recommendations

Published: 11 Dec 2015

A report of the findings and recommended actions from the 1 Million Acre Short Life Working Group to get 1 million acres of land in community ownership by 2020.

One million acres by 2020: strategy report and recommendations
6. Priorities for action

6. Priorities for action

The overarching recommendations throughout the above sections of the report are designed to support delivery of the 1 million acre target. In turn, the SLWG have identified a list of actions (in Table 2 below) that will be necessary for the recommendations to be delivered in practice. These are the things that the group believe will have an impact on and increase the amount of land in community ownership by 2020 (and beyond).

Table 2: 1 Million Acre Short Life Working Group Identified Actions

Theme Actions
Raising Awareness
(Recommendations 2,3,4)
RA1. Establish a partnership of the SG, HIE, FCS, Big lottery, the community owning sector and other appropriate partners in the land owning and private sectors (e.g. professional bodies) to design and deliver a series of communication and information events to target audiences of communities, public sector agencies, private land owners and their agents across Scotland and over 2016-2020 period initially. This programme should also include well targeted promotional literature. Events should cover what the law provides for, case studies, best practice, the processes, and lessons learnt. As part of the information and communication development a route map of the various options available to community bodies to acquire land should be developed.

RA2. Scottish Government to identify current opportunities of support for communities to undertake visioning exercises and to work with delivery partners to explore the potential for providing additional opportunities to communities to undertake further such exercises.
Support Services
(Recommendations 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
SS1. Scottish Government to work with the relevant delivery partners to ensure the level of support in the HIE area is available to communities in other parts of Scotland. The solution needs to harness the experience and expertise that exists within the community-led owning sector and deploy it in support of helping meet the 1M acre target.

SS2. Scottish Government to work with delivery partners to provide each community project either in development, and/ or with the potential to take ownership of land or other assets, with a dedicated support link across the phases of their development to aid navigation of the support landscape.

SS3. Scottish Government to support delivery partners to develop an on-going programme of support for peer to peer 'buddying' and mentoring to respond to existing or emerging need/ interest.

SS4. Scottish Government and delivery partners to develop and support an on-going series of visit/ exchange opportunities to community ownership projects to improve the understanding of the 'community advice market' by professionals offering (or potentially offering) services to communities.
(Recommendations 4,6,14,15)
E1. Scottish Government to work with delivery partners to develop a programme that allows private sector professionals to become more familiar with community organisations and what they are trying to deliver - exchanges/ familiarisation days / seminars and events etc.

E2. Scottish Government to set in place the arrangements for the drawdown of mediation between owners and communities as provided for in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 and as proposed in the current Land Reform Bill

E3. Scottish Government work with Scottish Land & Estates and other partners, as appropriate, to deliver an awareness raising and support programme for landowners looking to facilitate and encourage community ownership as part of its Landowners Commitment to work with the community where appropriate to assist in the delivery of its social, economic and environmental aspirations.

E4. Scottish Government to work with partners to keep under review options for the development of appropriate codes of practise to aid voluntary discussions between landowners and communities, having regard to the work already underway between Community Land Scotland and Scottish Land and Estates.
Scottish Government Coordination
(Recommendations 11,12,13)
SGC1. The Scottish Government provide the focus for the strategic co-ordination of effort by establishing and maintaining a high level co-ordinating group, Chaired by the Scottish Government, and with a membership of the sort that has provided input to the SLWG, supplemented with additional appropriate partners, to continue to support and co-ordinate actions required by this strategy in the period up to 2020. This group should liaise with the proposed Scottish Land Commission that is proposed in the Land Reform Bill (Scotland) (as introduced).
Increasing Supply
(Recommendations 7, 12, 13, 14, 15)
IS1. Scottish Ministers should continue to provide leadership by requiring all departments and agencies of government to consider the contribution they could make to supporting this Strategy's vision and contribute to meeting the target of 1m acres in community ownership, to make plans accordingly, and to report on those plans to the Scottish Government and high-level coordination group mentioned above.

IS2. Scottish Ministers should seek to engage with local authorities in Scotland on the part they can play in delivering the Strategy's vision and contribution towards the 1M acre target, and seek the inclusion of potential reference within Single Outcome Agreements of the role community land ownership can play in helping deliver wider outcomes, and should consider issuing guidance to local authorities on the matter, if necessary.

IS3. Scottish Ministers should seek to engage with the Accounts Commission with a view to them potentially issuing guidance on the appropriate considerations for local authorities in disposing of assets to communities, including State Aid considerations, and having regard to the policy of the SG on the 1M acres, and the desirability for as much consistency between local authorities toward potentially offering land and property to communities at less than market value, particularly with regard to guidance being developed for part 5 of the CEA 2015.

IS4. Scottish Ministers should keep the Scottish Public Finance Manual under review to ensure it can assist meeting the Strategy's vision, while ensuring proper use and accounting for the use of public funds.

IS5. Working with others with appropriate expertise the Scottish Government should produce guidance on how public bodies might assess requests to dispose of assets at below market valuation to ensure a transparent and consistent approach across public bodies.

IS6. Scottish Government and delivery partners should undertake a co-ordinated approach to explore the possibility of reducing transaction costs associated with community land purchases. Develop and roll out a 'code of conduct / practice' that all parties and their advisors can agree to - avoiding unnecessary time and cost on each transaction.
Measuring and Evaluating Progress

(Recommendations 1, 16, 17)
MEP1. Scottish Government Community Land team liaise with the Community Empowerment team in order to ensure the establishment of a set of reporting guidelines which also capture the information required to measure progress towards the 1 million acre target.

MEP2. Scottish Government adopts the methodology agreed by the 1m acre SLWG to produce annual reporting of progress towards the target, including requesting annual updates from organisations not covered by the Community Empowerment Act to ensure that the baseline figure remains up-to-date.

MEP3. The measurements will be subject to an annual review process, with advice and input from sector representatives, to assess progress, consider any issues arising from the operation of the measurement. This will form part of the work of the high-level co-ordinating group outlined in SGC1.

MEP4. Scottish Government publish a programme of research and evaluation of the community ownership sector and produce a framework of indicators and outcomes to measure success. To develop an online, publicly accessible database of community-owned assets, which can be updated by members of the public.