1. This short guide provides an introduction to the crofting community right to buy under Part 3 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. It briefly explains what the crofting community right to buy is and provides information on guidance available to help communities find out more about the process.
What is the crofting community right to buy?
2. The crofting community right to buy in Part 3 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 ("the Act") creates a regime in which a crofting community body (CCB), representing an identified crofting community, may acquire eligible croft land (including salmon fishings, mineral rights (except mineral rights to oil, coal, gas, gold or silver)), associated with that crofting community, and sporting rights. A CCB may also acquire, at the same time, or within a specified period after it has purchased the eligible croft land, the interest of the tenant in tenanted land (interposed leases). This right - the crofting community right to buy - can only be exercised by a properly constituted CCB and when its application to do so has the consent of a majority both of the crofting community and of the crofters within that crofting community, and is approved by the Scottish Ministers.
3. The requirements of the crofting community right to buy in Part 3 of the Act are both complex and demanding. Crofting communities interested in acquiring their croft land etc should view the use of these provisions as a fall-back position in circumstances where efforts to acquire the land by agreement fail. Acquisition by agreement is likely to result in a deal which better suits the needs of both community and landowner. Even a failed attempt at acquisition by agreement can reveal a great deal of information which will subsequently prove useful in preparing an application. It can also help to avoid misunderstandings which could otherwise result in a flawed or incompetent application.
Guidance on crofting community right to buy
4. The Scottish Government has published guidance ("Crofting Community Right to Buy: Guidance") to assist crofting communities interested in acquiring land under the crofting community right to buy provisions in Part 3 of the Act; landowners who might be affected by an application for consent to exercise the crofting right to buy; and individuals and businesses who feel that their interest in a particular area of land may be affected by an application. The guidance is written in three parts:
- the first part provides guidance specifically for CCBs;
- the second part provides specific guidance for landowners;
- the third part is specific for third parties.
5. The guidance covers the statutory requirements of Part 3 of the Act and associated subordinate legislation. References to the Act are included to direct the reader to relevant sections should they wish to read the legislation alongside this guidance.
6. The guidance and a downloadable application form are available on the Crofting Community Right to Buy pages of the Scottish Government website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Rural/rural-land/right-to-buy/crofting. Hard copies are available from Community Assets Branch (Area 1-D, Pentland House, 47 Robb's Loan, Edinburgh, EH14 1TY).
7. The crofting community right to buy process requires to be exercised in accordance with Part 3 of the Act. The Act and its explanatory notes can be accessed via the electronic links: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/acts2003/asp_20030002_en_1. You should also refer to the Crofting Reform etc Act 2007 (see section 31) at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/acts2007/asp_20070007_en_1. The consolidated 2003 Act can be viewed in the Statute Law Database at http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/.
8. A useful introductory guide to the crofting community right to buy process is provided in the leaflet "The crofting community right to buy - your questions answered", published by the Community Land Unit ( CLU) of Highlands and Islands Enterprise. This can be obtained from CLU or viewed on the HIE website ( http://www.hie.co.uk/CLU-General-/-holding-area/crofting-right-to-buy-0604.pdf).
9. The Scottish Government's Community Assets Branch can assist with any queries on the crofting community right to buy process. It cannot, however, provide legal advice nor, due to the impartiality required in advising Ministers on a case-by-case basis, advice which would be seen as supporting a particular group, ( e.g. a CCB, a landowner or any third party) involved in a specific case.
10. Any group within a crofting community wishing to create a CCB for the purpose of exercising the crofting community right to buy should obtain legal advice. It would also be appropriate for any landowner or other person with an interest in the land who considers that a crofting community right to buy application may affect their land or interest to seek similar professional advice, including legal advice and advice on valuation, environmental and land management issues.