Small landholdings in Scotland: legislation review

Review of the legislation governing small landholdings in Scotland and supporting consultation analysis.

Wider Social and Economic Issues

Issues raised

155. Consultees raised a number of concerns about wider issues not specifically related to small landholdings legislation, but concerning the social and economic position of farmers and aspects of rural development. These included:

  • Growing a vibrant rural economy
  • Issues of employment in rural Scotland, including attracting and retaining skilled workers to the agricultural sector
  • Income and the financial viability of farming
  • Planning in a rural context
  • Availability of housing in rural Scotland
  • Access to Justice in relation to ability to meet legal costs
  • Women in Agriculture
  • Access to Business Advice
  • Land ownership


156. These are issues which are not specific to small landholders and instead reflect the wider concerns of the rural population in Scotland. As such, they are not within the remit of this review. However, officials have endeavoured to provide additional information on these issues to consultees where applicable, and will continue to do so. We will ensure that the small landholdings pages on the Scottish Government website are updated to reflect this desire for information on the wider topics identified above.

157. In addition, the Scottish Government recognises that there are challenges around identifying how land ownership has changed over time, which land has fallen out of small landholding tenure and which estates would have historically been in receipt of financial compensation. This is due to the fact there has been no small landholder register since World War I. It may be possible to undertake some archival research over a period of time to help towards providing resolution for this issue for small landholders and their landlords.

158. As part of the land reform programme, a Scottish Government consultation on land rights and responsibilities was launched in December 2016, indicating a move towards increasingly productive partnerships between land owners and local communities. It may be useful for the purposes of this review to see what the outcome of this consultation is, geared as it is to rights and responsibilities relating to land ownership, management and use.


Email: Claudine Duff

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