Small landholdings in Scotland: legislation review

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

Annex 1: Key Small Landholding Statistics


Agricultural Holdings

  • Wholly rented farms generated an estimated £340 million (14%) of food production in Scotland, with mixed tenure farms producing an estimated £450 million (18%).
  • Scotland has one of the lowest proportions of rented land in Europe: in 2014, around 25% of agricultural land in Scotland is rented on a full tenancy or croft, with a further 13% seasonally let.
  • Including crofts, but excluding seasonal lets, the total area of land let in Scotland fell by 44% from 1982 to 2014.
  • There are around 52,000 agricultural holdings in Scotland, of which 6,700 holdings (13%) have rented land (excluding crofts).

Small Landholdings

  • Once numerous, there are now few small landholdings left in Scotland. Dwindling numbers are compounded by issues in identifying the extent of small landholdings with many individuals being uncertain as to the type of tenancy they have.
  • Typically a small landholding can be up to 50 acres in size, although the average is 20 acres.
  • The Agricultural Census 2014 recorded 157 Small Landholders (Scotland) Act 1911 holdings in the whole of Scotland.
  • A recent survey carried out by RESAS generated a 74% response rate with 110 of the 157 farms returning information.
  • Of those responding 43 farms confirmed that they have an small landholding, with a further 11 being unsure.
  • Further investigations are being carried out to further clarify the number of small landholdings, now estimated to be 74.
  • The total area given for these small landholdings in the Agricultural Census fluctuates year to year, but is estimated to be c.2889 ha.


Email: Claudine Duff

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