Measuring change, reporting and improving awareness
The consultation also asked a number of questions about how to measure change as a result of the Statement, whether there is a need for reporting on implementation, and how to improve awareness and adoption of the Statement across sectors.
It was suggested that the approach should be underpinned by clearly defined public standards against which change can be measured. Other suggestions included that success-focused outcomes, both national and local, should be developed, and that these could be modelled on the approach used in the Scottish Government's National Planning Framework.
Scottish Government Response
The SLC's Good Practice Programme works with policy-makers, landowners and managers to embed the Statement in policy and practice. The SLC's protocols have set clear expectations for landowners to be able to put the Statement into practice, supported by training, guidance and advice. The programme is supported by a Good Practice Advisory Group who support their membership in adopting good practice. A series of case studies provide inspiration and demonstrate progress in furthering the Statement.
The SLC's self-assessment pilot project provided an opportunity for landowners and managers to demonstrate positive progress in furthering land rights and responsibilities. The pilot project reported in April 2022.
Work will continue on the approach to measuring change, and the consultation responses will feed in to this.
A majority of respondents thought that there is a need for regular reporting on implementation of the principles of the Statement.
A number of the comments addressed which organisation should take responsibility for reporting. The most frequently made suggestion was that the SLC should take the lead, for reasons including that it is naturally well-positioned to report on implementation. Other suggestions on where responsibility for reporting could lie were: Scottish Ministers; Audit Scotland; and landowners.
There were also comments relating to self-assessment by landowners, with occasional references to this being either made mandatory or, more frequently, continuing to be voluntary. Other comments included that the SLC's pilot on self-assessment should provide helpful insights regarding the implementation of such an approach.
Scottish Government Response
The SLC reported on the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement self-assessment pilot for landowners in April 2022, working with National Farmers Union Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates, and Community Land Scotland. This process was designed to support landowners to consider and report on how their landholdings are delivering land rights and responsibilities. Whilst participants commonly reported challenges with the format, all of those who completed the self-assessment were able to demonstrate positive actions they had taken to implement the Statement and most would consider taking part in a regular review. The SLC has since revised the self-assessment process to reflect feedback from the pilot and will be working with two new cohorts later this year to trial a more tailored approach.
Bridging gaps in awareness
Some respondents stated that there is generally low awareness of the Statement beyond key stakeholders. In terms of particular groups or populations, it was suggested awareness was lower among those living or investing in urban areas and among organisations involved in regeneration activity. There was also reference to owners of small farms or small areas of other land not thinking the Statement applies to them.
General suggestions on improving engagement included further awareness raising, and more publicity about the work of the SLC, with ideas such as an expanded SLC roadshow, or using a variety of workshops or webinars. It was also reported that the Good Practice Programme offers scope for tailored approaches to engagement.
A number of respondents suggested that greater engagement with the Statement could be achieved by putting adherence on a compulsory or statutory basis.
Scottish Government Response
Over the past year the SLC has strengthened the Good Practice Programme to support delivery and improve awareness of the Statement amongst land-owners, managers and advisers. An evaluation of the Good Practice Programme demonstrated high levels of success in stimulating change, particularly through the Statement protocols and training programme. A Training Coordinator has since been employed to strengthen delivery of the training programme and increase the availability of training opportunities.
In addition, a new protocol on 'Responsible Natural Capital and Carbon Management' has been published to reflect changes in the ways land is being managed and the types of people operating in the land market. The potential for a protocol, or similar, is currently being explored with urban and development stakeholders.
To raise awareness of the Statement in the public sector, Guidance on Community Wealth Building and Land was published in March 2022. This supports public bodies to understand the applicability of the Statement to their context and encourage adoption. The SLC is working with several public bodies to support delivery and leading a series of training sessions on using the guidance.
The Scottish Government notes the comments relating to placing the Statement on a statutory footing. The Scottish Government consultation paper 'Land Reform in a Net Zero Nation', published in July 2022, seeks views on proposals to make compliance with the Statement statutory for owners of large-scale land holdings.
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