Scottish Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement 2022: advisory notes

Advisory notes to accompany Revised 2022 Scottish Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement, September 2022.

Principle 1:

The overall framework of land rights, responsibilities and public policies should promote, fulfil and respect relevant human rights in relation to land, contribute to public interest and wellbeing, and balance public and private interests. The framework should support sustainable economic development, protect and enhance the environment, support a just transition to net zero, help achieve social justice and build a fairer society for the common good.

Scotland's land, both publicly and privately owned, is a resource for all of Scotland's people. This resource should contribute to a sustainable, inclusive and successful country, fulfil human rights and support a just transition to a net zero economy. Land can be used and enjoyed in many ways that bring broad benefits to a wide range of people while building community wealth by growing the economic, financial, social, and ecological benefits that local communities gain from land assets. How we own, manage, and use our land is key to community wealth building and forms one of five pillars of the Community Wealth Building approach: spending, inclusive ownership, fair work, finance, and land and property. Responsible stewardship of land can play an important role in restoring the natural environment.

The discharge of land rights and responsibilities and public policy can help land to provide wider public benefit. This is referred to in this principle as Common Good – a land reform term which describes a comprehensive and complex concept which brings into its embrace questions of social justice, human rights, democracy, citizenship, stewardship and economic development. Bringing them together under the common good helps to point towards outcomes that are healthy, rounded and robust. Whether land is owned, leased or accessed, it can provide valuable opportunities for leisure and recreation, contribute to health and wellbeing, provide raw materials, food, market goods and housing, support healthy environments and biodiversity, and deliver public goods, such as a healthy water supply.

Land rights are central to the realisation of key human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights. Human rights in relation to land go beyond the protection of property rights. Land is a source of livelihood, an important social and cultural asset, and central to the wellbeing of our people, our environment and our economy. People have the right to an adequate standard of living, including housing and food, and to healthy natural environments, with access to clean air and water. Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to adopt the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a global effort to tackle poverty and inequality and promote sustainable development for all. Scotland's National Performance Framework (NPF) integrates the SDGs alongside the National Outcomes and plays an important part of Scotland's localisation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The human rights basis to the Statement is discussed in detail at Annex A.

Since the Statement was first published in 2017, various policies have been developed and implemented to help promote inclusive growth, realise human rights, support greater social justice, and further empower communities. Further details on these are included at Annex B. These add to existing guidance and policy on health, planning and pollution, aimed at promoting the public interest and wellbeing, and supporting and enabling healthy ecosystems. The Scottish Government has also since accepted all of the recommendations in the first Just Transition Commission's final report, setting out its approach to just transition planning in the National Just Transition Planning Framework in September 2021. This centres around working in partnership to make the changes needed to achieve a climate resilient and sustainable economy in a way that is fair and tackles inequality and injustice.

While all those who own, manage and use land have rights and responsibilities, under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 organisations who carry out public functions must have particular regard to the National Outcomes set out in our National Performance Framework. Owning, using and managing land in ways that are fair and accountable, in line with the principles in this Statement, can contribute to meeting these outcomes and give people confidence that there is a fair and balanced system of decision making in relation to land. Alignment of public policy with the principles of the Statement and taking actions in line with this approach enables people to collaborate in, be engaged in and benefit from decisions that impact on them and their local natural and man-made environments.

In the context of the Statement, public interest should not be thought of in opposition to private interest. There are many examples, such as farming, industry, natural capital, house ownership and rental, where the public interest and private interest coincide. For example:

  • farming and woodland creation can each support the delivery of both economic returns and a wide range of social and environmental benefits.
  • sustainable agricultural practices make a significant contribution to the public interest, providing us with food while protecting the environment.
  • supporting the transfer of land into community ownership to help achieve community objectives. Both parties can benefit from such an arrangement, provided that they each discharge their obligations fairly and with due respect to the rights and needs of the other party.
  • the delivery of nature-based solutions for climate change such as woodland creation and peatland restoration. These can generate income for investors through carbon credits which could be shared with local communities alongside their wider environmental and socioeconomic benefits.
  • support for those seeking home ownership through the Open Market Share Equity scheme for first-time buyers and priority access groups. This has enabled more than 13,000 people to buy affordable homes in places where they want to live since the scheme was launched.

What is vitally important is that those with decision making powers in relation to land recognise and act in accordance with their responsibilities as well as their rights.

What we are doing

  • Scotland's National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) has a wellbeing economy as its vision. That is, an economic system that prioritises the wellbeing of current and future generations, delivering prosperity for all of Scotland's people and places, within safe environmental limits. With fair work and a just transition at its heart, the strategy builds on the Covid Recovery Strategy and will support progress towards net zero, help restore the natural environment, stimulate innovation and create jobs.
  • The draft fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) sets out how our approach to planning and development will help to achieve a net zero, sustainable Scotland by 2045. It sets out a vision for how our places will change in the future, reflecting priorities across Scottish Government portfolios and brings together a wide range of plans, programmes and policies and explaining how we will work together to build sustainable, liveable and productive places. NPF4, when adopted, will differ from previous National Planning Frameworks as it will incorporate Scottish Planning Policy and the National Planning Framework into a single document and will form part of the development plan.
  • Community Wealth Building has been adopted by the Scottish Government as the practical means by which we can achieve our Wellbeing Economy ambitions. As set out in the 2021 Programme for Government and reiterated in Scotland's National Strategy for Economic Transformation, legislation will be developed and introduced in this parliamentary term. Community Wealth Building is a people-centred approach to local economic development, which redirects wealth back into the local economy, and places control and benefits of assets and resources into the hands of local people. Putting people at the centre of our local economies is at the heart of Community Wealth Building: making sure that control of assets and resources, and the benefits they bring, are in the hands of the local people can help keep the wealth generated in the local economy – creating a fairer, greener, and more equal Scotland that empowers communities to bring about positive changes.
  • A developing network of Community Climate Action Hubs support communities across Scotland to come together and engage in collective action on climate change, supporting the transition to low carbon and climate ready living. The hubs raise awareness of the climate emergency, promote peer-to-peer learning and help communities explore and adopt low carbon behaviours.
  • The Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 required that a Forestry Strategy be prepared that had regard to the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement. Scotland’s Forestry Strategy 2019-2029 presents a 50-year vision and 10-year framework for action, articulating Scotland’s ambition to have more forests and woodlands and for them to deliver more economic, social and environmental benefits to the people of Scotland. Scotland’s Forestry Strategy Implementation Plan 2022 to 2025 sets out the actions that the Scottish Government and its partners will deliver over the next 3 years to continue to progress the realisation of the Strategy.
  • The Scottish Government's Regeneration Strategy provides a framework for local community led action to tackle area inequality, create opportunities and improve communities as well as supporting a just transition to net zero, community wealth building and the delivery of 20 minute neighbourhoods, regeneration of places including towns and cities. The strategy is supported by the Place Principle, the Town Centre First Principle, the Place Based Investment Framework and targeted funding streams aimed at meeting the needs of communities.
  • The Place Based Investment Programme (PBIP) is being used to link and align place-based funding initiatives, helping to tackle inequalities and support inclusive economic development in disadvantaged and fragile communities across Scotland. The aim is to ensure that all place based investments are shaped by the needs and aspirations of local communities and accelerate our ambitions for place, 20-minute neighbourhoods, town centre action, community led regeneration and community wealth building. The PBIP is £325m over 5 years.
  • The PBIP includes a direct allocation to local authorities and the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund delivered in partnership with COSLA and local government, supports locally developed place based regeneration projects that involve local communities, creating new or refurbished assets, helping to tackle inequalities and deliver inclusive growth in deprived, disadvantaged and fragile remote communities across Scotland.
  • The Place Principle was adopted by Scottish Government and COSLA as a basis for collaborative working to ensure that future local investment is relevant to local communities for the benefit of local people. Bringing relevant services, enterprise, and communities together to make our towns, villages, and neighbourhoods more viable.
  • The Town Centre First Principle was also adopted by Scottish Government and COSLA and the joint response to the independent review of the Town Centre Action Plan includes actions to reinvigorate the Town Centre First Principle as a means to deliver the Town Centre Vision.
  • The Place Based Investment Framework seeks to achieve a consistent appraisal process for all local capital investments. It proposes that before investing in a place it is first necessary to have established a shared plan for that place, a shared route map and a meaningful oversight structure.
  • Scotland's National Marine Plan (NMP), adopted in 2015, is the statutory framework for the sustainable management of Scotland's marine activities, setting out a series of policies to inform decision-making on the use of the marine space out to 200 nautical miles. As such, the NMP is a key mechanism for delivering against the six outcomes in Scotland's Blue Economy Vision for 2045 (published in 2022). The NMP applies to all decisions taken by the public authorities that affect Scotland's marine area: Marine Scotland, wider Scottish Government, Local Government Authorities, other public bodies including statutory advisors, regulators and agencies. Policy consistency between marine and terrestrial plans is crucial, particularly for those policy areas which have significant implications for both marine and terrestrial environments, such as renewable energy development, electricity networks, aquaculture, flood defences, ports and harbours, etc. The 2015 Planning Circular sets out the relationship between marine and terrestrial planning, noting the overlap in jurisdictions and calling for alignment of planning frameworks to ensure consistent decision making.
  • Scotland supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals internationally via our International Development Fund and Climate Justice Fund.

Case Study - Dalmarnock: a masterplanning approach

Clyde Gateway is a public urban regeneration agency in Glasgow's east end and Rutherglen. It began work on the South Dalmarnock Integrated Urban Infrastructure Framework in 2009, the aim of which was to develop a masterplan to unlock development opportunities in an area that has witnessed significant post-industrial decline and dereliction. Community engagement was an essential but challenging task, given the mix of land uses, community groups, land ownerships and other ongoing consultations. A four stage strategy was prepared, with a focus on good communications throughout.


Contact with diverse local community groups including showpeople, other residents, local businesses and property owners. This was involved individual face to face discussions, and meetings with the community council, community planning community reference group, the local housing association, etc.

Orientation and Updating

Engagement with the wider local community to ask about their place and how things could be improved. Workshops, walkabouts and youth events were held over two days, covering housing, integration of new residents, sites for showpeople, river management, remediation, public transport and communications.

Options Testing

Three community sessions exploring emerging development options that tackled community priorities like employment, retail and services, rail station, showpeople sites and a community/ commercial hub at Dalmarnock Cross.

Preview Emerging Framework

Review of the final framework with the community. The Framework acted as the platform for subsequent development. What was important was that community groups had the opportunity to shape the future of their place. The way that proposals emerged through community engagement meant that people felt that they had some ownership of how things would be developed. The Clyde Gateway team orchestrated events, informed people about technical constraints where necessary, and maintained project momentum. After the Framework was complete, a series of ongoing engagement sessions was organised on specific delivery projects which were being taken forward.

This layering of engagement throughout the development process proved to be an important aspect of keeping people informed of progress, maintaining good community relationships, building trust, and helping people to understand that their voice counts.

Find out more about Clyde Gateway and the South Dalmarnock Integrated Urban Infrastructure Framework.



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