Agricultural tenancies, small landholdings and land management tenancy proposals - strategic environmental assessment: consultation analysis

This report outlines the findings of a consultation held as part of a strategic environmental assessment of agricultural tenancies, small landholdings and land management tenancy proposals.


Why was the research needed?

The Scottish Agricultural Census shows that 22% of agricultural land in Scotland is tenanted (June, 2021). As part of its Vision for Agriculture, the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that tenant farmers, smallholders, crofters, new entrants and land managers are enabled to contribute towards delivering this vision.

What did we do?

An online consultation was open for responses in 2023 as part of a Strategic Environmental Assessment of agricultural tenancies, small landholdings and land management tenancy proposals. The consultation received 12 responses in total, 5 from individuals (42%) and 7 from organisations (58%).

What did we learn?

Respondents identified potential positive impacts on the climate, biodiversity and landscape for each set of proposals. In many cases they stated that this would depend on the scope and type of activities planned. Respondents were broadly supportive of proposals to modernise and update legislation and tenancy mechanisms to reflect modern farming practices, in the context of a wider move toward regenerative and sustainable agriculture. However, several noted the need to balance tenants’ rights with landlords’ long-term security.

In several areas, including the proposals for a new tenancy model, respondents stated that further guidance and consultation is needed. Wider points included: the need for a coordinated approach to land use to balance environmental considerations with issues such as agricultural costs, efficiency and food production, and; to consider the long-term risks of changes in land use or agricultural tenancies, for example in reducing the number of tenancies available to new entrants.

Across many of the proposals, respondents’ views were mixed and a common answer was ‘Don’t know’. In several cases, participants stated that they did not fully understand the question or terminology used, or were unclear about the intended environmental impacts of the proposals.

What happens now?

The findings will inform the Scottish Government’s work to bring forward the proposals outlined in this report, as part of the new Land Reform Bill.



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