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

This consultation provides you with the opportunity to examine the environmental impact of our proposed changes to agricultural tenancies, small landholdings, and the new land use tenancy.

Wider Context

The proposals, set out below and developed to help Scottish farmers, crofters and land managers, will play a key role in tackling twin crisis of climate change and biodiversity while delivering against legally binding commitments:

  • As set out in the Environment Strategy for Scotland, the Scottish Government is committed to addressing the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss: to create a fairer and greener Scotland. The Climate Change (Emissions Reductions Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 created an obligation to reach our legally binding target for net zero emissions across the economy as a whole by 2045 in a just way.
  • To meet its envelope under the 'Update to the Climate Change Plan 2018 – 2032’, agriculture needs to reduce its emissions by 31% from 2019 to 2032. Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation Programme also outlines a range of policy responses to increase agricultural resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The Scottish Agricultural Census of June 2021 demonstrates that 22% of our agricultural land is tenanted. The majority of agricultural tenancies are secure 1991 Act agricultural tenancies (3,821). This type of tenancy is passed on through generations within the same tenant farming family. The remainder of agricultural tenancies are broken down into:

  • 368 Limited Partnerships,
  • 175 Modern Limited Duration Tenancies (MLDTs),
  • 743 Limited Duration Tenancies (LDTs) and
  • 1,258 Short Limited Duration Tenancies (SLDTs).[1]

The Scottish Agricultural Census results also identified 59 small landholders in Scotland, and these cover 5,360 acres (2,168 hectares) with over two-thirds of Small Landholding Act tenancies being less than 50 acres (approx 20 hectares) in size.

All of these land tenure tenancy arrangements have the potential to contribute towards delivering ourVision for Agriculture.

The proposals on modernising tenant farming legislation were consulted on as part of the Agriculture Bill consultation, which opened on 29 August 2022 and closed on 5 December 2022. The analysis of this consultation can be found here: Agriculture Bill: consultation analysis - ( The agricultural tenancy proposals were consulted on as part of the Agriculture Bill consultation which held several in-person and online engagement events which were attended by approximately 600 people.

The consultation on small landholdings modernisation opened on 22 October 2022 and closed on 14 January 2023. The analysis of the consultation can be found here: 6. Conclusion - Small landholdings modernisation: consultation analysis - ( Officials also held a workshop on the Isle of Arran and organised individual meetings with landlords.

The Land Use Tenancy was consulted on as part of the Land Reform Bill consultation on the Bill which opened on 4 July 2022 and closed on 30 October 2022. The analysis of the consultation can be found here: Land reform in a Net Zero nation: consultation analysis - ( The Land Use Tenancy has been subjected to extensive stakeholder engagement with environmental NGOs and agricultural stakeholders.

All these proposals will be brought forward as part of the Land Reform Bill.

As required under 5(4) of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act, the Scottish Government consulted the Strategic Environmental Assessment Consultation Authorities (Nature Scot, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, and Historic Environment Scotland) who consider that the proposals fall and that there is a likelihood of significant environmental effects.

The Consultation Authorities believe the proposals should be subjected to an 8 week consultation to ensure that the environmental impact of the proposals is subjected to detailed examination. This consultation meets that requirement and runs from 10 October 2023 and will close on 05 December 2023.

The Consultation Authorities consider that the proposals potentially have significant environmental effects on climate factors, biodiversity, habitats, flora and fauna; although their significance will depend on factors such as location, scale and individual practices. This consultation examines those potential environmental impacts.

All of the tenant farming proposals have been subjected to extensive and detailed co-development with the Tenant Farming Advisory Forum which includes a range of industry bodies:

  • Scottish Tenant Farming Association;
  • Scottish Land & Estates;
  • National Farmers Union Scotland;
  • Scottish Agricultural Arbiters & Valuers Association;
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; and
  • Agricultural Law Association.



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