Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Small Landholdings and Land Use Tenancy Proposals Environmental Report

SEA is a systematic process for evaluating the environmental consequences of proposed plans, strategies, or programmes. This Report accompanies the Small Landholding and Land Use Tenancy proposals, within the Land Reform Bill.

1. Introduction


1.1 AECOM has been commissioned to undertake an independent Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in support of the Small Landholdings and Land Use Tenancy proposals (“the proposals”) on behalf of The Scottish Government.

1.2 SEA is a systematic process for evaluating the environmental consequences of proposed plans, strategies, or programmes to ensure environmental issues are fully integrated and addressed at the earliest appropriate stage of decision making, with a view to promoting sustainable development.

1.3 This Environmental Report, which is the main output of the SEA process, accompanies the Small Landholdings and Land Use Tenancy proposals for consultation between September and October 2023.

Small Landholdings and Land Use Tenancy Proposals

1.4 The Scottish Government’s Vision for Agriculture, published in March 2022[3], outlines its long-term vision to transform how farming and food production can be supported in Scotland to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture. As outlined in the Agricultural Reform Route Map[4], the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that tenant farmers, smallholders, crofters, new entrants and land managers are given equality of opportunity to allow them to play a key role in making the Vision for Agriculture a reality.

Small Landholdings proposals

1.5 The Programme for Government 2021- 2022 made the commitment to “begin to modernise small landholding legislation”. The Bute House agreement made the commitment to “explore providing small landholders with the same pre-emptive right to buy as crofters and 1991 Act tenant farmers, and the treatment of the land under their houses.”

1.6 These commitments have been informed by an extensive evidence gathering exercise. This originates from Section 124 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 which specified that Scottish Minsters must undertake a review of legislation governing small landholdings including conducting a consultation with key stakeholders. This consultation occurred between October and November 2016.

1.7 Subsequent to this, small landholding proposals were consulted upon in the Small Landholdings Modernisation Consultation between October 2022 and January 2023, which set out proposals relating to primary legislation for the proposed Land Reform Bill 2023. The intention is to introduce legislation which mirrors the diversification framework available to other tenants of agricultural land to address issues around the declining numbers of small landholdings, stakeholder demand for small landholdings to develop in viable businesses and the lack of certainty in the current legislation.

1.8 This is in conjunction with the Programme for Government 2021-22’s commitment to “ensure tenant farmers and smallholders have the same access to climate change and mitigation measures” and the Bute House Agreement’s commitment to “continue to improve the rights of tenant farmers and small holders so they are not disadvantaged from actively participating in climate change mitigation and adaptation”.

Land Use Tenancy proposals

1.9 The aim of the Land Use Tenancy proposals are to provide a flexible form of land tenure tenancy which caters for integrated land management in a way that the current agricultural tenancies do not. It seeks to support a vibrant land tenure in Scotland, optimising Scotland’s land use. This is with a view to delivering a more hybrid land management approach in one tenancy which enables climate change issues and biodiversity loss to be addressed, whilst catering for a just transition.

1.10 The Land Use Tenancy was consulted on in the Land Reform in a Net Zero Nation consultation 2022 between July and October 2022.

1.11 Further information on the Small Landholdings and Land Use Tenancy proposals and component parts are set out in the consultation document with which this Environmental Report accompanies.[5]



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