Land reform and community buyouts

Walking on the Isle of Arran Autumn 2015

Walking on the Isle of Arran Autumn 2015

Brief overview of the Land Reform Issue

The current structure of land ownership in Scotland prohibits economic and social development for communities in Scotland. The concentrated pattern of land ownership is also widely regarded as a social justice and human rights issue. This point of view has been communicated by responses to drafts for the next Land Reform Bill by many individuals and groups such as; The Common Weal, The Ourland Campaign, The Poverty Truth Commision, as well as Megan MacInnes, and Dr Kirsteen Shields in their Land Reform Bill working Paper.

    Communities who want to buy land face a hard road, with rising land costs due to speculation and the challenge of navigating a bill filled with difficult requirements. This raises the question; is community right to buy a sustainable model for diversifying land ownership? Awareness of the issue is growing and land reform remains a divisive point within the SNP agenda for 2016.

Since 2003, community right to buy has allowed rural communities to apply to buy land which has been put on sale by landowners. Nevertheless, only a small proportion of community applicants have succeeded in buying land and the pattern of concentrated ownership in Scotland has barely changed in the last twelve years.

Possible thesis research questions:

  1. Our Land: How might empowered communities create mutualistic visions for the governance of common land?
  2. How might open source tools be used to support self-governance in different communities?

  3. How might citizens and local authorities collaborate to democratically govern new areas of common land?