The Crofting (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament today. The official press release from the Scottish Government reads:-
Decrofting legislation to tackle the difficulties owner-occupier crofters are facing when applying to decroft their land has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.
Decrofting land can enable a house to be built on the land and facilitate croft land being passed from one generation to the next. It was the intention of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament that tenant and owner-occupier crofters be treated similarly under the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010.
The issue came to light recently that owner-occupier crofters were unable to apply to the Crofting Commission to decroft land and the Scottish Government brought forward a bill to amend existing legislation.
The Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:
“The Scottish Government has been working extremely hard with the Scottish Parliament, the Crofting Commission and other stakeholders to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.
“I hope the legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament today offers owner-occupier crofters, lenders and others the reassurance that action has been taken and decrofting of land can continue, where it has no negative impact on crofting as a whole.
“I gave an undertaking to this Parliament during Stage 1 of the Bill that my officials will investigate, in consultation with stakeholders, what the best method might be for dealing with the outstanding issues. Stakeholders should therefore expect contact from my officials to arrange a discussion on the next steps for crofting.
“I would like to thank members for the cross-party support this Bill has received as the Parliament worked together to resolve this issue.
It is good to see the Bill passed and the decrofting problems faced by owner-occupier crofters hopefully now behind them. It is, however, a pity that the Bill was not simplified somewhat in its drafting rather than remaining a sledge hammer to crack a nut. It is also a pity that issues raised about it by crofting law experts were not properly addressed during the passage of the Bill through the Scottish Parliament. But the conclusion I came to in my last blog post was that the Scottish Government knows best about crofting law.
Let us hope that we see a different approach from the Scottish Government when they engage with stakeholders to discuss the “next steps for crofting” as Paul Wheelhouse said, again, today that they would be doing.