It was reported online today in Farming UK that NFU Scotland has asked the Crofting Commission to bring forward a simple guide to best practice for grazing committees.
Sutherland crofter Sandy Murray, who chairs the NFU’s Crofting Highlands and Islands Working Group said:
It is in the best interests of all, that any Common Grazings Committee operates with up-to-date regulations and within the law.
The Crofting Commission is best placed to deliver guidance and clarification to any committee. If changes are needed, then a grazings committee meeting can be held as soon as possible, all stakeholders notified and steps taken to ensure that their grazing regulations are fit-for-purpose and up-to-date.
NFUS has called on the Commission to draw up simple and accessible best practice guidance on how grazings committees should be operating – clearly mapping out what they must do, should do and could do.
The Commission should then send this to all grazings committees and clerks along with the new common grazings regulations template and guidance – as available on the Commission website.
The Union supports active crofters and the active use of common grazings. In order to help achieve this we believe that there are real benefits in Common Grazings being regulated and having grazing committees in office, for the benefit of the common grazing and the shareholders.
The problem is that the Crofting Commission’s idea of best practice is very different from what crofters consider it to be and is also often at odds with what any sensible interpretation of the law says it is.
The NFU approach is not the answer to the problem. Crofters should be very wary at the moment of any guidance and clarification issued by the Crofting Commission and should take independent legal advice thereon.
It is hoped that the Scottish Crofting Federation meeting that was held in Ullapool yesterday results in more positive steps being taken that actually resolve ‘The Common Clearances’ and the alleged abuse of power within the Crofting Commission. More news on that to come.