This essay was largely inspired by the working papers of Andy Wightman, Robin Callander, Graham Boyd and James Perman. James Perman is a Chartered Accountant from Largs. Andy Wightman, Robin Callander and Graham Boyd are independent authors and researchers who work together on occasion through the Caledonia Center for Social Development. The Center undertakes research and collaborative policy development in a number of fields both in Scotland and overseas. It has a particularly active program on land issues and common property rights.
Scotland was an independent country for many centuries, but entered a political union with England in 1707. The Union still exists today and Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom. In 1999, however, Scotland regained a substantial measure of self-government through the establishment of a Scottish Parliament. The existence of the Parliament, with its ability to reform Scots law, has facilitated a new debate over longstanding and widespread concerns about the way land is owned and managed in Scotland. Two pieces of land reform legislation have already been passed by the new Parliament in 2000 and 2003. One of these land reform Acts dealt with the abolition of feudal land tenure in Scotland.
[...] Relatively little has happened since. Thus, the history of landed power in Scotland is a history of a class whose authority and hegemony have never been challenged effectively and whose possession of disproportionately large property holdings has never been broken. II/ Surviving Commons The history of common land in Scotland and the extraordinary degree to which it was successfully incorporated into private estates means that very little remains of the once extensive commons. The one major exception is Crofting Common Grazings. [...]
[...] This gives the community all the security and rights that go with conventional land ownership under Scots law, like the right to sell the land for example. Moreover, whole estate purchases by communities are still occurring, but the growing number of community purchases involves an increasingly diverse pattern of acquisitions. The range of properties now being acquired other than whole estates can be seen as consisting of three main types: Community facilities that are important to local community life, such as village halls, a building for a local community office or small areas of ground for purposes as diverse as a football pitch, affordable local housing or a burial ground. [...]
[...] The land is thus common property. Within this new movement, not all the purchases are by entire communities. In crafting areas, for example, it may only be the crafting tenants who make a purchase when there are other residents in their local community. This is known as the crofting trusts. “There are also instances where the community, while initiating a purchase, may not end up with full control over the land as the control is shared with partners, usually conservation organisations or public agencies that have provided a proportion of the funding.” And this is known as community partnerships. [...]
[...] Consequently, there are many issues related to land ownership which continue to have adverse impacts on sustainable development in Scotland. Furthermore, the rights of the proprietors are really well defined and carefully protected. The protection of their interests by the landed establishment in Scotland denied Scotland the kinds of reforms enjoyed by its Western European neighbours (like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, etc) and which, as one consequence, led directly to the loss of nearly all of Scotland's common lands into the private estates of its major land owners. [...]
[...] But as the Scottish Executive Considers the First Applications, Rob Penn Discovers That Plans to Build Wind Farms on the Land Have Seen Local Tensions Reach Boiling Point;” Geographical 77.9 (2005): 52-54. Reid, David. “Crofters (Smallholders) Common Grazings.” Commonweal of Scotland 1.2 (2003): 1-17. Wightman, Andy, Robin Callander, and Graham Boyd. “Common Land in Scotland. A Brief Overview.” Securing the Commons No.8 (2003): 26. Wightman, Andy, and James Perman. “Common Good Land in Scotland. [...]
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