The SNP Government has said that today marks a “new dawn” for radical land reform in Scotland as Land Reform Minister Dr Aileen McLeod MSP announced that the new Scottish Land Fund will open on 01 April, with £10 million available annually to aid community buy-outs.
It comes as the SNP Government’s Land Reform Bill is expected to pass today.
The Scottish Land Fund will continue until 2020 and support has trebled to £10 million a year to help communities buy their own land. The minister urged communities to consider whether owning the land they live and work on will offer greater benefits to local people.
The previous Land Fund awarded £9 million over three years to 52 communities throughout Scotland. Of the 500,000 acres of land already in community ownership, over 90,000 acres was purchased with help from the Land Fund. It is administered by the Big Lottery Fund.
Speaking ahead of stage three of Land Reform (Scotland) Bill, Dr McLeod said:
“Land is one of Scotland’s most valuable assets and owning land can help communities realise their aspirations and dreams, make a real difference to long-term sustainability and build stronger, resilient and supportive communities.
“Each community has its own set of reasons for wanting to take on ownership. The important thing is that communities are able to make the right choice for them in order to meet local needs and further sustainable local development.
“With the launch of the Land Fund and the Land Reform Bill, we will see a new dawn for community ownership in Scotland.”
Added Kenneth Gibson MSP
“I am delighted that the Land Reform Bill has been significantly strengthened since it was introduced last year following discussions with the parliament, public and at SNP Conference.
“The launch of the new Scottish Land Fund will help more local groups across Scotland own and develop land and buildings important to them.
“I have no doubt that in the years ahead the fund will aid community development across Scotland, helping groups develop thriving and sustainable projects that contribute to building healthy, flourishing communities. I am pleased too that the fund has been extended to urban areas for the first time. It will be exciting to see these all of these new ideas come to life.”
More information on the Scottish Land Fund can be found on the Big Lottery Fund Scotland website.