Campaigners in Scotland are calling for 10 per cent of Scotland to be community owned by 2030, up from just 3 per cent currently.

The launch of the campaign by Community Land Scotland comes just days after the Scottish Government published its new land reform bill.

The draft legislation, introduced to Parliament on Thursday, includes the so-called “transfer test” which could see large areas of land about to be sold or passed on being broken up into smaller parts.

The policy, known as lotting, is designed to allow more farmers, community groups, businesses and smallholders to buy land. However, the draft legislation was described as a "destructive attack" on land businesses by Scottish Land and Estates. 

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Community Land Scotland, Policy Manager, Dr Josh Doble, said their new campaign, “Scotland’s for Sale! But who’s buying?” would highlight how the land market is increasingly dominated by large, often absentee, investors, leaving local communities unable to compete.

He said: “The campaign title references the fact that the Scottish land market is unsustainably inflated, driven by corporate investment in commercial forestry, carbon sequestration and land banking.

“Communities are being priced out of the market and we think there needs to be a vigorous national discussion about who owns Scotland’s land and how the land is being used.

“Aiming for 10 per cent community ownership by 2030 is ambitious, but it is realistic and achievable if the Scottish Government shows the determination to help our communities to take control and flourish.”

Dr Doble added: “Scotland has one of the most concentrated patterns of landownership anywhere in the world, with 432 people owning over 50 per cent of privately owned rural land.

“This kind of deep-rooted inequality sits at the heart of the biodiversity and climate crisis, the housing and depopulation crisis, our damaging food system. and our impoverished local democracy.

“We want to highlight how the pressing issues facing us as a nation are, at their root, land justice issues.”

Any change will be fiercely resisted.

The new powers, set out in the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill, were described by Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land and Estates, as a “full-on attack” on the property rights of owners.

She said: "Rather than taking a common-sense approach to reflect the challenges that people living and working in rural Scotland face, Scottish ministers are pursuing a destructive and disproportionate agenda against land-based businesses.

“Some of the measures signal a huge U-turn by ministers from utilising land to pursue net-zero towards a full-on attack on the property rights of large farms and estates.”

She added: "The government is taking an irrational approach to farms and estates over 1000 hectares, which seems to be driven purely by a desire to break these up regardless of the outcome.

"The suggestion that a property going on the market should be lotted by government before being listed is absurd.

"The blizzard of regulations they are proposing around the transfer of landholdings will create conflict, cause market uncertainty and deter much needed investment." 

This article originally appeared in our sister title, the Herald.