Land Reform Review Group publishes its report recommending significant empowerment to communities in Scotland

So this is not for everyone, but for those of us who have been engaged in Community Development work over the years, this report is highly significant. Not only does it recommend a right to buy for communities, but the ability for Community Councils to recommend compulsory purchase orders (see below). There’re also recommendations on State Aids and de minimis which are very welcome. The Community Land Scotland conference is well-timed to discuss and debate the recommendations, and I am looking forward to it!

Here’s the detail on Right to Buy

At present, local communities have the option of one statutory land right. This is the right of local communities acting through an ‘appropriate community body’ to exercise a right of pre-emption over land under Part 2 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

The Land Reform Review Group considers that local communities should have other statutory options to fit different circumstances and issues. The Group recommends in this Report that local communities should have four additional land rights. These are described in the text of the Report and summarised below.

With each right, the criteria for the appropriate local community body remain the same and based on those in Part 2 of the 2003 Act. The thresholds of requirements to be met for each right would progressively increase from numbers 1 to 5, with the increasingly significant nature of the rights involved.

1. Right to Register an Interest over Land
Process that enables an appropriate local community body in defined circumstances to register an interest over land where that is judged to be in the public interest, and then to be notified of the sale and any change of ownership of the land.

2. Right of Pre-emption to Buy Land
Process that enables an appropriate local community body in defined circumstances to register a right of pre-emption over land and to exercise that right if the land is to be sold, where that is judged by Scottish Ministers to be in the public interest.

3. Right to Request to Buy Public Land
Process that enables an appropriate local community body in defined circumstances to buy public land, whether or not it is for sale, where that is judged to be in the public interest by the public body responsible for the land or by Scottish Ministers.

4. Right to Buy Land
Process that enables an appropriate local community body in defined circumstances to buy land which is not for sale, where that is judged by Scottish Ministers to be in the public interest.

5. Right to Request a Compulsory Purchase Order over Land
Process that enables an appropriate local community body in defined circumstances to request Scottish Ministers to exercise a CPO over land for re-sale to the community body, where that is judged by Ministers to be in the public interest.

The lo-res report is available on Scottish Government website here and the high resolution version here.

The picture shows communities which own land in our area, including Colintraive and Glendaruel’s own Stronafian Forest.

#CGDT is recruiting for a New Community Forest Project Officer: it’s a varied role at the heart of our community

This is an extraordinary opportunity to work with a highly successful Development Trust in a truly beautiful ‘neck of the woods’. For a year the successful candidate will work with the excellent CGDT team who have developed an exciting and varied roster of projects. From Archaeology to a Dark Skies park, from Woodfuel to Woodland Crofts, from Housing to renewables, this is a contract for only the most able and most ambitious community development officers.

You’ll be supported by an experienced and professional voluntary board toward each of the project outcomes while also having an eye on extending the contract beyond the funding that we have available to us.

If this is interesting to you, to read more, download the application or contact the trust, please visit the CGDT website here.

#ScottishIndependence #VoteYes The Yes Campaign gathers momentum, even the Guardian is reporting it

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/18/scottish-independence-scotland

In my view, Land Reform, community ownership of assets and independence are the right way to go. There’ll be uncertainty, there’ll be change, but if we wish to have a happy, vibrant, civilised country which makes its own decisions then it has to be a Yes.

Do we think ‘de minimis’ should be classed a swear word or not?

Frankly, for anyone in Scotland in Community Development work of any type, the present interpretation of State Aid and the de minimis regulations by the the civil servants in Holyrood ensures that ambition and momentum are rewarded with big brick walls! Argh!

Community Benefit from Renewables from the Inside

As chair of the Colintraive and Glendaruel Development Trust, an organisation which has benefitted from a small income or community benefit from the Cruach Mhor Windfarm Trust over the last decade, I have been asked to give a couple of presentations on our community’s experience. Of course I can provide a lot of feedback about what CBR has meant to our community, but I am also interested in sign-posting the experiences of other communities with regard to Community Benefit from Renewables so if anyone wishes to contribute, please leave a comment below!