Crofting is a heavily regulated form of land tenure peculiar to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. It has been remarkably successful in keeping small, fragile and often remote communities alive.
It is not exclusively beneficial to crofters and their families. Their very existence provides a huge and highly valued, but largely unrecognised, resource, which enables many other people to enjoy some of the most cherished areas of Scotland.
Traditional crofting landlords and crofters have very much more in common than separates them, with common aspirations for their areas. However, this is often not recognised. Landowners have a lot to offer to crofting but their role has become marginalised and diluted, partly for historic reasons which are no longer relevant in modern Scotland.
Scottish Land & Estates crofting policy positions:
- Crofting legislation should be consolidated into a single Act;
- Crofting policy should allow landlords, crofters, properly constituted and democratic grazing committees and the Crofting Commission to work together to reduce bureaucracy, devolve decision making to the appropriate level and encourage co-operative working.
- In most areas of the Highlands, the market in both croft sales and assignations is highly damaging to crofting, particularly in preventing young local people getting a foot on the crofting ladder.
- The individual’s right to buy their croft house site and land has been damaging to crofting since it was introduced in 1976.
- Scottish Land & Estates strives for a greater recognition of a positive role for landlords, which in turn will encourage more positive action from landowners. We would like to see a recognition that crofting landlords can bring experience and estate management expertise which can facilitate joint projects for the benefit of the whole community.
- Crofting estates should continue to provide a way into crofting for new people which does not involve paying inflated prices; larger crofting estates with a range of crofts should be able to provide a ‘ladder’ for crofters to progress up.
- Scottish Land & Estates opposes any extension of crofting to areas outside historic crofting lands. The associated risks to the fragile confidence in the let land sector exacerbates the problem. The effect of the individual crofter’s right to buy croft land once again is at the root of this concern.