Our Land festival goes to Aberdeen to talk land reform

Nathanael Williams

Our Land festival progresses as campaign and events go to Aberdeen to talk about pressing land issues

ACADEMICS and campaigners will gather on 26 August for an event looking at the link between land ownership, land use and environmental protection. 

As part of the Our Land festival, previously previewed and covered by CommonSpace, academics focusing on issues surrounding ownership of land, community empowerment and environmental care will hold the event at the Regent Lecture Theatre in Aberdeen.

The main feature will be a lecture as part of a two day programme, ending in a one-day conference on this Thursday looking at land reform from legal, historical and policy perspectives. 

432 individuals control 50 per cent of the private land in Scotland.

Malcolm Combe, who works at the School of Law at the University of Aberdeen, said: "Land ownership is inherently linked to land use. An owner has an agenda setting role which can link into things like community identity and survival, economic development, and environmental protection. 

"Considering that any process of redistribution (that is to say, facilitating a change of who the owner of land is) will have an impact on these potentially competing aspects, there are difficult questions about which claims should be prioritised and how the right balance can be struck, in addition to the balancing act of fair treatment of existing owners and managing community expectations.

"This lecture will go some way to considering these matters, with a special focus on the environment."

Speakers include Combe, Dr Jayne Glass of The Centre for Mountain Studies, Perth College, University of the Highlands and Islands and Dr Calum Macleod who teaches at University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences.

The talk will focus on the how redistribution of land will impact on the way communities in Scotland interact with their environment and how people will use the land.

The panel lecture will last an hour and start from 6pm followed by a 30-minute discussion and then a reception with the event being sponsored by Stronachs LLP a firm specialising in law surrounding land, renewable energy and finance.

"This lecture will go some way to considering these matters, with a special focus on the environment." Malcolm Combe

The Our Land festival and the specific event happens with the context of the first minister having promised and the Scottish Government having passed land reform legislation.  

The ‘Our Land’ campaign, created by a collaboration between Common Weal, Women for Independence and the Scottish Land Action Movement. Land reform campaigners such as Green MSP Andy Wightman and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch, have been calling on individuals and groups to set up events as part of the festival from this month. 

The festival aims at encouraging all parties and stakeholders in the debate over land reform to be bolder in the legal redistribution of land and reforms over access, tax, transparency and use. 

"Privately owned land in Scotland accounts for 85 per cent of the total land mass in Scotland." Land Reform Review Group

Campaigners have already sounded out the point that Scotland's pattern of land ownership is among the most concentrated in the world, with 432 individuals controlling 50 per cent of the private land in Scotland.

Additionally privately owned land in Scotland accounts for 85 per cent of the total land mass in Scotland.

Scotland’s land reform movement won major concessions in the Land Reform Act 2016, which passed with an overwhelming majority in the Scottish Parliament with the aim of improving access, transparency and community ownership.

The event is free but you can register interest in attending with Malcolm Combe – m.m.combe@abdn.ac.uk 

Picture courtesy of Our Land 

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