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Proposals to extend crofters' rights

3 March 2006

The Scottish Executive has published its Crofting Reform Bill, which includes plans to extend the rights of crofters to small holdings beyond the Highlands and Islands and give landowners the ability to create new crofts for the first time.

The bill aims to dampen down speculation in croft land and enable crofting communities to buy renewable energy leases over land acquired under the Land Reform Act.

There are just over 17,700 crofts in the former counties of Argyll, Caithness, Inverness, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland, Orkney and Shetland with between 12,000 and 13,000 croft tenants. Around 30,000 people live on crofts. The provision to permit the creation of new crofts is intended to help ensure the provision in future of a sufficient supply of croft land for those wishing to take up crofting.

Under the bill the Crofting Commission will be given a development role and become responsible for setting the strategic direction of crofting administration.

Deputy Environment and Rural Development Minister Rhona Brankin, launching the bill in Inverness, said: "These proposals create a new flexibility which will allow communities to decide how they want crofting to evolve in their townships and eliminate the bureaucracy that currently holds back their ambitions. I now look forward to letting the Parliament consider the bill in a measured and thoughtful way."