Eleven advisers have been appointed to the Land Reform Review – with expertise from work and professional experience and from academia in areas such as property and land issues, economics, legal issues, community-led organisations, land ownership, forestry and access.
It is perhaps surprising that their number includes only one [Agnes Rennie] with first hand experience of the challenges faced and solutions found after the event of a substantial community buy out [the Galson estate in North Lewis].
A representative of the North Assynt Estate buy out as an early and by now the most experienced, would clearly have had a great deal to add in an advisory role. The Review Group will of course take evidence widely, but inclusion in an advisory role would have been a recognition of the core value of experience, literally, on the ground.
Commenting on the advisers’ appointment and their work programme, David Cameron, Chairman of Community Land Scotland says:
‘This represents another milestone in the progress to review land reform and drive it forward.
‘A number of the review group advisers are known to us and have real knowledge and insight into the issues.
Some of them also have personal experience of supporting a number of community buyouts.
‘This augers well for what we hope will be a radical report by the review group, one which will pave the way for taking community land ownership to a new level.’
There are two elements of the initiative – the Review Group itself and its Panel of Advisers.
The Review Group has a Chair, Dr Alison Elliot; and two Vice Chairs – Professor James Hunter and Dr Sarah Skerratt. But that seems to be it. There are apparently no other members to be chaired and vice chaired, so they will be keeping each other in first class trim.
The process of the work to be done is well planned and works to maximise the use of the review’s unusually short time to final reporting on an issue as complex and as socially and culturally overarching as this one is.
The review group will face some specific systemic challenges which we will address shortly in a further article.
The eleven Advisers are identified and introduced below and at the foot of the article is a downloadable version of the Review group’s general Call for Evidence.
Professor David Adams – who holds the Ian Mactaggart Chair of Property & Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow . Chartered Surveyor, chartered town planner, member Society of property Researchers, Regional Studies Association and the Royal Society of Arts. Research interests include State-market relations in land and property, with a particular interest in land, planning and regeneration policy.
Andrew Bruce-Wootton – who has been General Manager at Atholl Estates since 2000. Atholl Estates, which extends to some 126,000 acres of Perthshire, is the largest privately owned estate in Scotland . Formerly Assistant Factor, Buccleuch Estate (September 1993-April 2000). Director of Scottish Land and Estates (2008-2011). Deputy Chairman, Scottish Estates Business Group.
Amanda Bryan – who is a rural and community development consultant, specialising rural development and community development in the Highlands and Islands. Was Chair of BBC Scotland’s Scottish Rural Affairs and Agriculture Advisory Committee from 2001 to 2006 and a former Development Manager with Ross and Cromarty Enterprise. Appointed in 2012 as Commissioner for Forestry Commission Scotland.
Ian Cooke –who is Director of Development Trusts and Associations of Scotland (DTAS). DTAS promotes and supports development trusts – community led organisations who use enterprise activity and assets to regenerate their communities. He has been involved in community development for over 25 years, including posts as manager of the North Edinburgh Trust and the Pilton Partnership.
Simon A. Fraser – who is a solicitor at Anderson-MacArthur, Stornoway (now retiring). Accredited by the law Society of Scotland as a specialist in crofting law. Has advised many community buyouts and has also advised and acted for private estates. Currently the Interim Crofting Administrator for Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn. He is a former Board Member of SNH (1998-2004), and Chair of its North Areas Board.
Priscilla Gordon-Duff – who is manager of a family estate involved in agriculture, forestry, property, commercial leases, fishing and community engagement. Chair of the National Forest Land Scheme Evaluation Panel since its establishment in 2005. She was chair of the Grampian Woodland Company and Forum, a board member of Paths for All, and was on the RSPB’s Scotland committee.
Dr David Miller – who currently co-ordinates the land use theme of the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programmes 2011-2016. He leads areas of the James Hutton Institute’s knowledge exchange programme and co-ordinates research and commercial projects relating to landscape and spatial modelling, including applications in renewable energy, urban greenspaces and wider land use planning.
Bob Reid – who is the former Convenor of the National Access Forum. Former President of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (1990-1994) whom he represented in the early days of the Forum. Was COSLA representative in the run-up to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. Has considerable experience of upland access work and knowledge of low ground access issues and an interest in land management.
Agnes Rennie MBE – native Gaelic speaker and director of Acair, the Gaelic Book Publisher, Now retiring as a non-aligned Councillor at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Was a former Area Commissioner for Lewis and Harris; and was appointed as a Crofting Commissioner in 1998. Chair of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (UOG), which is the new community owner of the 56,000 acre Galson Estate.
Dr Madhu Satsangi – who is a Senior Lecturer in Housing and Applied Social Science at the University of Stirling . Convenor of the Rural Housing Service involved with rural communities across Scotland. Has researched into, and published widely on, rural housing associations, the role of private landowners in affordable housing, community land ownership and the impact of rural home ownership grants.
John Watt OBE – who recently retired as Director, Strengthening Communities, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). Involved in a number of high profile community buyouts of land in the last 20 years.
Note: Here is a downloadable version of the Review group’s general Call for Evidence. They’re taking it now – starting on 1st October and finishing on 11th January. Land Reform Review Group – Call for Evidence#2