The Church of Scotland has marked the tenth anniversary of the passing of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 on 23 February with fresh proposals for change.
The Kirk, the country's largest Presbyterian denomination, has recently submitted its response to the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Review Consultation, along with a range of civic and other bodies, including Ekklesia.
In particular, it is suggesting that land reform could help the renewable energy resources of Scotland to be shared more equitably.
Commenting on the issue, the Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, declared: “The expansion of wind farms has prompted questions directly related to land ownership, as large tracts of upland are now generating not only electricity but significant ground rents for land owners.”
“Landowners have benefitted from the rapid expansion of renewable energy, especially wind power, but the inequitable pattern of landownership in Scotland means that those benefits have been enjoyed by a small proportion of the population,” she said.
The Church of Scotland points out that it is committed to community empowerment "and therefore land reform is of great interest".
The General Assembly 2012 endorsed a report from the Kirk's Commission on the Economy that set out four priorities for economic life in Scotland: reducing inequality, ending poverty, ensuring sustainability and promoting mutuality.
Ms Foster-Fulton continued: “Communities have received benefits where they have been able to develop their own projects, however as is clear from the data on fuel poverty there is much more that needs to be done.”
“The Church of Scotland wishes to see many more communities receiving community income from renewable energy to generate community income and help alleviate fuel poverty in the community,” she added.
“We therefore suggest that the development of community energy projects should be identified as a specific object of land reform, both to develop community income and to help tackle fuel poverty,” the Church and Society Council convener concluded.
* Publicly-available Land Reform Review Group submissions, including the Church of Scotland's can be viewed here (courtesy of Andy Wightman): http://www.andywightman.com/?page_id=2024
* Land Reform in Scotland: Ekklesia submission to LRRG - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/landreformscotland