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Executive hopes to close legal loophole over crofters' rights

Pairc Crofters has leased its rights in the land to a company called Pairc Renewables which, in turn, has leased wind-farm rights to an electricity generating company. The effect is that the crofters of Pairc Trust can exercise the right given to them under Scottish land reform legislation to buy the land, but cannot benefit from renewable energy payments.

THE Scottish Executive announced yesterday that it is taking a "belt and braces" approach to the problem of interposed leases in crofting.

It is to challenge a specific lease in the Scottish Land Court and include legislation to deal with any future cases in the draft Crofting Reform Bill now at parliamentary committee evidence stage.

It will be the first legal challenge to such a lease, effectively seen as a device to prevent a crofting community getting the full benefit of right to buy.

Landowning and right-wing political and journalistic protests have gathered pace and venom recently over the Executive's bill, with claims of unfair financial help available for crofting buy-outs.

Rhona Brankin, the deputy environment minister, fighting to get the bill through parliament, said yesterday that it would strengthen and expand present crofting in Scotland and create new opportunities for remote communities.

She went on: "When those opportunities are being frustrated, we need to look at how we can challenge that. After taking legal advice, we decided that the validity of a particular lease should be tested in the Land Court. "

The Executive claim that the interposed lease in question is preventing... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
 THE Scottish Executive announced yesterday that it is taking a "belt and braces" approach to the problem of interposed leases in crofting.

It is to challenge a specific lease in the Scottish Land Court and include legislation to deal with any future cases in the draft Crofting Reform Bill now at parliamentary committee evidence stage.

It will be the first legal challenge to such a lease, effectively seen as a device to prevent a crofting community getting the full benefit of right to buy.

Landowning and right-wing political and journalistic protests have gathered pace and venom recently over the Executive's bill, with claims of unfair financial help available for crofting buy-outs.

Rhona Brankin, the deputy environment minister, fighting to get the bill through parliament, said yesterday that it would strengthen and expand present crofting in Scotland and create new opportunities for remote communities.

She went on: "When those opportunities are being frustrated, we need to look at how we can challenge that. After taking legal advice, we decided that the validity of a particular lease should be tested in the Land Court. "

The Executive claim that the interposed lease in question is preventing crofters on the Pairc Estate, Lewis, from taking control of their land and existing renewable energy opportunities, because the rights have been leased by the landowner to a third-party company.

Confusingly, the landowner is a business called Pairc Crofters while the crofting community planning to buy the land is the Pairc Trust.

Pairc Crofters has leased its rights in the land to a company called Pairc Renewables which, in turn, has leased wind-farm rights to an electricity generating company.

The effect is that the crofters of Pairc Trust can exercise the right given to them under Scottish land reform legislation to buy the land, but cannot benefit from renewable energy payments.

Legal advice to the Executive is that the interposed lease might be classified as void, but that decision will lie with the Land Court and Brankin admitted: "The case will inevitably take some time to prepare and to be considered and there can be no guarantee of the outcome. But I am determined to pursue the matter.

"The problem of communities being denied development opportunities is also being addressed generally in the Crofting Reform Bill."


Source: http://business.scotsman.co...

MAY 3 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/2407-executive-hopes-to-close-legal-loophole-over-crofters-rights
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