Northern Isles MSPs Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott are calling for crofting reforms to be tailored to better fit local circumstances.
At the ‘The Future of Crofting’ conference in Inverness last week, Minister for Land Reform Dr Aileen McLeod set out the five priorities she is considering for crofting: simplify crofting legislation with a new act; make crofts available for new entrants; increase affordable croft housing; fund a lead body on crofting development and ensure that CAP support has a positive impact on crofting.
However, according to Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott, the Scottish Government’s priorities once again “ignored calls to end the failed one-size-fits-all policy and move towards a regionalised approach better suited to meet the unique needs of island communities.”
The Northern Isles MSPs made the case directly to the Minister as recently as the summer. In meetings with Dr McLeod in Orkney and Shetland, the MSPs were joined by representatives of both crofting communities to discuss crofting regulation, the need for the specific circumstances facing crofters in the islands to be recognised and a more tailored approach taken by the government and Crofting Commission.
In a joint statement, Liam McArthur MSP and Tavish Scott MSP said: ‘All the evidence shows, including the local survey we undertook, that Orkney and Shetland differ greatly from other parts of the Crofting Counties. It is therefore essential that those differences are reflected in terms of regulation and support received.
‘The current one-size-fits-all approach, however, is simply not fit for purpose. That is the message we have made clear to the Scottish Government for over two years. It is what she heard first hand when she visited the islands earlier in the year.
“Yet, at The Future of Crofting conference, held in Inverness last week, Ms Macleod failed to acknowledge the need to move away from a rigid approach. She accepted that further changes are needed, but there was no recognition of the need to move towards a regionalised approach that better meets the unique needs of island crofters.
“This is not acceptable and we have written to the Minister seeking urgent further talks.”