The Scottish Government has announced that it has set a target
deadline of 10 years for the Registers of Scotland to have all land
in Scotland registered on the Land Register. 5 years is the target
for all publicly owned land. This announcement follows a report by
the Land Reform Review Group published on Friday 23 May. Announcing
the registration project, Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said
"This is a vital underpinning step in Scotland's land
reform journey and will ensure that at last everyone will know who
At present, only around 26% of the total landmass of Scotland is
held on a title registered in the Land Register.
The drive to provide a clear and complete list of who owns what
land is in part prompted by the World Bank, which recognises that
an efficient, effective and indemnified land registration system is
one of the most important factors in achieving economic development
and business growth. Completed registration will have a number of
benefits for those who regularly deal with land in Scotland. For
example, being able to identify landowners more readily allows,
amongst other things:
Easier assembly of land rights required for developments;
Easier resolution of access issues;
Identification of the parties from whom consents, discharges
and rights, etc. are required.
The Land Reform Review Group is an independent review group set
up in 2012. The full report sets out 62 recommendations focused on
the public interest and making the most of land in Scotland and
includes recommendations such as:
Introducing a new law to limit how much land any one private
owner can own in Scotland;
Prohibiting any party not registered in the EU from being
registered as an owner of land – if implemented this would
impact on the practice of owning land in corporations registered
offshore for tax purposes;
A proposal that local authorities should be given the right to
force the sale of vacant or derelict land;
Introducing a system of land value taxation, which could be an
alternative to council tax, but this appears to have been quickly
ruled out by the Scottish Government.
The Scottish Government also announced that it will form a
working group to develop the strategy for achieving a target of
having one million acres of land in community ownership by
Reaction to the report has generally been positive. However,
large landowners and their supporters have seen it is a fundamental
attack on their property rights. The Scottish Land & Estates
Group, which represents landowners throughout Scotland, welcomed
the proposals relating to transparency of land ownership but warned
that the 10 year deadline to complete the project was very
The Land Reform Review Group report titled "The Land of
Scotland and the Common Good" can be accessed here.
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An application to register land as a town and village green was once a dangerous weapon that could be used by anyone to try and prevent redevelopment.
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