Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003

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The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003[1] is an Act of the Scottish Parliament. It has three parts: it formalised the tradition in Scotland of unhindered access to open countryside, it introduced rights for communities to buy their land when it comes up for sale, and gave crofting communities the right to buy their land whether of not it has come up for sale.

The first part created a framework for responsible access to land and inland water,[2] formalising the tradition in Scotland of unhindered access to open countryside, provided that care was taken not to cause damage or interfere with activities including farming and game stalking. Similar legislation was passed for England and Wales with the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. This aspect of the Act follows the distinctive approach set out in the Outdoor Access Code, specifying the rights and responsibilities of land managers, countryside users and recreational managers.[3]

The second part of the Act established the Community Right to Buy[4] in order to allow communities with a population of less than 10,000 in Scotland to apply to register an interest in land and the opportunity to buy that land when it comes up for sale.

The third part of the Act gives crofting communities the right to buy,[5] in other words to acquire and control the croft land where they live and work and to acquire the interest of the tenant in tenanted land (interposed lease). It decisively changes the balance of power between the crofting community and the landowner. The major distinguishing feature of the crofting community right to buy is that it is a right which can be exercised at any time. It does not depend on the land being for sale, as under the community right to buy. In effect it is a forced sale and in that respect has something in common with a compulsory purchase.

The Act received Royal Assent on 25 February 2003.

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  4. ^ Community Right to Buy in Scotland - Scottish Government
  5. ^ Crofting Community Right to Buy - Scottish Government