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Scotland's land laws 'unfit for the 21st century'

SCOTLAND’S current system of land ownership is “unfit for the 21st century,” a Holyrood-commissioned expert said yesterday.

The Land of Scotland and the Common Good report called for a limit on the amount of land which can be hoarded by private owners.

It also recommended that Crown Estate powers should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and councils should be given the right to force the sale of vacant or derelict plots.

Land reform review chairwoman Alison Elliot said: “There are weaknesses in the market and contradictions in public policy that must be addressed if we are to see the kind of reforms that will modernise Scotland’s approach to land ownership and use.”

Scottish Labour environment spokeswoman Claire Baker insisted that land reform “must not be kicked into the long grass.

“There are opportunities within this parliament to make progress and we should take them.

“However, as indicated in the report, we have yet to see any substantive action from the SNP since they came into power in 2007.”

Green MSP Patrick Harvie welcomed the call for consideration of a land value tax and said the government’s response to the report would be “a test of their ambition for a fairer Scotland.”

Scottish Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said the SNP government would “study the report in depth” and consider its 62 recommendations.

“I am sure it will contain recommendations we agree with and some we do not but I welcome the overall vision and proposed direction of travel,” he said.

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