Tackling crofting absenteeism and a long-term decline in working crofts are among issues the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee is seeking views on today as it begins its scrutiny of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Bill.
The Bill aims to address widespread concern that existing rules and governance arrangements are insufficient to tackle such issues, and that new legal tools are needed to tackle problems facing Scotland’s often remote and fragile crofting communities.
The proposed powers of the new Bill include:
Constitutional change to the Crofters Commission seeking to make it more representative and accountable
The creation of a new map-based Register of Crofts to replace the existing register
The introduction of fit-for-purpose mechanisms for addressing absenteeism and neglect by tenant and owner-occupier crofters
Changing the grounds under which the Crofters Commission may reject an application to decroft.
Committee Convener Maureen Watt MSP said: "Scotland's crofting communities deserve workable and sensible laws that are capable of meeting 21st-century challenges. Our role will be to scrutinise the Bill carefully to discover whether it fulfils that role.
"Committee members are looking forward to hearing from a wide selection of organisations and individuals from across Scotland’s diverse crofting regions.
"We intend to make visits to crofting communities during our scrutiny, meeting people who would be directly affected by the Bill, to help us raise any issues or concerns with the Scottish Government and suggest measures to ensure that crofting reform achieves its stated goals."
The Rural Affairs and Environment Committee is seeking views from organisations, bodies and individuals with an interest or involvement in the proposals contained in the Bill and their likely impact.
Views on the proposals should be submitted to the committee by February 4.
We welcome written evidence in English, Gaelic or any other language. Before making a submission, please read our policy for handling information received in response to calls for views