Holyrood Committee comes to the Scottish Borders


The future of Scotland’s land will come into local focus when a Scottish Parliamentary Committee meets tenant farmers, representatives of the Roxburghe Estates and Lowland Deer Network Scotland.

The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment (RACCE) Committee is coming to the Scottish Borders on Monday 28th September to hear expert opinions as it scrutinises the Scottish Government’s Land Reform (Scotland) Bill. 

Representatives of Roxburghe Estates, Lowland Deer Network Scotland and local tenant farmers, all people with direct, ‘on the ground’ experience will tell the Committee how the Scottish Government’s planned changes could affect key issues such as tenant farming, business rates charged on deer stalking and game shooting and deer control.  

Strong, informed opinions are also likely to be heard on the question of the Scottish Government producing a clear statement of land rights and responsibilities; and how a Scottish Land Commission could guide future policy.

Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee Convener Rob Gibson MSP commented:  

“For people and organisations in the Borders who may be affected by upcoming changes to land ownership and management this is an opportunity for us to hear local views from a wide range of people whose future livelihoods may depend on getting land reform right.” 

Mr Gibson continued:  

“It’s crucial that the valuable knowledge, experience and expertise of everyone in Scotland with a vested interest  in the future of tenant farming, as well as sporting rates and deer control feed into our work where possible. We are hugely looking forward to visiting Roxburghshire and hearing about the opportunities and challenges that may lie ahead. 

“How we ensure a fair balance between the rights of landlords and tenants and create a healthy, thriving, fair tenant farming sector and will be a key question for the Committee. Can we make it easier for tenants to retire with dignity, if that’s what they’d like to do, while encouraging new tenant farmers to join the sector? These are vital issues and we want to hear local opinions.” 

This September the Committee is scrutinising the Land Reform Bill with visits to Skye, Fife, Islay, Jura and the Scottish Borders. They will hear views and opinions from a range of organisations and people, including estate owners, gamekeepers, policy makers, tenant farmers, environmental experts and community groups.  

The Committee will produce a report on its scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Bill by the end of the year. 

Roxburghe Estates takes in commercial enterprises such as the Roxburghe Hotel and Terrace Café, as well as ‘behind the scenes’ activities, including installation of a biomass boiler and windfarm, with the aim of improving the longevity of the estate and surrounding environment. Work is also underway with farmers and gamekeepers to protect native species such as the red squirrel and black grouse. The Estate directly employs 170 staff, provides 250 houses and makes available land and buildings for community uses and activities. 

Lowland Deer Network Scotland is a partnership of those with interests in deer management and deer welfare, who own or manage low ground where wild deer are found. The Network maintains that while many people enjoy seeing deer, appreciate them as a sign of increased biodiversity and even as a source of venison, deer can also damage nature conservation interests, woodland, farms and private gardens and be a cause of road accidents. Although many landowners in the Scottish lowlands do not currently recognise the need for any form of deer management, the Network may cite evidence to the Committee of an increasing need to plan for managing deer, while recognising the benefits they bring.  


The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee (RACCE) scrutinises Scottish Government policy proposals relating to rural affairs, climate change and the environment. 

  • Tweet your comments and questions using #landreformbill
  • Follow live tweets of the visits at @SP_RuralClimate
  • Read what people have told the Committee so far about land reform: Land Reform Bill

For more information: 

The Roxburghe Estatehttp://www.roxburghe.net/estate 

Lowland Deer Network Scotland: http://www.ldns.org.uk/ 

The Committee will meet with tenant farmers to  discuss part 10 of the Land Reform Bill. Expected to be under discussion:  

  • Establishing a tenant farming commissioner.
  • Setting up a new form of tenancy (modern limited duration tenancies). 
  • Removing the need for tenants to register for right to buy.
  • Forcing sale of farms where a landlord is in breach of terms of lease.
  • Changing the way rents are calculated: moving away from open market to determining the productive capacity of a farm.
  • Changing the arrangements for assignation and succession – widening the people you can assign or leave a farm to.
  • Establishing a new two year amnesty for tenants to declare improvements they have made on a farm so they can be appropriately compensated when leaving a farm.
  • Ensuring landlords also need to seek permission if planning an improvement to a farm.


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