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To ask the Scottish Government what powers of compulsory purchase of land it has, and under what legislation, for the purposes of (a) establishing agricultural holdings within and beyond the crofting counties, (b) the settlement of such land for the conducting of agricultural activity, (c) creating forestry, (d) establishing housing not related to agricultural activity and (e) conservation or environmental restoration; whether ministers can exercise such powers directly, and what powers of compulsory purchase its agencies have that are separate from any such direct powers.


Answered by Richard Lochhead (26/11/2015):

The powers of Scottish ministers and Scottish Government agencies to acquire land compulsorily, and under what circumstances, are set out in various general Acts of Parliament. In response to the specific questions:

(a) and (b) there are existing powers under section 57 of the Agriculture (Scotland) Act 1948 that allow Scottish ministers to acquire land to ensure its full and efficient use for agriculture, to secure the carrying out of work, provision or maintenance of equipment or use of the land in conjunction with other land;

(c) Under section 39 of the Forestry Act 1967, Scottish ministers may acquire land suitable for afforestation or purposes connected with forestry;

(d) Scottish ministers do not have specific power to acquire land for such a purpose; and

(e) Scottish ministers do not have specific power to acquire land for such a purpose. However under section 39 of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, Scottish Natural Heritage may acquire land which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, any other land to which a Nature Conservation Order or Land Management Order applies or any other land which is contiguous to or which Scottish Natural Heritage considers to be associated with, land of the aforementioned land type for the purpose of securing the conservation, restoration or other enhancement of any protected natural feature.

In addition to meeting the conditions set out in this legislation, Scottish ministers, or public agencies, would have to ensure that any decision to exercise these powers was compatible with their responsibilities to respect the rights of individuals under the European Convention of Human Rights, such as the right to the peaceful enjoyment of possession under Article 1 Protocol 1. This would include considering the strength of the public interest in purchasing the land and whether this is a proportionate action to take. The same considerations would arise should any new compulsory purchase powers be considered.


Current Status: Answered by Richard Lochhead on 26/11/2015
 
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