Commenting after the meeting of the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, held to discuss the Land Reform Bill, Sarah Boyack MSP, Scottish Labour spokesperson for Environmental Justice said:

“The committee has been drip fed the Scottish Government’s changing positions on key elements of the Bill and it was important that as Opposition members we were able to get clarity on the Scottish Government’s position. Given the huge public interest in this Bill I was particularly keen to get on the record the fact that we need substantial changes before the Bill lives up to the aspirations we have for it.

The Land Reform Bill initially proposed by Ministers simply didn’t meet the aspirations we have for tackling inequality and making better use of our land in the interests of communities. As a result of pressure significant amendments were made to the Bill which will strengthen its purpose and increase transparency.

I welcome the fact that my amendment was supported to record that community rights need to sit alongside individual rights. The key debate was on the issue of increasing transparency on ownership. We were determined that amendments were approved to address the fact that we need clarity on the ownership of land but the SNP voted this down.

I am determined that Scottish Labour will continue to work on a cross party basis to strengthen this legislation. We will continue to press SNP Ministers for changes to be made in advance of the Parliament’s Stage 3 consideration of bill.”