Northern Isles MSPs say “fewer carrots and a larger stick” mean crofting needs reform

Responding to the news that the Scottish Government have announced additional funding for four new jobs to develop crofting in the Western Isles, Northern Isles MSPs Liam McArthur and Beatrice Wishart have asked the Scottish Government to “follow that logic through”, and allow for a fully tailored approach to crofting.

The Scottish Government has come under criticism before for failing to recognise the different realities of crofting throughout Scotland.

Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur commented:

“As Scottish Ministers agree to plough £325k into creating crofting posts in the Western Isles, they cannot continue to ignore the need for reform in the way crofting regulation applies across the Crofting Counties.  A one size fits all approach is manifestly failing to take account of the significant differences in the circumstances facing crofters in Orkney compared to those in the Western Isles and other parts of the Highlands.

“For years, I have been highlighting to the Scottish Government the way in which crofting legislation is at odds with the needs of communities in Orkney.  Previously, the ‘carrot and stick’ approach worked well, providing housing and ensuring land was not neglected. However, with fewer carrots and a larger stick, the current rules simply prevent crofters from using their land effectively.

“If Ministers want to create more jobs in enforcing crofting legislation, they must also recognise the need to ensure that legislation is fit for purpose.  The only way that can be achieved is through a more tailored approach that reflects the very different needs and circumstances of communities across the Highlands and Islands.”

Shetland’s MSP Beatrice Wishart added:

“The current framework for crofters can work against them. A one-size-fits-all approach is short sighted – local realities are obviously very different in Shetland compared to the mainland.

“This announcement appears to recognise that, but the Scottish Government now need to follow that logic through and commit to wholehearted reform.”


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