Rural land use agencies in Scotland : an appraisal of the record and effectiveness in Scotland of the Forestry Commission, the Nature Conservancy/Nature Conservancy Council and the Countryside Commission for Scotland
During the second half of this century the institutions exercising the greatest influence upon rural land users over Scotland as a whole have been the agriculture Department (under various titles), the Forestry Commission, the Nature Conservancy/Nature Conservancy Council and the Countryside Commission for Scotland. The three latter institutions may be described as "quangos" (hereafter called "agencies") i.e. centrally-funded public bodies, but having a chairman and a board of management appointed from outwith government. In April 1992 the three agencies were radically reconstructed. The changes were described as having been made in response to criticism - not least in Scotland - of their structure and performance. It therefore seems timely to assess the record and effectiveness of the agencies in relation to Scotland, where both afforestation and nature conservation have had significant effects on land use. The method adopted is, first, to review the constitutional status and role of agencies in the UK, and the place of the land use agencies. Next, each of the three agencies is examined on its own, in terms of its historical origins, evolution and performance, particularly in relation to Scotland; its organisational structure; its efficiency and effectiveness as perceived by various observers; and its relationship with its "client" or interest group. Finally, the significance and achievement of the agencies - both individually and in combination - are appraised in relation to Scotland. It is concluded that they have fallen down on the custodial side of their terms of reference, i.e. their responsibility for the environment of rural Scotland. An explanation of the shortcomings of the agencies is sought in their institutional structure. A more coherent structure of agencies, aimed at curing the ills diagnosed, is suggested.