The community right to buy : progress towards sustainable development?
The purpose of this thesis is to assess the extent to which Part 2 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, the community right to buy land in rural Scotland, can contribute to the underlying policy of sustainable development. The Land Reform Policy Group (LRPG) tied the different strands of the land reform debate together under the policy goal of sustainable development in its first report Identifying the Problems. It is stated that the central objective of land reform should be to remove the land-related barriers to sustainable development. The LRPG proposed that a community right to buy land in Scotland would greatly diversify land ownership and use and, importantly, help to ensure the sustainable development of rural communities. The Scottish Executive accepted the LRPG approach to land reform. The legislative process finally culminated in a community right to buy containing two key checks on the sustainable development plans of communities wishing to exercise the right: (1) the purpose of the community body (incorporated as a company limited by guarantee) must be consistent with furthering the achievement of sustainable development; and (2) the community’s plans for the land must be compatible with furthering the achievement of sustainable development. In assessment the contribution of the community right to buy to the policy objective of sustainable development this thesis undertakes three main areas of research. The first is to examine the meaning of sustainable development within the context of community land ownership in Scotland. The second is to identify the legal mechanisms of community ownership and examine the contribution that the community right to buy will make to those legal mechanisms. The third area of research is to examine four existing examples of community land ownership in Scotland: the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust, Abriachan Forest Trust and Woodhead and Windyhills Community Trust.