John’s General Question 3rd October 2013

Natural Assets (Community Ownership)(S4O-02468)

John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Ind):

“To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to expand community ownership of Scotland’s natural assets.” 

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change (Paul Wheelhouse):

“The Scottish Government is committed to maximising the opportunities for community benefits and believes that Scottish public assets should be managed in Scotland for the benefit of Scotland’s people. The First Minister recently announced a target to increase community ownership of land to 1 million acres by 2020. The independent land reform review group is also examining what more could be done to increase community ownership.

In addition, the Scottish Government has proposed a two-phase approach to devolution of the Crown Estate’s functions in Scotland, involving devolution to the Scottish ministers first and then, as a second phase, consideration of where the individual functions and powers might rest.

The first meeting of the recently convened island areas ministerial working group considered that process and the further devolution to island communities of responsibility for the Crown Estate’s functions.”

John Finnie:

“I thank the minister for that detailed response. Scotland’s rivers are an important part of our natural assets. What plans and funding does the Scottish Government have to ensure community ownership of our rivers, with a key role for angling associations?”

Paul Wheelhouse:

“Mr Finnie raises an important issue. During the passage of the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2013, we announced that we would undertake a review of wild fisheries management in this session of Parliament. I hope that we will come before the Parliament in reasonable time to give further detail on that.

The land reform review group has also been considering issues to do with riparian rights. We will have to wait to see what recommendations the review group makes in its final report in April.

I give Mr Finnie an undertaking that we will examine the issues closely and give them due consideration. I am aware of the link between ownership and access to riparian rights, and we will consider sympathetically any recommendations that are made.”