Thursday, 3 September 2009

Gibson calls for reforms to allow active crofting

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP has called for active crofting which will continue into the future to be the outcome of the latest crofting reforms.

Mr Gibson's call came during a debate a Holyrood on the Government programme for the next term.

In it he focused on the agricultural sector and particular the issue of crofting reform.

During his speech he pointed to a report from the crofters in the township of Camuscross on Skye which showed why change is needed.

In the township of 39 crofts one third of the crofts are absentees, three-fifths of the township’s crofts show signs of agricultural neglect, slovenly decrofting procedures have left one family without direct vehicular access to their croft, one croft has been absentee occupied for three generations, the Crofters Commission has replaced one absentee tenant in the township with another, despite local interest in the croft, houses built on apportionments in the township are being used as holiday homes one absentee, who has never lived in the village and has no family connection to it, has been using their croft as a holiday home business for more than 20 years –taking around £50,000 gross annually on it. This croft and two holiday letting houses is now on the market for offers over £590,000.

Mr Gibson said that a situation like that is why crofting needs to be reformed.

Speaking after the debate Mr Gibson said….

"The Scottish Government is interested in active crofting. Widening access and improving the experience. To be fair the opposition and crofters want that too. However all summer the opposition has been stirring things up so that the issues of the reform has been lost in a welter of hyperbole. I hope that when they meet with the Environment Minister next week that they are a little more circumspect and less reactionary."

"The future of crofting is too important for it to be sacrificed for short term political gain.

"More crofters will have to take responsibility. Since 1999 a vocal minority have opposed the vast majority of reforms going. This does not help the future of crofting. If inaction is the outcome then there will probably be no crofting in the future. They to have to become more conciliatory. A decade of negativity has produced nothing.

"Crofting has a role to play in the future of Scotland I have no doubt about that however it will need to move on if it is to encourage more people (who are the life blood of crofting) into it."


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