Monday, 28 June 2010

Gibson argues for safeguarding of good crofting land

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP has highlighted a planning dispute in Easter Ross over a threat to good crofting land.

Later this week the Scottish Parliament will be debating the final stage of the Crofting Bill and Mr Gibson said that productive crofting land must be protected for the use of agriculture.

He said a case in point is the attempt to build a large commercial potato store and house at Arabella (near Nigg Station) on crofting land which the Crofters Commission has deemed as good agricultural land.

The applicant has already had a previous application knocked back for housing to be built on the land. However the latest proposal would see the erection of a potato storage building and weighbridge as well as the formation of access road and concrete aprons.

Mr Gibson said that the good crofting land such as that at Arabella should put to crofting uses…

"The primary purpose of this land is for crofting. It has been described as good inbye land by the Crofters Commission therefore it is unacceptable to lose it."

"Building on unproductive crofting land is fine by me. I have seen how this works in crofting communities in Shetland where poor common grazing land was given over to housing. However if it is good land then we really need to grow crops on it for future generations. This land is excellent in crofting terms, therefore the planning application should be rejected."

"I will be arguing this type of case during the Crofting Bill debate this week. It is incumbent on all politicians to work together to keep productive crofting land. The Bill moves away from the current presumption when planning is approved for decrofting to follow. We are moving towards new safeguards to protect productive croft land."

"In Easter Ross the aluminium smelter was built on grade 1 agricultural land. Crofting land is not that good, but the premise still holds true that the loss of good land should not be allowed to happen. Especially as there is local interest to use the plot in question, as well as a significant level of local objections which is being lodged."