SLAM: Scottish Land Action Movement

Tony Gosling tony at
Thu Jan 22 20:23:54 GMT 2015

Scottish Land Action Movement


Questions or ideas? Please get in touch! Our 
email is mail at


1. A land information system
Currently only 26% of Scotland's land is 
registered in the land register. To find out who 
owns what, we demand a mandatory system that is 
up to date and available to the public.

2. A Land-Value Rating (LVT)
There is no taxation on just land itself. We 
demand a move towards a more progressive tax, 
that takes into account the value and use of the land.

3. A cap on the amount of land any one private 
individual or beneficial interest is eligible to own
Huge private estates leave the land empty and 
barren. We would like them community-owned or 
broken up through the establishment of a National 
Land Policy, and updated laws of succession.

4. Greater powers for communities to buy and own land
Statutory rights of: registration of interest in 
land, pre-emption over land, and a right to buy 
land through a compulsory purchase order where 
there is a clear benefit to the community, both urban and rural.

5. Security for tenants in rented accommodation
How we live on the land affects us all - secure 
tenancies for private renters ensure communities can flourish.

6. A robust self-build sector
We believe incentives to self-build homes can 
offer alternatives to current housing schemes and strengthen communities.

7. Rights for tenant farmers
Tenant farmers currently have very little 
security over their tenancies, leaving them 
vulnerable to huge rent increases and evictions. 
We demand protective legislation and an inquiry 
into an optional automatic right to buy.

8. Hutting
Hutting should be encouraged and facilitated by 
landowners and planning authorities to encourage rural leisure.

9. Greater governmental aid
Establish a distinct governmental unit that will 
facilitate community buyouts, advise ministers, 
and provide support services. Increase the Land Fund.

10. Common Good lands
We demand that Common Good Lands be safeguarded, 
their management be democratic and modern, and 
information regarding Common Good lands and funds 
be readily available and up to date.

Look at our political structures, our economy, 
and our land, and you’ll find a fundamental lack of democracy.

Our focus is land.  Who owns Scotland?  Very 
few.  Just 432 landowners have 50% of the 
privately owned land.  That's a mere 0.008% of the population.

The causes for this extraordinary situation go 
back centuries – feudalism was only abolished in 
Scotland a decade ago – but the concentration of 
land ownership has actually increased in the last 50 years.

The early years of the Scottish Parliament 
brought tentative progress in the form of the 
2003 Land Reform (Scotland) Act; this 
legislation, with the provision of a Land Fund, 
encouraged a series of community buy-outs in 
rural areas.  These have shown how 
extraordinarily successful communities can be 
when they manage their own affairs; producing 
off-grid electricity, increasing tourism, 
boosting local jobs
 developments essential to 
stop the disastrous trend of rural depopulation.

But the case for much bolder, wider-reaching land 
reform never went away.  It was heard frequently 
during the referendum debate; increasingly 
recognised as a central issue for those calling 
for social justice, democracy and equality in Scotland.

This isn’t just a rural issue.  Land reform in 
Scotland has its roots in the struggles of the 
1800s to oppose clearances and establish 
crofters’ rights – but now it is much 
broader.  Soaring land values and monopoly 
control are what drive housing shortages, 
deprivation, urban blight.  Our city centres are 
full of half-empty hotels, stalled developments, 
overpriced and ugly student housing.

Meanwhile rural communities decline further under 
- often absent - landowners; and vast swathes of 
the Highlands are set aside as playgrounds for 
the world’s richest, with troubling ecological 
and social consequences. This is an issue that affects everyone.

The Scottish Land Action Movement is a collective 
of activists all striving for the same goal - to 
deliver comprehensive and radical land reform in Scotland by 2016.


We are a collective of activists all striving for 
the same goal - to deliver comprehensive and 
radical land reform in Scotland by 2016.
We believe that people-powered campaigning is the 
best way to do this. We have the backing of 
prominent researchers, journalists, activists and 
even politicians to help us reach our goal. 
However, it is the power of collective democracy 
that has founded this movement. Post-referendum 
Scotland is a place brimming full of passion and 
ideas - we believe there has never been a better 
time to fight for land reform, and with the 
support of a politicised nation, we can create a fairer and more just Scotland.

Our aim is simple - get enough people talking 
about our message, and change will happen.

We plan to provide a cohesive network for 
activists and campaign groups from all over the 
country to come together and learn from each 
other. We have a library of resources of all 
varieties so people can educate themselves on the 
topic of land reform, reaching far beyond just 
lairds in their castles. Land reform is just as 
important to communities in central Glasgow as it 
is to communities in the Western Isles, and the 
more knowledge we have about these issues, the 
more power we can wield in affecting change.

If you would like to set up a campaign or group, 
we will help you in whatever way we can with the resources at our disposal.

If you would like to contribute to our movement, 
our blog will be showcasing stories of 
communities in action, of campaigns, and examples 
of community ownership successes. Even just 
telling us why you think land reform is important - we want to hear from you!

Over the coming months we will be setting up 
petitions and meetings - please follow us on 
Twitter or like us on Facebook to receive up-to-date information.

Questions or ideas? Please get in touch! Our 
email is mail at


““Land reform is a popular cause right across 
Scotland and now is the moment when we can make 
significant progress. SLAM is a very welcome 
initiative and provides a focus and resources for 
the growing land rights movement.”
­ Andy Wightman, author and activist

“We are talking of not just freeing our lands to 
benefit communities, but decolonising bygone 
feudal structures in our minds. It inspires to 
see a new generation of bright minds carrying 
that process forwards in setting up SLAM.
­ Alastair McIntosh, author

““Inequality of eye watering proportions is 
commonplace in Scotland. That rests on unequal 
access to basic resources like land – so 
unequally shared in Scotland that many Scots no 
longer even identify with land reform as an 
issue. For me it is THE issue. Land grounds us. 
It acts as the physical plane for our hopes and 
ideas, it produces food, stands below buildings 
and dereliction, grows forests that provide fuel 
and leisure for profit – not currently for local 
people. The concentration of land in a few feudal 
hands undermines Scotland’s claim to be a 
democracy and keeps Scots feeling like strangers 
or squatters in their own country. It’s long past time for change.
­ Lesley Riddoch, author and journalist

“An American called Woody Guthrie once sang a song that included this verse:
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing;
This land was made for you and me.
Trouble is that, here in Scotland, though the 
land around us should ideally be managed in ways 
that benefit all our people, fewer than 500 
owners have managed to put one of Guthrie’s big 
high walls round more than half of it. That’s 
something that’ll take a real big push to change. 
And that’s why Scottish Land Action Movement is much to be welcomed.
­ - Jim Hunter, writer and historian

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