Ruth Maguire MSP contributing to Alisdair Allan’s Members Business Debate on Great Bernera Community Land Buyout, noted her support for the motion which recognises the work of the Great Bernera Community Development Trust towards a crofting community buyout and the development of its island.  

Presently citizens of Great Bernera are facing a challenging situation with the loss of the school and care home, combined with rising house prices and difficulties developing the land. Legal ownership could be seen as crucial to allow the community to thrive. Ruth noted her regret that a lack of co-operation from the absentee landlord has delayed and halted progress and that legislation in place to deal with this has not yet delivered for the community.

Speaking in the debate Ruth highlighted the importance of who owns our land and assets, and what they are used for; noting that the situation in Great Bernera is not only a concern for rural but also urban communities. 

Ruth Maguire MSP said: 

“Land reform is defined as changes to land ownership and land use in the public interest. The issue of land ownership in Scotland can be a contentious one. It is of concern to many of us that large swathes of our country are being held by only a handful of private and in many cases non-resident landowners. As the Centre for Local Economic Strategies notes, 

“Land ownership matters because it is an expression of economic and political power”. 

The concentration of rural land ownership in the hands of only a few people is a structural problem, particularly when it results in land use that extracts wealth from local communities to their detriment and to the detriment of the wider public interest. The situation in Great Bernera highlights that.” 

Ruth wished the Great Bernera Community Development Trust every success in its endeavours. 

Find Ruth’s contribution to the debate on the Scottish Parliament Official Report here

Watch Ruth’s speech here: