SCELG Senior Lecturer Malcolm Combe participates in online discussion with co-editors of Land Reform in Scotland

Jan 2021 — Earlier in 2020 a book entitled Land Reform in Scotland: History, Law and Policy, co-edited by SCELG Senior Lecturer in Law Malcolm Combe, was published by Edinburgh University Press as part of its “Scotland’s Land” series. In November, Mr. Combe participated in an online discussion along with co-editors Dr. Jayne Glass of SRUC and Prof. Annie Tindley of Newcastle University to discuss the book.

In times of COVID lockdown restrictions precluding in-person launch events, the webinar was held to mark the launch of the book. The session was conducted via Zoom. After a brief intro from Mr. Combe, the three co-authors then offered their thoughts on the content of the book relating to their respective disciplines. This was followed by a Q&A session.

Land Reform in Scotland – An overview

As suggested by the book’s subtitle, it has three constituent elements. It looks at land law reform from historical, legal and geography/policy perspectives. Owing to its interdisciplinary nature, the various editors took the lead in relation to their respective areas of expertise (Prof. Tindley for history, Mr. Combe for law, and Dr. Glass for policy).

The book begins with a short introduction by the co-authors, then proceeds to a history section comprising five chapters of Scottish insight, and also comparative Irish insight, bearing in mind that Irish land reform also happened within the (then) UK. There are chapters on: the strange survival of the Scottish land question; land, labour and capital in early modern Scotland; agrarian radicalism; enlightenment and improvement; and conceptions of landownership. The law section begins with a chapter that straddles the law/history division, considering the history of land transfer in Scotland, before looking at more contemporary land reforms in general, then through the lenses of property theory, human rights and sustainable development. Specific chapters then look at landlord and tenant law in residential, agricultural and crofting (Highlands and Islands) contexts. Lastly, the policy section considers the planning regime, some more information on crofting law and a recent reform to it, the implications of the size of estates on sustainable management, and Scottish and Norwegian agricultural models (and what those places can learn from each other).

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