Crofters raise concerns about future in evidence to parliamentary committee

MSPs were told absenteeism among Shetland crofts is virtually non-existent when they met at the Town Hall on Tuesday.

Members of the Scottish Parliament’s rural affairs and environment committee were given the message as they heard concerns about the future of crofting in the isles.

They were taking evidence from crofters and officials on how the Crofting Reform Bill could influence rural areas such as Shetland.

Crofting inquiry member Jane Brown, area assessors  Duncan Gray and Jim Nicolson and crofters Norman Leask and Peter Dodge gave evidence to around a dozen MSPs during a well-attended afternoon session.

The politicians were told links among crofters with family members of close neighbours meant crofts never went neglected in the isles.

The crofters pressed the point for support to continue for crofting to allow younger people the chance to work the land.

In a session open to members of the public, the inquiry also heard from Tingwall resident Joyce Pole, who has campaigned for good agricultural land to be spared from major housing developments.

She said houses were repeatedly developed on good land because it was cheaper to do so. “We should do the right thing and protect the good land and reap the benefits,” she added.

Meanwhile West Side councillor and crofter Frank Robertson called for the Crofters Commission to be included in a list of statutory consultees during the planning process, to help prevent good land from being built on.

For full report, see this week’s Shetland Times.


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