A new era for crofting began today when Shetland’s representative of the newly-created Crofting Commission met the Scottish government’s environment minister.
Kathleen Sinclair joined forces with fellow representatives from Orkney, the Highlands and Western Isles to meet Stewart Stevenson for the first time during a visit to Inverness.
As well as the elected representatives, the new commission is made up of representatives appointed to the commission board by Scottish ministers. Those are Susan Walker, William Swann and one-time Scottish election hopeful for the Conservatives in Shetland, Sandy Cross.
The new commission officially came into being on Sunday, although its first convener has yet to be appointed.
It supersedes the similarly-titled Crofters Commission, and has been designed to meet the changing needs of crofting in the 21st century.
The changes mean the commission will have the power to regulate crofting to ensure lands are occupied and worked or, if not, made available to those who want to croft.
Mr Stevenson said: “This is a momentous day for crofting as we drive forward the reform agenda which will secure a sustainable future for crofting.
“I’m very pleased to attend the first gathering of the newly elected and appointed Crofting Commissioners in Inverness and to meet those responsible for ensuring the commission is an effective regulator of crofting.
“The majority of commissioners have been democratically elected by crofters, putting the power directly in the hands of crofters themselves.
“Crofting is part of Scotland’s history and culture and the Crofting Commission will ensure that it is also part of Scotland’s future.”
The new commission was one of the measures introduced as part of the Crofting Reform Act 2010.
The act also establishes a definitive map-based crofting register to remove doubt over what is croft land and who has rights and responsibilities for that land and places a duty on the commission to tackle absenteeism and neglect.