Crofting (New Entrants)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 21 February 2024.

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Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

6. To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the most recent figures published by the Crofting Commission showing an increase in the number of new entrants between March 2022 and March 2023. (S6O-03091)

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

I am delighted to see that, once again, the Crofting Commission is reporting a high number of new entrants to crofting.

Each of the 510 new crofters in 2022-23 represents a new or continuing member of the local community, highlighting the invaluable role that crofting plays in supporting population retention in our rural and island areas. It is also encouraging to see that almost half of those new crofters are women, and that just under a third are aged 40 or younger. That is positive news for the sector and critical to its future.

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

I welcome the minister to his new role and thank him for his response. Can he outline how the Scottish Government intends to build on that progress by further expanding access to those who are looking to begin crofting, such as by ensuring that abandoned crofts become available for others to use?

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

We are encouraging opportunities for new crofters. That is a key action in our national development plan for crofting. In 2023, the Scottish Land Matching Service’s crofting resource was launched, which links prospective crofters to available crofting opportunities. As of last week, 195 people were looking for a croft in that way.

The Crofting Commission also launched its croft succession project in the Uists and Barra and in Sutherland to encourage succession planning and living succession, which will help to create further opportunities for new entrants. We continue to provide more than £40 million-worth of funding each year to crofters through various schemes, including the crofting agricultural grant scheme and the croft house grant.