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Author Topic: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?  (Read 28453 times)

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« on: October 15, 2013, 09:15:41 am »
I think it must be in the legislation but what responsibilities do crofters have to meet and what rights do they acquire by being crofters?

I assume "decrofting" means giving up these rights and responsibilities? How do you "decroft"?



Hamish Crofter

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  • Joined Jun 2013
  • Isle of Skye
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2013, 09:50:33 am »
Where do I start..........it would send you all to sleep to explain all the implications of the land being legally designated a croft. There are legally tenant crofters, owner occupied crofters or landlords of vacant crofts. All have slightly different legal definitions and rights.
To decroft means to take a piece of land out of crofting legislation. This is a complicated legal process that must be approved by the Crofting Commission. It's unlikely a whole croft would be decrofted. More common is if a crofter builds a house on their croft then they will apply for the small plot the house stands on to be decrofted. The main reason for this is that although you can be granted planning permission to build on croft land, unless the house sits on decrofted plot you will not be able to get a mortgage on it.
Crofters must live within 32 Kms of their croft and crofts should be used for approved purposes, agricultural activities. Often comes the right to use common grazings in the adjoining township along with neighbouring crofters.
As you will see from this snippet it's quite different fro just buying a smallholding and working it. The benefits of course are that there are government grants aimed at crofters to ensure crofting activity continues and due to the legal ties croftland does generally come a bit cheaper than ordinary agricultural land.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2013, 10:52:19 am »
Thanks for this - you won't send me to sleep  :)

I'm currently starting some research into the similarities and differences between crofting and smallholding. Basically thinking along the lines of increasing support for smallholding in Scotland by extending the concept of a croft to the areas of Scotland currently outwith the crofting legislation - not the ludicrous 'West Lothian Lowland Croft Scheme" which was just a way of some farmer selling his farm in little parcels to horse owner and probably making a killing (IMHO). If being a croft reduces the price, because of the regulations, then it might make smallholding more accessible by putting of the horsiculturalists.

Is the common grazing difficult to manage? Is it vast acreages?

I assume the purpose of a croft is to be a small farm; so what if you do something else non-farming? Does horticulture count?

Floyd

  • Joined Dec 2010
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2013, 11:46:28 am »
Here a copy of the Crofting Reform Act.  Perfect for winter reading!
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2010/14/contents

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2013, 12:13:27 pm »
Here a copy of the Crofting Reform Act.  Perfect for winter reading!
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2010/14/contents

Presumably there's an idiot's guide somewhere?

Factotum

  • Joined Jun 2012
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2013, 01:45:11 pm »
There's the Crofting Federation - they have a FAQ here:

http://www.crofting.org/index.php/faqs/67

and also the Crofters Commission who have some guidance info.

http://www.crofting.scotland.gov.uk/documents.asp

I think Moray was added as a crofting county quite recently - not clear yet what, if any, implications that change has to people like us.

Sue

Hamish Crofter

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  • Joined Jun 2013
  • Isle of Skye
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2013, 02:04:18 pm »
Moray was certainly added recently as a crofting area but according to the Crofting Commission they dont yet have any crofts registered in Moray.

Victorian Farmer

  • Guest
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2013, 03:36:41 pm »
Is it the same as an estate owned croft we pay each month a sum of money as well as building new walls gates etc .we then have a thanks giving day where we all meet and discus problems etc .The estates are all over the north of Scotland .

mowhaugh

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Scottish Borders
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Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2013, 05:16:47 pm »
This is very interesting, thank you.

oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2013, 07:13:14 pm »
In response to the highland clearances, some civil unrest (I seem to remember that the navy had to send ships to Skye at some point) and public opinion the governement held a consultation in the 1880s which resulted in the crofters act of 1883.  This act basically said that crofters had an absolute tennancy (that could be passed on to decendants and could not be ended by the land owner) and the rent would be based on the value of unimproved ground (as all the improvements had been made by the crofters - one of the reasons most people in the highlands lived in squalor was that if YOU made any improvements to your house the landlord would decree that the property that you rented was more valuable so increase the rent - A major disincentive to making improvements).
The act applied to the crofting counties in the North and West.  At the time there was debate as to whether Aberdeenshire should be included as there were a lot of crofters in Aberdeenshire but there was also a lot of landowners (as opposed to places like Sutherland which was entirely owned by 1 person) so there were enough voices to persuade the governement not to.  As a result there are hardly any crofts left in Aberdeenshire.

About 30 years ago crofters got an absolute right to buy at a fixed price (I think 10x the rent).

There is an obligation to use the croft for agricultural purposes and the Crofting Comission has the power to force an unused croft to be re-let to someone who will use it.  Even though I own my croft if I don't use it I can be made to let it out to someone else (and remember a crofting tenant is very hard to evict).  In practice there are hundreds of unused crofts about and very little being done about it - although the CC has made noises about it in the last year or 2.

Crofting is seen as key to sustaining rural communities in much of the highlands (particularly the remote areas) and without the last 130 years of the legislation I would argue that many of the most iconic communities in the highlands would simply be piles of rubble in the heather.  Because of key role in sustaining fragile communities crofting is supported by grant schemes etc, much more than general farming is.  It is also argued that crofting activity is much more benificial to the environment than other forms of agriculture.

It has also been said that a simpler definition of a croft is "a small piece of land surrounded by legislation".

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2013, 08:12:47 pm »
Why was the crofting legislation recently extended to include Moray (and some other places, I think I read somewhere)?

I suppose folk with smallholdings in Moray will have to decide if they want to register as a croft.

Ina

  • Joined Feb 2012
  • South Aberdeenshire
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2013, 06:14:29 am »
I found another little "lowland crofting" scheme in Ayrshire, which seems just as ridiculous as the one in West Lothian... If there is so much regulation about crofts, wouldn't there be a law about the use of the term for anything that's not within the crofting countries?

oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2013, 12:46:32 pm »
Why was the crofting legislation recently extended to include Moray (and some other places, I think I read somewhere)?

I suppose folk with smallholdings in Moray will have to decide if they want to register as a croft.

I think that the idea is to try and increase the number of crofts available, so it is not so much aimed at smallholders wishing to register (although they could) but to get larger landowners to create new crofts. 
Then the landowner has assurance that the land will be used productively and not just become another expensive second home.

The forestry commission has some stuff on their website as they are supposed to be creating crofts on their land.
I am not sure how many new crofts have actually been created - very few I suspect as large estates are not in the habit of selling land.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2013, 08:20:25 pm »

I think that the idea is to try and increase the number of crofts available, so it is not so much aimed at smallholders wishing to register (although they could) but to get larger landowners to create new crofts. 
Then the landowner has assurance that the land will be used productively and not just become another expensive second home.

The forestry commission has some stuff on their website as they are supposed to be creating crofts on their land.
I am not sure how many new crofts have actually been created - very few I suspect as large estates are not in the habit of selling land.

That makes sense. :thumbsup:

doganjo

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Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2013, 08:29:27 pm »
So Landowners in the crofting areas can divide up their land and make it available to people who want to croft  but landowners outwith crofting areas can't?  And crofters can get grants and subsidies but smallholders can't - is that right?

Perhaps I'm being simplistic but is a croft not the same as a smallholding?  To me both constitute an area of land with a dwelling where the owners/tenants farm on a smaller scale than a farmer.

When John and I lived in Aberdeenshire all our farming and village friends said we owned the croft - but it wasn't in a crofting area, so it was really a smallholding wasn't it?  We had sheep, cattle, hens, ducks, grew vegetables, fruit, had a greenhouse, as well as dogs and cats.

So as in the title of this thread "what makes a croft different from a smallholding?" Puzzled.com
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

 

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