Highlands & Islands

Pairc Estate landowner's right-to-buy challenge rejected

Three judges have thrown out a claim by an island landowner that right-to-buy legislation infringed his human rights.

Scottish Ministers approved a bid by the crofting community at Pairc Estate in Lewis to take over the land.

Landowner Barry Lomas' Pairc Crofters Ltd and one of its tenants, Pairc Renewables, appealed against the decision at Stornoway Sheriff Court.

The human rights challenge in the appeal was referred to the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Three judges, headed by the country's senior judge, the Lord President, Lord Gill, have now rejected the challenge.

'Landowner's entitlement'

Lord Gill said: "The appellants accept that it was within the competence of the Scottish Parliament to provide for a crofting community right to buy."

"Their complaint is that the legislation lacks proper safeguards for the landowner's rights."

"In my view, the case for the appellants rests on the central proposition that safeguards for the appellants' convention rights must be explicitly spelled out in the 2003 Act. I do not agree."

Lord Gill said in coming to a decision on right-to-buy applications Scottish ministers had to balance the harm to the landowner against the benefit of the proposal to the wider public and crofting economy.

Lord Gill said that when making the decision the weight to be given to the landowner's interest was "pre-eminently a matter for them".

He added: "On that point, the landowner's entitlement to compensation may be a material consideration."

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