Highland Liberal Democrat Councillors are calling on the Scottish Government to reinstate the registration of anonymous land owners in the latest land reform bill.
The measure, initially included in Scottish Government proposals on land reform, was removed by the Scottish Government when the Bill was introduced to Holyrood in June.
An earlier draft of the bill saw a compulsorily register for land owners in Scotland, some of whom own land anonymously through overseas shell companies, and was widely welcomed by communities and local authorities.
The register, recommend by the Land Reform Review Group, would have allowed authorities to contact and ‘chase down’ owners who misuse land that could be used for the benefit of communities.
The UK Government have also made moves to implement a similar public land register south of the border
David Alston, leader of the Lib Dems on the Highland Council, said: “The Scottish Government has a great opportunity to ensure that land ownership in Scotland is transparent as possible.
“No-one wants to see good land, which is either part of our wonderful countryside or could be used to benefit our communities, go to waste – particularly here in the Highlands.
“Many land owners are extremely conscientious and go to great pains to ensure that their property is used for the public good. Unfortunately there are some who have no interest in using the land, or misuse it against the wishes of nearby communities.
“The only way we can ensure that land is used responsibly is to know who owns it. That is why the Lib Dems on the Highland Council want to see the recommendations for a public register, maintained by the Scottish Government, reinstated in the bill.”