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Land reform in Scotland: is it achieving environmental justice? Dr Aylwin Pillai & Ms Anne-Michelle Slater University of Aberdeen, School of Law Email:

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Presentation on theme: "Land reform in Scotland: is it achieving environmental justice? Dr Aylwin Pillai & Ms Anne-Michelle Slater University of Aberdeen, School of Law Email:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Land reform in Scotland: is it achieving environmental justice? Dr Aylwin Pillai & Ms Anne-Michelle Slater University of Aberdeen, School of Law Email:;

2 Introduction Environmental Justice –(1) In our teaching –(2) In our research –(3) In Scottish land reform: Scottish demographics Political context Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 Evaluating land reform –(4) In our students learning

3 (1) In our teaching: Existing teaching: Rural Law (Honours) Environmental Law (Honours) Principles of Environmental Regulation (LLM) - average 28 students, offered in Oil and Gas Law and Law and Sustainable Development programmes Sustainable Development and Law (LLM) - average 15 students, compulsory module for LLM in Law and Sustainable Development

4 In planned teaching as part of University-wide curriculum reform: Sustainability - Interdisciplinary 6 th Century Course available to all first year students across the University from October 2010 Sustainable International Development -Interdisciplinary 6 th Century Course available to all second year students from 2011 -Developed out of new Centre for Sustainable International Development -Focus on the developing world, using Africa as a case study -Three lecturers from School of Law contributing to interdisciplinary teaching team of 24

5 (2) In our research: Research-led teaching A.M. Slater – Planning, environmental justice A. Pillai – Land law reform, sustainable development –Slater and O.W. Pedersen, Environmental Justice: lessons on definition and delivery from Scotland (2009), Journal of Environmental Planning and Management Vol. 52 (6) 797-812 –Pillai, Sustainable rural communities? A legal perspective on the community right to buy, Land Use Policy 27 (2010) 898–905 –Slater, Pillai and O. W. Pedersen, Newcastle University: Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development: A Scottish Case Study in French, D. (Ed) Global Justice and Sustainable Development, Brill, Leiden. Forthcoming 2010

6 (3) In Scottish land reform: Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 – flagship legislation of new Scottish Parliament 3 measures of land reform: Part 1: Access to the countryside Part 2: Community right to buy land Part 3: Crofting community right to buy Environmental justice not an explicit policy objective but sustainable development is (Part 2) Agyeman, FoE (Scotland) and others have drawn links between land reform, environmental justice and sustainable development

7 Scottish demographics Small and ageing population (5,168,500) Recent statistics highlight income inequality: –19% of the population live in poverty –21% of children live in poverty Highly concentrated landownership History of social division Relatively low life expectancy

8 Scottish Political Context PeriodExecutive Body Leading Party Relevant SD Policy Relevant EJ Policy 1999 – 2003Scottish Executive Scottish Labour/Scottish Liberal Democrats Coalition UK SD strat. 1999 Down to Earth 1999 Dynamic Earth Address 2003 – May 2007 Scottish Executive Scottish Labour/Scottish Liberal Democrats Coalition Choosing Our Future 2005 Commissioning of EJ research, Planning policy, EJ fund, May 2007 – current Scottish Government Scottish National Party minority government Economic Strategy 2007 EJ fund discontinued, focus on social equity

9 Linking land reform and EJ Time (LRPG deliberations and FOES campaign coincide) Shared social justice and EJ concerns including: –access to the countryside; –inequitable distribution of land, wealth and access (legal rights) to resources in rural areas; and –community empowerment, self-determination and participation in land management

10 Legislative Response Sustainable development of rural communities encapsulating: 1. Redistributive justice: Land Redistribution –Part 2: Rural communities pre-emptive right to buy land –Part 3: Crofting communities absolute right to buy 2. Procedural justice: Community Empowerment and participation Quasi-public ownership through company limited by guarantee

11 Evaluating land reform Defining / understanding both EJ and SD in Scotland difficult because of changing political priorities EJ no longer a policy priority in Scotland – now incorporated into broader policy objectives At a policy level land reform demonstrates integration of environmental justice as the social pillar of sustainable development Focus on empowering rural communities through the legislation, accompanying policy and in funding provision In practice redistributive capacity of Land Reform (Sc) Act 2003 parts 2 and 3 severely limited Procedural justice also brought into question by perception that power of individuals within the community is not, in fact, strengthened – rather the Act replaces one private landowner with another, albeit a company limited by guarantee

12 (4) In our students learning: LLM courses draw students from Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Pakistan, India, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Germany, France and, to a lesser extent, Scotland Most LLM students come from legal practice Sustainable Development and Law students use environmental justice as an evaluative tool to explore the meaning and practical application of sustainable development through examining: –Relationship between sustainable development and environmental justice –Case study on Scottish land reform Principles of Environmental Regulation LLM and Environmental Law (Honours) students study environmental justice as a distinct seminar topic

13 Student EJ workshop Generally international students responded much more enthusiastically to examining environmental justice, particularly those from developing world countries, than UK students In February 2010 we invited a group of 5 of our LLM students and 2 of our PhD students to discuss the role of EJ in our courses In class the previous year LLM students had been divided into 2 camps: Those who saw EJ only as a subset of SD (particularly in relation to public participation) Those who recognised the value of EJ as a concept

14 –Students acknowledged that after reflection they had changed their minds about the value of EJ: The worlds focus is on economic development therefore environmental justice is necessary to create a balance (Nigerian student of Sustainable Development and Law) In Nigeria everyone thinks that environmental law is all about the environment and, therefore, I wasnt interested. With environmental justice I learned that its all about people (Nigerian student of Principles of Environmental Regulation) Environmental justice is necessary. Its all about empowering the people. It is all about making them part of the decision making process (Nigerian PhD student examining the role of sustainable development in oil and gas exploration in the Niger Delta)

15 Conclusions EJ has had a turbulent history in Scotland due to political rhetoric, vague terminology and changing political preferences This presents difficulties in teaching the concept Notwithstanding, it is a useful evaluative tool in a number of teaching scenarios, not least as a tool to re-assess highly anthropocentric and development focused views of sustainable development Examined at a practical level in the context of land reform in Scotland, it is useful in assessing legislative responses to achieving sustainable development, land redistribution and community empowerment In a teaching context the procedural arm of EJ was recognised as particularly important in African countries where it is not being achieved and where the outcomes of environmental injustices are particularly apparent

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