Regional Land Use Partnerships: phase 1 process evaluation - final report

From: Scottish Government
Published: Wed Oct 12 2022

The Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs) evaluation report considers the lessons learned from the Year 1 (2021 to 2022) pilot process. The report was completed by SAC Consulting and outlines key early findings from RLUP pilot establishment.


Scotland's land has been recognised by the UK Climate Change Committee as being key to delivering net zero targets and land use is also an essential part of approaches set out in Scotland's Environment Strategy and Post-2020 Biodiversity Strategy Statement of Intent. The national direction of travel towards achieving these goals is made clear in Scotland's Land Use Strategy, a document renewed every five years in line with the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. Balancing the many demands placed on Scotland's finite land area is an essential part of ensuring a just transition to net zero. The regional scale allows for a balance between sensitivity to the needs of local stakeholders and maintaining accountability to national targets. It is in this context that the Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs) pilot project seeks to optimise the role Scotland's land plays in addressing the twin climate and nature crises.

The 2020-21 Programme for Government reaffirmed the commitment by Scottish Government (SG) to support five RLUP pilots from 2021 and the development of Regional Land Use Frameworks (RLUFs) by the pilots by 2023. Based on engagement with local communities and other land use stakeholders, the RLUFs will seek fair and inclusive pathways for optimising the contribution of land to help meet Scotland's national climate and environment targets. In 2021, Ministers decided to pilot RLUPs in five Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) areas across Scotland. These areas expressed an interest in acting as pilots and were chosen: Cairngorms National Park; Highlands Council Region; Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park; North East Region (Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Councils); and South of Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders Councils and South of Scotland Enterprise).

The RLUP pilots build on the work of two smaller 2013-15 pilots in Aberdeenshire and Scottish Borders as part of Scotland's Land Use Strategy. The previous pilots demonstrated the benefits of regional working to achieve objectives collaboratively. The current RLUP pilots are in place to test practical approaches to establishing governance structures and collaboration and engagement options. The pilot process will be implemented over the following phases:

  • Phase 1 (March 2021-March 2022): Establish a partnership structure able to deliver a collaborative approach to land use decision-making involving national and local government, landowners and managers, communities and other relevant stakeholders.
  • Phase 2 (March 2022 to end 2023): Outline in a Framework (RLUF) which uses a natural capital approach to identify and agree upon current and potential land use opportunities and priorities across the region that support the delivery of Scottish Government's targets for climate change, biodiversity, and other environmental objectives.

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Company: Scottish Government

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