Thursday 13 February 2014

2000 absentee Crofters and neglect of the land

Ormsaigbeg crofting township
In 2010 the "Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act" gave the newly formed Crofting Commission responsibility for dealing with the problem of "absentee Crofters". If you are a tenant or owner occupier of one of Scotland's 18,000 crofts you are required to live on the croft or no further than 32 km away. The Crofter also has an obligation to carry out crofting; keeping livestock, growing crops and other croft based economic activity. According to BBC News the "Commission" is going to get tough with absenteeism by requiring all Crofters to report annually on croft residence and activity.

It has been estimated ( by whom I don't know) that throughout the Crofting Counties there are 2,000 absentee Crofters. The effects of absenteeism and neglect include derelict croft houses, encroachment of bracken,the blight of caravans and chalets and depopulation in winter.

Abandoned and neglected
Between my house and the end of the road, just over a mile, there are twenty crofts, twenty two houses and eight caravans.  In winter only seven houses are inhabited, all of us are over sixty and one is ninety plus. Good land running down to high water mark and up to the common grazing is neglected; overrun by bracken, brambles and coarse grasses. There are only two active users of the common grazing (5,500 acres) out of 23 shareholders.

Not all of the absentee land is neglected; some of it has tenants or less formal grazing arrangements, not all of the houses are neglected they are well maintained as holiday homes, many by the descendants of the last generation of Crofters who have strong familial ties to the land.  These people contribute to the local economy, maintain the crofting landscape and enliven the place ( mainly in Summer).

Perhaps the Commission should be targeting absenteeism by dealing first with abandonment and total neglect  in order  to provide a crofting base for younger people and the community with a better balanced demographic.

1 comment:

Domestic Kat said...

I know you made this post months ago but I've thought of it often since then.

Thinking of that picture and seeing it breaks my heart.

I think of the years and years of hard work and love that my grandparents and great grandparents etc. put into this croft and it sucks to see it in his condition.

Given the chance it would not be left like this. I dream of one day getting it back to its former glory.

I just wish it didn't have to affect the other residents.