The Crofting Commission is emphasising the important role of grazings committees in representing shareholders and maintaining and improving common grazings.
Grazings committees are seen as playing a crucial part in the crofting system and in the effective shared management of common grazings across the crofting counties. The Commission therefore say it is important for them to have, and follow, clear grazings regulations to safeguard the future of common grazing land for the benefit of all crofters. Vice-Convener of the Crofting Commission, I G Macdonald explains:
“I have been a grazings clerk for more than thirty years and I understand the importance of committees operating within their own agreed regulations to ensure efficient running of the grazings by both the committee and shareholders.
“The role of a grazings committee is to run the grazings on behalf of shareholders through the planning of maintenance and improvement work in line with the Crofting Acts and their regulations, and managing the finance and accounts on behalf of shareholders. As such, income received by the committee belongs to shareholders and should be distributed to them. An appropriate balance may be retained in the shareholders account for planned maintenance or agreed improvement works. Sound administration and accounting for money by the grazings clerk will enable funds to be dispersed in to crofting communities and contribute to the rural economy.
“We hope that by encouraging clearer regulations and clarifying areas of the legislation, that committees will feel confident in the management of their grazings. The Commission intends to provide training to clerks in this regard.
“As the regulator of crofting we must uphold the law and when shareholders raise concerns to the Commission we must examine the actions of a grazings committee in more detail. We then have a duty to take action on the findings of investigations and, working with shareholders, find a resolution.
“The Board of the Commission want to safeguard common grazings as they are such a valuable asset to the crofting system. We were elected into post by crofters and we are committed to working with crofters and stakeholders by providing clear direction on regulations, policy and the Crofting Acts. We understand that a vast majority of grazings committees and their clerks are doing the best they can and we are here to help”
The Crofting Commission say they are on hand to support and advise crofters, grazings clerks and grazings committees on the options available to them. Further guidance for grazings committees will be available in the near future. For more information visit www.crofting.scotland.gov.uk