Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Agreement reached over Colstoun Mains farm

Andrew Stoddart
Image caption Andrew Stoddart had faced eviction this month

An agreement has been reached between land owners and a tenant farmer facing eviction after more than 20 years.

Andrew Stoddart's tenancy at Colstoun Mains farm, near Haddington in East Lothian, was due to end on 28 November.

But compensation for his eviction has been agreed with the Colstoun Trust and Mr Stoddart will be allowed to stay on until January 2016.

The agreement has been welcomed by Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead, who called it a "complex case".

A statement issued on behalf of both Mr Stoddart and the Colstoun Trust said: "Mediation has taken place between Andrew Stoddart and the Trustees.

"Representatives of the Scottish government were in attendance but have not accepted liability for claims already intimated to them by either Mr Stoddart or the Trustees and did not mediate on these aspects.

"Mr Stoddart and the Trustees have agreed the terms for payment of Mr Stoddart's waygoing claim. They have agreed that Mr Stoddart may continue to have the use of the house, grazing land and farm buildings at Colstoun Mains Farm, Haddington, until January 2016."

Image caption The East Lothian dispute has been highlighted by campaigners

The dispute over the farm in East Lothian has become the focus of a campaign to improve the rights of tenant farmers.

Earlier this month, Mr Stoddart joined land rights campaigners in a protest at the Scottish parliament.

Welcoming agreement in this case on behalf of the government, Mr Lochhead said: "There is no doubt that this has been an incredibly complex case with many different factors involved ranging from flawed legislation to a breakdown in relationship between landlord and tenant over many years.

"We understand that more than 300 tenant farmers were originally affected by the flawed 2003 Agricultural Holdings legislation introduced by the previous administration.

"Agreement between landlord and tenant has been reached in almost all of the cases although seven remain unresolved. I hope that the mediation process that we are facilitating will also now help in these cases."

The body representing landowners has also said it is pleased that the dispute at Colstoun Mains is over.

David Johnstone, the chairman of Scottish Land and Estates, said: "We are pleased that agreement has been reached between the Trust and Mr Stoddart and we are aware there was a willingness on the part of the landlord to deal with the issues involved.

"It is a great pity that this case was surrounded by so much ill-informed rhetoric.

"It was very regrettable that Mr Stoddart was, as were other tenants in Scotland, given false hope by defective legislation brought forward by the then-Scottish Executive many years ago."

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