Highlands & Islands

Crofting Commission told to apologise

Ewe and lamb Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Common grazings are areas of land shared by crofters for raising livestock

A Scottish government body set up to regulate crofting in the Highlands and Islands has been told to make a public apology to crofters.

The Crofting Commission has disbanded two village committees in Lewis and one in Lochaber in a dispute over the way they conduct their affairs.

Crofting minister Fergus Ewing sided with the crofters at a private meeting on Wednesday.

He has now asked the commission to rescind its decisions and apologise.

Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: "The Crofting Commission, like any public body, must enjoy the trust of those it is working to serve and, sadly, the disputes over the past few months have been a cause of concern for those who want to support the crofting community.

"As such, I support Fergus Ewing's commitment to moving on, apologising where necessary and putting in place the necessary safeguards so that crofters are not sidelined in the cause of small 'p' politics and damaged relationships."

There are more than 1,000 common grazings covering tens of thousands of acres of land across Scotland, according to the Crofting Commission.

Grazing committees manage these areas of land and their members are elected by crofters.

Two Lewis grazings committees, one in Mangersta and another in Upper Coll, have been dismissed by the commission over the past year.

The disagreement at Upper Coll centres on a row over the committee's finances. BBC Alba reporter Donald Lamont said the detail of why the other two committees were dismissed was not fully known.

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