Scotland’s first Land Use Strategy (LUS) – Getting the best from our land – was published in March 2011. The LUS is a requirement of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, highlighting the important contribution that Scottish Ministers expect land use and land management to make towards the climate change agenda in Scotland. The crucial component of the LUS are its ten principles for sustainable land use – the LUS Principles. The LUS Principles are the key mechanism by which the strategic intent of the national level LUS can be translated into regional and local level planning and decision-making, through existing land use delivery mechanisms, to inform action on the ground. The overall aim of the LUS Delivery Evaluation Project therefore was “to evaluate the range of current land use delivery mechanisms, to ascertain their effectiveness in translating the strategic Principles of the LUS into decision-making on the ground”. The evaluation considered eleven case study land use delivery mechanisms ranging from an urban Local Development Plan (LDP) to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Partnership Plan.
As a case study based piece of research the are illustrative of land use delivery in Scotland and not definitive. The key findings were that:
• There is significant capacity to deliver sustainable land use, as advocated by the LUS, within Scotland’s existing land use delivery mechanism ‘landscape’.
• The translation of the LUS Principles into decision-making on the ground by the case studies has been primarily implicit rather than explicit, with their consideration teased out by the research.
• The LUS Principles are relevant and can be applied in many different contexts, at different scales and across different land use/management sectors.
• Some LUS Principles are more readily translated into decision-making on the ground than others. A particular concern in this regard, given the provenance of the LUS within the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, is that LUS Principle F on climate change was only partially translated by the majority of case studies.
• The suite of ten LUS Principles is internally compatible and most Principles are relevant to land use delivery in most instances.
• There are many examples from the case studies of existing methods and approaches that can be used to help translate the LUS Principles into decision-making on the ground.
Notwithstanding the above findings, there were many examples of potential barriers to the translation of the LUS Principles identified through the research across several categories.