SCOTTISH tenant farmers who are planning to diversify into areas such as tourism or renewable energy have been offered free advice on their legal rights.

Published this week by the Tenant Farming Commissioner, a new guide details what tenant farmers need to do to stay on the right side of the law when they are planning to diversify.

Already more than half of farms in Scotland have diversified into other business areas, ranging from camp sites and glamping pods to wind turbines and farm shops. And the trend is set to continue as farmers look for ways to enhance their livelihoods – farms with some form of diversification generate significantly more income each year than those that don’t, according to the latest Scottish Government Farm Business Income Estimates report.

In Scotland, provided tenant farmers follow the correct procedures and get their landlord’s consent to their plans, there is no limit on the amount of the holding that can be used for diversification.

The law sets out a clear timetable, which is summarised in the new guide, for any tenant farmer seeking to get their landlord’s permission to diversify part – or all – of their holding.

Tenants must send a formal ‘notice of diversification’ to their landlord, although an initial informal discussion is often the best way to kick start the process, enabling both parties to agree on how the project should proceed.

The new guide also sets out what should happen at the end of the lease. Diversification may have increased the value of the holding and in these cases, provided the correct process has been followed, compensation may be due to the tenant. Equally the landlord may be entitled to compensation, if the value of the land has been reduced by the diversification.

However, the right to compensation may not apply if the diversification is such that the land cannot be used for agriculture by an incoming tenant.

Speaking about the new guide, Tenant Farming Commissioner Bob McIntosh said: “More and more farmers are set to diversify, as agricultural subsidies decline post-Brexit. I expect that another driver will be climate change, as farmers seek more innovative uses for land.

“Diversifying can be profitable and straightforward – provided tenants and landlords agree the scope of the diversification up front and follow the correct process. Diversification can help to protect the viability of farms and livelihoods.”

Meanwhile, new voices – particularly those of the 'tech savvy, environmentally aware and entrepreneurially minded' Generation Z – must help shape Scotland's strategy for the way its land is owned and used.

The Scottish Land Commission said this week that the views of young people, especially those still at school or studying, should be a vital part of long-term planning for a fair, inclusive and valuable system of land ownership and use that delivers greater benefit for Scotland’s people.

Chief executive at the Land Commission, Hamish Trench, said: “The land beneath our feet affects so much of life in Scotland and in the long term, land decisions made today will affect young people the most. We want to identify the land issues that are important to young people across Scotland to help shape the Commission’s next strategic plan. Importantly, we want as many young people as possible to understand that they can influence how land reform will develop and respond to issues that concern them. The way land is owned and used affects the quality of life for everyone in Scotland. The voices of young people are incredibly important to our long-term ambitions.”

An online survey is open for anyone to take part and can be found at

For in-depth news and views on Scottish agriculture, see this Friday’s issue of The Scottish Farmer or visit

By Gordon Davidson

For in-depth news and views on Scottish agriculture, see this Friday’s issue of The Scottish Farmer or visit