The body which regulates crofting is on the verge of a serious split with a majority wanting to appoint their own chair rather than continue with the one imposed by Edinburgh three years ago.

At least five commissioners on the statutory group have requisitioned a special meeting of the Crofting Commission in order to move a motion of no confidence in their convener, who was nominated by the Scottish Government.

Susan Walker is married to a Skye crofter and was one of the three commissioners appointed by Scottish ministers and civil servants to the body which came into existence in April 2012.

The remaining six were all directly elected by crofters covering six different geographical areas across the Highlands and Islands.

The commission was established by Holyrood's crofting act of 2010 and took over from the old Crofters Commission which since 1955 had been run by commissioners all appointed by government.

Indeed, the old body had been disparagingly compared to a colonial administration which would dispatch a district commissioner whenever the natives became fractious.

Scotland's 12,000 or so crofters took the election to the new body seriously. In March 2012 a total of 10,877 votes being cast for 28 candidates, divided into six regions, by way of the alternative vote system.

Initially there was an acting chair who was one of the three appointed by ministers, and most assumed he would make way for one of the six with true democratic credentials.

The more so since commissioners have the power to regulate crofting to ensure that crofts are occupied and worked or, if not, make them available to those who want to croft properly.

But it was not to be and some Highland eyebrows were raised when in September of that year Mrs Walker was unveiled as the first convener of the Crofting Commission.

She was well qualified, from a crofting background and the co-author of The State of Crofting in Camuscross, an academic report on Skye crofting in her local township.

She was also a Director of Camuscross and Duisdale Initiative, an ambitious community trust working in partnership with crofters and grazings shareholders on local food and community project.

But she wasn't directly elected and some, who had praised ministers for putting their faith in the crofters themselves, feared she had been chosen by civil servants as being somebody they could trust.

It is understood there has been been growing concern amongst her fellow commissioners over her style of leadership for some time. In particular that she has assumed the role of an executive chair, rather than that of primus inter pares - first among equals.

There has also been a feeling that she has been closer to officials in Edinburgh and Inverness, than to her commissioner colleagues.

The Crofting Commission was asked whether officials or Mrs Walker wanted to respond, but inquiries were referred to the Scottish Government.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman would only say: "Ministers are aware that a special meeting has been requested, and we are in close contact with the Crofting Commission."

She said the 2010 legislation required Scottish Ministers to either select a member to be the convener or delegate that task to the commission.