THE powerful body established to address the dominance of Scottish landowners who own huge tracts of the country will include a Gaelic speaker among a six-strong panel.

The new Scottish Land Commission will be tasked with transforming land ownership across the country following concerns that fewer than 500 people, some anonymous, own more than half of Scotland’s land.

Set up in the wake the Land Reform Act, ministers are now seeking applications for candidates to sit on the robust new board that could resurrect the most controversial land reform proposal, to impose an upper limit of the amount of land anyone person can own in Scotland.

The land act could help empower government to force landowners to sell their land to a local community group. No politician – at Westminster, Holyrood nor at council level – will be eligible to sit on the Scottish Land Commission. The only definite requirement is ministers “must take every reasonable step to ensure at least one is a speaker of the Gaelic language.” There will be five “Land Commissioners” and one “Tenant Farming Commissioner” on the body.

According to ministers the controversial legislation was “designed to ensure the issues of fairness, equality and social justice connected to the ownership of, access to and use of land in Scotland are given a permanent footing with the creation of a Scottish Land Commission.”

But Scotland’s lairds said the passage of the act had been marked by “raw anti-landowner sentiment” that has resulted in an “incessant clamour for radicalism”.

The commission will review law and policy and make recommendations to ministers on further land reform, including for urban areas.

But according to the legislation “ The Commission may do anything which it considers—to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of, or in connection with, the exercise of—its functions…”

It continues: “ In particular, the Commission may enter into contracts, acquire and dispose of land…”

Such a legally backed maximum was the recommendation from the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Review group The Scottish Conservatives said the proposal would “strike fear in the heart of every single landowning Scot, whether they own 10 acres or 10,000.” But it was not included in the land reform bill that came before MSPs.

However, the Scottish Government last year confirmed the commission’s programme of work may include some of the measures proposed by the Land Reform Review Tenant farming issues have hit the headlines in recent years.

In 2012 a farmer who lost a long-running legal dispute was found dead. Andrew Riddell, 52, was about to be forced to leave the land his family had farmed for 100 years, because of the Court of Session ruling. He had just finished the harvest before he reportedly took his own life.

Mr Riddell, of Peaston Farm, Ormiston, East Lothian, was given notice to quit by businessman/landowner Alastair Salvesen. A 2010 Land Court ruling had appeared to give Mr Riddell tenure, but Mr Salvesen’s appeal of that decision was upheld by Lord Gill in the Court of Session in March 2012.

It found measures put in place to protect tenants in such arrangements were not compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights.