One of the more tiresome and ill-informed memes that arises whenever land reform is discussed in Scotland is the allegation that it is some sort of “Mugabe-style land grab”.

On any fair-minded assessment, the legislation that has been passed by the Scottish Parliament this week bears no relation whatsoever to events in Zimbabwe over the past fifteen years.

Land is a finite resource. Access to land is therefore governed by the willingness of those who own it to transfer it to others who may wish to buy it. In a developed market economy like Scotland this can work perfectly well but the nature of a finite resource means that there is inevitable market failure. 

For well over a century we have passed laws that provided rights for private companies to acquire private land to build Britain’s railways in the nineteenth century, to construct harbours, hospital and houses.

Provided there is a clear public interest and appropriate compensation, laws that allow public bodies to acquire land for public purposes are legitimate, necessary and, in a European context, utterly commonplace and unexceptional.

News: Greens propose radical use of century-old Land Settlement Laws 

Land Settlement legislation is no different. There is too much land lying idle and too many people with plans, ambitions and a vision for how it could be used who cannot access it.

Land in around cities is often blighted by speculative owners. It is time to do what countries like Germany have long taken for granted - flexible powers to acquire land for the public good and to create beautiful, sustainable and affordable places to live, work and play. 

This is part of a bigger programme of revitalising local democracy and a far, far cry from the corruption and nepotism that has so blighted Zimbabwe and its long-suffering people.

Read More: How Scotland's super-rich see land reform as Mugabe-style land grabs.