Introduction   Overview   The shape of the debate   Themes Theme 1 - A National Heritage Collection Theme 2 - Heritage for Communities Theme 3 Making heritage accessible Theme 4 Heritage and Tourism after 2014    
Introduction Connecting with conservation Case study Land Reform
Advocating Community Interests The options for the Trust Video Package Your views 
  Land Reform The National Trust for Scotland and Land Reform Inalienability Conservation Agreements Criticisms and responses Land reform review group report 2014 Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill Conservation and communities Alternative models  

In 1938, the Trust was granted a special power by Parliament to enter into Conservation Agreements. These allow the Trust to exercise some control over areas of land and buildings which it does not own in pursuance of its charitable purposes to preserve and conserve Scotland’s heritage.

They may, for instance, prohibit development of certain sites without the Trust’s consent or ensure the maintenance of important historic features of buildings.
The agreements are initially entered into with the consent of the owner of the land or buildings. However, they also form part of the title to the land and therefore continue to bind any future owners of the land or buildings if they are sold or transferred on.  

The Trust has entered into several hundred Conservation Agreements throughout Scotland. The subjects range from small cottages to large areas of important landscape.

Some of these agreements cover land or buildings that the Trust decided in the past to sell from a wider estate or property to help sustain the core visited/inalienable site.  The agreements ensured that the land that had been sold could not be developed in a way that was detrimental to the setting or character of the remaining part of the property.

On feudal reform in 2003, the Scottish Parliament extended the idea of Conservation Agreements and introduced Conservation Burdens. These are similar to Conservation Agreements but they may be put in place by a wider range of bodies with an interest in conservation.  The Trust is one of those bodies.

Unfortunately, feudal reform also had a negative impact on the Trust’s powers to enforce its Conservation Agreements and the new Conservation Burdens. The 2003 legislation deemed these to be title conditions which may be challenged by the owner of the land which is subject to them.  The Lands Tribunal of Scotland now has power to overturn some or all of a Conservation Agreement (or Conservation Burdens) on the grounds that it is unreasonable.  

Notwithstanding this, up to now the Trust has continued to view its powers to enter into and enforce Conservation Agreements and Burdens as a useful and effective means of underpinning the conservation of Scotland’s places of historic interest and natural beauty.