The Lewis Crofters' Victory Overturned

The use of common grazing land near Stornoway airport by crofters has been stopped, opening up the development potential of the land. The Court of Session has determined that the land was in fact subject to compulsory acquisition by the Secretary of State for Air during World War Two, overturning the crofters' earlier Land Court victory.

Historical common grazing rights

Crofters used the land as common grazing before World War Two. In 1940, the Government took it over, along with the airport, to support the war effort. Although no statutory compulsory purchase process was used, the transfer was governed by a number of written agreements between the Secretary of State and the crofters. Ownership of the land was registered after the war, backdating the Secretary of State's date of entry to the land to 1 June 1941.

The crofters referred the question of compensation for the Secretary of State's acquisition of the land to the Land Court in 1945, under the terms of the written agreements. The Land Court issued an order for compensation in December 1945 in the sum of £13,057.14s - the same price included in the backdated disposition of the land.

The airport (including the former common grazings land) returned to civilian use after the war. In 2001, the airport and the former common grazings were sold by the Government to Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL). In 2018, HIAL asked the Land Court to declare that the crofting rights had been extinguished by the Secretary of State's compulsory acquisition.

Crofters' Victory in the Land Court

In February 2019, the Land Court decided the crofters did still hold crofting rights over the land. Our summary of this decision can be found here.

The Land Court's decision was based on the following factors:

no formal statutory process of compulsory acquisition had been followed by the Secretary of State when the former common grazing land was taken over by the Government; the disposition transferring title to the Secretary of State was not in the statutory form required for compulsory acquisitions, and was instead consensual between the parties; and the written agreements referred to the compulsory acquisition as "interfering" with the crofters' rights, which suggested something short of a complete extinction of them. HIAL's Victory in the Court of Session

HIAL, which wishes to build affordable housing on the land, appealed the Land Court's decision to the Court of Session, which allowed the appeal, finding...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT