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Arbiters' 2013 predictions

RENEWABLES WILL continue to dominate the rural agenda, land-reform will damage the let-land market and house builders will help grow the Scottish economy out of recession.

Those are the top three predictions for 2013 from the Scottish Agricultural Arbiters and Valuers Association. Looking forward to the year ahead, SAAVA president Martin Hall, of Davidson and Robertson, set out a list of factors that his organisation – which represents over 200 agricultural valuers and arbiters, including lawyers, surveyors, accountants and other professionals serving rural Scotland – believes will have significant influence on the Scottish agricultural sector.

"We have certainly seen a significant expansion in on farm renewable energy production, mainly from wind turbines in 2012. Other forms of renewable energy production are now gaining momentum and the renewable sector is likely to continue to dominate the rural agenda in the coming year," said Mr Hall.

"Also, on the development front, we are beginning to see house builders growing in confidence once more. I believe this is likely to continue into 2013 and will play a major role in growing our economy out of recession.

"Unfortunately there are a couple of not so bright prospects on the horizon. SAAVA believe that the resurgent land-reform debate can only be detrimental to the let land market in 2013," he warned. "When this can of worms is open, many landowners cannot be convinced that there is no prospect of an absolute right to buy.

"If there is scarcity of land to let this will be harmful to farm businesses seeking to expand and to new entrants alike. Short term contract farming agreements may flourish, but longer term lets almost certainly wont."

On the subject of agricultural tenancies, SAAVA is set to roll out its short-form arbitration process in early 2013. This is aimed at helping tenants and landlords to resolve disputes without costly recourse to the Land Court.

Looking back on 2012, the association noted that poor weather dominated the agricultural sector, playing havoc with crops and livestock and even putting off potential buyers of farmland in Scotland.

But focussing on the positives from 2012, Mr Hall added: "It is great to see the positive steps that have been made to provide starter units to new entrants this year.

"Forestry is now sexy again and has the potential to provide good returns. I hope that SAAVA can help in resolving the debate over competing land-uses such as farming and forestry.

"The Tenant Farming Forum and their rent review working group are to be applauded for the efforts towards taking the heat out of rent-reviews. I am proud that SAAVA were able to join the TFF in 2012 and contribute positively towards their work.

"Looking internally, it was great to see SAAVA membership increase in 2012 and exciting that we were able to introduce the Association of Agricultural Valuers exams into Scotland for our members."

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