The capacity of Scotland’s community right to buy legislation to contribute to ecological sustainability

Stewart, Calum Glen (2022) The capacity of Scotland’s community right to buy legislation to contribute to ecological sustainability. LL.M(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The principal aim of this thesis is to contribute to sustainability debates. Specifically, this thesis aims to assess the capacity of the statutory community rights to buy – part of Scotland’s wider land reform framework – to contribute to ecological sustainability. ‘Ecological sustainability’, in context of this thesis, is the ultimate goal of humanity successfully living within the ecological limits of the Earth. This thesis outlines that these community rights to buy are defined and affected by both sustainable development and property law. Therefore, it seeks to interrogate the extent to which both of these aspects are influenced by anthropocentrism, rather than ecocentrism, and the impact this has on the capacity of the community rights to buy to contribute to the achievement of ecological sustainability.

Three central arguments are important in this regard: the spectrum between anthropocentric and ecocentric understandings of sustainable development; how imbuing responsibilities in ownership can help to bridge the gap between these two understandings; and how the structuring effect of property law resists placing responsibilities on ownership, thus impeding the ability to find a more appropriate point between anthropocentrism and ecocentrism. The cumulative effect of these themes on the capacity of the community rights to buy in Scotland to contribute to ecological sustainability will be the focus of the conclusion of this thesis.

Chapter 1 introduces and explores these three central themes. It will be argued that global interpretations of sustainable development have tended to adopt an anthropocentric approach within the spectrum of anthropocentrism/ecocentrism, and that this is mirrored in Scotland’s approach to sustainable development. The nature and culture dualism will then be explored as a potential explanation for the anthropocentric focus of both sustainable development and property law. This chapter will conclude that, whilst responsibilities can bridge the gap between anthropocentrism and ecocentrism, the structural effect of Western property law norms resists this, which is problematic for ecological sustainability.

Against this background, Chapter 2 is concerned with situating Scotland within these debates. It will assess the concentrated ownership patterns seen today, arguing that an emphasis on individual ownership rights has facilitated this; an example of property law’s structural effects eschewing responsibilities in ownership. These factors have anthropocentric outcomes. This chapter will argue that an increasing focus on responsibilities within land policy in Scotland shows an implicit recognition of the need to move beyond the existing rights paradigm. However, this is stymied by property law’s structural emphasis on rights. Against this background, the chapter will conclude with a brief outline of what the community rights to buy are, their significance, and their adoption of sustainable development, before engaging in a deeper evaluative exercise in Chapter 3.

Chapter 3 will assess what kind of sustainable development is being envisaged in the community right to buy legislation, and whether this is suitable for the achievement of ecological sustainability. It will be argued that, whilst showing signs of ecocentrism, given the structural effects of property law in Scotland and the concomitant focus on individual rights the community rights to buy find themselves at the anthropocentric end of the sustainable development spectrum identified in Chapter 1. However, the backdrop of Scottish land policy signifies a will to incorporate responsibilities, as well as rights, into ownership. In this regard, it is argued that the community rights to buy, in their incorporation of sustainable development, signify a form of incremental change when viewed in tandem with other policy in Scotland, which can better integrate ecocentric approaches and which could incite progress towards ecological sustainability.

Item Type: Thesis (LL.M(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Supervisor's Name: Robbie, Dr. Jill
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-82814
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2022 07:34
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2022 07:37
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82814

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