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The substantial five-year high uptick in new crofter entrants has been welcomed by Isles MSP Alasdair Allan and other organisations in the crofting areas.

Speaking after the Crofting Commission released figures on the number of new crofters, the Isles MP said: “The latest figures for new entrants to crofting are very encouraging, particularly the proportions of young people and women recorded. 

“This progress demonstrates new measures on helping prospective new crofters secure a croft tenancy are working, though of course there is still more that can be done to make the process more efficient and to further widen access.”

The latest Crofting Commission shows that 45% of the new crofting entrants are women, and 29% are 40 or younger. 

The 510 new entrants to crofting were recorded between March 2022 and March 2023 across all crofting areas of Scotland.

Pointing out that the Scottish Government has pledged to help the Crofting Commission create additional opportunities for new entrants, Dr Allan expressed his hope that the upcoming Crofting Bill will help “sustain crofting in the long-term, supporting new entrants and existing crofters alike.”

The number of people entering crofting has now hit a five-year high. It highlights the growing interest in crofting, particularly among younger generations.

Minister for Energy and the Environment Gillian Martin MSP also welcomed the Crofting Commission’s new figures, saying: “It is encouraging to see such a healthy number of new people embracing crofting. This is testament to the vibrancy and potential of this sector, and I am particularly pleased to see more women and young people getting involved.”

Underlining the significance of the new crofting entrants, Malcolm Matheson, Convenor of the Crofting Commission, added: “These figures are not just encouraging, they represent a shot in the arm for rural communities facing depopulation challenges. It’s clear that crofting continues to offer exciting opportunities for people seeking a rewarding and sustainable lifestyle.”

Earlier, the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) also welcomed the new crofting figures announced on on Tuesday February 6, declaring the percentage of young people becoming crofters as 'positive news'. 

SCF chair Jonathan Hedges said the numbers showed efforts to help new applicants access croft land were working.

“As an organisation, we have long known that there is significant demand for crofts and have campaigned that more should be done to enable new entrants to access croft land. The figures released by the Crofting Commission demonstrate that demand," Mr Hedges said. 

“The fact that 29% of these are young crofters is very positive news but there is still much more work to do to increase the availability of crofts to this age group, as well as keeping them affordable, allowing young families to continue to live and work in rural communities.

"We call on the Scottish Government to consider what else can be done to support this progress.”