Rural law in the spotlight as experts gather in Aberdeen

Rural law in the spotlight as experts gather in Aberdeen

The fast-moving legal issues being encountered in the drive to create more sustainable rural communities is the topic for a gathering of legal, agricultural and rural experts at the University of Aberdeen this week.

The Rural Law Conference:Sustainable Rural Development  takes place at the King’s College Conference Centre on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 September. Over a hundred delegates from the world of law, agriculture, conservation, planning, policy, environment, energy, and other interested sectors will hear from 40 speakers representing a wide range of issues and perspectives. The main sponsors of the event are Terra Firma Chambers and Barclays, it will be chaired by journalist Keith Aitken, and introduced by University Principal, Professor Ian Diamond.

The conference will look at the opportunities and challenges facing sustainable rural development in Scotland, including the policy and legal developments affecting land use and management, diversification and planning. Speakers will also focus on the future of rural development, including agriculture, reform of the CAP, crofting and forestry, and renewable energy.

The conference takes place against the backdrop of the Scottish Governement’s first sustainable land use strategy for Scotland, which looks at how we use land and how we can preserve its use. The impact of the strategy is expected to be felt most strongly in rural Scotland across the sectors of agriculture, forestry, renewable energy and access.

Speakers will include Brian Pack of ANM Group who chaired the Pack Inquiry into the future of the CAP and is also a University of Aberdeen Governor, Professor Mark Shucksmith of Newcastle University who chaired the Scottish Government’s Inquiry into Crofting, Donald Rennie, President of the European Council for Rural Law, and Nigel Miller, President of NFU Scotland.

Organisers Dr Aylwin Pillai and Anne-Michelle Slater of the University’s Rural Law Research Group are expecting a lively debate over the two days, including varying views on contentious issues such as renewable energy developments, hunting, and GM crops.

Anne-Michelle Slater said:“This is a wonderful opportunity to get together - in the same room - practitioners working in the legal profession and those in the many public bodies, businesses and interest groups who are involved with the wide range of issues affecting rural communities. We are expecting lively discussion and debate and many differing opinions to be exchanged.

“Our hope is that all our delegates leave on Friday having thoroughly enjoyed the healthy debate, feeling better informed, inspired, and full of new ideas and new connections across this agenda to promote the economic and cultural development of rural Scotland.”

Dr Aylwin Pillai added: “The Rural Law Research Group is a new and unique research grouping within Scotland and this is our second major conference to bring together academics, legal practitioners, policy makers, landowners and managers, planners, surveyors and a range of groups with an interest in Scotland's rural development.

“We hope that one of the benefits of the event with the wide-ranging topics being covered will be the identification of areas in which our academic group can make an invaluable contribution, for example in undertaking specific research or providing specialized professional training.“

For more details of the conference and the Rural Law Research Group see

A few places are still available by contacting Claire Thomson on 01224 274260 or at