A NEW report calls on the Scottish Government to produce a bill in that meets the needs of crofters in the 21st century.

The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee document was published as proposals are being drawn up for a national development plan for crofting.

The proposed Crofting Bill, the report says, needs to fit with the reality of modern crofting practices and be relevant to the needs and aspirations of crofters.

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The document says it should form the starting point for legislative reform proposals.

Edward Mountain MSP, convener of the committee, said: “Several crofting acts have been passed in recent years, making some useful changes but without dealing with all the issues the crofting communities are keen to see addressed.

“A lot of work has already been done by crofting stakeholders to identify what the priority issues are and the committee feels that a new bill is required which deals with these in a comprehensive manner.”

The committee said it welcomes the introduction of a new entrants scheme for crofting and suggests areas for the creation of new crofts should be explored as part of crofting bill development.

It also calls for cases of absenteeism and neglect of crofts to be reviewed to streamline or simplify its operation.

Mountain added: “We also agree with many of our witnesses, who told us that before identifying what should be delivered from legislative reform, the Scottish Government needs to develop a clear policy.”