A record number of visitors attended this year’s Royal Highland Show at Ingliston on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Of the 188,449 visitors to the four-day event, approximately 200 attended a breakfast seminar, hosted jointly by law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn and land agents, Bidwells.

In his opening address, RHS president, Lord Forsyth emphasised the importance of the rural economy to Scotland and the prosperity that tourism, sport and food production help to generate.  He was followed by Richard Lochhead, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who didn’t, as many had hoped, reveal to his audience, the content of the Land Reform Bill. He did, however call for a balanced approach to land reform to protect an extremely important, but finite asset. He alluded to the need for rentable property to be made available in Scotland, and for that reason felt that an absolute right to buy policy wouldn’t work. He also said that tax incentives for landowners to let property might be devised should the Scottish Government have tax-raising powers.

Finlay Clark, Managing Partner, Bidwells then provided an overview of the Scottish Government’s proposals for land reform, which are expected to crystallize in the publication of the Land Reform Bill, the release of which is due this week.

Practical tips for the here and now were provided by Brian Robertson, Private Client Partner, Shepherd and Wedderburn. His recommendations, designed to make “grumpy farmers” smile, covered farmers’ continuing eligibility for Agricultural Property and Business Property Reliefs from Inheritance Tax. His tips covered practical steps that a farming family might consider, such as ‘building the potato shed next to the farmhouse instead of a couple of fields away’ and not keeping the pony in a single paddock on the farm but moving it around. He also recommended bringing all business activities, such as holiday lettings, into the farming business.

Peter Misselbrook, a Consultant in Shepherd and Wedderburn’s Rural Property and Business team who chaired the seminar said: "I have been involved in our breakfast seminars at the Royal Highland Show for the last four years. Attendance at this year’s event was certainly higher than it was last year, and it was great to have such an engaged audience firing questions at our excellent speakers”.

Shepherd and Wedderburn will also be hosting a reception at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust Gamefair Show at Scone Palace from 11-12:30pm on Friday 3 July.