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Highland crofters urged to return annual census form online as Crofting Commission hails info received 'absolutely invaluable'

By John Davidson

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The Crofting Commission wants census forms returned sooner rather than later. Picture Gary Anthony
The Crofting Commission wants census forms returned sooner rather than later. Picture Gary Anthony

Crofters are being urged to return their census forms as soon as possible as the regulator gathers its annual information about the state of crofting.

This year people must return the form online using a unique code that has been sent to them by the Crofting Commission.

Malcolm Mathieson, convener of the Crofting Commission, said: “We have already had a good response from crofters submitting their census return online. It is very simple to do and saves both time and money.

"The information that we receive is absolutely invaluable, so it's very important that every crofter responds to the census as soon as they can.

“Beginning on Monday, January 24, we’ll begin the process of calling crofters who have not yet completed their online return to ensure that we get as much information as possible.”

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) backed the move away from "wasteful" paper forms but said there is help available to crofters who may not be digitally savvy.

Donald MacKinnon, SCF chairman, said: “Crofters are being asked to submit their information electronically, either on a computer or a smart-phone, but this excludes many ‘off-line’ crofters who don’t use digital technology.

"However, the census is very short, so asking a family member or friend to help is no great ask, and the commission has set up a helpline you can phone on 01463 663439 and give the information asked for. The phone number is at the top of the letter.”

Mr MacKinnon added: “The census is an important means for the regulator to gather information about the current situation regarding residency and use of crofts. We support this. We think that doing it every year is over-done and question whether processing this amount of information annually is the best use of resources, but the objective is right.

"We understand there will be additional capacity to deal with non-returners, and SCF urges every crofter to take a few minutes to meet their legal obligation and complete the census. This is our unique system and we want and need it to work better – good regulation starts with baseline data.”

The census will be open until March 31, though the Crofting Commision is encouraging crofters to make their return at www.crofting.scotland.gov.uk/census as soon as possible.

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