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Report calls for reform of 'unhealthy' land ownership in Scotland

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Report calls for reform of 'unhealthy' land ownership in Scotland

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Scottish land ownership rules must be radically reformed to reverse the concentration of the countryside in the hands of a small number of ultra-wealthy individuals and public bodies, a major review has warned.

The study by the Scottish Land Commission, a government quango, says that in extreme cases where landowners abuse their power they could face compulsory purchase or community buyouts.

The commission, set up by Scottish ministers who are likely to look closely at its conclusions, found that major landowners behaved like monopolies across large areas of rural Scotland and had too much power over land use, economic investment and local communities.

It found that about 1,125 owners, including Highland lairds and major public bodies such as Forest Enterprise and the National Trust for Scotland, own 70% of Scotland’s rural land, covering more than 4.1m hectares (10m acres) of countryside.

 

 

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4 hours ago, PeanutButter said:

The trouble is a lot of Scottish land is not really that valuable in economic terms.  You can have an estate of 10,000 acres, most of which is only good for sheep, and it will not generate a huge income.

Friends recently sold a large estate in the North of Scotland, as it was getting tougher to make an income from farming, plus declining numbers for shooting, and cutbacks by the MOD who did exercises on it.  They sold out to a European who does not need to make an income from the land.

Also, in Scotland there are very liberal 'right to roam' access laws which mean that it's fairly irrelevant who owns the land, as anyone can enjoy it without worrying about the upkeep.

Having said that, some of the recent community buyouts on Scottish islands, etc, have been very successful.

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2 hours ago, Ballyk said:

The trouble is a lot of Scottish land is not really that valuable in economic terms.  You can have an estate of 10,000 acres, most of which is only good for sheep, and it will not generate a huge income.

Friends recently sold a large estate in the North of Scotland, as it was getting tougher to make an income from farming, plus declining numbers for shooting, and cutbacks by the MOD who did exercises on it.  They sold out to a European who does not need to make an income from the land.

Also, in Scotland there are very liberal 'right to roam' access laws which mean that it's fairly irrelevant who owns the land, as anyone can enjoy it without worrying about the upkeep.

Having said that, some of the recent community buyouts on Scottish islands, etc, have been very successful.

It will be interesting to see how climate change will alter things. Land returning to those who live close to it can only be a good thing IMO. The world doesn’t need more grouse.

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4 hours ago, PeanutButter said:

It will be interesting to see how climate change will alter things. Land returning to those who live close to it can only be a good thing IMO. The world doesn’t need more grouse.

At least grouse shooting brings in money, doesn't it?

The UK doesn't need more poor crofters, leading a hand to mouth existence, surviving on welfare and tax credits, using absurdly uneconomic schools and transport, trying to grow tatties, and a few green tomatoes in polytunnels (I watch Beechgrove Garden - lots of crofters appear in that programme).

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12 minutes ago, onlooker said:

At least grouse shooting brings in money, doesn't it?

The UK doesn't need more poor crofters, leading a hand to mouth existence, surviving on welfare and tax credits, using absurdly uneconomic schools and transport, trying to grow tatties, and a few green tomatoes in polytunnels (I watch Beechgrove Garden - lots of crofters appear in that programme).

I think we can come up with better ways for people to earn money than burning heather to enable maximum rich bloke bird killing. :)

 

 

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5 minutes ago, PeanutButter said:

I think we can come up with better ways for people to earn money than burning heather to enable maximum rich bloke bird killing. :)

 

 

What suggestions have you for making a profit from moorland which is too cold and wet to plant crops or raise livestock?

Scotland gets good money from rich blokes hitting little white balls across grassed over sand dunes, in the rain. The Scottish highlands as a destination for a wide variety of tourist pursuits at least makes economic sense.

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1 hour ago, onlooker said:

What suggestions have you for making a profit from moorland which is too cold and wet to plant crops or raise livestock?

Scotland gets good money from rich blokes hitting little white balls across grassed over sand dunes, in the rain. The Scottish highlands as a destination for a wide variety of tourist pursuits at least makes economic sense.

Agreed.  

You could cut a shooting estate into 4 parts and completely destroy its viability, as it needs the scale to function economically.  Each of those 4 parts would be unviable.  And if there's an 'Historic House' or castle attached, there is no or not enough money left for its unkeep, and it falls into rack and ruin.

There are good and bad landowners, both large and small.  There were certainly some appalling ones in Ireland and Scotland, and no doubt there still are.  But the good large ones do provide some good jobs and tenure, and add considerably to the local economy and society.  A lot of woodland and heathland / moorland exist today in good condition only thanks to rural hobbies and traditions.

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10 hours ago, onlooker said:

At least grouse shooting brings in money, doesn't it?

The UK doesn't need more poor crofters, leading a hand to mouth existence, surviving on welfare and tax credits, using absurdly uneconomic schools and transport, trying to grow tatties, and a few green tomatoes in polytunnels (I watch Beechgrove Garden - lots of crofters appear in that programme).

That might not be the UK's problem in a few years' time. 

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1 hour ago, Diver Dan said:

That might not be the UK's problem in a few years' time. 

That assumes the SNP can find the magic money tree. Personally I doubt Scotland can ween itself off subsidies, unless it can become a tax haven for dodgy US companies, like the Republic of Ireland is now, but may not be much longer.

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I see that this is what's behind the headline. Danish billionaires plan to rewild large swath of Scottish Highlands

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The Danish billionaires who are now Scotland’s largest private landowners are trying to restore the Highlands for generations to come, one of their closest advisers has said.

Tim Kirkwood said that Anders and Anne Holch Povlsen, who own more than 80,000 hectares (200,000 acres) across Sutherland and the Grampian mountains wanted to become pioneers of rewilding by reversing years of mismanagement by previous lairds.

 

 

11 hours ago, onlooker said:

What suggestions have you for making a profit from moorland which is too cold and wet to plant crops or raise livestock?

Scotland gets good money from rich blokes hitting little white balls across grassed over sand dunes, in the rain. The Scottish highlands as a destination for a wide variety of tourist pursuits at least makes economic sense.

Ah yes I'm sure my suggestions will be implemented immediately haha. 

Tell me, how is it that Skye is so popular with tourists and generates so much money (to the point where accommodation is hard to find at peak times and not easy even off season)? What have they done that could be emulated?

I don't particularly subscribe to the capitalist ideology that all of nature must bow to the economic requirements of mankind. The concept that land is worthless and useless unless economic advantage can be extracted from it is myopic dead-endism. 

There are enough livestock in the world and enough pastures for them already. Rewilding, reintroducing lost forests and heritage animals (imagine wolves back in Scotland! imagine how much people would pay to see that!) sounds like a workable, liveable, breathable, life-giving plan. 

 

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Family own land in Scotland. 

Know a few others who own quite a bit personally. 

We don't make money from grouse. We make money from wind farms. ;)

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3 minutes ago, PeanutButter said:

I see that this is what's behind the headline. Danish billionaires plan to rewild large swath of Scottish Highlands

 

Ah yes I'm sure my suggestions will be implemented immediately haha. 

Tell me, how is it that Skye is so popular with tourists and generates so much money (to the point where accommodation is hard to find at peak times and not easy even off season)? What have they done that could be emulated?

I don't particularly subscribe to the capitalist ideology that all of nature must bow to the economic requirements of mankind. The concept that land is worthless and useless unless economic advantage can be extracted from it is myopic dead-endism. 

There are enough livestock in the world and enough pastures for them already. Rewilding, reintroducing lost forests and heritage animals (imagine wolves back in Scotland! imagine how much people would pay to see that!) sounds like a workable, liveable, breathable, life-giving plan. 

 

It is a long time since I have been to Skye. It is the furthest you can drive on the west coast without getting on an expensive ferry. The scenery is stunning around the Cuillins and The Old Man of Storr, but the tourist season lasts 3 months a year? Most tourists experience terrible weather, and vow never to return. The small population means that there is a shortage of places to stay.

I don't have an issue with rewilding, though I seem to recall many conservationists don't like it, provided somebody else is paying for it. I don't like the idea of my taxes being used to preserve an uneconomic and dying way of life. Pepole there should be working for a living.

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2 hours ago, onlooker said:

It is a long time since I have been to Skye. It is the furthest you can drive on the west coast without getting on an expensive ferry. The scenery is stunning around the Cuillins and The Old Man of Storr, but the tourist season lasts 3 months a year? Most tourists experience terrible weather, and vow never to return. The small population means that there is a shortage of places to stay.

In recent years, the tourist season in Skye has expanded well into Spring and Autumn. I was working in Portree for a few months and there seemed to be coaches full of tourists and foreign registered vehicles long after I would have expected them to have finished for the season. The time I was working there had wonderful clear skies quite a lot of the time, as well as one or two quite spectacular storms, which I expect most tourists would be aware of when they decided to visit.

My colleagues there, if they had a family croft also had one or two other jobs (fish farming, hospitality, public sector, offshore oil and gas, engineering etc.) or they'd left to make money elsewhere for a few years before returning to settle down. This effectively made keeping a few hens, sheep or cattle and a poly-tunnel or whatever more of a lifestyle choice than a necessity.

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  • 293 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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      • up 5%



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