Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts with the label land

Economics: Theory of Rent (Part I

CARVED IN STONE above the Royal Exchange in the City of London is the Biblical legend "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof", to which we reply "The earth is the landlord's and the rent therefrom". In the same Biblical strain we add "And he reaps where he does not sow".

 The ancient forms of rent paid to a feudal lord, or lord of the manor, or to the Church, were usually levied in kind, and met either by the supply of a portion
of the produce from the land, or by performing unpaid labour on land belonging to these groups. These old social relations of feudal society have been replaced with other higher social relations of production associated with the land and its capacity to attract rent. Land use, including agriculture, has been specifically adapted to the needs of capitalism. The vast bulk of society's food is obtained from the land, and takes the form of commodities, i.e. articles
produced for sale and profit. Cons…

Who owns Scotland

communalise the land

John Hancox, director of community food organisation The Commonwealth Orchard, wants the Scottish Government to encourage bodies such as the Forestry Commission, health boards or the Crown Estate, as well as private landowners, to make surplus land available for growing food. It is argue that bodies such as councils, health boards, power companies and conservation organisations all own large amounts of unused land, some of which is derelict or unused and measures can be introduced to provide people with space to grow fruit and vegetables or establish community gardens.

  While there may be a legal requirement to retain land in public ownership a presumption of a community right to use land assets and utilise unused land should be considered, Mr Hancox suggests"We believe that much land is needlessly unproductive, and would urge the Scottish Government to encourage ways to allow people to use land more intelligently," he said. "Making land available to poorer Scots offe…

The Crofters' Wars

“The land under sheep and deer is my property and I can do with it what I like.”Lady Matheson

"Treasa tuath na tighearna." (The people are mightier than a lord)
- Highland Land League slogan

The common people of the Highlands and Islands had been cleared from large areas of their ancestral lands. The Highland Clearances had crammed the surviving remnants  into crammed crofting townships on very small areas of land where they were very vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by their landlords. Many lacked even crofts of their own and became cottars and squatters on the crofts of other people. Landlords turned most of the land over to use as sheep farms and deer forests. The creation of sheep farms, often comprising large tracts of empty, uncultivated and often fertile land, which hemmed in the congested townships on their boundaries, created social tensions, which unavoidably led to revolt among the disadvantaged. The farms established on Tiree in the 1840s and 1850s, having…

Getting back the land

Around 60% of Glaswegians live within 500m of derelict land, according to a new survey – the highest percentage of any local authority in Scotland.

That can be bad for their health, according to Professor Juliana Maantay, Fulbright Visiting Professor at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, as many derelict areas – she calls them dismissed lands – are contaminated post-industrial sites. "Very often the levels of vacant and derelict land coincide with the worst health. For example, in the poorest areas, one fifth of babies are of low birth weight, and that correlates with vacant land." she explained, although adding "That is not to say that the vacant land is causing the bad health, but there is no doubt that contaminated land is not good to live near."

Her survey identified 1,300 hectares of "dismissed" lands in the city which are contaminated or need some kind of remediation, on 925 sites.

Empty land can provide other ecological services, she adds, inclu…

Scots Land?

In Scotland's feudal system of land tenure all rights of ownership are vested in the Crown as Paramount Superior. All rights of land ownership are deemed to derive from the Crown which is the ultimate owner in Scotland. However, it is hard to believe in an advanced industrialised democracy that a natural asset as basic as land can still be largely controlled by a small band of aristocrats. Yet in modern day Scotland a system of land ownership which is feudal and hierarchical has remained substantially intact since the 11th century. A mere 579 private landowners own 50 percent of all land north of the border, giving Scotland the narrowest concentration of land wealth in the whole of Europe. Even in industrialised parts of the area such as the "Mid-Scotland and Fife" EU parliamentary constituency, a small group of private landowners and aristocrats still control much of the land. The aristocrats of the houses of Argyll, Buccleuch, Home, Roxburghe, Stair, Airlie, Lothian, …

Who's country does it belong to?

Scotland is on the verge of having its first Chinese laird. Wealthy Chinese investors are said to be scouring the property market to find a Scottish castle to buy.
Leading property agents are reporting a rise in interest from rich Chinese and Taiwanese buyers, who have made their fortunes in the Far East boom. Wealthy Russians are also snapping up prime properties in Edinburgh for the first time. Prices in central London have been driven up by wealthy Russians seeking a safe environment to invest. Agents say the next step could be the purchase of Scottish landed estates, which, even with thousands of acres, are relatively inexpensive compared to London. In Kensington, the average residence costs £2m.
Ran Morgan, head of Scotland residential property at Knight Frank, which has several properties over £2m on its books, confirmed an increase in interest from China. He said. “This year so far I’ve been out showing properties to Chinese, Taiwanese and Saudis. It’s something that w…

who owns the sea-side?

Socialist Courier reads that MPs on Westminster’s Scottish affairs committee recommend that the Crown Estate Commissioners, the body responsible half of Scotland’s coast and almost all the seabed should be stripped of the role and control of the coast handed back to the local communities.

“The point is to conserve these assets and maximise the benefits to the island and coastal communities most closely involved with them.The only way this can be done is by devolving as much of the responsibility – and benefit – down to those local communities as possible.”

Socialist Courierpreviously but briefly touched upon this subject when it highlighted the continued existence of the Viking-derived Udal law found in Shetland. Scottish Courts have acknowledged the supremacy of Udal law in property cases and in particular about shore ownership rights, where it declared that the Shetland community owns the sea and seabed around its isles. The Crown Estate had to admit the supremacy of Udal Law.

WHOSE LAND?

453 acres of King's Park below Stirling Castle – the last significant ancient property of the Scottish Crown not controlled by Scottish Ministers – is being sold off by the Crown Estate Commissioners for £1 million. The people of Stirling will pay for more than half the sale price to secure the site for the town's golf club, despite the public having effectively owned the land since the 12th century. Over the past years the CEC has managed the park as just another part of their commercial rural estate. In 2006, it began secret negotiations to sell Stirling Golf Club lands they already leased. Stirling Council stepped in and agreed to acquire the parkland and land at the back of the castle funded by £567,000 Stirling common good fund (60% of its reserves) and £450,000 from the golf club, which would then be granted a 175-year lease.

Andy Wightman, an authority on land-ownership in Scotland, is calling for answers from ministers and the local council. "This land is crown …

Is this land your land?

Aristocrats and government bodies still dominate ownership of Scotland.

Half of Scotland is owned by just 500 people, few of whom are actually Scots.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/who-owns-scotland-1320933.html

Only 1 per cent of the 19 million acres of land in Scotland has passed into the control of local communities.
http://www.scotsman.com/news/so_who_owns_scotland_1_1153636

Currently, about half of Scotland is in the possession of 608 landowners and 10% of Scotland is owned by just eighteen of them. 6% of Scotland is currently owned overseas, primarily by private individuals. "Public" ownership of the land had reached a total of 16.8% of Scotland by 1998
http://www.cairngormsmoorlands.co.uk/moorland_land_ownership.htm

At present, of the rural land (94% of the total) 83.1% of this is privately held. Here, just 969 people, in a country of 5.2 million people, control 60% of it.
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/07/24/the-inequality-rarely-mentioned-in-westminster-s…

Who owns Scotland

The book "Scotland: Land and Power (The Agenda for Land Reform)" by Andy Wightman explains that 1252 landowners own two-thirds of the 16 million-plus acres of private rural land in Scotland.

It is a legacy of the universal process behind the rise of capitalism: the war on common ownership and the separation of people from land, by sword and by fraud (The Clearances).

Once enough people were denied the autonomy that access to land provided, a class of exploitable wage workers was produced and the rest, as they say, is history.

The African "Clearances"

An Oxfam report blames land deals for forcing people off land and destroying homes and livelihoods. It says land deals often have no benefit to the country itself, and instead are aimed at using arable land to grow food for developed nations, to produce biofuels, or simply to speculate for profit.

Dundee West MSP Joe Fitzpatrick“The Oxfam report evokes grave echoes from Scotland’s past, namely the Highland Clearances, when, throughout the Highlands and Islands many thousands of people left their ancestral lands, many after being forcibly evicted.”

Oxfam details that more than 20,000 people forcibly evicted from their land to make way for a British timber company, The New Forests Company, and Fitzpatrick described it as an example of “a new modern-day clearance” in operation.

Oxfam Scotland head Judith Robertson said: “Many of the world’s poorest people are being left worse off by the unprecedented pace of land deals and the frantic competition for land. Global action is cruci…

A wee butt and ben?

Hailed as "one of the finest sporting estates in Scotland" and will become the most expensive estate sold on the open market if it meets its extravagant guide price, Millden, a vast estate situated in the heart of the Angus glens, long famed for their grouse moors, has been put on the market for an eye-catching £17.5 million.

Stretching to nearly 20,000 acres, the estate has entertained kings and prime ministers over the years and is described by CKD Galbraith, property agents to the gentry, as the "Holy Grail" of grouse shooting. Located near the village of Edzell, Millden was the first of the sporting lodges built for the Earls of Dalhousie on their Glen Esk estate in the Regency period. Shortly before the beginning of the Second World War King George VI and then prime minister Neville Chamberlain enjoyed a week's shooting.

Along with three recently-improved moors spanning more than 10,000 acres, fishing rights to eight miles of the River North Esk, a…

A grouse

A group of landowners is calling on the Scottish government to allow them to kill birds of prey to protect stocks of grouse and other game birds.

Every year birds of prey are found trapped, poisoned and shot on the country's hills, despite being protected by law and specialist wildlife crime officers. Landowners say the number of illegal killings is relatively small. The official figures are between 25 and 30 each year. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds believes many other cases of raptor persecution go undiscovered and unreported.

Why would anyone want to kill a bird of prey?

The RSPB believes it's all about money. Shooting, especially grouse shooting is worth £240m a year.

The Guardians of the Countryside ?

Eggs are crushed, chicks trampled, nests smashed, baits poisoned, birds trapped and shot – and all to line the pockets of the landowners. Birds of prey are being routinely killed to protect the sporting estates of landowners – and perpetrators have tried to cover up evidence of their crimes, according to the Herald.

An authoritative new report for Government advisers shows thousands of rare and beautiful hen harriers are being illegally persecuted across huge swathes of the country. But publication of the report has been blocked by the landowning lobby. Another expert study, due to be unveiled in the next few weeks, suggests as many as 50 golden eagles are being illegally poisoned, shot or trapped every year in Scotland. This is far higher than previously suspected.

"It is the grouse industry that is responsible. They simply won’t tolerate birds of prey on grouse moors.” said Mark Rafferty, a former police officer who now investigates wildlife crime for the Scottish Soc…

Land Grabbers

A bit of local news from West Lothian Herald and Post 8th November .

Community councils are up in arms about the council policy of selling off common land to housing developers .

Land in Stoneyburn sold even though the previous Labour council denied it was up for sale . Stoneyburn Community Council secretary said "It was originally done without our knowledge "

Plans to sell land in Craigshill , Livingston and according to the Community Council secretary " It looks like they were trying to slip it through quietly "

Common land -West Lothian Council - Common Thieves

It rambles on

Further to an earlier post Lord Smith of Finsbury, the president of the Ramblers Association, has attacked the court decision to limit access to the countryside near Ann Gloag's home has indeed hit the nail on the head .

"Much of the land Mrs Gloag wants to fence off can't even be seen from the castle itself. This is more about privilege than it is about privacy...Even more disturbing is the reason Sheriff Fletcher gave for his decision. He said that it was because Mrs Gloag was wealthy and had a high profile that she was entitled to a higher degree of protection. This sounds to me very like one law for the rich and another for the poor..."

Mrs Gloag, who along with her brother Brian founded the Stagecoach bus company, is worth an estimated £395m .

Why should Lord Smith be so surprised . The law has always favoured the wealthy and the powerful . We at Socialist Courier don't expect that to change .