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Showing posts with the label land ownership

Glorying in Blood-sports

The first day of the grouse shooting season, traditionally known as the "Glorious Twelfth" has just passed and the Scottish land-owners have launched a campaign to protect their privileges called ‘Gift of Grouse’. The 'sport' has an appalling record of crimes against wildlife, and its land management practices not only work directly against efforts to counter climate change, they cause immediate damage to communities downhill from shooting estates through increased flood risks.
The RSPB Scotland has again called for grouse moors to be licensed following the discovery of a dead hen harrier on a moor in south west Scotland. The young female bird, named Annie, had been fitted with a satellite transmitter as a chick.
Tom Quinn of the League Against Cruel Sports said people were giving the impression shooting game for the table was healthy, sustainable and environmentally friendly, but that it was none of those things. “Millions of other animals and birds are deliberatel…

Monbiot's one step beyond

‘Tartan Stalinists”, the “Highland Stasi”, “Scottish Nazi party”. The mild proposals in the Scottish government’s land reform bill, published last week, provoke much fulminations among the proprietorial class. David Cameron’s stepfather-in-law, Lord Astor described Scotland’s proposals as “a Mugabe-style landgrab”. He owns, among the other properties he was enterprising enough to inherit, the deer-ravaged Tarbert estate on the isle of Jura, run by a trust patriotically registered in the Bahamas.

Much of this fury is caused by the plan to cancel the business rate exemption (granted to the aristocracy by John Major’s government in 1994) for deer-stalking estates, grouse moors and salmon fishing. Talk about a culture of entitlement.
As a result of the Highland clearances, which dragged much of the population off the land destroying their houses and replacing them with sheep ranches or deer and grouse estates, Scotland vies with Brazil for the world’s highest concentration of ownership. …

The country life

There has been a significant shift in the ownership of Scottish estates in recent years with a move from people buying them to enjoy their retirement, to wealthy individuals, often from overseas, who are attracted to the sports on offer. In the last year buyers spent around £54 million on shooting and fishing properties, with a large interest from Scandinavia. Experts even believe that Scots estates are becoming more attractive as prices for property in London rocket.

Although only five or six estates with sought-after grouse shooting or salmon fishing are sold each year, there has been no sign that the recent financial crisis has slowed the market. One estate renowned for its grouse shooting sold for almost £20 million this year, with two properties selling for between £8 and £10 million. The total worth of the estate market this year was up £10 million this year.

“The market for sporting estates is now dominated by high net worth individuals seeking good quality sport in beautiful …

The Glorious 12th

The grouse season opens.  A week of fishing and stalking in Sutherland's Reay forest estate is being offered for £6,500.

Scotland has the most inequitable land ownership in Europe. More than half of of all privately owned in Scotland is in the hands of 432 people. In Scotland, the largest eight landowners own 908,000 acres or 3.2 per cent of accessible land. 50 individuals own  20 per cent of Scottish land.

 According to the academic and land reformer, Jim Hunter explains "We're now six years into an SNP government which has so far done absolutely nothing legislatively about the fact that Scotland continues to be stuck with the most concentrated, most inequitable, most unreformed and most undemocratic land ownership system in the entire developed world."

Agricultural subsidies and forestry grants are weighted so that the largest farms, owned by the biggest landowners, receive the largest handouts. Such owners can claim five-figure sums a week in subsidies. The lando…

The Blue-Bloods of Scotland Mobilise

The Duke of Roxburghe and other members of the nobility have lobbied the government on its moves to help individuals and communities buy land which  has been in the hands of the aristocracy for generations. A Land Reform Review Group (LRRG) has been set up by the Scottish Government to examine ways of increasing community ownership of the land. A forthcoming review of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act will look at granting an absolute right-to-buy for tenant farmers. That would give them the right to buy-out landowners, even if they are unwilling to sell.

The duke owns the Roxburghe Estate, an enterprise with a £10.1 million turnover with Floors Castle, near Kelso, at its heart  and includes the Roxburghe Hotel and a championship golf course.

 The Earl of Seafield at its head, warned against the “fragmentation” of the land and played the ecological environmental green card to justify his extensive ownership of land as of his shooting and hunting grouse moors were run naturally…

The rewards of owning Scotland

Wealthy landowners are qualifying for state hand-outs of £12,000 a week, according to a new report.

The report claims that with just 432 owners controlling 50% of all the privately owned land, Scotland has "the most concentrated pattern of land ownership in the developed world".

The report notes "the ready access estate ownership gives to the public purse" is a key attraction of land ownership to "the rich and super-rich".

It points to the £600,000-plus a year in government subsidies available to the future purchaser of a £11.4m Argyll property – the Auch and Invermearan Estate near Bridge of Orchy, that is on the market, a fact which is highlighted in the sales brochure.

See also this post on our companion blog.

Buying Scotland

Billionaire Danish fashion magnate, Anders Holch Povlsen, has become the second-largest private landowner in Britain with the purchase of the 20,000 acre Gaick estate in Inverness-shire.

 Povlsen already owns the Glenfeshie, Ben Loyal and Kinloch estates, has increased the 43-year-old's land portfolio in Scotland to around 150,000 acres. It is second only to that of the Buccleuch Estates, with an estimated 280,000 acres. He has been criticised in some quarters for mounting a "land grab" of Scotland to take advantage of farming subsidies.

Rob Gibson MSP, a member of the Scottish Government's Land Reform Review Group, told The Herald:"It will be interesting to see what plans this gentleman has in terms of biodiversity and the local community. Some estates are used as private kingdoms by their owners..."

Povlsen, whose family owns Bestseller, the Danish fashion company that last year had a turnover of £2bn, also has substantial farming interests in h…

land up in value

In 1986 Scottish farmers had an estimated net worth of around £5.8 billion, land valued at £4.8bn, representing 68% of total assets. In 2011 figures reveal that total assets had grown to £38.4bn, of which land and buildings had increased as a percentage to 88%.

They also now owe lot less.  In 1986 liabilities were 17% of total assets. 2011 it i now only 6%

Fact of the Day

Just five percent of the population own 80 percent of the farmland in Guatemala.

Fifty-four percent of the population lives in poverty and 13 percent in extreme poverty, according to the 2011 National Survey of Living Conditions, while half of the children under five suffer chronic malnutrition, according to UNICEF

Henry George

Green MP Caroline Lucas is supporting an annual land value tax, based on its market price, but, of course, with many "new" ideas this one has been proposed before. Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land. In his book Progress and Poverty (1879), George called private land ownership an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord.”

Henry George's book "Progress and Poverty" was very popular. The book's starting point was man's God-given right to the land. Private property in land was unjust as it restricted access to the land. As technological progress increased industrial production, the benefits, George argued, went not to the labourers or even to the capitalists but to the landlords in the form of increased rent. The remedy proposed in Progress and Poverty was…