Scottish Land Reform

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  • Scottish Land Reform
  • Kit
    Member

    Wondering what folks views are on this:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-33226303

    There was a fair amount of frothing (on both sides) on the BBC News Scotland Facebook comments, unsurprisingly.

    As the child of a Scottish landowner (and soon-to-be-inheritor), I have to say that in principle I don’t object to communities being given more power, but of course it is concerning! The proposals don’t seem to have been fleshed out sufficiently (what’s the threshold on estate size?) and major issues simply not considered (farming impact).

    Just interested in what people think generally, really.

    mikewsmith
    Member

    and force the sale of land if owners are blocking economic development.

    So the Donald Trump golf course? Where he was bullying people off the land is now going to be all OK?

    The problem is vast tracts of land up there are worth sweet FA without things like shooting, stop that and you won’t get enough visitors to keep the current people employed.

    Kit
    Member

    and force the sale of land if owners are blocking economic development.

    This is my biggest issue too. What is the criteria for “blocking economic development”. How is it to be assessed i.e. how would forcing the sale of land improve the economics of an area which, as you say Mike, might have bugger all else other than the current land use. And if the buy-out fails to enhance economic development, can the former landowner sue?

    The problem is vast tracts of land up there are worth sweet FA without things like shooting, stop that and you won’t get enough visitors to keep the current people employed.

    Is something only to be cherished if it has a financial value?.

    As with every situation, there are many sides to the argument. One thing is for sure though, the usual suspects will be along in a minute to turn this into their usual pile of steam.

    Kit
    Member

    Is something only to be cherished if it has a financial value?

    Absolutely not. But the proposed land reform is pitched this way. Or seems to be, anyway.

    b r
    Member

    Landowners on sporting estates stopped paying business rates in 1994 after being given an exemption by then prime minister John Major’s Conservative government.

    This I guess assumes that by reinstating the ‘costs’ some estates/land will be sold as it is not now economically viable – and also presumably the only folk that will want to buy it will be the local community, but for what I am unsure…

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    The problem is vast tracts of land up there are worth sweet FA without things like shooting, stop that and you won’t get enough visitors to keep the current people employed

    Let us be clear – there are many ways of turning a living from the land, shooting is one of them. It also happens to be (like many others) detrimental in many ways to the opportunities to turn a different profit from the land. It is exclusive in in so many ways, not just socio-economically.

    Personally, I do have a concern about the ‘force em to sell’ attitude. it cannot be good for anyone.

    Equally, I also believe we need changes in how vast tracts of our land is managed and seen.

    Personally, I am of the shoot 80% of the deer, plant woods, lots of woods, and release the Lynx attitude – and then see what the tourists will pay….

    TheBrick
    Member

    On the face of it sounds like opens season for weathy investors (like Mr Trump) to goin and force land to be sold as tehy will build a new Disney land / whatever promise of “econmic growth”.

    I wonder also how much of this is to do with pushing for mote hyro power?

    mikewsmith
    Member

    Is something only to be cherished if it has a financial value?.

    As with every situation, there are many sides to the argument. One thing is for sure though, the usual suspects will be along in a minute to turn this into their usual pile of steam.
    So land that is used for grouse shooting for a time with rights of way will be made uneconomical in some situations then people with some wacky ideas will be allowed/forced to buy the land and turn it into a golf course or maybe a field. Or how about a mountain? Whats the difference. In the mean time those who used to earn money working there are out of work and moved away killing communities.

    Bring on the revolution comrades. Good to see the SNP left and right coin is back in action.

    Premier Icon soulrider
    Subscriber

    economic development hmmmm
    – one of the shittest biggest problems with our society; everyone (I may be exagerating here) thinks they should earn a million quid a week for doing nothing (that may be untrue also but hopefully you catch my drift).
    Not everything should be developed for ecomnomic or any other reason otherwise London would be 94,058 mi²
    I am not averse to development and I have not read that document but not everything should be used for putting pounds in someones pocket

    This surely has more to do with people like the Blackford Estate who own Highland Spring. They refused renewal of various tenant farmers rights’ in doing so they remove people from the land as it suits the landowners purpose to have no one on his massive estate where the spring is. So people who can make ailving off that land are unable whilst some rich guy gets richer.

    Independant article – Scottish land onwers

    Premier Icon soulrider
    Subscriber

    when I spelled out ecomnomic I was obviously think about cake

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    Can I also highlight Glen Lochay where landowner has booted off two tenants farmers, and now has MASSIVE herds of deer. You could point a rifle and take out three with the same bullet. Seems he gets a lot of folk who step out the lands, take a shot and then ask for the stuffed head to be delivered, before driving off again…again, we have one rich person and the detriment of local community….

    mikewsmith
    Member

    surroundedbyhills – Member
    This surely has more to do with people like the Blackford Estate who own Highland Spring.

    Problem with these things is for every intended case there there is an unintended other. Or for every legit target there is a quiet one who they really meant to hit, then there is the others like the Trump that is the thing that shouldn’t happen. Good blanket rules never work.

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    A very interesting topic, I’ve been trying to restrain myself from responding to daft comments that are popping up all over facebook all morning.

    I really don’t like the situation of absentee millionaire landlords holding vast tracts of Scotland, being managed for shooting which involves denuding the landscape of pretty much all wildlife but heather and grouse. Some estates are increasingly hostile to open access too.

    I don’t like that I can’t go salmon fishing on for example the Tay, just because I am not incredibly rich. There are ways of managing the numbers of people that can fish on a river that don’t involve pricing 99.9% of the population out. I used to go fishing on a beautiful loch in Assynt with my dad on a boat leased by the local angling association that normal punters like us could afford for a day, but the owners (the notorious Vestey family) stopped letting the association do that and kept it to themselves. All the usual lines trotted out by rich landowners about how much money and many jobs fishin and shootin support are debatable, most of the money goes straight to the rich landowners.

    I don’t like this false ‘country life’ where the countryside is a playground for the super rich elite with a range rover, labradors and pink chinos. I’m from the country too and I have a Yaris and wear jeans.

    However it needs to be approached with a lot of thought for it to work, and it would be very difficult to reform well. Also, a lot of people don’t understand it at all…

    One post I’ve managed not to get involved with from one of the YES groups on facebook summarises that people don’t understand the relationship between land and how to make money from it, if people think jobs can magically be created “doing conservation” on just 250 acres then we are all screwed:

    “Did anyone hear the phone in on BBC radio 2 yesterday afternoon?the land owner with 250 acres but refuses to use the land as he protects butterflies on it?! Why not open it up for local people to have jobs on their estate doing conservation.ps he only holidays on it few times a year!”

    mikewsmith
    Member

    On that note bigjim, what about all those people in the nice bit of Glasgow with big gardens who won’t let poor people build houses in them.

    munrobiker
    Member

    It’s a funny one, it’s not something I’ve tracked and as someone who usually sees things in black and white I have to say it’s not very clear cut. I don’t see why shooting estates should be exempt from taxes (and my experience is that they try and dodge tax or reduce outgoings in underhand ways) but similarly I don’t see that grabbing land from estates to do just about anything with is a good idea. But each side has positivity and negativity associated with it.

    What I suspect will end up happening is that the margins will get tighter in shooting estates, some will close and not much will happen with the land and some land will be taken back by the local community for things like small housing developments, wind farms etc. rather than large scale Trump style developments. A healthy middle ground.

    Heard that the land can basically sustain about 80000 deer but there are approx 500000. Kept mainly for pointing rifles at keeping gaming estates going but to the detriment of all othe flora and fauna.

    Absolutely agree they should pay the business taxes, majority of landowners are minted no matter what their overpaid accountants manage to return.

    On that note bigjim, what about all those people in the nice bit of Glasgow with big gardens who won’t let poor people build houses in them.

    Quite often, those people will have actually bought and paid for that house and land that comes with it.

    A lot of these estates don’t fall into that category, they were ‘land grabbed’ previously. 😀

    We’re not talking about another far off country here though, well, all of us except you!. 😆

    This is the problem

    Coffey is estimated to have earned £170m in the previous year after increasing by 51% the value of his emerging markets fund.[10]

    In November 2010 Coffey bought Ardfin Estate, a 12,000-acre sporting estate on the island of Jura in Scotland.[11] The purchase attracted controversy and concern over Coffey’s decision to close the estate’s public gardens, whose 2,500 visitors a year formed a significant source of income for Jura.[12] In 2011, a spokesperson for Coffey said that his “full intention” was to re-open the gardens during 2012, but the gardens have remained closed.[13] However, plans have been unveiled for a new 18-hole private golf course on the estate [14]

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Subscriber

    Nobeerinthefridge – Member
    all of us except you!.

    😆

    mikewsmith
    Member

    Not at all but with all the best laid intentions there are unintended consequence. Who decides what is what? A committee of the polit bureau? What is economically better? What percentage is it better by, who determines the market rate for the seized property? Is it just a charter where if you know who to pay off you can acquire land?
    Takes a lot of safe guards

    mikewsmith
    Member

    In 2011, a spokesperson for Coffey said that his “full intention” was to re-open the gardens during 2012, but the gardens have remained closed.[13] However, plans have been unveiled for a new 18-hole private golf course on the estate [14]

    So the real decision is what is more profitable/income generating the garden or the golf course. Which ever it is should win? Or am I missing something.

    Kunstler
    Member

    Personally, I am of the shoot 80% of the deer, plant woods, lots of woods, and release the Lynx attitude – and then see what the tourists will pay….

    Heard that the land can basically sustain about 80000 deer but there are approx 500000. Kept mainly for pointing rifles at keeping gaming estates going but to the detriment of all othe flora and fauna.

    I’ve been thinking about this since riding through the Croik Estate on Sunday. I have never seen so many deer. Hundreds upon hundreds, dozens of fences and gates. I don’t know the extent of the land that the estate covers and how the deer are spread in shooting season but it looked like fish in a barrel. Less hunting wild animals more like farming shooting cattle. The shame is I became blase about stags bounding before me after a couple of miles.

    Premier Icon v8ninety
    Subscriber

    I f@*#ing HATE golf courses. Elitist, selfish, ego massaging tracts of land that exclude the majority of normal folk. (I appreciate that the Scottish experience of this is slightly different, but it seems it’s going that way up there, too.

    Mike, yes I think you are, private golf course would infer. Clubhouse etc, ok a few jobs for some people and money for the estate, but like trump, not helping the community

    mikewsmith
    Member

    but it could generate far more income than opening the garden so be the best choice. As with any rule like this it’s a bad idea.

    mikewsmith
    Member

    out of interest how do you quantify helping the community and how does that relate to pound/acre. It could easily be said that the grouse estates do a hell of a lot for the community (original not incomers)

    jambalaya
    Member

    I think the Scottish public may rethink this community ownership idea when they realise that owning land isn’t free, there are significant maintenance costs. The sporting estate tax break was introduced to support local jobs and to prevent unique landscapes and natural environments being turned over to commercial forestry.

    This is a classic SNP vote winning strategy, lots of voters in cities like Glasgow who I would wager rarely go into the country side.

    @onehundred – do you have a link, that all sounds rather implausable. People pay a lot of money to go deer stalking not to shoot cattle. 80,000 vs 500,000 would mean 420,000 deers shot per year on a single estate, not likely. You couldn’t kill that many with a machine gun.

    rene59
    Member

    I am all for the idea. Landowners need to up their game or face been bought out. Give the local communicates a chance to develop for the benefit of the many as opposed to the few.

    It can work well, however I am aware that it is also difficult to make a good go of it.

    The UK is run by, and for, economic rent seekers of one form or another. Landowners chief amongst them. The smartest move that landowners and their various Westminster enablers have done in recent times is to convince Joe Public that they are on the same side, if Joe can get even as little as a studio flat in some crap town.

    An impartial observer of the UK from another galaxy would be forced to conclude that the colossal technical advancement seen over the recent centuries would mean that housing would be provided at nominal cost. But we know this is not the case and it is no accident either.

    The UK is becoming more dependent on inheritances and privelidge via increasing essential costs like housing. Land monopolies via ownership subsidies and planning restrictions play their part in maintaining and extending this situation.

    The ultimate aim of this is to get you, your kids and your grandkids to give up as much of your productive output as possible for the purposes of keeping the biggest benefit claimants, landowners, in clover. UK obsession with house prices is the best example of how easily this agenda is swallowed by the public. “Great, I’ve ‘made’ £100k on my house but my kids/grandkids are ****. Oh well nevermind I’m sure they’ll be fine of they stop buying an ipod every month.”

    mikewsmith
    Member

    OK so what would you do with massive tracts of the Highlands?

    rene59
    Member

    OK so what would you do with massive tracts of the Highlands?

    Repopulate the glens and work them like they used to.

    Kit
    Member

    The myth that most landowners are ‘minted’ is just that. Some indeed may be. Some may be comfortable, in the same way as any other middle class family. Some may have no money at all.

    My family’s estate makes my mum less than the average UK wage, and my dad earns nothing. His income is from other investments, but they are certainly not ‘minted’ or ‘rich’. When my dad retires, capital gains tax will force him to sell off half of the estate to pay it (a sizable 6-figure sum, not payable in installments), effectively wiping out any profit the estate does make. I’m currently trying to think of how I can earn a living from what’s left and am struggling (although I do have some STW-friendly ideas 😉 ). I could sell to the local community (or a wealthy Arab) but they’d be faced with the exact same problem. Land does not, by default, make you cash wealthy.

    Our family is one of many in the region who do not make much money from their estates. It’s a myth that they/we are all rolling in cash and don’t give a **** about either the community or the land. That’s not to say there aren’t bad eggs, of course, but blanket criticism of landowners is based not in fact, but prejudice. In my biased opinion, obviously…

    I’d be interested to know how much income, if anything, is derived from the public purse.

    dragon
    Member

    It’s not really a positive if the local community plaster the area with houses, golf courses or wind farms.

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    I think the Scottish public may rethink this community ownership idea when they realise that owning land isn’t free, there are significant maintenance costs. The sporting estate tax break was introduced to support local jobs and to prevent unique landscapes and natural environments being turned over to commercial forestry.

    This is a classic SNP vote winning strategy, lots of voters in cities like Glasgow who I would wager rarely go into the country side.

    Yeah I kind of agree, certainly all the comments on the Yes facebook groups seem to think you can just magically generate jobs out of land, the reality is a lot harder. Same thing during the indy ref with the oil and gas, everyone saying there are secret oil fields and huge wealth, the reality proving quite the opposite.

    There is definitely an issue with the big absentee landowners with barren shooting estates that should be looked at and addressed, but with a level head and some actual thought and planning.

    Take down the fences, reintroduce bears, wolves, beavers and lynx and let nature return to take its course would be my first step 🙂

    On that note bigjim, what about all those people in the nice bit of Glasgow with big gardens who won’t let poor people build houses in them.

    that’s a bit of a silly comparison really.

    Kit
    Member

    I’d be interested to know how much income, if anything, is derived from the public purse.

    Is that addressed to me, or landowners in general, or…? And what are you counting as ‘derived from the public purse’; do you mean tax breaks or handouts?

    Take down the fences, reintroduce bears, wolves, beavers and lynx and let nature return to take its course …

    …while increasing public access 😉

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