Under the headline, ‘Lairds could be forced to sell off land by SNP acreage cap’, the Daily Telegraph warns its readers that the Scottish Government has plans to unjustly strip landowners of swathes of their land.
There isn’t yet any actual policy in place and many land reformers were quite disappointed by the relatively tame legislation that has been passed so far. In particular, the lack of a cap on the total amount one person can own, was heavily criticised. Many readers will know that more than half of Scotland is owned by fewer than 500 people and that Scotland has what has been described as ‘the most inequitable land ownership in the west.’ The map above is evidence of this. I find it shocking to see how little publicly-owned land we have.
What the Telegraph is exercised by is a job advert for researchers to look at how other countries have legislated to ‘limit who can own land and / or how much land any single individual or entity is permitted to own.’
Needless to say, the big landowners and their representative bodies have reacted furiously to the word ‘limit’ and are warning that breaking up large estates will reduce their economic viability and damage the Scottish economy. We’ll see if the researchers report that acreage limits have damaged the economies of Norway or Denmark, for example. I doubt it.
In European countries like Norway a country seven times the size of Scotland there are only 23 estates bigger than 10,000 hectares. In Scotland, there are 144. In Denmark, people are limited to only being able to buy 620 acres of rural land and must live in the country if they wish to buy a holiday home.