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Scottish Environment LINK - The voice of Scotland's environment movement




There are approximately 33,000 main agricultural holdings in Scotland of more than 1ha. It is estimated that over 35 % of these are tenanted and worked under agreements which limit the scope of the tenant’s property rights and therefore their management options. The most common example of this relates to the planting of woodlands where ownership of the timber reverts to the landlord. There are also some 17,500 crofts held under crofting tenancy. There are peculiar characteristics associated with all of these tenurial arrangements (e.g. common grazings in crofting areas) that fundamentally affect environmental management options.

With respect to the sporting estate sector, Warren (2002) highlights the fact that most are run at substantial annual losses, and can be considered as luxuries rather than businesses, often representing only a small part of their owners’ total assets. Consequently, finances may only be one of several factors in driving management decisions. This fact has been highlighted by Bryden (1997) as being a significant limitation to the effectiveness of fiscal or monetary incentives designed to direct land use patterns. MacGregor and Stockdale (1994) have also highlighted the high turnover of estate owners in some areas which exposes the land to inconsistencies in long-term management. The open nature of the land market now means that some 30% of Scottish sporting estates are not in UK ownership, with a fourfold increase since 1970 in the area under such ownership.

Information for estates sold in 2004 indicates that some 81% of buyers were from the UK , 12% from mainland Europe and the remaining 7% from elsewhere (Strutt and Parker, 2005).

The lack of control over the market for large estates in Scotland is often contrasted with the excess of control over crofting tenure. This is summarized by Warren (2002): “thus the tenure of 2ha of bog and rock is tightly controlled, while the ownership of 20,000ha is unrestricted” (p.50)

Contemporary patterns of ownership - Public >>