Research on super-rich Scottish land barons adds to calls for Scottish government to go further on land reform
Date: 14 August 2016
Research released today has revealed the extent to which Scottish land is owned by a handful of super-rich entities from around the world. While previous scandals about Scottish landowning dynasties have focused on tax avoidance, the new research links the international companies and individuals who have bought into the Scottish land ownership system with scandals relating to worker exploitation, human rights abuses and disregard for the environment around the world.
The research, published by social justice campaign group Global Justice Now, contains case studies of seven landowners across Scotland who have been involved in unregulated fracking, land grabs and privatisation of national parks in Africa, large scale trade union busting and job cuts in Mexico and Brazil, abuse of workers’ rights in the UK, or human rights abuses around the world.
Liz Murray, head of Scottish campaigns for Global Justice Now said:
“Our research exposes some of the super-rich, global capitalists who have bought into the outdated and undemocratic land ownership system here in Scotland with vast tracts of land. We’ve also unearthed some unsavoury connections between those land owners and scandals of worker exploitation, human rights abuses and disregard for the environment around the world.
The Scottish government must go further on land reform and fundamentally change Scotland’s absurdly outdated feudal system of land ownership which includes super-rich land barons like these. It’s clear that the public and local communities want to see a different system that is transparent, accessible and productive, and where land is in the hands of the many not the few. That’s what the Our Land festival is all about. Our research adds to that urgent call for Scottish politicians to be braver and to go further on land reform.”
The release of the research is timed to coincide with the start of the ‘Our Land’ festival, now in its second year and which is launching a new push for the Scottish government to go further on land reform.(1) OurLand has published five key demands of the Scottish government:
• Transparency: everyone should know who owns land
• Productivity: policy should encourage land to be used productively
• Affordability: tax should help make land more affordable
• Availability: more people should have more chance of buying more land
• Accountability: public land should be used for public good
Twenty communities across Scotland are organising events locally during the festival. The events will highlight problems in their localities whilst also showing the continuing thirst for greater land reform in Scotland.