12. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Freedom of Information, Maps

Eighteen months ago I asked the Scottish Government for details of all the spatial datasets it held. From conversations I have had over the past year, it is clear that it would be useful to share this more widely and so here is the information that was released to me. It is correct as of September 2012 and consists of four files – descriptions of which are given below with links to the files themselves. Further information on some of these datasets and links to where you can download some of them are provided on the data.gov.uk website here.

Doc. Name

Date

Brief description

GDs.zip

19/09/2012

Marine Scotland Metadata is in zipped folders – ID numbers correspond to spreadsheet. Folders will be empty for those records marked NR, NUD or SDME (see key).

 

MS_GIS_Datasets.xls

19/09/2012

Marine Scotland spatial data list is an Excel spreadsheet (with Key).

 

SG Metadata.zip (6Mb)

19/09/2012

Scottish Government XML metadata files.

SG Spatial Data – Current Holding.xls

19/09/2012

Scottish Government spatial data holding list

 

 

On 23 February 2014, the Sunday Herald revealed that Timothy Congdon, UKIP’s economic spokesperson, had benefitted from wind energy developments on his land in Argyll and Caithness.

Today (4 March) it was revealed that he has stood down from the post.

Timothy Congdon’s website is here. He regards himself as the “best economist in British politics” Nowhere does he declare his interests as a major landowner in Scotland. Given the absence of a freely-available online register of who owns Scotland, I have spent £21.60 in order to make transparent his landholdings which cover 6237 acres of land in Argyll and Caithness. The details which follow reveal 6 out of his 8 landholdings in Scotland. The website currently records them as separate holdings but in fact the Argyll properties are all contiguous with one another.

ARGYLL-SHIRE

Achaglass

Gartnagrenach

East Ronachan

North Ronachan

Sheirdrum Hill

CAITHNESS

Phillips Mains Woodland

Hollandmey Farm Forest

In addition, he has interests in a 329 acre Moodlaw forest in Dumfries-shire.

This matter not only concerns transparency but a wider issue of why so much (55%) of Scotland’s privately-owned forests are owned by absentee owners. Fully a third of Scotland’s privately-owned forests is owned by owners who live outside Scotland – in the rest of UK, Europe and offshore tax havens. For further analysis, see a report I wrote two years ago in February 2012.

 

Following last year’s declaration I am, like a couple of my self-employed writer/activists colleagues (George Monbiot and Alastair McIntosh), making an annual declaration of interests and income.

Commentators, campaigners and advocacy groups should be open about their interests and income (this story from today is a good example of why I believe this to be so). I also believe that we have too much secrecy in the UK on matters of income and wealth and that if everyone’s income was openly declared, there would be much less inequality. This is not an especially radical idea. In Norway, details of every citizen’s income, assets and the tax they pay are available to the public and some of this is published on this website.

As a member of the Scottish Green Party, I also feel obliged to comply with the policy resolution passed at the 2011 Conference on Tax Evasion and Avoidance which encourages corporations and individuals to not use tax havens and to publish their accounts on a country by country basis.

2012 INCOME

I earn my living by writing, research, consultancy, lecturing, undertaking landownership investigations, and subscriptions from the whoownsscotland website. During 2012 my income was as follows

GROSS INCOME     £28,094

COSTS                    £8,015

NET INCOME          £20,079

My taxable income was £20,138 on which I paid £2,394.60 in income tax and £1,122.57 in Class 4 NI contributions for the year 2012-13 (a total tax paid of £3,517.17 – see calculation here).

In 2012 I earned £10,807 (54%) from consultancy and research. Net earnings from the whoownsscotland website contributed £4003 (20%), speaker fees, £3,760 (19%) and journalism £1,208 (6%). I earned £298 (1%) from the sale of books.

All of my income in 2012 was generated from within the UK. Main clients included NGOs, two political parties, energy companies, landowners, print & broadcast media and a Government research agency.

DECLARATION OF INTERESTS as at 31 January 2014

I own no land or property.

I have 483 shares in Standard Life.

I am on the Board of Directors of the Caledonia Centre for Social Development (Company No. 192099 & Scottish Charity No. SC 028485)

I am currently advising the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee.

I am a member of the Scottish Green Party.

I do not make use of any tax havens or artificial accounting structures to conceal my income.