At the weekend we got back to the hills after a period of enforced confinement due to work and school exams. We decided to camp high on the Lochngar plateau and stravage around the hills on Sunday before returning home. Heading off early on Saturday morning, we were delayed for over an hour in Perth due to being first on the scene at a car accident, assisting the casualties and providing witness statements to the police. As a result, by the time we got to Braemar it was time for lunch. The sun was shining and we decided to have a picnic on the banks of the River Dee.

Despite being one of Scotland’s most scenic and famous rivers there are very few places where tourists can pull off the road and wander down to the river (there’s a long history to this situation). But I know most of them and so we headed down a small track to a fishing hut and parked the car. There was no-one fishing and I parked the car in a way that did not block anybody’s access.

As we sat by the river, our dog Coire, who loves water, decided to go in for a swim. I was tempted myself. So there we were, enjoying our picnic and looking forward to getting on the hill. Suddenly, the peace was interrupted by a loud shout.

Get your dog out of the river!

We turned round. A man was standing some 20 metres away pointing at the river. He looked agitated. We were, for the moment, speechless. Who was he? What gave him the right to shout at us?

Get your dog out of the river. This is a fishing river, People pay to fish here.”

What’s the problem“, I asked as I walked towards him to find out what all the fuss was about. He was dressed in fishing gear but was not, I suspected a fisherman – more likely a ghillie I thought.

You’re trespassing“, he shouted.

He then pointed to our car.

Move your car. This is not a public highway. You’re blocking access.”

Of course, on this point he was right. I am well aware of the fact that pulling off any main road in Scotland generally places you on private land upon which you have no legal right to be. But I was not blocking access. There was no-one fishing at the time. Perhaps there was someone about to arrive in which case I would have been happy to co-operate.

At this point I wondered whether it would be possible to have a civilised conversation with this man who, by this time, had still not introduced himself or explained why he assumed the right to shout at us in such an aggressive manner.

As I pondered what to do he shouted,

If you don’t get out of here I’m going to call the police.”

At which point I concluded that there was little point in engaging him in conversation.

Go ahead – be my guest“, I replied and turned back to finish our picnic. Coire was still happily playing in the river but we were stressed and anxious about the encounter.

He stormed off.

We finished our picnic and left to head to Glen Muick, where more surprises awaited but that’s a blog for another day.

I have spent a good deal of my adult life in the hills around Deeside. I know many of the landowners and the people who work there. I also know that the estates still have a hegemonic role in the area. We were on Invercauld Estate and I presume that the ghillie is employed by the estate. The man in the photograph on the estate’s home page indeed looks very like the gentleman involved.

In conclusion, this is not simply a matter of public access. It is a manifestation of how those in authority continue to project landed hegemony.

I now plan to find out who he is, who employs him and to ask for an apology from them both.

UPDATE 18 JUNE 2013

Invercauld Estate has confirmed that the person involved is an employee of theirs. The factor, Simon Blackett, has apologised for the incident – see comment below together with my reply.

NOTE

An interesting study was conducted in 2003 examining the perceived conflicts amongst user groups on the River Dee. Part of this relates to the use of language. One critic on twitter (an Aberdeenshire landowner) suggested that it was “irresponsible and selfish to let my dog splash in a fishing pool” Pools of water in the River Dee have different meanings to different people – to me and my dog this was a swimming pool not a fishing pool – actually the stretch of water concerned is NOT a fishing pool.

An enjoyable night on the Lochnagar plateau gave ample time to digest the events of Saturday.

146 Comments

  1. I think that’s the best way to deal with this kind of thing. Know your rights, try to be reasonable, but just walk away and leave them to it if they insist on being angry, threatening and abusive. I’d probably also want to record the encounter if I had my phone handy.

    • Quite agree Noel, most people have mobile phones these days. Just would add to “know your rights” AND RESPONSIBILITIES. The latter will be your most powerful ally along with staying calm and polite.

      • Yes. Visitors should try to understand the kinds of work and commercial activity going on in a rural area and comply with reasonable requests. However, the failure of Angry Guy to introduce himself as an estate employee (if that is what he was), acting aggressively, and threatening to call the police doesn’t sound very reasonable. The communication failure which you mention appears to have been very one-sided.

  2. Yes Tez, but that doesn’t apply to motorised vehicles as Andy pointed out. A calm and reasoned explanation as to why anyone is not welcomed at a spot is the least we should all expect. It’s a classic case of poor communication skills. Going down a track with a vehicle to a fishing hut, parking and having a picnic, sounds innocent enough in a blog, but there are legalities of which I’m sure Andy is not ignorant, around rights of curtilage for private property whether it’s a hay barn, boat house or fishing hut. Although it appeared there was no one fishing at the time, he doesn’t state whether he was told that guests would be arriving. IF they were, then his car would indeed be blocking access and no matter how pleasant an encounter, privacy for the fishermen would be compromised. If there was not an issue with guests arriving, it would have been better PR to explain the situation, allow the family to continue their enjoyment and explain that on occasions when fishing guests were present or due, it would not be possible. Either way, communication by both parties appears to have spectacularly failed and has provided an opportunity for Andy to have another pop at landowners.

    • To be clear it is probably stretching language to describe the building as a fishing hut. It is very small and in a state of some disrepair and full of old chairs. There is a large (it is a big as the nearby cottage) and very new fishing “hut” further downstream that is what is used by anglers. No mention was made of any “guests” arriving. Even if they were, the car was not blocking access and I would have been happy to move it. Finally, communication did not fail on my part. I had very little opportunity to say anything at all.

    • russell deacon

      a pop for a pop you might say? fair and balanced. but wouldn’t it be better to respond not with an eye for an eye but to reform the law so it is clear that ghillie cannot behave this way. i think so.

      • russell deacon

        daye it seems that andy is successful in bringing these issues out because he is so reasonable and thoughtful. precisely why landowners are found to be in the wrong. time after time.

      • We’ve already done that. It’s called the Land Reform Act 2003. You should read it. It’s commendably clear and simple.

  3. simon blackett

    Andy I am very sorry that your day was ruined. I enjoy a picnic by the river as much as you do. Unfortunately you did drive your car down a private track and we do have fishing guests who would expect to use that track to access a fishing pool. They were fishing on Saturday. The hut is not relevant! However the way you were spoken to was quite out of order for which I apologise. I have spoken to the ghillie who you correctly identified from our website. He will learn from this incident. I am sure you agree that he has a job to do but he should have firstly introduced himself then explained quietly the predicament he found himself in and kindly asked you to move your car. We have similar problems with folk camping on Clunie side/lighting fires/dogs chasing ground nesting birds and deer/dog mess/litter etc It is always the best approach to explain the situation and calmly ask for their understanding and cooperation. The employee was rude for which I apologise.

    • Simon, thank you for your response which I acknowledge and appreciate. I fully acknowledge I had no right to take a vehicle there. I knew it at the time and I was in the wrong on that count. However I did it (and may do it again) because there are so few places one can pull off the road in Deeside. I took care to ensure that the vehicle did not block access and, as I said, would have quite happily moved it if requested to do so. I understand the problems you refer to in relation to public access in the countryside. I also understand the stress that estate employees can feel under when they have paying guests to look after. I was a ghillie once which is why actually I don’t think private hunting estates and ghillies are any way to run the countryside but that’s a whole other debate! Once again, thank you for responding in a timely and positive manner.

    • Paul Cochrane

      Well done for coming on here Simon and saying what you said. Many would think it beneath them. Good on you.

  4. I grew up on Deeside, and well prior to the security today, have many memories of saying hello to various royals as we took our grandparents dogs for walks. Due to proximity to Ballater, we tended to avoid Invercauld in preference to Balmoral, Birkhall & Morven estates. The attitudes of Invercauld & Abergeldie have long been of an antagonistic bent.

    However you are correct in one regard that this is not simply a matter of public access. Although I would say that the lack of prerequisite courtesy which many regard as second nature when meeting strangers, as demonstrated by your encounter, runs deeper than apology.

    Indeed, we are all customers now. Maybe we will not spend this week or year, but your ghillie’s livelihood depends on paying guests. Alienating swathes of potential marketeers, especially ones that have a well behaved dog is incredibly short-sighted. The temptation to be cynical is strong, however I do strongly believe that these self-proclaimed land management supremacists’ day is over. The European and Canadian exemplars of how to manage landscape profitably and cleanly do not tend to feature hunting or mono-species farming but go for the best experiences shared by the most people.

    • Geva Blackett

      I cannot agree with your assertion about Invercauld being antagonistic. The estate goes out of its way to welcome people and has done so for 20 years.

      • Robbie Pennington

        Geva, forgive me for asking, but are you an SNP councillor or Invercauld’s councillor?

        • Robbie,
          Well bearing in mind the SNP’s response to land tenure reform I consider that a very fair question.

    • Margaret Gardiner

      Well considered and well put, Rob B.

  5. Hi Andy, as a fellow lover of the hills, republican and socialist, I am no defender of the landed gentry. However on this occasion, I feel that you should be aware of another side to your story. I live on Deeside, know the stretch of the Dee you were on and suspect I know the fellow you encountered. Firstly, as I think you will admit, you had no right to park on what is private land. However, that is not the real point I am making. The area I think you are describing is known as the McLaren Pool. It is a much sought after fishing pool on the Dee. I cannot afford to fish it! Anglers come from all over Europe and bring much needed revenue to the area. You say your dog fancied a swim, fair enough, but as an angler myself, I know the damage that a dog swimming in a salmon pool can do. Your dog may well have frightened dozens of salmon further up stream. Anyone fishing that pool in the following hours and even days would be very lucky to catch the cold never mind a salmon. That means – no salmon, no fishers, no ghillie, no job. It is little wonder that the fellow you refer to was agitated, your swimming dog was putting his job at risk. A job which pays buttons, but is one of very few in the area. You say you are a man of the hills and know Deeside well. I would therefore ask that you consider the people who work in the area the next time you visit. Jobs are few and far between on Deeside and we need every angler and tourist we can get. This area is fragile, please do not add to that fragility through lack of thought for people’s livelihoods.

    • Actually I do not think it was the McLaren pool – it was not much of a pool at all. Where is McLaren pool?

    • …on a side note and it may seem pedantic but, I feel I should point out to readers the careful use of the word ‘fragile’. For example, being pejorative, we are apt to associate it with similarly cognitive images such as ‘sickly’, ‘infirm’, ‘poorly’, or even ‘pitiful’. This is to suggest a Dickensian picture of society. It is exactly this Popular connotation of the rhetorical and ruling political elite that has successfully inferiorised the people of rural Scotland for too long. Ironically, the context in which the word has been quite innocently used here starkly reminds us of the age-old prejudices of landowners and their ‘sporting rights’ in a bitter struggle for ownership of our land.
      Scotland is NOT fragile. Its people are NOT fragile and neither is its economy – it is, our unfortunate position under the political economy of an imperial capitalism, which you may be able to affect in the coming referendum? Many of the products of this country are world brands, including the tenacity and self-believe of its people.
      It pays us no heed to inferiorise ourselves…leave that to our enemies. Speak only in positive terms Bill. Aim high. Never be an apologist for your kin, those were the dark days, we’re emerging…

      sideactivity.wordpress.com

  6. “Invercauld Estate, Braemar
    The heart of the Cairngorms and a great place for a holiday” – but only if you pay and/or are a fisherman? I’m pleased that you had an apology but an acceptance on the part of landowners that not everyone who uses the countryside is unaware of how to behave in our wild places rather than them treating everyone as if they were about to trash the place would be better. I hope that at least this ghillie will learn from having his boorish behaviour publicly exposed and that the estate works harder to ensure that their employees approach visitors with a degree of civility.

    • Geva Blackett

      Karen, where does it say “only if you pay” – plenty of people come and camp or caravan… or use our hotels and B&Bs if they want to pay for a bed (and holidays usually do involve expenditure of some kind)

  7. Paul Cochrane

    I always ask the question, ‘How did Invercauld come into possession of the estate?’ One of the great advantages of some country estates is the lack of true ‘Glasgow neds’ who would answer back in a somewhat different manner! I have encountered great courtesy while out trekking, ‘Would you mind not using that field as ….’ , good explanatory signage but also the crypto-stressball-munching nut-job who somehow thinks everything is for paying guests only. I would hate us to go the way of England where kayaker struggle to find a stretch of river to paddle on…I mean, how can you own a river?

    • Geva Blackett

      Fishing pays to keep the river clear of debris, the banks clear etc etc plus it is part of our rural economy. No one here thinks everything is for paying guests only but we DO welcome the money they pay into our local economy – ask the hotels and B&Bs…

  8. Paul, you’re not serious? “One of the great advantages of some country estates is the lack of true ‘Glasgow neds’ who would answer back in a somewhat different manner!”

    We had to introduce Byelaws in Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park to protect, not just the environment and local communities, but families out to enjoy the Park. Private owners of land have no such protection from antisocial behaviour. As you suggest, all the more reason to value polite access takers.

  9. I have no sympathy. If you choose to live in Scotland that is what you will get. Move to a country with a proper right of public access and then you will not be hassled any more.
    http://www.naturvardsverket.se/allemansratten#

  10. A handsome response from Simon Blackett including not just an apology but – almost as important – the acknowledgement that the estate had not handled the matter well and that there are lessons for it to learn.

    I notice there doesn’t appear to be anything in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code about dogs in salmon rivers. Perhaps there needs to be.

  11. This is not about accessing the countryside or which pool a dog swims in. It is about knowing how to behave in the countryside. What has happened on Loch Lomond is a classic example of what can happen when city folk treat our wild places like their local park. The litter, dog mess, burnt out tress and campfires, car damage etc. etc. has ruined a truly beautiful part of Scotland. What next? Boating ponds, car parks and ice cream vans! Folk live and work in the countryside, they make their living from our salmon rivers and our hills. Others make their living from the tourism, angling, stalking and hill walking stimulate. By all means enjoy our wonderful countryside but do it responsibly and respect the fact that to some people it provides a means of earning a living.

  12. Slurry Stirrer

    This kind of reaction from estates and their gamies is sadly all too common. The dog having a wee play in the water is hardly going to affect the salmon, nobody was fishing on that spot at the time.

    disappointing to read the stuff about glasgow neds, at least they don’t head to the outdoors to kill wild animals for personal pleasure.

  13. Victor Clements

    You cant micro- manage a dug like that. Chasing animals or ground birds is a big no-no…… having a splash around in the river….. you have to be pretty harsh to complain about that if there is no-one else around.

  14. Can you imagine the discussion with the employee:
    “Oh, FFS, did you have to pick on Andy Wightman?!!? Of all people, Andy Fecking Wightman? You total oick!”

    • LOL Jim, that was exactly my reaction as well! I’d like to have been a fly on the wall!

  15. Some folk on here just don’t get it. If everyone let their dogs splash around in our salmon rivers there would be no salmon. Splashing dogs scare salmon upstream before their time and destroy spawning grounds. Please do your homework before commenting on matters that you obviously know nothing about. NO SALMON means NO JOBS on our rivers and a massive reduction in OUR TOURISM. No tourism = empty glens and villages. Of course maybe that’s what some want i.e. rural Scotland a desert!

    • I well understand the issues in relation to salmon. If, for example the river was very low, I would not have allowed my dog into the water. Similarly I would generally not allow her into a clearly designated fishing pool. However, I think you exaggerate a bit. Salmon and other forms of hunted animal are the reason why the glens in upper Deeside were emptied in the first place. Some of these estates in fact are among the few areas where the establishment of deer forests was directly responsible for clearance. Even today, tenant farmers are being deprived of grazings to make way for renewed investment in grouse moors leased to outside interests. This is a part of Scotland where landed hegemony is most in evidence. There are only 3 owner-occupied farms in upper Deeside for example and as a consequence the economy and the villages are in a highly dependent and subservient relationship with mainly absentee landowners.

      • hebrideanfarmer

        Absolutely correct Andy. This is the problem. Rivers in Scotland should not be there exclusively for high fee paying fishing folk. BC just doesn’t get it …..it would be a far more prosperous Scotland if the communities controlled designated fishing zones within certain time slots, in conjunction with the general public’s enjoyment of waterways. Rambling, picnicking, kayaking, wildlife trails etc. The people of Scotland want to enjoy their natural landscape. The true right to roam will be in place when Scotland manages to dismantle these large estates, with their selfish, privileged attitudes.
        The gamekeeper is not to blame here. He was only doing his job (making the general public feel uncomfortable in the countryside) It’s the estates brainwashing that’s to blame.

  16. Alison Macleod

    There is a big pool on the river that flows into Applecross Bay, below the high tide line (so belongs to the Crown Estate). Local youngsters love to swim there in good weather (we’re well over an hours drive from the nearest swimming pool). It’s not a big river; it once had salmon in it but if there are any now they are few and far between. The fishings on the estate are let out for £1 per annum to a relation of the chair of the trustees I believe and the rent is probably a reasonable reflection of what they are worth.
    About ten years ago I was swimming in that pool with two of my sons, then aged about 13 and 10. We were joined by a couple of tourists (bikers). Everybody was relaxed and happy, enjoying the sunshine. Along came a lady with children around the age of my own. I didn’t know her. She didn’t introduce herself but told us all to get out of the pool because we were disturbing the fish. The boys were used to doing what they were told and made moves to get out. I wouldn’t let them, telling them and her we had every right to be there, as did the bikers. It became clear that she was the wife of a trustee. She said if we didn’t get out she would call estate staff to remove us. I said I wasn’t scared of Mike and Dave (in any case Mike’s children swam there too). She realised I was local and left us alone.
    The boys were a bit wary of swimming there for a while after, but on the whole we just thought it was a funny story to tell about the slightly deluded landowners. The bikers were really bothered though. They wrote to the Community Council after they got home to complain about it and pointed out that the landowner had no right to stop anyone swimming in a pool below the high water line. They said they had been put off coming to Applecross by the way they had been treated.
    Our economy is heavily reliant on tourism, with local businesses making a huge and successful effort to make visitors feel welcome and appreciated; this sort of attitude undermines that.
    Funnily enough my dogs swim in the same river regularly, both above and below the high water mark and nobody has ever told me to get them out!

  17. Slurry stirrer, if you lived near Glasgow you’d know that killing animals for pleasure is exactly what many of them do. Deer suffer most with crossbows the preferred weapon. Our Wildlife Crime Officers are kept mightily busy. Hare and deer coursing are the most popular and badger baiting is also part of the urban “hunter’s” activities occupying rural and WCOs as well as SSPCAs time……..and then there’s the dog fighting rings. In my area it’s the favoured activity of the Maryhill drug barons. Peace reigns for a while when one drug dealer shoots a rival, but then it all kicks off again. It’s been going on for years . Our local water bailiffs now carry call in equipment that links direct to the police and this has cut down assaults dramatically.

    • For goodness sake! Listen to yourself woman! Just listen to yourself. If the people of Glasgow were mostly of a different skin colour to you, what do you think you would sound like?

      Kill deer. Many of us kill deer? There are over half a million people living in this city. Do you realise that? And you claim many of us kill deer? How many is many? 1%? 5% 20%? 70%? 0.05%? How many is many? Unlike many of the country folk who would NEVER do such a thing? The guns YOU all have are what exactly? Decorative bling?

      Yes, I know, I know, you all know what you are doing and are of a far more responsible sort, not being a city type.

      You, young lady are the last straw and are precisely why my family will now not be spending our autumn holidays in the Scottish countryside. We take four holidays each year. We won’t be spending them in Scotland until people such as yourself learn civility and quit the nasty, divisive attitudes. The more city folk who join me, the better as far as I’m concerned. It is the only way you will learn, by taking a hit in the pockets. Accidentally meeting you and listening to your horrifying views on what sort of people I and my family are is simply too much of a risk.

      • Helen, Daye’s comment was a reply to Slurry Stirrer’s, at June 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm, in which s/he said “disappointing to read the stuff about glasgow neds, at least they don’t head to the outdoors to kill wild animals for personal pleasure”. Thus the “them” Daye was referring to was *neds*, not Glasgow (or city) people in general. Sometimes, comments don’t end up in the correct chronological order which is why, on occasions, they can look oddly out of context and cause misunderstandings.

  18. Slurry Stirrer

    yes Daye Tucker its a disgrace, killing innocent wild animals for fun. Doesn’t make any difference whether these people are wearing hoodies or tweeds, they should all be ashamed of themselves. Boils down to poor education.

  19. Slurry Stirrer

    Blackett needs to go on a management course. To come out publicly on a blog like this and criticize and belittle one of your employees (i assume) is very weak. Chin up gamie, you were just trying to do your job.

    • Paul Cochrane

      Not if he’s spoken to him first.

      • Slurry Stirrer

        “not if he’s spoken to him first” are you serious? So Blackett said something like this: oh dear what a mistake don’t do it again you bad boy. now iam going to go onto Andy’s blog and totally slaughter you!

        • I suggest you don’t speculate about “Blackett’s” conversations with his staff. This estate expects all visitors to be treated with respect.

  20. I concur with Paul Cochrane. Bravo Simon Blackett. Off subject somewhat, I have been surprised by the reaction of a couple Landowners to my book The Forager’s Kitchen : encouraging folk to leave gates open, carrier bags of chanterelles, which are then sold etc … there is a happy medium out there somewhere. Personally, I have a real issue with ‘commercial foragers’ but see no reason why people can’t collect a little here and there responsibly, for their ‘own’ supper table, where ingredients are plentiful. I don’t include any roots.

  21. Alex. Sutherland

    My standard reply to any land owner or manager who might get above themselves is “You don’t own any land under Scottish law you only have an interest in it, Our system is quite different to that found south of the border. The only thing you own outright is the scrap of paper on which your title is recorded. We believe that our system and access laws are way ahead of England, welcome to an enlightened country look around and enjoy the freedom!”

  22. Don’t forget the role of the access authorities in Scotland in helping resolve access issues! As a land manager or access taker, you can report incidents or obstructions to your local or National Park authority. Access authorities have a duty to deal with access issues and a staff resource – generally Access Officers – to do this. As one of the Access Officers for the Cairngorms National Park Authority, I was told by both parties about Andy’s incident on the Dee. The CNPA logs when, where and what access issues are cropping up – and keeps a track of those that we play a part in resolving, some of which can take quite literally years. In this case, there has been good follow up communication between the Factor Simon Blackett and Andy, with action taken, apologies given and duly accepted – would that all cases could be dealt with so quickly and graciously, and without the need for third part involvement! Thankfully such incidents are rare in relation to the large numbers of people who vist and enjoy the Park.

  23. This from a crofter at a Highland Land League meeting in Skye in 1884: ‘The fish that was yesterday miles away from the land was claimed by the landlord the moment it reached the shore. And so also were the birds of the air as soon as they flew over his land. The law made it so, because landlords were themselves the lawmakers, and it was a wonder that the poor man was allowed to breathe the air of heaven and drink from the mountain stream without having the factors and the whole of the county police pursuing him as a thief.’ … Since all that’s changed in the intervening 129 years is that you can’t now let your dog cool down in a Highland river, we don’t seem to be making much progress.

  24. @Admin -Have you ever fished for salmon?

    @hebrideanfarmer
    “The true right to roam will be in place when Scotland manages to dismantle these large estates, with their selfish, privileged attitudes.” Pray tell how Scotland will manage this?

    • I have never fished for salmon. There are a number of approaches that could be adopted to dismantle Scotland’s concentrated pattern of landownership.

    • hebrideanfarmer

      Granting tenant farmers the right to own their own farms.

      • Reiner Luyken

        Hi Hebrideanfarmer, I just wondered, do you let tourist roam, and camp, and perhaps even start a camp fire, on your fields during lambing? They tell me they have a right to do so as long as they keep their dogs under control.

        • Reiner Luyken

          Still waiting for your reply, Hebrideanfarmer! Kind regards, Reiner

          • hebrideanfarmer

            Hi Reiner. If we allowed camping on our farm we would be in breech of our lease, it is forbidden by the landlord. So anybody wanting to camp and set up BBQ, would have to travel 600 miles down south to ask the landlord. Or perhaps they could ask the the factor but he would have to get maps out to check if the proposed camp site was on “his” estate.
            As for tourists roaming with their dogs, we do get quite a few and never have had our sheep worried. We actually like and encourage people to walk on the farm because not only is it their right but it is also the best way to keep the ravens and hoodies away. Our sheep are used to seeing dogs under control, a dog chasing sheep is another matter, chased ewes basically have no where to go! and will never out move a dog.
            Our biggest problem is the fences around the farm, they are rotten and livestock stray onto the roads where they have been killed by motor vehicles. It would be such a relief if the land owner would fulfill his obligations an repair the fences.
            or perhaps everything would be much better if we were able to have ownership.

  25. So many charming, welcoming guests.

    I read this blog this morning. I’ve been busy changing holiday plans as a result. As a Glaswegian family of six, we will now take our hard-earned cash to Finland for my autumn holiday this year where I have been welcomed in the past by both Finns and fellow Scots exiles. I’m sure the six of us will have a lovely relaxing time without the stress of the locals bitching, sniping and generally adopting a sniffy unwelcoming attitude. The holiday we had planned in Perthshire has now been scrapped. Clearly, Glaswegians aren’t welcome in the Scottish countryside given we are all campfire burning, messy, littering folk who own shitting dogs! Obviously, the tourism industry will not miss the money we Glasgow city folk spend. Let me point out, my husband is a farmers’ son and having lived here in the big dirty city for 15 years now, he’s obviously forgotten how to behave in Scottish countryside, having spent so much time with a city woman, born and bred.

    I am no longer willing to look the other way and ignore how my fellow countrymen feel about, speak about and speak to people like me, like my children who have committed the mortal sin of daring to be born, live and work in Glasgow. It’s time this family left this country so full of class-ridden little big people, it really is.

    • Paul Cochrane

      Helen,
      I’m a Glaswegian. My comment was directed at the lack of deference that Glaswegians tend to have towards assumed authority. Most of the brilliant hillwalking groups I’ve been involved in was littered with Glaswegians. Rather than leave, have the unending fun that we have of bursting the bubble of proto-diet-elitists!

    • I live in Glasgow and worked outdoors for some years in Arrochar and Helensburgh, and know the Loch Lomond area well.

      The vast majority of damage caused to the shores of Loch Lomond – the tree cutting and burning, the leaving of litter and faeces, the broken glass and abandoned tents – is caused by Scottish people from the nearby cities.

      I also live just around the corner from Knightswood Park, where a couple of years ago a deer was harassed with dogs and killed in a particularly disturbing way by a group of local youths.

      That is not to say, however, that all people from Glasgow are like this, and the comments that you have taken to read as an attack on all Glaswegians (and have been so offended by that you have changed your holiday plans) did not read that way to me.

  26. Better yet – why don’t you all come to newfoundland? http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/ ‘crown land’ everywhere for everyone’s enjoyment – and salmon too. here’s a wee set of my pics from a totally ‘generic’ bit of land nr my parents. http://www.flickr.com/photos/53569811@N03/sets/72157627457571508/ I’m no photographer, but put this set together yesterday, so thought i might as well share.

  27. What I would ask the estate is – Which stretches of the river would they like us to stop at, park our cars, enjoy a picnic and a swim ?

  28. I too am a born and bred Glaswegian, 400 yards from the Govan Road to be precise but now live on Deeside. I would make three observations:
    1. Glaswegians are no more likely to spoil the countryside than people from anywhere else. The issue is how to behave responsibly while enjoying the countryside;

    2. @Admin – With all due respect, I do not see how you can comment on the behaviour of salmon in a river/pool, if you have never fished for them and obviously have no knowledge of their habitat.
    “There are a number of approaches that could be adopted to dismantle Scotland’s concentrated pattern of landownership.” I would be interested in hearing what “approaches” you have in mind.

    3.@hebrideanfarmer -”Granting tenant farmers the right to own their own farms.” That is political decision. I would be interested in hearing how you think that could be achieved.

    • hebrideanfarmer

      Precisely like this http://www.andywightman.com/?p=2852
      A Lochhead act I think Prof Hunter called it !

    • What an interesting attitude – “I can’t comment on the behaviour of a salmon in a river if I have never fished for them”. One of my best pals is a fisheries scientist. He has never caught a fish in his life. Should he not be writing papers on fisheries biology? Clearly only salmon fisherman should go anywhere near a salmon river since they know all about their habitat. The rest of us should obviously steer well away!

  29. @hebrideanfarmer – That will do for me.

    @Admin – Perhaps you should take your expert pal with you next time you take your dog for a walk near a salmon river. He might just know a wee bit more about salmon than you and your dog. Might also be good idea to befriend a traffic warden to keep you right on where you can park legally. Then again maybe you should just follow your own advice.

    “The rest of us should obviously steer well away!”

    • You’re serious aren’t you? How about I hire you as my guide next time I visit just in case I do anything I shouldn’t?

  30. Helen,

    When the day comes, soon hopefully, when the tenants own their farms and can invite tourists to come and stay, (without having to give the laird a percentage) remember that you, your family, your bairns and dogs will be made more than welcome in a small bit of Perthshire.
    It should be your right to enjoy our countryside. It should be everyone’s right to enjoy our countryside without being made to feel inferior or intrusive.

    Would roaming and thirsty deer be a disturbance to the salmon or is this only applicable to Andy’s dog?

    • Re – Would roaming and thirsty deer be a disturbance to the salmon………..

      As this herd is doing – where the River Ey meets the Dee
      http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3780/9077566167_47a09d426f_z.jpg

    • All I really want to do in the countryside is enjoy a wee walk with my husband while grandparents spend time with our children. Other times I simply want to sit by a stream all day, on my own with a book and a cup of tea or two, while my husband spends a day being Dad. Read, put the book down, watch the insects, explore some among the wild plants a little, go about their business, take in the views, the shadows cast on the landscape, read some more, drink some more… I shouldn’t have to worry about some country big mouth bullying me for sticking my nose in a book or an insect’s life. I wouldn’t dare light a stove, let alone a campfire. I simply wouldn’t dare for fear of the accusations of some biddy using it as an excuse to lecture me as though I were a child or some no-good murdering city person! When my flask is either empty or cold, I pack up and walk back to the hotel but that means I can’t even have a full day if the weather is fine for it. If us city folk spoke to some visiting country folk while they are in the city the way they do us they’d not stand for it. Can you imagine us lecturing them about what a set of traffic lights are and how to cross? Come to think of it, many years I go I gave the car keys to a friend of mine who hailed from the islands only to be frightened half to death as she careered throw red lights, perhaps I should have had that “wee talk”.

      The countryside is where I am supposed to be relaxing, finding peace, not worrying about offensive wee men (or women). Honestly, I’ve met better mannered, kinder, more welcoming people in the most deprived parts of Glasgow than I have in some parts of the Scottish countryside.

  31. Slurry Stirrer

    Bill C. Andys dog will not have made any impact on the salmon, unless it weighs about 500kg, good at climbing trees and is fond of hibernation.
    There is a salmon river near my home and i regularly see tweedy gentlemen fishing, while their black labs or spaniels are in the water.
    if Andy was wearing Pink jeans and a tweed jacket on the riverside the other day we would not be having this blog.

  32. Andrew Bruce Wootton

    As a young migrant to Scotland from Canada in the late 80′s with scarce money and assets, walking in the country with a dog was one of life’s luxuries but I can vividly remember the fairly numerous times I was marched off land by an over excited farmer or keeper. A curious reaction when, as the son of a farmer, I knew I wasn’t doing any harm.
    Ironically then moving into land management, mainly to get a house, I have witnessed a transformation in attitude and awareness among farmers and keepers during the subsequent two decades towards those who enjoy the land for recreation.
    The strenuous efforts of land management and farming union reps to enlighten these traditional sectors plus a new generation of land manager combined with political and social pressure, is paying dividends.
    Treating visitors and guests to the country with respect and dignity is the least anyone lucky enough to work there should do, unless of course, they are doing intentional harm in which case a more robust approach is required – addressing the faulty behaviour, not as a personal attack.
    Making the countryside accessible, welcoming and understood is an important responsibility for today’s land manager, farmer, fisher, keeper or forester and those in leading positions need to take the lead – as Simon has done above.
    What a shame we are heading for another battle on land ownership. It polarises positions, consumes valuable energy that should be committed to growth and totally misses the opportunity for Scotland to harness the asset she has in her rural estates. They are now doing so much to contribute to our nation’s well being but they could do so much more if they were better integrated in Scotland PLC’s strategic business plan. On top of that they bring colour and richness to the country’s identity well beyond their actual significance.
    Like ramblers, fishers, keepers or authors, there are good and bad estates and everything in between. We should not expect every visitor to the country to act perfectly and those who don’t should not mean every visitor is treated with disprespect. Quite the opposite. As should be the case for estates.

  33. Andrew, was there a previous battle on land ownership? If so, who won?

    • Andrew BruceWootton

      Not sure there are ever winners but the losers are normally those who get caught in the middle and this time that looks like being new entrants and tenant farming.

      • Pops Johnston

        Thanks for your reply Andrew. Would you support the right to buy for tenants on rural estates as a wee reform that might have a long term positive impact?

        • Andrew BruceWootton

          Not really. The larger estates are really the last show in town who actively let land, particularly to new entrants. There hasn’t been a lot let recently because the older tenants are hanging on under secure tenancies. The term being chucked about at the moment is ‘no churn’.

          Integrated rural estates (ie those run as businesses) and new entrants have a common interest and a mutual survival cord.

          We should be creating incentives to re-direct the market of letting land back to this original and important connection.

          Let farm land is a resource to the industry for new entrants and also existing farmers spreading over heads (efficiency). We should be encouraging all farmers to own their own farm after getting established and not use this precious resource as a permanent sub category of permanent land tenure.

          Retiring tenant farmers need to be fairly compensated for the improvements they have made to the land and then given a pathway out of the industry. Farmers with ambition who want to move from a let unit to their own need to be fairly compensated for improvements to the let unit.

          New entrants then need to be given a fighting change to compete for the increasingly rare commodity of let land that the larger estates may still be willing to commit to lease (given the kicking they have received over the last decade) as struggling existing farmers will be obviously the stronger candidates.

          But essentially, the industry and government need to give tenants and land lords confidence that they support the let farming and will provide legislation and financial support that compliments each other towards ensuring we have a healthy let sector for the next generation.

          • Would there not be an argument that spreading ownership over a wider section of the community could generate a greater share of responsibility for economic growth and the development of community business? Scotland’s land is concentrated in the hands (or wallets) of a relatively small number of individuals in comparison to otherwise similar European countries. Are you convinced our way is more efficient and effective?

  34. So you park ilegally and then at least potentially spoil a paying clients days fishing thereby putting peoples jobs in jeopardy and are surprised at being shouted at. And then use a political blog to publically pillory the guy. Nice.

  35. @Amin – “You’re serious aren’t you? How about I hire you as my guide next time I visit just in case I do anything I shouldn’t?”
    Firstly, you couldn’t afford me.
    Secondly, I am serious about pointing out to you and some of the other countryside anarchists and ‘experts’ on here that your actions from the moment you drove your car down that track (which you admit you knew was private land) were not only illegal, but irresponsible. Let us examine the facts:
    1. You drive your car down a private track and park your car on private land;
    2. You then proceed to have a picnic on the said private land as though you were in a public park;
    3. You then allow your dog to go swimming in one of Scotland’s finest salmon river. A salmon river which brings much needed revenue to the local economy because of its’ reputation for excellent salmon fishing;
    3. When confronted over your illegal and irresponsible actions by a ghille doing his job i.e.protecting the fishing stock and his employers land, not to mention protecting his own job, you choose to go public using your own blog and Facebook.
    4. By publicising a minor confrontation for your own particular hobby horse, you have no doubt caused the ghillie concerned much unnecessary aggravation from his employer and possibly have put his very employment as a ghillie under threat.
    I hope you and the rest of the countryside anarchists on here are proud of your actions.
    You will no doubt be very pleased to know that this is my last post on this matter and indeed on your blog. I have no wish to make further contribution to a public forum which has so many ill-informed ‘experts’ on countryside matters and seeks to denigrate an individual for doing his job and trying to protect his livelihood.

    • Hang around Bill please. We need your expert guidance. How else are we to learn how to behave?

  36. Kevin Scullion

    Who is this Bill Crookshank? Once we get real land reform introduced we can sort out real jobs in Deeside in spades. Hunter wellies might take a dive right enough. I’m guessing your dog isn’t a choc lab . What a great craic . Excellent post.

  37. @Bill Cruickshank

    Glad I don’t live in the same country as you. Sweden manages to have a Right of Public Access and the world has not come to an end or the salmon vanished. I thought that over-fishing in the North Atlantic and escapes from fish farming were the main threats to the salmon rather than the odd dog in a river.

    I hope you are a conscientious campaigner against these real threats to salmon.

    • Henry,
      There are very few major salmon rivers in Sweden that have not been affected by hydro-electric development and smolt production is now heavily based on hatcheries. Scotland currently produces a major proportion of NATURAL smolts turning into large multiple sea year adult salmon, that return to their natal rivers in the spring. These fish present an important intrinsic biodiversity and wildlife harvest potential whether we have a continuation of the Victorian-Edwardian anachronism of land tenure we have at present, the favoured development of a neo-tribal- kibbutzist communal tenure of the chattering classes, the extensive private tenure and state owned mix of Fennoscandia that we are both familiar with—or something even better in a Scotland collecting Land Rental Value as the basis public revenue

  38. ‘We finished our picnic and left to head to Glen Muick, where more surprises awaited but that’s a blog for another day.’ – I can’t wait for that one!

    I strolled up Lochnagar from Loch Muick yesterday. The only disturbance – human or otherwise – was a scatter of half-burnt barbecue briquettes at the summit. They had neither ‘Glaswegian’ nor ‘laird’ stamped on them but there was definitely a whiff of ned about them.

    • On Sunday morning we arrived at the summit of Lochnagar at around 10am to find two gentlemen having a barbecue. I asked when they had arrived – they said, they’d walked up overnight. I asked out of curiosity how they intended to dispose of the charcoal. They were Polish and the one I addressed the question to did not speak English but his friend then said that they would pour water on them and carry them out. A pity they didn’t.

      • Hope my comment wasn’t a spoiler to your intended Glen Muick post! I suppose my use of the word ‘ned’ was pejorative but as a proxy for ignorance perhaps it’ll do.

      • Andy,
        How would you behaved in a similar situation in Denali, Yosemite or Borgefjell? Would the Poles or indeed yourself been able to do that in Tatra? Would such a confrontation even arisen in the first place. What would happen to the moronic anglers infesting the shores of Loch Earn if they attempted the same kind of behaviour around a lake in Yosemite? What’s missing in Scotland compared to these international examples?

  39. @Admin “Hang around Bill please. We need your expert guidance. How else are we to learn how to behave?”

    Na I’m off, had enough of hobby horses, name calling and playground point scoring. Away to join the real world and spend time campaigning for real progressive change in Scotland, by arguing for a YES vote in next year’s referendum. Saor Alba.

  40. In the river, in the deepest, darkest pool
    Where once his brothers and his sisters swam,
    The water is cold and still.
    Old Trout lies here, grown fat on his own kind.

    What permit do we need to catch a fish like that?
    And, if we catch him, should we put him back?
    Or keep him?
    And let this pool be for swimming again.

  41. “Right to buy” just kicks the can down the road. Apply a hefty land value tax, get rid of most other taxes and let things sort themselves out from there.

    Big estates in Ireland were broken up into smaller holdings at the end of the nineteenth century. This stored up big problems in the twentieth century. Amongst other things, it created a polical lobby for expensive, distorting and corrupt agricultural subsidies. The Irish Republic still suffers from the nineteenth century policy of converting small tenancies into owner-occupied farms.

  42. Victor Clements

    Henry Law…… the reforms in Ireland transformed the country for the better. They created a strong rural voice that would make sure that rural Ireland could never be ignored ( a good thing in my book), and that the concerns of rural people always had to be taken seriously by politicians. Small farmers qualify for exactly the same subsidies as big farmers….. no more, and always a lot less. There were nearly 600,000 farmers bought out their farms. It was a massive social change. The landlords seen the writing on the wall, and knew they could not resist it in the end. They actually went with some dignity, having been properly compensated.

    I do think the situation in Scotland today is different though. We only have 5-6000 tenant farmers. Reform would help them, but would there be a net benefit to the nation as a whole, given that some current estate enterprises might then not be viable any longer?

    I would like to see some more figures on the balance of cost/ benefit, who would the winners actually be? Is it enough of a national priority to pursue? Would the benefits be clear cut? To me, it is not clear cut at all. The case has yet to be made. I dont question the benefit to some individuals, but I do question the net overall outcome, and whether that would be positive or negative.

    • I agree the Irish situation is less bad than the Scottish one, but that’s because the Scottish one is so awful. The Fennoscandian one is better still http://www.caledonia.org.uk/land/tenure.htm
      but, the introduction of a synergistic package of local government reform and Land Rental Value collection in Scotland could improve further on that.

  43. hebrideanfarmer

    Victor, Have a look and compare owner occupied farms to tenant farms, and see for yourself the massive difference in investment, success and indeed attitude between these farming types.
    We are not wanting to steal these farms, we are willing to pay the correct amount, bearing in mind work done by the tenant to date. 5-6000 tenancies may not be a huge amount, I actually think it is, but I assure you, it would go a long way to re balancing the diversity of ownership of land that Scotland suffers from so badly. Most of all though it would be a huge step towards Social Justice.
    By the way H.L. I’m all for Land Value Tax

  44. The Irish land reforms were the wrong sort of land reform. It worked for a generation, and then only for the rural farmers. The urban Irish were no better off. The next generation benefitted only if they inherited their parents’ little holding.

    Breaking-up ownership is not a sensible way to do land reform. Land value taxation offers the possibility of a lasting solution.

  45. Because land value tax at a significant rate will lead to break-up. There is no point in holding onto land or keeping it as a hobby interest when it is a tax liability.

    • No, actually, it won’t, firstly because the estates that need to be broken up wouldn’t attract much land value tax, and secondly because it would still attract the same amount of tax after break-up. That’s why we need either a flat land tax or (better) a graduated/exponential land tax.

      • We don’t need any kind of tax, we just need to collect the Land Rental Value that id being generated right NOW, but is accruing to private sectional vested interests that are tantamount to a monopoly cabal.

      • None of the societally created Land Rental Value currently being generated is being returned to the public purse at the moment, so even low LRV rated areas would make a contribution that is presently being siphoned off to the private monopoly cabal. With a full implementation of LRV then holding thousands of hectares of even low LRV land becomes much less tenable and viable. A flat rate of LRV with all land liable for the same rate per hectare regardless of site potential and maximum permitted use under planning law, would kill the concept stone dead at birth.

      • I recommend that you consider the comments made by Roger Sandilands, John Digney and myself in reply to Malcolm Ramsay on ‘The Narrowest Land Reform Agenda in The World’ thread on this site

    • Yes, you are correct. Land as we know, does not have any capital value whatsoever( buildings, farms etc put there by mankind do of course). The only value land has is a societally created desirability factor which you term LVT and I term LRV. This is 100% generated, whatever the acronym, by society and the ultimate aim should be to get this back 100%. This would be 100% fair and 100% unavoidable. This would REPLACE the state robbery of labour known as income tax–the economic stimulus is obvious

  46. Andrew BruceWootton

    What estates need to be broken up? Is there a list? What have they done wrong?

    • What have they done wrong?—–why not take a trip through, Vest Agder, Rogaland and Hordaland and just look out of the window? Better still, ask some of the thousands of rural private landowners and their families if they would like their land, farms, buildings, homes, forest and rivers handed over to a clone of Atholl Estates.

  47. (a) all of them.
    (b) monopolised the land.

    I can see no public interest in a person being able to own more land than he or she is able to work. Can you?

  48. Andrew BruceWootton

    So you don’t support let housing or let offices or let shops? I appreciate Scotland’s estates are mainly here due to history but if they are now serving a useful purpose and can be made to serve more, then why knock them for purely idealogical reasons? Business estates in the country are no different to business estates in the city and the relationship they have with the public and with tenants should be the same ie equal. If we stop personalising estates as bad and start agreeing what looks like good with incentives, regulation and quality schemes that constantly raises the bar on performance and defines good from bad, then that must be a good thing – loads of free benefits to society, retention of private sector investment in the country and a modern Scotland that is mature enough to take the best of the past and redefine it as fit for purpose for the future.

    • If it makes sense to have a large estate for economies of scale, or whatever other reason, that’s fine but it still leaves the question of what kind of ownership is in the best interests of the public. Land is one of the nation’s most important resources and large-scale private ownership of any resource cannot deliver the maximum benefit for the maximum number of people.

      A pattern of land ownership which includes small-scale individual holdings, community groups, charitable trusts (not the Applecross / Mount Stuart kind) & other organisations which genuinely act in the interests of the public, or even limited companies with many small shareholders, would create more wealth and opportunity and allow this to be more widely shared.

    • If “Business estates in the country are no different to business estates in the city” why are country ones (agricultural, forestry & hunting businesses) exempt from business rates?

      • Andrew BruceWootton

        Andy, estate business gets taxed in the same way as anyone else’s and they pay rates on offices, shops and commercial premises along with council tax on homes. Farming and forestry get rates relief for reasons that pre-date my time in this country but most likely linked to keeping food prices down and encouraging trees to be grown. Obviously the people who benefit from farm and forestry rates relief are farmers and foresters.
        Looking at the range of rate reliefs now available to small businesses who work hard to make a living in rural economies, farmers are not the only ones getting this benefit and that is a good thing but estates are probably one of the few businesses outside the town limits who are still exposed to rates.

        • All the businesses on Atholl Estate that are liable to business rates are let to occupiers who are liable to pay them as far as I can tell and premises like the castle (rateable value £35,100) are exempt also because the estate is owned by a charitable trust which is exempt. I don’t know any business estates in the city that are allowed to be charities and thus exempt from business rates. Fact is these estates receive significant benefits and services from the public sector yet often pay less that the local hotels and pubs in local taxes.

          • Andrew BruceWootton

            Not so Andy. We don’t just lease properties, we run quite a few enterprises, some significant and they are mostly fully exposed to rates which we happily pay.
            There are no taxes I know of that are ring fenced to the countryside or to estates for that matter. Taxes are uniform to sector and as you know, they are carefully audited. There should be more use of tax relief to encourage public benefits but that is another matter.
            Allocating rate payment to the tenant where property is leased is consistent throughout the UK, town and country.

          • What is the total annual non-domesic rates bill of Atholl Estates this current year (not including rates paid by tenants)?

        • hebrideanfarmer

          Mmmm……..Do sporting estates pay business rates ?

          • No – not if they are simply sporting estates. If they have other business enterprises (Sawmills, offices etc) then these will be liable but if tenanted then it is the tenant who is liable. Sporting rates were abolished in 1994.

    • Robbie Pennington

      “Letting” is the theft of the fruits of another’s labour.

    • Slurry Stirrer

      Andrew Wootton, absolute drivel. “retention of private sector investment” dodging tax, milking subsidies and hiding behind the farce of a so called ‘trusts’. And whats this “Scotland that is mature enough” ? nothing but waffle. Absentee lairds and their hingers-on are holding communities back. we don’t need them and we don’t want them. We need full and unhindered access to our land, our culture can possibly be saved, housing can develop, farming flourish and communities grow with pride. Living under the shadow of feudalism is a breach of human rights. Ownership is important! but not as important as spreading it out equally.
      Community right to buy and Tenant farmers right to buy Should be the first measures introduced by our government.

  49. If LVT does not result in a break-up, then it would be because the present recreational use is the most economic.

    A more likely effect of LVT is to promote the break-up of prarie farms into smaller holdings with mixed farming, as these represent a more productive use of the land. Prarie farming is predicated on a minimum input of labour. So those wishing to adopt a crofting lifestyle would have better land available then the marginal holdings that they have to struggle with at the moment. The model would be the small family farms to be found in countries like Latvia, which provide a comfortable livelihood.

    LVT would be very much in the long-term interest of those who want to run family farms.

  50. I’m of the view that 19th and 20th century Irish land reform though interesting from a historical and agrarian perspective has little too contribute to the current Scottish situation. The reason being that Irish land reform was designed by the British political class and ruling Unionist elite as a policy ploy “to kill off Home Rule”. The fact that it converted over 500,000 tenant farmers the majority of whom were small farmers into owners was a by-product that had significant unintended consequences that Irish governments and rural development policy as spent the last 80 years addressing at a significant cost to both the Irish and European taxpayer.

    Old Scotland certainly was an agrarian peasant society. However it was killed off with the enactment of the 1886 Crofter Act that covered only a very small part of rural Scotland and its population, namely the six crofting counties of Argyllshire, Inverness-shire, Ross-shire, Caithness and Sutherland, Orkney and Sheltand. However the majority of peasants and tenant farmers were to be found in NE Scotland, Angus and Perthshire, and in Galloway. The Crofters Act did absolutely nothing for these crofting and small farmer populations nor did it provide any relief for the significant landless cotter class apart from speeding-up their exit from rural Scotland.

    I’m of the view that successive crofting legislation and Irish land reform has little to offer by way of designing a radical and comprehensive land reform programme for 21st century Scotland. However they do have lessons to teach.

    Where then should we be looking. I’m of the view that looking internationally may give us some useful modern lessons, cases and examples. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations is the global agency with a mandate on rural land and food sovereignty while the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNHABITAT) plays a similar role for urban land and housing. The World Bank is also a powerful voice but very much on the side of promoting free markets in land and the willing seller-buyer model.

    A couple of contemporary papers on land reform that can be accessed on the Caledonia land website are: Contemporary Thinking on Land Reform (http://www.caledonia.org.uk/land/fao.htm) and Tony Carty’s Methods of Compulsory Purchase of Land in Europe (http://www.caledonia.org.uk/land/carty.htm).

    Given that the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Review Group has narrowed its vision and re-set its mandate to that of addressing Community-of-place land issues perhaps its time that Scottish civil society got down to the business of designing a citizen’s Land Reform agenda that is fit for a fair and justice 21st century Scotland.

    • Graham,
      You are correct on these issues. Foisting Crofting on the rest of Scotland is not the way forward and it is a sheer utter disgrace the way the Land Reform Review Group and its SNP masters have gone in avoiding the primary issue, by retreating into neo-tribal kibutzist-communal tokenism, leaving the private concentration of land in so few hands that is the primary inequity driving the primary iniquities intact.

  51. hebrideanfarmer

    Henry….What about tenants not being able to invest. What about not being able to diversify without 50% of the profits being creamed off to the laird . What about having to farm in substandard buildings and houses. All this would go if tenants were allowed to take control and own their farms. But some people want the status quo. So we continue to listen to rhetoric such as how important estates are to the community and how the factors and lairds are part of the community. What a load of rubbish…..how many factors send their children to the local school for a start ? Our factor doesn’t even know what fields belong to the estate he factors on ! and fails to use the Gaelic names for these fields, so much for being part of the community !!!

  52. Victor Clements

    The land reforms that took place in Ireland a hundred years ago shape the country you see today. They have given more people a stake in the land around them, and created a very resilient rural economy that gives people a better chance of dealing with the current financial crisis. The suggestion that they did not benefit urban Ireland completely misses the point. There were 4 million people in the country at the time. 600,000 were tenant farmers. They had their families staying with them. 1.2 million people in towns were sons and daughters of tenant farmers, and still had a strong connection with the land. A huge proportion of the population were therefore “rural”, and they still are. The land reforms have had an enduring effect……. and you know what the really interesting bit is….? We have no folk history whatsoever of the “bad old days”, certainly nothing that burns in to people today. What you do hear is driven more by nationalist vs unionist sentiment.

    I do think Scotland is different. It would have been clearer cut if you had been doing these things 100 years ago…. but you did’nt. It is harder to make the case now.

    One thing I noticed recently: there was a nationwide survey looking at the attitudes of people to the shops on their High Street. In many areas (of the UK), 20-30% of people were saying that their local High Street was unfit for purpose or did not deliver any useful function for them. The figure in Northern Ireland…? 0 %. Yes, zero percent. We still have strong local rural communities using their local services, and valuing them. That is a modern day dividend from land reform 100 years ago. The result will be that our small local shops and town centres will be more likely to survive, simply because we have the numbers of people living locally to sustain them.

  53. Andrew BruceWootton

    Andy, I don’t think anyone would expect me to answer that question and in any case, I am writing as an individual with 20 years of experience managing rural enterprise rather than as a representative of the business I work for.

    But to provide some assurance, our company and its accounts are strip searched annually by an army of independent professional auditors, regulators and valuers, all of whom report to the government in one way or another and all of whom are now performance managed by how much extra tax they can wring out of us.

    So I will sign off now. Thank you for the opportunity to participate.

    • Slurry Stirrer

      20 years, is that all? now i understand why you haven’t got a clue about real people living and working in rural Scotland.

  54. Robbie Pennington

    Perhaps some questions are just too silly to deserve an answer.

  55. Jamie McIntyre

    Andrew BW
    I have a question and I am not trying to catch you out, but genuinely seeking an answer to something I have puzzled over.

    You say above “There should be more use of tax relief to encourage public benefits”. I am sure most of us would agree that it is appropriate to incentivise activities that deliver public benefits, through public subsidy.

    But why tax relief? Why not targeted grants? Tax relief is a blunt instrument which does not guarantee that the tax saved is actually reinvested in beneficial activity – whereas grants by definition are paid for specific activities. They are also fairer, being equally accessible to all (some tax relief is only available to the wealthy).

    What would be the problem in removing tax reliefs and reinvesting the same amount of public subsidy into additional management grants?

  56. My guess is that under LVT a lot of people currently struggling to farm in marginal locations would want to move somewhere else where they could maintain their lifestyle with less effort. Don’t forget that without LVT tenants are paying rent to their landlords AND tax on just about everything else on top.

    Here is a salmon ladder on a Swedish river, to by-pass a hyro-electric power station.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/43319534@N00/8619299953/in/photolist-e8EazT-n3QWv

    • Didn’t this whole exchange start with a pet dog jumping in a salmon pool? Today, I took my dog’s for a walk round a headland near Achiltibuie. There is one sign, “No dogs allowed”, and another, “Dogs seen near sheep will be shot.” Nothing to do with evil landlords – the signs have been put up by crofters. Perhaps some land use activities don’t mix very well with the desires of urban dwellers who think the countryside is theirs to use as they like.

      • You are right, but the whole issue of concentration of land ownership is poisoning rational discussion.

      • Slurry Stirrer

        Hi Reiner, some of those crofters may well be tenants under a land lord system and some of those crofters may even own their land. The dog signs are poor, but i don’t understand your point, are you trying to distinguish a difference between two sets of landowners?
        What are your views on croft ownership and residency criteria, compared to estate ownership and residency criteria?

        • Agree but discussion of the whole subject is poisoned by the concentration of land ownership.

          • Well Henry it is about to get worse. We now have a feature in today’s Sunday Herald about the CEO of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park wanting it to be PRIVATISED. Jeezuz friggin karr -ist! Perhaps a Dutch billionaire could own one half; a Swiss one the other, and they could run it as a grousemoor, deer forest, with a bit of Sitka cellulose factory , wee bit goldmining, dammed up corries and glens for hydro and a large sprinkling of windfarms—oops a bit like now really.

        • Reiner Luyken

          I distinguish between those who work the land, and those who talk about the land. The signs are a sign that many who talk about the land have no understanding of those who work it.

        • wonder how easy it is for a non national/and or non resident to buy a small farm in Norway

          • Nationality ought not to make any difference at all. Residency is a different matter, though.

          • Wonder how easy it is for anyone, national, non national, resident or nondom to own privately 50,000 acres of land in a national park in Norway, USA, Sweden, Finland,——————————-.etc, compared to Scotland.

      • I wonder what would have happened to Andy in a REAL national park, if he had parked his car in a non dominated parking area and then took an unleashed pet dog swimming in a wild river. If it had been Denali, then if the rangers of the National Park Service had not got him and/or his dog—the grizzlies woulde have. Luckily for him the gutless Labour party and the gutless SNP, only support the ersatz non national parks we have at present without a national park SERVICE. Well Andy WTF would you have done in a real National Park then? FFS Andy–get real!

        • Slurry Stirrer

          Ok, maybe Andy’s actions have upset a few big fish in the past, The odd ‘Salmon’ or a ‘Sturgeon’ it doesn’t do any harm!

      • I thought it had been made clear that the dog was not swimming in a salmon pool but rather a faster flowing, shallower stretch of river.

        • Last comment was meant to be a reply to June 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm – I must have clicked the wrong button somewhere.

      • She jumped into the river – not into a salmon pool.