There is yet more opposition to proposals for the reform of land and estate ownership in Scotland, put forward by the country’s ruling Scottish National Party.
Estates Gazette reported yesterday that the SNP was concerned at the fact that around half of all the privately-owned land in Scotland is controlled by just 432 people and that owners of sporting estates have not paid business rates since an exemption granted to them in 1994 by the Conservative government of the day.
Instead the SNP wants to that tax relief for shooting estates and force the sale of land if owners are blocking economic development.
Now Andrew Hopetoun, chairman of the Historic Houses Association for Scotland, says the SNP proposals “create further uncertainty for the future of many of Scotland’s most historic houses” at a time when many owners are already finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the maintenance bills of these iconic properties.
“With the majority of Scotland’s built heritage in private ownership, the prospect of surrounding land - which is often key to the viability of the historic house too - being lost as the result of a decision to force a sale, does little to quell the current state of unease” he says.
“These landmark buildings are cared for not by the public purse but by individuals and organisations who are determined to keep these properties at the heart of their own community and in doing so, drive tourism and local job creation. We hope sight of such factors, and the benefits private ownership can create, will not be lost as the [Scottish parliament] Bill develops in the next 12 months” says Hopetoun.