Scottish Land-Grab

#1
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/02/24/ncroft24.xml

Hostile land grab allows crofters to cash in on wind farm
By Auslan Cramb, Scottish Correspondent
(Filed: 24/02/2005)

Four cousins who own a sprawling island estate are about to become the victims of Britain's first hostile "land grab".

They may not fit the stereotype of the absentee English laird, but their neighbours are planning to seize the land that has been in their family for 80 years.

Under radical new land reform legislation, Highlands communities are allowed to buy private estates whether they are for sale or not.

Last week, the residents of Galson estate in the Western Isles voted overwhelmingly in favour of buying-out Alexander Graham and his relatives. They could be the new owners later this year.

Mr Graham, speaking for the first time about the prospect of losing his land, said he believed elements of the community wanted the estate because it was earmarked for Europe's biggest wind farm.

If the scheme is approved, 230 giant turbines, each the height of a 40-storey building, will be built on an undulating moorland of peat bog, heather and trout lochs. Nearly 100 would be on the Galson estate, and the annual income for the crofters would be hundreds of thousands of pounds.

If they can buy the land before a planning decision is made on the wind farm, they are likely to secure it for a much lower price.

The community will formally ask to "grab" 48,000 acres of the estate within the next few weeks, and is certain of support from the Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians who drew up the legislation. Mr Graham, an education official, has little in common with the "hunting, shooting and fishing" lairds caricatured by supporters of land reform.

He lives on the island, would like to develop the estate and said the legislation had resulted in people expecting "something for nothing".

He questioned whether the public knew that 90 per cent of the purchase price might come from the taxpayer.

Several other estates have been taken over in recent years, but all were on the market at the time.

Galson is likely to be the first to be seized under the most draconian provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. "People in this part of the world have a view that the land should belong to the people, and this has been pushed by the local Labour MP and MSP," said the owner.

"There isn't anything positive we can say that will appear to justify our position as landowners, and that is why we have not commented until now. We are taking legal advice, but the group behind this are trying to expedite the situation and are being encouraged to do so."

He admitted his family had not had money to invest in the estate, and said he could see the benefits of community ownership if it brought new opportunities.

But he added: "Virtually all the developments proposed could be achieved without the estate being bought."

Mr Graham said that during negotiations with Amec, the energy company, provisions were made for the crofters to receive 40 per cent of the annual rental income from the wind farm - if it was approved.

Forty per cent would go to the landowners and 20 per cent to the community. If the buy-out succeeded, the present owners will be left empty-handed.

"We are not absentee English landowners," said Mr Graham. "Since the estate was bought in 1926 it has been owned by the same family.

"Three of the four people (including the local undertaker) live on the island, and the same can't be said for many of the absentee crofters in favour of a takeover."

Norman Thomson, chairman of the Galson Estate Trust, which would run the property for the community, said he was delighted with last week's vote, in which more than 80 per cent backed a buy-out. There was a 78 per cent turnout.

"There are a lot of people who wanted to see this land taken over a long time ago, but the money was not available," he said.

The community plans to develop the "untapped" potential of the area, including shooting and fishing.

Agnes Rennie, 48, a crofter in the village of Galson whose family have lived in the area for generations, said the community did not vote for the buy-out because of the wind farm. She opposed the project and believed many residents felt the same way.

The community's interest, she added, was in returning the land to the people, and righting the wrong of the Clearances, in which crofters were moved in the 19th century to make way for sheep.

"People feel these estates would be better run by the community," she said. "There is a certain putting right of history.

"Now we have the democratic process in place to allow people to take control of their own destiny."

The takeover is likely to be approved by the Scottish Executive later this year.
And Samizdata's take:

http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/007286.html

The Mugabeization of Britain
Perry de Havilland (London) UK affairs
(0)
Many have condemned the ghastly Robert Mugabe for the outrageous policy of seizing land from white people in Zimbabwe. Yet even in Britain it is now possible for a group of people to use the political process to take the property of others against their will.

In what it nothing less that state sanctioned robbery, people on the Scottish Western Isles will be voting to take the property of long standing owners with no more justification that than they want to benefit from it and the state says they can use the force of law to do so. This is nothing less that mob rule of the grossest sort motivated by straightforward greed, abetted by politicians who see their political power benefiting from presiding over legalised land invasions.

A local woman is quoted as saying:

Now we have the democratic process in place to allow people to take control of their own destiny

... by which she really means "take control of other people's destiny" by taking away their property. But she is certainly correct that this is democracy in action, which is why I am so ambivalent about unconstrained democratic politics. Robbery is no more excusable just because the people who benefit from it do so using the force of the state rather than just running the legitimate owners out of town with pitchforks.

Remember this the next time you hear some hypocritical Labour or LibDem politico wringing their hands about the behaviour of Robert Mugabe as he dispossesses farmers who have worked lands for several generations. Disgraceful.
 
#2
quite simply a disgraceful behavior, it does not bode well for an independent Scotland as they will revert to being a poor nation again due to such short sighteness, as nobody will invest in such a country, if i was a business man i would be thinking "what if they want to grab my business under some nationalisation scheme and leave me with little money" i would sell my assets before the Scottish Govt does, nobody else will now consider investing in Scotland because of the Land Grab policies as it could lead to other things.

a very stupid move with long term consquences for Scotland.
 
#3
I am of Scottish birth, ancestry, upbringing, residence and domicile.

I was 'against' devolution at the time of the referendum - didnt vote because I failed to arrange a proxy! :oops: - but as it was the majority will of the Scottish people I support the devolution settlement as being in the best interests of Scotland and our United Kingdom.

However, IMO this Act is one of the most questionable to be passed by any legislature in Europe in recent years.

I have no problem by the way with genuine community projects to buy land voluntarily for genuine community benefit, including the benefit of the wider public who are paying for it.

I think people would be appalled to know how much public money, both 'local' and UK (lottery etc) has already been committed to this sort of lunatic compulsory expropriation for the financial benefit of the few.

Add that to the politically-inspired but profit-motivated rush to build wind turbines and their associated pylons, which may be appropriate for some areas but is causing a huge amount of environmental concern in others, and you have IMO an utter mess for no better reason than gesture politics.
 
#4
hang on this is a good thing. pity some of the tenant farmers in england can't get the chance to buy there land. Community ownership of land is going to do more for the scottish highlands than absentee landlords ever did.
Land reform was desperatly needed in Zimbabwe the UK goverment even funded it . if mugabe was'nt a murderous kelpto scumbag it might have even worked(':(')
 
#5
brighton hippy said:
hang on this is a good thing. pity some of the tenant farmers in england can't get the chance to buy there land. Community ownership of land is going to do more for the scottish highlands than absentee landlords ever did.
Land reform was desperatly needed in Zimbabwe the UK goverment even funded it . if mugabe was'nt a murderous kelpto scumbag it might have even worked(':(')
and look at what has happened , so called "veterans" were just rent a mob and they killed , raped and stolen everything of value, then the land went back to bush , oh sorry i didn't realise that going back to basics was part of the plan!, oh how the "Veterans" have no farming skills, no managment experience, indeed "Lord of the Flies" comes to mind.
as to UK the land have been brought in most cases and ownerships have been established for hundreds of years , teh highland clearances was well in the past, to bring it up now would also bring up other sore wounds off the past, with the danger of further nasty surprises creaping up unexpectedly.
 
#6
brighton hippy said:
hang on this is a good thing. pity some of the tenant farmers in england can't get the chance to buy there land. Community ownership of land is going to do more for the scottish highlands than absentee landlords ever did.
Land reform was desperatly needed in Zimbabwe the UK goverment even funded it . if mugabe was'nt a murderous kelpto scumbag it might have even worked(':(')
The thing is that this isnt the 'peasant farmers taking back their land from the asbsentee landlord'

The landlord (and his family live in the area and have owned it for 80 years so cant exactly be called absentee.

This is purely a politically and financially motivated action. As stoatman pointed out, the land the crofters want to take back is that which is earmarked for a windfarm and the associated income from having a windfarm on you land is hundreds of thousands of pounds every year. Is it just a coincidence that they are attempting to buy it before the contracts for the wind farm are signed, or is it just that they can see money in it for themselves and no-one else.

If this government allow this to go through, then they can have no moral high ground from which to preach to bobby mugabe next times he and his cronnies steal a whitemans farm! Hypocritst he lot of them!

A_S
 
#7
hackle said:
...However, IMO this Act is one of the most questionable to be passed by any legislature in Europe in recent years...
mrs hackle has helpfully drawn my attention to the fact that I am "talking havers, as usual".

She is I believe referring to the law in Spain which entitles unscrupulous developers to grab part of the land attached to your house, (in their case, without compensation).

The difference is that we in Scotland now seem to be doing much the same, but on a bigger scale.
 
#8
And the land will be essentially given to the crofters (some of whom are absentee) - 90% of the money for the purchase will come from the taxpayer.

Why don't we extend this - perhaps all the tenants in an apartment block should be given 90% of the purchase price of their appartments by the taxpayer just to "right the wrongs of landlordism"? :roll:

The worst part of this is that the land will be compulsarily purchased by the taxpayer to give to some other people so that they can make money on it and thereby prevent its rightful owner from doing so.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/mai...M5WAVCBQWJVC?xml=/news/2004/12/16/nland16.xml

Hostile land-grab sparked by 'hope to make millions'
By Tom Peterkin, Scottish Political Correspondent
(Filed: 16/12/2004)

The island landlord set to be the victim of Britain's first hostile land-grab claimed yesterday that some locals became interested in ousting him only when they realised his plans for a wind farm would net them millions.

Barry Lomas, owner of the Pairc Estate on the Isle of Lewis, said his estate was left to work on the wind farm while some Hebridean crofters focused on taking it over.

Mr Lomas suggested that Southern Energy proposals for a 125-turbine plant capable of generating 250 megawatts and £1 million a year was behind the crofters' desire to take advantage of controversial land reform legislation.

For the first time since islanders voted overwhelmingly to go ahead with the buyout, Mr Lomas tried to dispel his image as an absentee English landlord by underlining his family's commitment to the area.

Mr Lomas, a Leamington Spa-based accountant, rejected local criticisms that he had failed to communicate with the community when negotiating the wind farm deal with Southern Energy.

He said it was through his discussions with the community that the organisation formed to represent locals was alerted to the riches to be gained by using new laws allowing crofters to purchase land compulsorily and sporting rights even when they are not for sale.

"With the scale and the rewards of the wind farm development now apparent, the Liaison Group [the local organisation] for the first time asked to buy the estate."

An absolute right to buy for crofting communities even when the land is not on the market was the most contentious part of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 passed by the Scottish Parliament.

Its Labour Party supporters claimed it corrected the injustices of the Highland Clearances.

Mr Lomas criticised the Pairc Trust, the successor of the Liaison Group, saying it had excluded the estate.

"This has led to meetings on community ownership rather than development of the wind farm. So although the Pairc Trust has given its support to a wind farm, it has not engaged in the detail of the lease or the rights of the crofters leaving the estate to resolve these matters," he said.

Assuming Scottish ministers approve the Pairc Trust's bid for ownership, the community will be the main beneficiary from the wind farm.

Donnie MacDonald, the Pairc Trust chairman, said the move was triggered by the estate trying "to force the community to accept a development on their terms".

Mr Lomas said a successful community bid would be the first change of owner since 1924 when Lord Leverhulme, the soap baron, encouraged islanders to buy land without success.

It was then the Lomas family bought the Pairc Estate. Mr Lomas said his family's connection with the area pre-dated the First World War. His great-grandfather rented land on Lewis and bought a house in nearby Harris in 1931.

His grandparents moved permanently to Harris in 1952 and are buried there with his brother John.
 
#9
Currently have a similar situation in New London Connecticut except slightly reversed. The city fathers, acting on behalf of developers, have their eye on prime real estate presently occupied by owners of modest homes. They intend seizing the homes by eminent domain in order to allow property developers to build 'upscale' residences and up-market businesses. The developers (and no doubt some of the local government executives) stand to make big bucks out of the deal.

In essence the city intend buying the homes at 'fair market value' (present prices - not projected) and then sell at similar deflated prices to the developers who in turn will make a bundle. Ironically the developers will be exempt paying taxes on the project for at least five years. So not only will the dispossesed home owners get the shaft the long suffering tax payers end up footing the bill. Sad and flagrant abuse of eminent domain.
 
#10
In a democracy land owners should be properly compensated if their land is to be taken by the government or else there is little difference between the communists and the Scottish government.
 
#12
Serves the bugg*rs right if the planning permission gets turned down!
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#13
tomahawk6 said:
...or else there is little difference between the communists and the Scottish government.
There is very little difference between Communists and many of the people currently involved in the Scottish Government.
 
#14
chickenpunk said:
tomahawk6 said:
...or else there is little difference between the communists and the Scottish government.
There is very little difference between Communists and many of the people currently involved in the Scottish Government.
I was waiting for someone to say that. Bloody lab/lib coalition couldn't organise a drooling session in a mong house! But when it comes to taking from the rich and giving to the... well lets not say poor, lets say to their pals/cronies and families, they are on the ball (Allegedly)

A_S
 

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