"The map of land ownership in Scotland is changing."

The following article featuring the proposed Wanlockhead buyout was published on the Sunday Herald yesterday.

THE map of land ownership in Scotland is changing. Soon the biggest landowner in Scotland is likely to be a Dane who only started buying up land in Scotland a decade ago. Last month it was reported that clothing magnate Anders Povslen was within 7,000 acres of this “game-changing” feat, and now owned around 1% of Scotland. Meanwhile, in recent times, other landowners, whose estates have been in their families for generations, prompted by Scottish land reform, are talking about selling off land and downsizing.

As land reform progresses, more and more communities are attempting to buy out the land they live within. Yet still the picture remains on some level unchanged. When we look at land-owning in Scotland we mostly see men. These are the people that continue to shape the way Scotland's land is used.

Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry

224,972 across four estates

Since the Duke of the Buccleuch is the biggest landowner in Scotland it’s perhaps not surprising that he, or his estates, appear in the news frequently, whether that be because of dogwalkers complaining over charges for access at Dalkeith Country Park, revelations that the duke operates a business in a tax haven, or news that a community trust at the former mining village of Wanlockhead is attempting a buy-out of some of his land.

The duke, Richard Scott, who inherited the title on the death of his father in 2007, owns four major estates: Queensberry, including Drumlanrig Castle, Langholm in Dumfriesshire, Bowhill in Selkirkshire, and some land around Dalkeith palace too. Except he doesn’t quite own them. Rather, it is owned by Buccleuch Estates, which is in turn owned by Anderson Strathern Nominees.

Earlier this year, land reform campaigner, Andy Wightman, uncovered that these companies were making transactions with the shadowy Pentland Ltd, of which Richard Scott is director, based in the Cayman Islands. Buccleuch was using an offshore tax haven to buy and sell land.

Meanwhile, if you want to gain an insight into the kind of strained and troubled relations that can develop between local community and estate, you only have to look as far as Wanlockhead, where the locals, some of whom are involved in an attempt at a community trust buy out, observe that the estate has done little for the village in a century, and complain of the fact that they only found out about Buccleuch’s plan to put one of the largest windfarms in Scotland on their doorstep through this paper.

Last year, in reaction to SNP land reform proposals, the Duke of Buccleuch declared his “absolute dismay”.

"I think I would be surprised," he said, "if in 10 years’ time, we are not noticeably smaller. We are more stimulated and stirred up than ever to look after what we do have as well as we can. I and the management team are determined to carry on rethinking the use of the land, of farms and forestry, to ensure that it delivers the best for the local community.”

Nevertheless, Buccleuch Estates do not want to easily give away the land the trust desires. They have, after all, the plans for the massive wind farm on that part of the estate.

Meanwhile, the villagers have quite a different vision, one that involves community ownership, an eco campsite, anti-pollution measures and possibly a few small wind turbines.

Lincoln Richford, chair of the Wanlockhead Community Trust, said, “Wanlockhead, which long ago left its dependency on the duke behind, is gently trying to encourage Buccleuch to step into the 21st Century. The typical modern villager is no longer content to rely on the hoped-for goodwill of the landowner for families making their own living and making their own decisions.”

Mac Blewer, secretary of the trust, added, "Scotland as a whole does seem to be fighting a dated, nearly Victorian paternalistic attitude held by some of the landed gentry that communities are seen as being unable or incapable of making decisions for themselves. Wanlockhead has tremendously talented and self-reliant folk living here. I have no doubt that we are fully capable of managing the land as well if not better than the current landlord. We know what we need. We can do this.”

The duke is rarely seen at Wanlockhead. Davie Duncan, a local who has lived in the village for the past 28 years, declared, “The duke does nothing for the village. Not a thing.”

He did however, recall that the Duke of Buccleuch had visited it once in recent years to reopen the museum. “He came up. I’ve never seen anyone dressed so poorly in all my life – frayed cuffs on his jacket. He said, ‘I hope you’re not expecting a donation’.

Nor did, Duncan consider the estate management had done much for them. “They removed some asbestos. That’s all they’ve done for the village. Sheep roam the village here – just make a mess. We’re not very friendly with the estate really.”

Read the full article at: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14846300.Dukes__foreign_tycoons__a_laird_with_a_private_army__and_the_most_eligible_bachelor_in_Britain_____Meet_the_men__and_they_are_all_men__who_own_Scotland/