Aristocrats, tycoons and billionaires ... the people who really own Scotland

Tony Gosling tony at
Tue Aug 4 00:39:13 BST 2015

Aristocrats, tycoons and billionaires ... the people who really own Scotland

Embedded image permalink

One of the world’s youngest billionaires is on 
course to become Scotland’s biggest landowner.
A major investigation by The Sunday Post has laid 
bare the 30 aristocrats, foreign tycoons and 
charities who own the largest chunks of the 19.5 
million acres that make up the country.
It found Danish retail magnate Anders Povlsen, 
42, has increased his portfolio to more than 
170,000 acres – the equivalent of 265 square miles.
The acquisitions have seen the father-of-four, 
who is worth almost £4 billion, cement his place 
as the third-biggest private landowner in 
Scotland, behind charity the National Trust of 
Scotland and hereditary peer the Duke of Buccleuch.
If he continues buying estates at the same pace 
he is likely to top the list within a decade.
Incredibly, there is no definitive register to show who owns what in Scotland.
However, research by Andy Wightman, an expert who 
has spent decades investigating land ownership, 
has revealed Povlsen has been buying up vast 
swathes of Perthshire, Inverness-shire and Sutherland since 2006.
The latest accounts for his Scottish conservation 
company, Wildland Ltd, set up in 2012, show his 
firm has now invested £81 million in Scottish 
estates and land, up from £65m in 2013.
Just 432 individuals – like Povlsen – own more 
than half of Scotland’s non-public land.
In European countries like Norway – a country 
seven times the size of Scotland – there are only 
23 estates bigger than 10,000 hectares. In Scotland there are 144.
In Povlsen’s native Denmark, where he still 
lives, people are limited to only being able to 
buy 620 acres of rural land and must live in the 
country if they wish to buy a holiday home.
Officials for the businessman, who inherited a 
Danish fashion empire from his parents at 28, 
confirmed his firm now held 170,000 acres in Scotland.
They’ve previously argued Polvsen is driven by a 
fierce love of the countryside and conservation 
and point to the successful running of the 
estates he’s already bought in Scotland.
Some critics have speculated the retail magnate 
is investing in wild land because it can be 
passed on without attracting inheritance tax in his homeland.
Law lecturer and land reform expert Malcolm Combe 
said: “If companies like Google and BAE 
established such dominance in their field, they 
would find themselves falling foul of EU competition rules.
“But the same isn’t true over our land.”
Mr Combe was part of the Land Reform Review Group 
set up by the Scottish Government in 2012 to look 
at “radical” proposals and changing the country’s 
land ownership model. Their proposals led to the 
Scottish Government’s Land Reform Bill, which was published in June.
It is now working through the Scottish Parliament 
and includes plans to end tax relief for shooting 
estates and force the sale of land if owners are 
blocking economic development. It also includes 
proposals to clarify information on who owns the land.
The Scottish Government also hopes to put a 
million acres of land into community ownership by 
2020. Opponents say the bill is an attack on the rich.
Samantha Cameron’s stepfather, William Astor, the 
4th Viscount Astor who owns the Tarbert Estate in 
Jura, called the reforms a “Mugabe-style 
land-grab” and questioned whether estate owners 
were being targeted “because we don’t sound Scottish”.
In February, Richard Scott – the 10th Duke of 
Buccleuch and Scotland’s biggest landowner with 
241,887 acres – announced he would slim down his estates within 10 years.
He said the move was down to his “absolute 
dismay” at the SNP’s land reform plans.
But the Scottish Government has rejected claims 
land reform measures will be unfair, insisting it 
believes “fairness, equality and social justice 
are connected to the ownership of land in Scotland”.

High time for land to be divided up fairly
By Andy Wightman, land campaigner
Scotland has one of the most archaic systems of 
land ownership anywhere in Europe.
Not only is land ownership concentrated in very 
few hands but more than 90% of Scotland’s land is not subject to any tax.
There are no rights of inheritance of land and 
land in Scotland is an international commodity 
traded on the world market to anyone who wants to buy it.
Owners are under no obligation to reveal their 
identity, to live on the land or to be subjected to any scrutiny.
The Land Reform Bill is therefore very welcome.
It is part of a wider process of reform that 
includes changes in local property tax, 
inheritance law, management of the Crown Estate 
and the rules governing private rented housing.
How land is owned, used and governed is vitally 
important to the well-being and prosperity of 
everyone – particularly those who, because of 
inflated land values, cannot afford the basic human right of a home.
Land is a finite resource and should be owned and 
used in the public interest for the common good.
For centuries, the ownership and control of 
Scotland’s natural resources was in the hands of a small elite.
Vested interests in finance, property and land 
still promote the idea that change that has long 
been normal across continental Europe is somehow 
extreme and dangerous in Scotland in the 21st Century.
Fortunately, Scotland is now alive with ambition 
to build a fairer and more equal society.
Land reform has the opportunity to unlock the 
potential of Scotland’s people if they are given 
a meaningful and equitable stake in the 
ownership, governance and wealth of urban, rural and marine Scotland.
This is a wide and ambitious agenda.
It is urgent and it has only just begun.

Scotland’s landowners

1 Richard Scott, Duke of Buccleuch – Buccleuch 
Estates Limited’s 241,887 acre holdings includes 
Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries and Galloway.

2 National Trust for Scotland – 192,000 acres 
across Scotland that includes Culzean Castle in 
Carrick, Ayrshire and Brodick Castle in Arran.

3 Anders Povlsen – Fashion tycoon’s 169,695 acre 
land includes 43,000-acre Glenfeshie estate in Inverness-shire.

4 RSPB – 125,858 acres of land includes the 
Forsinard Flows nature reserve in Caithness and Sutherland.

5 Bruce Murray, Duke of Atholl – Through Trustees 
of Atholl Estate the 12th Duke of Atholl runs the 
124,125 estate around Blair Castle, Perthshire.

6 Alwyne Farquharson – The Invercauld Trust run 
Captain Alwyne Farquharson, who is in his 
nineties and lives in Norfolk, own 120,685 acres 
around Braemer Castle in the Cairngorms.

7 British Alcan Aluminium Plc – Mining firm own 
117,249 acres around Fort William.

8 Ian Ogilvie-Grant, Earl of Seafield – Owns two 
main chunks of land around Cullen and at 
Strathspey that make up his 95,815 acres.

9 Gerald Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster – Prince 
William’s godfather and the UK’s biggest 
landowner owns 94,817 acres in Scotland including 
the Reay Forest Estate in Sutherland.

10 Robert and Philip Fleming – Banking family who 
included Bond creator Ian Fleming own 92,141 
acres including traditional sporting estate, the 
Black Mount Estate near Glencoe.

11 Elizabeth Sutherland, 24th Countess of 
Sutherland – 94-year-old Elizabeth Millicent 
Sutherland-Leveson-Gower’s Dunrobin Castle is 
just north of Golspie in Sutherland and part of 87,898 acre holding.

12 Paul van Vlissingen’s family – The Dutch 
entrepreneur and philanthropist’s family own 
87,066 acres including Letterewe estate at Wester 
Ross in the Scottish Highlands.

13 Donald Cameron – The clan Cameron’s 76,881 
acre estate includes area around Fort William. A 
prophecy holds that the Camerons will keep their 
land as long as there is snow on Ben Nevis.

14 “Mr Saleh” – Reclusive Malaysian-based 
businessman – who has never been identified – 
owns 71,383 acre land including Glen Avon Estate 
in Moray through firm Glenavon Ltd and Braulen Ltd.

15 Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen – The billionaire 
grandson of the inventor of Lego owns 69,845 
acres over several Scottish estates including 
Strathconon in Ross-shire through Kirkbi Estates Ltd.

16 Fergus Granville – The 54-year-old cousin of 
the Queen inherited the 62,200 acre North Uist 
estate in the Outer Hebrides from his mum Countess Granville in 2004,

17 Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum – 61,961 
acre Killilan and Inverinate Estate in the 
north-west Highlands owned by ruler of Dubai’s 
Guernsey-based firm Smech Properties Ltd.

18 Applecross Estate Trust – Charity run by the 
The Wills Tobacco Family who owns 61,609 acres 
including 28,000 acres on the Isle of Bute.

19 Her Majesty the Queen – Her world famous 
Balmoral retreat is set on a sprawling estate in 
Aberdeenshire and part of 61,507 acres she owns in Scotland.

20 Baroness Nancy Drummond Willoughby – 
80-year-old’s 60,939 estate run by the Drummond 
Foundation and Grimsthorpe and Drummond Castle 
Trust Ltd includes Drummond Castle in Perthshire, used in Rob Roy film.

21 John Muir Trust – UK conservation charity own 
60,44 Scottish acres and care for landscapes including Ben Nevis.

22 Mount Stuart Trust – Charity body who run 
large 56,772 acre estate on Isle of Bute through Bute Estate Ltd.

23 Mr X – Mysterious Panama-based firm called 
Compania Financiera Waterville who owns 56,510 
acres including around Drumochter in Highlands.

24 Sir Guy Innes Ker, Duke of Roxburghe – Huge 
55,136 acre estate includes Floors Castle near Kelso.

25 Charles Pearson – His family own seven estates 
spread over 55,051 acres in Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire.

26 Edmund Vestey – 54,754 –

27 John MacKenzie – Owner of Gairloch and Conon 
Estate in Highlands runs to 53,625 acres.

28 Colin Campbell, 7th Earl of Cawdor – Have 52,960 acres mainly around Nairn.

29 Torquhil Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll – The 
family 51,667 acre seat includes Inveraray Castle, Argyll.

30 Alastair Morrison, Baron Margadale – The Islay 
Estate Company Ltd, headed up by Baron Margadale 
own 51,563 acres including a third of Islay.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/x-ygp-stripped
Size: 263 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <>

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list