Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Aims and Rewards of the Scheme
The scheme rewards landowners simply for owning title to land, as opposed to encouraging farmers to invest in improving product output to the public good.
In terms of share the top 20% of claimants get 70%. The bottom 40% get 5% of the grants.
Claimants, totalling approximately 18,000, include the entire royal household, large numbers of wealthy aristocrats, other members of the house of Lords, Tory MP’s (past and present), MSP’s, countless Tory Party donors, offshore companies registered in the Isle of Mann, Guernsey, Jersey, Cayman Islands etc.
Billionaires and other very rich foreigners investing their gains in land ownership are the major beneficiaries.
Timber companies, through the Rural Payments Agency, are provided with annual grants up to £50 million.
Financially sound investment opportunities for many stars of stage and screen other media.
Large corporations and companies also qualify for subsidies eg. refunds on exports.
These include Tate & Lyle who get more than £130 million and Nestle UK who received are gifted about £13 million annually.
The Buccleuch Estates
The estates are owned by the 10th Duke of Buccleuch and 11th Duke of Queensberry, who also inherited three earldoms and many other titles together with a fortune in excess of £300million.
he is reputed to be the richest and largest landowner in Europe, maintaining stately homes, set in more than a quarter of a million acres at, Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfriesshire; Bowhill, near Selkirk; and Boughton House, Northamptonshire.
He also owns artworks by Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Gainsborough and Van Gogh.
His late father, grandfather and great grandfather were Tory MP’s at Westminster for many years before taking up their positions in the House of Lords as Tory peers of the realm.
The SNP policy of land reform, which is designed to enable more people in rural and urban Scotland to have a stake in the ownership, governance, management and use of land, has him worried and he has been vociferous in his opposition, but he is resigned to the reality of change and intends reducing the size of his estate over time.
In defence of his families stewardship of the estates he said it had always been conducted to the highest standards and respect for nature, to the benefit of the communities
Although there is not yet an absolute right of Scotland’s tenant farmers to buy their farms rich landowners fear this is only a temporary stay of execution and the potential loss of their inherited land is inevitable.
So the stage for the battle for land ownership in Scotland has been set.
The 10th Duke and his fellow Tory landowners will fight and fight dirty to prevent change.
But why oppose new ways if it is what the community desires?
It’s down to money, money, money.
Under the existing (CAP) rules agricultural subsidies and forestry grants are weighted so that the largest farming outlets, owned by the richest and biggest landowners, get the most money in subsidies.
In recent times they have also benefited from major recurring financial windfalls in excess of £1billion through the leasing of large tracts of land to energy companies for the installation of wind-farms.
Asked for his views a tenant farmer said: “The families of many of Scotland’s tenant farmers have worked this land for generations.
They have invested money in them and made improvements, while the estate owners sit back and employ agents to raise rents every three years.
People generate economies and it’s unhealthy to have such sparsely-populated estates covering so much of the country when more farmers owning their own little scraps of land would lead to a more vibrant economy.
But we are seeing an increasing number of cases where our members are being forced out due to a lack of co-operation by the estate owners and often downright intimidation.”
Land means power, so Scotland’s few hundred aristocrats can scarcely be expected to give up on four centuries of owning more than half of the country.
They are happy to support the community buy-outs such as Assynt and Eigg, but will reject anything that smells of compulsory purchase.
They do not even recognise the concept of doing so when it is deemed to be for the greater good of the larger community.
This is simply because they regard themselves as the sole arbiters of what is good in the countryside.
Being forced to share gargantuan and uncapped agricultural benefit payments and wind-farm income, while avoiding tax, could never be deemed acceptable in their world.
Compulsory purchase orders are only acceptable, it seems, when they swallow up high-street family-run restaurants for the common good of another retail emporium.
But the spectre of a mild-mannered, bespectacled writer and researcher stalks their nightmares.
Andy Wightman is author of The Poor Had No Lawyers: Who Owns Scotland (and How They Got It), which has become the primer for those who had always felt something was never quite right about such a concentration of land and unearned privilege in the hands of so few.
His book gives depth and academic rigour to the arguments of those seeking meaningful land reform.
“The land on which many of our lairds sit was stolen in the 17th century,” he says. “But these ill-gotten gains were protected by acts which maintained their hegemony after the rest of Europe ditched feudalism and concentrated land ownership.”
He describes how the aristocracy embraced the 1560 Reformation as a means of getting their hands on land belonging to the “Auld Kirk”.
They needed to protect their stolen goods with a robust law.
The Act of Prescription (1617) did the trick.
Thus any land occupied for 40 years or more was indemnified from future legal challenge.
The law remains in place and has effectively upheld the gentry’s rights to stolen goods for 400 years.
Last October, on a farm near Edinburgh, the body of Andrew Riddell, a tenant farmer, was discovered.
He and his family had worked on the farm for more than 100 years and then, one day, he was given notice to quit by his landlord, Alastair Salvesen, billionaire and Scotland’s third-richest man.
The notice followed a year-long legal case which finally found in favour of Salvesen. The judge ruled that the protections Riddell thought he had in the tenancy arrangement were trumped by the landlord’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
He killed himself after collecting his final harvest.
Thus Scotland’s richest people are skimming off more millions from taxpayers when benefits are being capped and the bedroom tax is forcing people on to the street.
But within the tendency of several landowners to view the UK as their private merchant bank with limitless cash reserves may be the seeds of their downfall.
Adventurous and unusual tax arrangements, whereby ownership of estates is registered overseas and convenient charitable trusts are created, are coming under scrutiny.
That sound you hear is of a black grouse, possibly a ptarmigan or two and maybe a brace of pheasants, coming home to roost.
The landowners view the absolute right to buy of tenant farmers as anathema.
This will lead to the break-up of their estates, they claim, and dilute hundreds of years of expertise they have banked in maintaining the beauty and integrity of the countryside.
Several have made submissions to the LRRG which betray their worst nightmares.
Taken together they could form another of history’s longest suicide notes.
Most exude the sense of exclusive entitlement which says only they are capable of managing such vast expanses of land.
James Carnegy-Arbuthnott, whose family owns an estate in Angus, thinks he knows why so few people own land in Scotland: “It’s because so much of the land is unproductive wilderness.”
The Earl of Seafield thinks that it is a myth that too few people own too much “and there is very little evidence to show this is a bad thing”.
More info: (http://www.senscot.net/view_art.php?viewid=15628)
Tax Haven Registered Claimants – Pentland Ltd
Buccleuch Estates Ltd DG3 THORNHILL £820,190.19 and BQ Farming Partnerships Ltd TD7 SELKIRK £325,210.34 Total £1,145.400.53
Mr Richard Scott (sometimes referred to as the 10th Duke of Buccleuch) is frequently cited as the owner of the largest extent of private land in the United Kingdom.
Yet, this has never been entirely accurate.
The 242,000 acres of land in Scotland is owned not by Mr Scott, but mainly by a company called Buccleuch Estates Ltd.
The shares in Buccleuch Estates Ltd. are not owned by Mr Scott and his family but by two companies – Anderson Strathern Nominees Ltd and MDS Estates Ltd.
Anderson Strathern Nominees Ltd. is a dormant company which is wholly owned by Anderson Strathern Asset Management Ltd. Anderson Strathern Asset Management Ltd. is wholly owned by Anderson Strathern LLP which, in turn is owned by the 53 partners in the law firm.
MS Estates Ltd. is wholly owned by Anderson Strathern Nominees Ltd. though the Directors include Mr Scott and other family members.
So the ultimate owner of Buccluech Estates Ltd are 53 solicitors? Well, not quite.
Because what the Nominees do is to act on behalf of persons unknown on their behalf.
These persons are likely to be members of the Scott family but we can’t know because the arrangements are not made public.
But enter Pentland Ltd, a company based in the Cayman Islands.
It is part of the extensive group of companies whose ultimate parent undertaking and controlling entity is ‘The Buccleuch Estates Limited’ (BEL) and is listed in the annual accounts as a subsidiary undertaking with the principal activity of property development through which money is routinely loaned at keen interest rates between all of the aforesaid companies in the group.
The company is a subsidiary of:
(1) Dabton Investments Ltd. Founded initially by the current duke and his brother Damian and incorporated in May 2009, Dabton Investments Ltd was owned by the Scott family until 2013 when 100% of the issued share capital was acquired by Tarras Park Properties Ltd:
Tarras Park is in turn a subsidiary of:
(2) Buccleuch Properties Limited, a BEL company.
The consortium, valued in excess of £90million comprises Mixed Farming, Farming, Farm Management, Property, Agricultural Services, Estate Management, Fishing, Property Development, Forestry, Residential Developments, Bioenergy, Rural Land Management and House Building, Bioenergy
Important, comprehensive reviews of the activities of Buccleuch Consortium are to be found at: