Peace at Scotland Highlands
Photo by Murilo Gomes on Unsplash

On Thursday in the Scottish Parliament our Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant will be leading a debate on Community Wealth and the Emergence of ‘Green Lairds.’  This will be a return to the old questions of land ownership.

A campaign to give local people ownership of the land, especially in the Highlands and Islands, goes back to the nineteenth century.  Since the advent of the Scottish Parliament there have been a number of laws passed on Land Reform.

The Scottish Co-operative Party has been vocal in support of Land Reform and in particular in favour of community and co-operative ownership.  In recent years we have amended legislation to allow co-operative and mutual organisations as the ownership model, for example in the Community Empowerment Act.  The problem remains though that no organisations is responsible for promoting co-operative and mutual ownership of land.  We are still campaigning for this.

In her debate we hope that Rhoda will highlight the recent phenomena of ‘green lairds.’  These can be absentee landlords who are buying up land as an investment in the expectation that various green and environmental incentives available through public funds will maximise the return on their investment.  These returns are often spirited away from the Highlands and Islands and often without the appropriate rates of tax being paid in this country.

It will be interesting to hear what Rhoda has to say about community ownership and the need to retain profits earned in the Highlands and Islands in the areas where the money was made.  This Community Wealth Building approach is gaining support in urban settings like Preston and parts of North Ayrshire, but it also has much to say about our rural and remote economies.

We are looking forward to Rhoda’s speech to hear about how different models of land ownership could retain wealth in those communities and also empower local people in rural and remote communities.