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ESTATE OF AFFAIRS: HANDFUL OWN HALF THE HIGHLANDS; The last outpost of feudalism - and who exactly owns it.

SCOTLAND is the last outpost of feudalism with Europe's highest concentration of private land ownership.

Just 70 people control nearly 2.5 million acres from the Pentland Firth to Perthshire - half the Highlands.

The traditional Scottish aristocracy still has a major presence, but 17 per cent of all land is now controlled by foreign owners.

The only official register of land was conducted in 1872 which means that who owns nearly a third of Scotland today is a mystery.

Scotland is the only country in Europe where a foreign owner can buy a vast tract of land and incur no legal obligation to tenants.

Arab billionaire Mohammed bin Rachid al Maktoum has 56,000 acres near Kyle of Lochalsh. Harrods owner Mohamed al Fayed has 28,000 acres on the Cromarty Firth.

Swiss businessman Urs Schwarzenberg owns the 25,000-acre Ben Alder and Dalwhinnie Estates.

And Swedish professors Joseph and Lisbet Koerner own the 40,000-acre Corrour Estate.

Celebrity landowners include Tim Rice with 30,000 acres and Phil Collins who owns 7900 acres. The Duke of Westminster has 112,700 acres in Sutherland and meat magnate Edmund Vestey owns 80,000 acres at Assynt.

The Countess of Sutherland has 123,500 acres, and Clan chief Donald Cameron of Locheil has 61,000 acres. Colonel Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel owns 97,600 acres.

The Earl of Seafield and his son, Viscount Reidhaven, own 185,200 acres, the Earl and Countess of Cawder also have 50,000 acres and Lord Thurso 34,000 acres.

Lady Pauline Ogilvie Grant Nicholson is selling the 27,000-acre Revack Estate. Property developer John Guthrie owns the 38,000 acre Conaglen and Rosehaugh Estate. Richard Tyser and his son James, own 30,000 acres and Michael Wigan has the 20,000- acre Borrobol Estate in the Strath of Kildonnan.

Perthshire businessman Pat Wilson has bought the 27,000-acre Kinlochewe and Lochrosque Estate.

And, on Speyside, millionaire businessman Leon Litchfield now owns the 18,000-acre Tulehan Estate.

The National Trust for Scotland has 60,000 acres, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds owns 46,000 acres, the John Muir Trust has 38,000 acres and the Scottish Wildlife Trust owns 15,000 acres.

Publicly-owned land - 470,000 acres - is held by the Forestry Commission, the Scottish Office owns 186,000 acres, and Scottish Natural Heritage 53,000 acres.

A further 96,000 acres is owned by Highlands & Islands Enterprise and 62,000 acres by the MoD. Recent controversies included the purchase of the Knoydart peninsula last year by businessman Stephen Hinchcliffe while he was being probed by the Serious Fraud Office. It was later bought over by locals.

An earlier case involved retired pathologist John Green, dubbed Dr No over his refusal to allow development on the isle of Raasay.

The 10 biggest private landowners in Scotland are Buccleuch Estates Ltd (272,900 acres), the Earl of Seafield (185,200), the Duke of Atholl (130,000), the Countess of Sutherland (123,500), the Duke of Westminster (112,700), British Aluminium Estates (109,500), Captain AAC Farquharson (104,300), Sir Donald Cameron of Locheil (97,600), the Duke of Roxburghe (95,500) and the Crown Estate Commissioners (94,015).

Our graphic above shows the top 20 private land owners.
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Author:Alba, Carlos
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 6, 1999
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