In Scotland there are over 3,000 castles – Many built to suppress the Scottish people, although not all. Fort George, which has been an operational barracks for 250 years has been marked for closure in 2016. The best known castles are Edinburgh and Stirling castles which used mostly for the royal Stuart Kings garrisons.
The RSPB and the National Trust are among our biggest landowners. As land reform programmes, more communicators are attempting to buy out the land they live on – and take it away from these wealthy private lairds.
- Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, 224,972 acres across four estates.
Land reform campaigner and Green MSP Andy Wightman uncovered this year that Buccleuch was making his transactions in the Cayman islands, under another company name, and using the offshore tax haven to buy and sell land.
The villages of Wanlockhead on his estates, are campaigning for a community trust buy out and claim the duke does nothing for them. He came once to the opening of a museum there and said, ‘I hope you’re not expecting a donation!.’ The villagers have their own visions, that involve community ownership, an eco campsite, anti-pollution measures and possibly a few small wind turbines.
- Anders Holch Povlsen – 218,384 acres, Glenfeshie estate Cairngorms.
Povlsen is a Danish clothing magnate and he started buying land in Scotland ten years ago. He is the one landowner in Scotland who pays land tax. The problem is he isn’t paying it here, where it doesn’t even exist! He is paying it in Denmark where it is helping to build schools there.
- Duke of Atholl. 124,000 acres and Blair castle. He returns to Scotland once a year from his home in South Africa to visit his ancestral home. The land is held in trust and has the only private army in Europe the Atholl highlanders.
- Alwyne Farquharson – 120,00 acres current laird of inverness. He resides in Norfolk and the estate is run by a trust and Braemar castle, the clan seat. The land is leased out for shooting syndicates.
- Duke of Westminster – 95,000 acres and the estates are held in trust. The last duke died recently and there were no death duties. If the Grosvenor estates had bequeathed had been liable for 4% inheritance tax, the amount owed would equal the entire death duty for the past year.
Why is there no land tax here in Scotland? Why is Scotland land owned by so few? In Scandinavia the people own the land. Why do these mega rich pay no death duties or inheritance tax or even income tax – when the rest of us do?
There have been recent calls for the reform of the system which has allowed Britain’s wealthiest families to preserve fortunes through generations by avoiding death duties.