Cracking down on major landowners

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Scottish Sporting Gazette

Talk in the field yesterday was dominated by land reform and Nicola Sturgeon's proposals for a major crackdown on Scotland's leading landowners, including the prospect of enforced sell-offs, as she set out her first programme for government. This carries with it an over-whelming sense of worry about the future of country sports and those who are employed by them.?

In reaction to the First Minister's statement, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates David Johnstone issued the following statement:

?The First Minister has stated that Scotland's land is an asset for the many not for the few and we agree with that. The reality is that the land is already an asset for the many and landowners of all types and sizes are already delivering a huge range of public benefit and we can provide even more. We would have hoped that the First Minister would have recognised in her speech the substantial social, economic and environmental contribution of land-based businesses and estates. Indeed landowners, regardless of scale, are heavily involved in activities that support the policy objectives of the Scottish Government including areas such as renewable energy, agriculture, housing and tourism.

?Sporting estates are too readily singled out in a negative light when in fact? there is ample evidence that private landowners play an active role in terms of rural development and are willing partners in making rural Scotland a better place.?

In concern for those employed in rural areas, a spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers' Association said:?

?It is highly important when considering land reform that Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish Government should see it as a duty to protect jobs of rural workers in fragile areas. Should it make land reform an ideological vehicle to punish landowners on sporting estates, the real affect will be to sacrifice the jobs of working people such as gamekeepers, stalkers and land and river ghillies, and their families, who will be the first people to suffer if investments are withdrawn and taken elsewhere.?

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