Scottish estates in demand for their environmental potential

Investors are eyeing Scottish estates not for their historic castles and countryside sporting opportunities, but for their “natural capital”, a report has claimed.

Cairnty Estate in Fochabers is one of the Scottish estates currently up for sale.
Cairnty Estate in Fochabers is one of the Scottish estates currently up for sale.

Property firm Strutt and Parker said investors were increasingly regarding the potential reestablishment of native species of flora and fauna or rewilding and carbon offsetting as a major bonus when considering buying up swathes of land north of the border.

Its Scottish Estate Market Review report added that worldwide concern about the environmental and climate emergencies, coupled with new markets for carbon credits, would further increase demand for Scottish estates in the future.

The study also said that the UK and Scottish Government-backed drive for green energy from wind, water and biofuel creates “previously unavailable” avenues for income generation.

Robert McCulloch, head of estates agency for Strutt & Parker in Scotland, said: “The opportunity to buy large expanses of wild and beautiful terrain for the purposes of pursuing a range of objectives relating to natural capital including reestablishment of native species of flora and fauna or rewilding and carbon offsetting related to industrial activity elsewhere are an increasingly prevalent factor amongst prospective estate buyers whether they are individuals, corporations or conservation bodies/charitable trusts.

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“Additionally, the UK and Scottish Government-backed drive for green energy from wind, water and biofuel creates previously unavailable avenues for income generation.”

He added: “The traditional elements which underpin the attractiveness of a prime Scottish estate remain. Many buyers are still seeking the style, history and heritage of Scottish country houses, excellent sportings and wild landscapes that many associate with Scottish estates whilst relative affordability – the opportunity to buy for example 40,000 acres of land for the equivalent price of a London townhouse or New York apartment – and accessibility underpins demand. However, there are new buyers in the market whose prime motivation is environmental responsibility with Scotland offering wide-ranging opportunities for buyers around the world.”

An analysis of the estates market shows that 22 estates were sold last year at an average size of 5,169 acres, with an average sale price of £2.8m. The value of the estates market as a whole amounted to £62m, while the five-year average is £70.9m.