Scottish hill goes on sale for £3.3m with price expected to soar in 'hot' market

A Scottish hill has gone up for sale £3.3m with the price expected to soar in the ‘hot’ market being driven by investors cashing in on lucrative green schemes.

Goatfield Hill, near Inverary, is up for sale with the 708-hectare site offering “wonderful far-reaching views” across Argyll.

The hill is being marketed for its potential for new forestry, with the asking price likely to be exceeded given the race to snap up land for the generation of carbon credits, which give financial returns for the removal of carbon from the atmosphere through tree planting and restored peatland.

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In the UK, these credits are currently worth around £12 to £20 per tonne of carbon sequestered with values expected to soar over coming years given global attempts to reduce carbon emissions.

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Green push to plant trees and restore peatlands drives soaring land prices in Sc...

Credits can also be traded and bought by large companies to off-set their own carbon footprint.

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Hayden Morrison, senior investment forester at Edinburgh-based Goldcrest Land and Forestry Group, said: "We envisage the land could be planted with native broadleaves for carbon sequestration, subject to obtaining the necessary consents.

“While the future for carbon markets is unclear, the predictions for the rise in the values of carbon credits over the next 20 to 30 years are between $40 and $100 per tonne.

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Goatfield Hill near Inverary has gone on the market for over £3.3m. PIC: Goldcrest.

“There are a number of high profile companies in Scotland who have acquired land for planting and there are many investment funds actively looking for similar opportunities.

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“It is extremely busy at the moment and the market is very, very hot, with well-resourced investment able to outbid traditional forestry investors and estate owners.”

Concerns have been raised surrounding the rush to invest in "natural capital” schemes given the reduction in land for farming and the ongoing impact on land values in Scotland, which continues to freeze out local communities from property purchases and the opportunity to gain from such investments.

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Last year, estate agents Bidwells reported sites with natural capital potential going for 40 per cent over the asking price in some cases.

One 72-hectare property in Aberdeenshire with a mix of permanent pasture and rough grazing in Aberdeenshire was advertised for offers over £875,000 but changed hands “very quickly” for almost £1.2 million.

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Last year, Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust (SLIPIT) bought 1,447 hectares in Cairngorm National Park for £7.5m.

Around 1.5m natural broadleaf trees will be planted and 115 hectares set aside for peatland restoration, with the site expected to sequester around 195,630 tonnes of carbon up until 2060 – around three quarters of the firm’s carbon emissions over the period.

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Meanwhile, cosmetics multinational L’Oreal has bought land in the Highlands as part of it plan to acquire 50,000 hectares across the UK , with the firm working with the Really Wild Estates Company on nature restoration and other projects with “viable natural capital potential”.

In Scotland, more than 500 new projects have registered for the Woodland Carbon Code in the last two years – a fourfold increase - in order to have their potential carbon credits assessed.

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