Molaidhean son dèiligeadh ri margaidh an fhearainn feumail, le Murray MacLeoid​​​​​​​

Chaidh molaidhean fhoillseachadh an t-seachdain-sa airson feuchainn ri dèiligeadh ris an ana-cheartas a tha an-dràsta ann am margadh fearann na h-Alba, is oighreachdan gan reic aig prìsean gun chiall airson nan cothrom a tha iad a’ toirt gluasad gu inbhe uaine.

Tha companaidhean eadar-nàiseanta a’ coimhead ri fearann na h-Alba mar dhòigh air cliù nas uaine a thoirt dhaibh fhèin
Tha companaidhean eadar-nàiseanta a’ coimhead ri fearann na h-Alba mar dhòigh air cliù nas uaine a thoirt dhaibh fhèin

[English-language version below]

Tha e duilich fhaicinn gun deàn na h-atharraichean, ma thig gabhail riutha, mòran ann an seagh practaigeach sam bith, ach tha iad nan ceuman air an t-slighe cheart an dèidh sin.

Sheall rannsachadh le Coimisean Fearann na h-Alba gun deach a’ mhòr-chuid de dh’oighreachdan a cheannach an-uiridh gun fiù ‘s nochdadh air a’ mhargaidh agus gun deach an dàrna leth aca a cheannach le buidhnean corporra, stòrasan ionmhais is urrasan carthannais.

Le taic nach beag ri fhaighinn bhon sporan phoblach airson a leithid craobhan a chur no ath-nuadhachadh na mòintich, tha companaidhean eadar-nàiseanta a’ coimhead ri fearann na h-Alba mar dhòigh air cliù nas uaine a thoirt dhaibh fhèin. Agus tha a h-uile càil dheth a’ tachairt air falbh bho shùilean an t-sluaigh.

Chan eil càil a dh’fhios fiù ‘s aig an fheadhainn a chì a’ bhuaidh as motha, iadsan a tha a' fuireach air oighreachdan, air na tha a’ tachairt.

Cha robh e idir san amharc le bhith a’ gluasad gu nithean uaine gur e luchd nan oighreachdan a gheibheadh a’ bhuannachd as motha – ma bha dòchas ann idir, ‘s e an caochladh – ach ann an suidheachadh far a bheil an siostam as miosa san Roinn Eòrpa, a thaobh an fhearainn a bhith ann an làmhan buidheann cho beag, dh’fhaodar a bhith an dùil ri leithid.

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Tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh gu bheil margaidh an fhearainn a-mach à rian

Bithear tric a’ cluinntinn gum bu chòirear làraich an airgid a leanntinn, ach ‘s e an duilgheadas le sin, gu bheil e gad thoirt sìos slighe dhorcha, mì-chàilear.

Fàgaidh na molaidhean aig Coimisean Fearann na h-Alba cuid a dhaoine a tha airson an cuid ghnothaichean a chumail air falbh bhon phoball beagan mì-chofhurtail agus airson sin, bu chòir am moladh.

Tha trì eileamaidean gu sònraichte nan cois: na grantaichean atharrachadh ach am faigh am poball barrachd bhuannachd asta; a’ dèanamh cinnteach gu bheil deuchainn phoblach ma choinneamh a bhith a’ reic oighreachdan mòra; agus na cìsean atharrachadh ach an toir iad buaidh air a’ mhargaidh.

Ged as e am moladh bho dheireadh a tha seo is dòcha a bheir a’ bhuaidh as motha, ‘s e cuideachd as duilghe, bho nach eil mòran chothrom aig Pàrlamaid na h-Alba laghan nan cìsean atharrachadh.

Ach, tha an coimisean ag ràdh gum bu chòir dha a bhith furasta gu leòr solas an là a chur air dè dìreach na buannachdan a tha aig oighreachdan nuair a thig e gu cìsean agus, co-dhiù an uair sin, gum bi fios aig daoine.

Thuirt an coimisean anns an aithisg aca: “Mura tig càil a dheànamh son am margadh atharrachadh, tha barrachd cunnart ann gun tig barrachd dhen fhearann agus na buanachdan leis a chur ann an lamhan àireamh nas lugha. Bidh e nas duilghe dha daoine fa leth, dha companaidhean, tuathanaich is coimhearsnachdan pàirt a ghabhail anns a’ mhargaidh, no anns na co-dhùnaidhean agus na buannachdan timcheall fearainn.”

Chan eil cumhachd aig a’ choimisean càil a dhèanamh; chan urrainn dhaibh ach comhairle a thoirt. Bidh e an àirde ri buill Pàrlamaid na h-Alba agus Riaghaltas na h-Alba a bheil iad airson feairt a ghabhail; a bheil an gnothach seo idir cudromach gu leòr dhaibh.

English-language version:

Given the starter’s pistol was fired this week on another divisive independence referendum, there’s a good chance that a suite of recommendations to address Scotland’s inequitable land market system slipped quietly by unnoticed, just something else that affects people’s lives being ignored for a plebiscite the majority don’t want.

That’s a shame because it’s a real attempt to introduce some sense of accountability into the land-grab goldrush that’s happening on the back of the green agenda.

In reality, it may do little to curb the excesses at play, but it is a step in the right direction and it’s an absolute recognition of the injustices at play.

Research by the Scottish Land Commission, set up to advise ministers on how to promote greater public ownership, access and influence over land, shows that two thirds of estate sales are now taking place off-market with half of the estates purchased in 2021 being bought by corporate bodies, investment funds or charitable trusts.

With generous assistance available (from the public purse) for the likes of woodland creation and peatland restoration, international companies and their investment arms are eyeing up the opportunity that Scottish land presents for carbon sequestration – what some might euphemistically term “green washing”. And it’s all taking place away from the scrutiny of the public eye.

Even those who stand to be directly affected by the trade, those who actually live on the estates that are changing hands, have little idea of what’s happening, far less any ability to exert any influence.

The rush to a zero-carbon economy was not meant to result in the swelling of the coffers of the landed gentry – if anything the hope was for the opposite – but in the context of Europe’s most concentrated ownership system it was perhaps an inevitable consequence.

Follow the money is often the cry, but the problem here is that, insofar as it is at all possible, it leads down a murky avenue that portrays modern Scotland in a very poor light.

The proposals to try and address the situation by the Scottish Land Commission should leave those who wish their business to be conducted away from prying eyes a little more uncomfortable. For that alone it should be commended.

The recommendations contain three main strands: adjusting the grants available so they contain more of a public interest test; introducing a public interest element before the sale of any large estate; and adjusting the tax regime to influence the market.

This last one, while potentially the most far-reaching, is also the most problematic due to the tax-changing powers of the Scottish Parliament being so limited, but the commission makes it clear that it is well within the competency of Holyrood to produce a public register on exactly what incentives are at play. Then, at least we would know.

In introducing the report, the commission said: “If action is not taken to actively shape the market, we risk greater concentration of the ownership and benefits of land. Individuals, local businesses, farmers and communities will find it harder to take part in the land market, decision-making and sharing in the benefits.”

Of course, the commission are themselves powerless; they are merely consultative. It will be up to MSPs and the Scottish Government to take it forward, if it ever manages to become a priority in the maelstrom of constitutional division.

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