George Monbiot reports that the Scottish government is to consider breaking up large land holdings when they impede the prospects of local people. It will provide further help to communities to buy the land that surrounds them.
The Spanish system is described as being totally transparent, but Monbiot records that – in England – it took Land magazine several weeks of fighting official obstruction and cost almost £1,000 to find out who owned the land around its office. The old land registers had been closed and removed from public view.
Monbiot wryly comments that it is a different matter when landowners are applying for subsidies from the rural payments agency, which possesses a full, though unobtainable, register of their agricultural holdings.
We are asked to compare the Scottish government’s promise of “a fairer, wider and more equitable distribution of land” with the Westminster government’s vision of “greater competitiveness” – which leads to an increase in the size of land holdings.
Scotland is also to open up the question of property taxes, which might lead to the fair and comprehensive land value taxation system.
Flood-prone green field site now:
Monbiot leads us to ask:
- Will the Scottish government address the ‘speculative chaos’ that mangles the countryside (above) while failing to build the houses people need?
- Will it challenge a system in which terrible homes (above) are built at great expense?
- Will it take land into public ownership to ensure that new developments are built by and for those who will live there rather than for the benefit of volume housebuilders?
And ends, “For centuries, Britain has been a welfare state for patrimonial capital. It’s time we broke it open, and broke the culture of deference that keeps us in our place. Let’s bring the Highland spring south, and start discussing some dangerous subjects”.
The fully referenced article can be found at monbiot.com