Tories select multi-million pound land owner as ‘Land Reform’ spokesperson

Wealthy Highland Estate owner will represent Tories on land reform issues

THE TORY PARTY IN SCOTLAND has selected an owner of a six-and-a-half million pound private Highland estate to speak on its behalf on issues of land reform.

Donald Cameron MSP, a Highlands and Islands list MSP, owns Achnacarry Estate - which he records as being worth “between £6,500,001 and £6,600,000”. Yet despite his financial interests in the ownership of large private landed estates, which includes deerstalking and shooting, Cameron will represent the Tories on the issue of land reform - the process of returning Scotland’s land to act in the public interest. 

Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman - a long time campaigner and author on land issues - highlighted the irony online. 

It’s the second time in a week that Wightman has raised the issue of Scottish Tory vested interests in relation to ownership and agriculture. 

Tory MSP Peter Chapman dodged questions about Peter Chapman Ltd’s previous payments under the Common Agricultural Policy, when challenged in the Scottish Parliament. Tory MSPs, many with private financial interests in the land and properties sector, have previously faced criticism for raising questions that relate to their own financial interests in parliament.

Read more - Tory Peter Chapman MSP dodges question on firm’s agricultural subsidies

Cameron’s list of members interests includes two directorships - totalling over £40,000 in remuneration a year. His ownership of Achnacarry Estate includes property, agricultural and crofting lets. He also notes ownership of £700,000 shares in Green Highland Renewables.

Cameron did not provide comment when contactedby CommonSpace, however Tory party leader Ruth Davidson shot back at the connection drawn between his estate and new land reform role. In a series of tweets, she claimed financial experiences demonstrated “having strength and depth” for selected roles. 

Scotland’s system of land ownership remains concentrated in hands of the few giant aristocratic family estates, many of whom have held properties for centuries since benefitting from previous land grabs. 

The community ownership movement has returned over half-a-million acres of land to community ownership, while the most recent Land Reform Act 2016 aimed to encourage both urban and rural land reform to empower communities, encourage jobs and investment, and reduce inequality and poverty. 

Picture courtesy of Eloise Smith-Foster

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