BOTH Ian W Thomson and Angus MacDonald (Letters, November 7) lament the
extent of foreign ownership of Highland estates. They see this as being a
bad thing, whereas most of the evidence points to it having been beneficial
to the local economy, to communities and to the natural environment.
Mr MacDonald refers to “Highland lairds (who)… employ Highlanders and are
embedded in their community”. It’s a nice thought, but that hasn’t been a
common situation since the days of the clan chieftains of the 18th century.
Even then, the chieftains were as likely to be found in the salons of
Edinburgh or the outposts of Empire as in their ancestral homes.
Since at least Victorian times, Highland Scotland has been owned largely by
wealthy families whose businesses were elsewhere. The estates were holiday
homes, where they could indulge their passion for hunting and shooting;
Queen Victoria has a lot to answer for here. As family fortunes declined,
many estates were run on a shoestring, with no investment, deteriorating
buildings and declining employment. When the family funds became too
straitened and the estates were put up for sale, it has often been
foreigners who purchased them.
Highland Scotland is one of the finest wilderness areas in Europe; indeed,
the world. It’s entirely understandable that visitors have fallen in love
with the area and some wealthy individuals have purchased tracts of it.
Generally, these foreign buyers have invested in their estates, improving
the environment, renovating buildings and generating employment in areas
where job opportunities are few and far between. The biggest threat to
Highland Scotland has been the power companies and, sadly, our own
Government, who have between them conspired to make industrial wind farms a
52 Menteith View, Dunblane.