A tale of severe and growing social inequality in the Highlands, and two suggestions to help fix it

As a new migrant to the Highlands I have made a depressing discovery. Many Highlanders are not able to buy property of any sort, or even rent it. Such has been the effect of property value inflation of late. Given the English origins for this deepening of north-south inequality, profound issues of social justice arise.

The plight of the Morvern Community Woodlands group is a classic example. They are trying to buy an unused 6000 acre estate. What a tantalising dilemma they face. On the one hand, a wonderful opportunity to farm, rewild, regenerate and grow local eco-businesses, providing land, jobs and a bulwark against climate change and biodiversity loss. Hope for their children, in short. On the other hand, they have just a few weeks to raise £1.7 million to make the purchase.

So I am contributing to their appeal for emergency funding, and appealing to others to join me. More details of this are in a news article in The National.

But this is a systemic problem that greatly deepens social inequality, an issue identified every year by the World Economic Forum as a major and growing threat to social cohesion. So I am also calling for a potential systemic solution: a hypothecated tax on non-Scot property owners to help communities buy land in Scotland. I explain why in an op-ed.

If you feel like joining me in supporting the Morvern community’s appeal, you can do so here.

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