As a new migrant to the Highlands, I have made a depressing discovery. Many Highlanders are unable to buy the property of any sort, including arlington houses for sale, or even rent. The rapid inflation of property values has been a contributing factor to this growing north-south inequality and has raised important questions of social justice, particularly considering the English origins of this issue.
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.