FOR SALE

Rosal Forest 6356 acres

Offers over £1,850,000

“A unique opportunity to acquire a large commercial forest situated in one of the last wilderness areas of Scotland surrounded by stunning scenery. Offering a significant volume of commercial conifer timber, areas for replanting and excellent deer stalking potential, all set within a unique landscape in the North of Scotland. Sporting rights included.

Rosal Forest is located within one of the few remaining wilderness areas in the north of Scotland. The area is known as Strathnaver and Naver Forest, renowned for its excellent salmon and trout fishing and deer stalking. 

Human settlement in this area dates back at least 6,000 years, but Strathnaver is known more for the Sutherland Clearances of the 1800’s when the locals were displaced from their lands to re-settle on the coast or travel by sea to the eastern seaboard of America and New Zealand to make way for a new era of sheep farming. Indeed, within Rosal Forest there are many historical features dating back to this period and beyond. The ruined settlements of Rosal Village in the north of the forest and Truderscaig in the south, provide a fascinating insight into the struggle for ownership of this land.”

Scottish Ministers are selling Rosal Forest in Strathnaver, Sutherland. Included in the sale are numerous clearance villages including one of the best preserved at Rosal itself (see sales brochure 6.5Mb and  sale plan 3.9Mb pdf).

This forest will probably be sold to an absentee investor from England, or a Russian oligarch, or a multinational timber corporation. Scottish forestry will remain in the hands of elites as it currently is and as highlighted in this report from last year.

Next year is the 200th anniversary of the Strathnaver Clearances.

“..one of the few remaining wilderness areas in the north of Scotland

A fascinating insight into the struggle for ownership of this land.”

Indeed.

UPDATE 16 October

At 1530 today, a Scottish Government spokesperson said “Rosal has been removed from selling agent’s website.”

106 Comments

  1. Please don’t blame the purchaser! Better blame Scottish Ministers for selling out of public ownership.

    £1M8 = 1,800 people offering £1k each – a possible JMT appeal target?

    Reply

  2. I was at the CES conference in Perth in 2012 and a representative of the Scottish Forestry Commision said they had been told to sell of what land and forests they could.

    They said that commercial interests were to be given the first chance to bid and then denied they were allowing ‘cherry picking’ by big companies; their preferred option for communities was for leasing agreements not purchase. All at the meeting were of the opinion that they had done this to prevent realistic community involvement in forestry land.

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  3. Its not a lot of money. Let’s get together and buy it! £1850000. Price of a middling family car for 100 people.

    Reply

  4. just another example of the sheer bloody mindedness of SNP Ministers and how far they are from real, true land reform.

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  5. The NO campaign will just love this one.

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    • Why? Westminster is very keen to sell all publicly owned land. Increasing democracy in Scotland is our best chance of getting land reform in Scotland. If Scotland becomes independent it will be up to the Scottish people to decide, not the SNP or Westminster. A No vote, suggest that things will continue as now, with the same flaws as now.

      Reply

      • Well if a YES vote indicates that it will continue in the same vein—-what’s the point? Forestry and Scottish land law is within the Holyrood remit. I suggest you take a retrospective look at recent debates in this blog series, to see just how far the SNP have taken us on land reform.

        Reply

        • A vote for independence is NOT a vote for Alex Salmond or the SNP or for any other party or individual. If the yes vote succeeds you will start to see a realignment in Scottish politics and hopefully a government in Edinburgh that is responsive to Scottish needs; any party that isn’t won’t fare well at elections!

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          • Aye, you are dead right and that’s why I am in the SDA as the SNP have lost the plot. Stage one–vote YES—stage two—get rid of Salmond and his land monopoly sicophants, but sadly the YES campaign are conflated with the SNP—-so far.

  6. ‘One would need a heart of stone not to laugh’

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  7. are SNP ministers having their vision bypass operations one by one—or is it a bulk deal?

    Reply

    • Unfortunately we can’t post images otherwise I would put up the Banksy painting of the House of Commons filled with chimps overlaid with the caption ‘clowns to the right of me jokers to the left.’

      Given the antics of the present occupants though the chimps could probably do a much better job; at least they have no pockets!

      Reply

  8. DougLAS JACKSON

    I suppose they have to pay for the white elephant that is Prestwick Airport somehow. I predict a wind farm application within the next 18 months, if there’s any room left after the 2000 and odd schemes that are in the planning pipeline are bulldozed through.

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  9. This is so disappointing! This would be the ideal place to start splitting up large single units of land, if this gets sold to a non resident from outside Scotland then what is the point of independence? Unless more scots living and working in Scotland can stake a claim in ownership of our soil then Independence is meaningless.

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  10. Are you really suggesting that this land holding should be split up into multiple small-holdings, or, indeed, crofts? I wonder just how many applicants there would be for such crofts? What would their wives think of being uprooted and replanted in “one of the last wilderness areas of Scotland”? Where would the new crofters find their second jobs? I wonder whether Highland Council would welcome the extra school buss routes – remember the objection to a new-build keeper’s cottage at Gaick?

    For me the best answer would be for a conservation body such as JMT to buy, and steadily, as each planting comes to be harvested, to replant with whatever pollen samples from Loch Rimsdale’s mud suggests was growing a couple of thousand years ago.

    Reply

    • http://www.westcoastpeaks.com/Peaks/burkelandsfjellet.html. WTF have these local owners of the inbye, outbye and forest got so wrong compared to us and with their forest of today and tomorrow instead of the past–YFA?

      Reply

    • Richard, there’s a former FC plantation on Mull now in community ownership (google North West Mull Community Woodland Company) and which now has some forest crofts on it. I don’t think the crofters live within the forest, though, and the demand for them is from local people who already have jobs and houses locally, rather than an influx from elsewhere who would need new houses on site (like you, I suspect HC would not be enamoured with this!) and need to find second jobs etc. That’s just my impression, though, and anybody else better informed is welcome to correct me.

      I asked the question on one of the Ledgowan threads although nobody responded probably because it was off-topic there. But it’s very much on-topic here: “What is the alternative vision?”

      Richard has already suggested a conservation body acquiring it with a view to recreating the ancient aboriginal forest. What about it remaining in FC ownership to do that? Under whoever’s ownership, can you combine that goal with forest crofts? How in practice would forest crofts be organised (to reassure Highland Council!) Is there another idea?

      How in practice will policy (fiscal – LVT/subsidy, others?) levers bring the desired result about. I’d find it helpful if someone could illustrate the process in action by particular reference to this property and the risk of it being bought by an English investor (by that I don’t mean someone just saying “tax them out of existence” or explaining that LVT is on land, not buildings etc. because I already get that)

      Reply

      • it is not possible to recreate an ancient aboriginal forest.

        Reply

      • none of the outright private owners within the forest-agriculture zone in http://www.westcoastpeaks.com/Peaks/burkelandsfjellet.html live on a croft and that forest they own outright and manage is not an aboriginal one. What is it that you are deliberately not trying to see?

        Reply

        • What I would be interested to see Ron would be the road map from how you get from Rosal to Burkelandsfjellet. Just a wee AA book would do for me for starters, don’t need a big scale digital OS yet!

          Reply

      • Neil

        Most of the Mull woodland crofters intend to live on their crofts in due course.

        As to Highland Council’s postion, woodland crofts are considered in the Highland-wide Local Development Plan (and supplementary guidance) and the Council’s position is generally supportive, especially for new community-led woodland crofts townships.

        Reply

  11. it hasn’t been a wilderness since few minutes after the Younger Dryas ended,

    Reply

  12. If Independance meant SNP then I’d have switched off when it became clear they were prepared to pacify the many potential voters by continuing to dump on young farming businesses by appointing review after review instead of growing a set and overhauling the devolved Single Farm Payment. They blame EU for our historically allocated Cartel style agriculture in a “computer says no” style and also threw away p68 of manifesto which promised £10m per year to new entrants once they realised we were not major stakeholders. My vote for Yes is a chance to get rid of buck-passers & accept full responsibility for our own destiny. This sale shows hypocrisy in demanding estates create opportunities yet we are selling a national asset to highest bidder. Perhaps I should (add to the very relevant Sellar comparison Tongue in cheekly) make sure this young farmer survives another year without SFP by taking a commission to buy Rossal on behalf of Chinese; they seem to be aware that nations should protect primary resources. So much so they are buying out the developed worlds from under them while we undervalue rural skills & productive capacity.

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  13. Rosal should be sold in 200 acre chunks to local people on easy terms, and let them get rosal village rebuilt.
    Then we might have some confidence in Wheelhouse and the SNP.
    Perhaps some of the descendents of the cleared residents may be interested.

    Reply

    • Hector
      Rather than splitting into regular lots, which may not be ideal for future management /equity in lot quality, perhaps promote a communal ownership structure. That will allow management of what is an extensive asset in a coherent and efficient way and the redevelopment of the townships rather than a more dispersed settlement pattern. Sold at market value to the subscribers / participants (so FC get their money for reinvestment and taxpayers with no interest in the area retain their value) but government provides beneficial loans to the community to allow the acquisition. Well managed they should be able to repay (perhaps allow long payment term and low interest rate) the loans from good management of the asset.
      Anyway this seems to me to be an opportunity to try something as you have a willing seller which should underpin any transaction.

      Reply

      • Community ownership wont work, people must have a personal stake in the land.
        Perhaps the govt should sell 999 year leases rather than freehold.
        I did say to rebuild the village.

        Reply

        • Hector
          I accept the communal model not straightforward but neither is just lotting it up. Might not make for effective management of the forest. However there is quite a lot of it so try both.
          Long Leases Act allows for transfer to ownership of certain leases over 175 yrs. depends on rent and government may be exempt but they are made clear indication they don’t like such long leases. Rightly or wrongly.

          Reply

          • On the contrary, lotting it up is quite simple.
            lines on a map, and gps make it very simple.

          • Hector
            I understand that. My concern is more about how the new owners could manage and live on their new resource. Choosing to live on it may not be practically possible for a realistic cost (roads, utilities etc) and a couple of hundred acres of trees or upland grass doesn’t support one never mind a family. So you need to consider how many the area could support (influenced by wider jobs / economic conditions in area) and how, probably in a co-operative way the resource could be managed at a sensible scale. Focussing on owning x sqm could get in the way of that and reduce economic viability.

          • Just because the govt allow long leases to be coverted to ownership doesnt mean they dont LIKE them, they are just providing choices.
            Landlords have similiarly said that 91 act tenancies were not liked since the govt provided alternatives, and that is patently not the case.
            Soon they will be converted to perpetual lease or ownership too.

  14. Well said Hector.
    Best suggestion I’ve heard yet.

    Reply

    • Neil cannot seem to join up the dots or make the leap across the gap in the sparking plug that starts the engine, but you have got one of the major components in getting from the Rosal to the ‘Burkelandsfjellet situation ‘( nota bene however that I have never advocated , per se ,an exact copy of the Norwegian experience)

      We need a Government with the political will to see radical land reform carried out and I believe that will only come about in an independent Scotland that is not in the EU.

      We will need a full implementation of Land Rental Value Collection and consign the usage of LVT to describe the concept to the dustbin. The quid pro quo of ending imposts on labour( income tax) and on bricks&mortar( rates or equivalents) has to go hand in hand with this.

      The scrapping of the Byzantine inanities of the current welfare system and its replacement with a universal, non means tested, graduated Citizens Income.

      As a last resort, specific re-allocation of land holdings to private tenure, based on land capability rather than a one size fits all arbitary holding size.

      Reply

  15. I think Hector has made the best suggestion yet.

    Could the community be given financial and legal assistance by the Scottish Government to buy this historic piece of land and soon?

    Reply

    • It is already ‘owned’ by Scottish Ministers and it is they who are attempting to sell it off to private interests—-that’s the tragi-comedy we are talking about.

      Reply

  16. I think I read you as suggesting that my Government hands out £1M8 to “the local community” (is there one?) so that the community can pay its lawyers, and then pay the bulk over to the same Government that produced the money in the first place? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just give the land away?

    Reply

  17. Rory Fitzpatrick

    If someone starts a crowd-funding campaign for this, they can absolutely have £1k from me.

    Reply

  18. Assuming that the body to take title is to my taste, I’m good for £1k also, BUT please, let HMRC join in the fun, i.e. purchaser needs to be a charity, like JMT, to qualify for the tax relief.

    Reply

    • Rory Fitzpatrick

      +1 would need to be a non-profit body that had ownership. The commercial opportunities could be still be used, but the values of the estate should be set by the non-profit. See Mozilla organisation for a great example of this working in practice.

      Reply

      • I refer again to http://www.westcoastpeaks.com/Peaks/burkelandsfjellet.html . Are all the residences, farmland and forest in the photo owned by a charity, an external non- national owner, a centralised government agency or by a community of private, house owning, landowning individuals who would be better selling it off and becoming tenants of any of the above? What is it about an extensive private property owning community living in a democracy that you just can’t get?

        Reply

  19. At 1530 today, a Scottish Government spokesperson said “Rosal has been removed from selling agent’s website.”

    Reply

  20. For ambiguous, shifty, statements, that takes some beating! Have Scottish Ministers decided that selling now, before the referendum, will cost the SNP one or more “Yes” votes, and told FC(Scotland) that they’d misunderstood, or have they already sold it quietly under the table, perhaps to that nice golfing “gentleman” who is currently developing a development in Aberdeenshire?

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  21. good, now lets hope they do something imaginative. rather than the usual big boring estate mentality where self interest prevails.

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  22. Flipping heck! Is this going to be another Raasay? SNP making things up as they go along and dipping in to the public purse to buy themselves out of trouble when they get it wrong?

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  23. hebrideanfarmer

    Well done Land Matters. I’m sure this blog influenced the decision makers to withdraw the sale of Rosal.

    Reply

  24. Forestry Commission Scotland call selling off outlying woods and buying other land to consolidate their holdings (“repositioning”. In the past three years, they have sold over 21,000 ha, and bought about a third of this with the proceeds, planting about a third of this with trees. They are raising about £12-15 million a year from the land sold.

    I spent a summer working in Strathnaver in 1988. It is a great place. I am not entirely sure what you would do with a conifer plantation up there, or indeed, if there was a demand for people up there to buy it. I used to cycle up there in the evenings and contemplate the river and the history all around.

    The issue is nothing to do with Independence. Like Raasay, the Scottish Government has completely missed this one, again, and needed a little reminder that people might be watching. But maybe no-one up there expressed an interest, and maybe it is just armchair commentators protesting? I dont know.

    Tomorrow is Thursday. Interesting to see if this appears on First Minister’s Questions like Raasay did. Interesting too to see if we get a new Environment Minister shortly. I bet Wee Eck wont be happy. I have some sympathy for Paul Wheelhouse, as Richard Lochhead seems to duck responsibility for anything like this that goes wrong. The really interesting bit here is what he thinks the solution might be. That will give the real insight.

    Reply

  25. Victor, I always think your comments on here are very good and what jumped out at me from your one above was:-

    “But maybe no-one up there expressed an interest, and maybe it is just armchair commentators protesting?”

    That and armchair politicians wafting around in the political wind, I suspect! Reminds me of a great line in Yes Minister “I am people’s leader, Humphrey. I must follow them wherever they go.”

    Still, let’s not prejudge another Raasay (tempting though it is). Maybe it’s just been removed from the agents’ website because they’ve had an offer they can’t refuse from an English investor.

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  26. I’m confused. How can it be a wilderness area if it’s full of commercial forestry?

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  27. “I am people’s leader, Humphrey. I must follow them wherever they go.”

    Lao Tzu said that around 25 centuries ago

    If the sage would guide the people, he must serve with humility.
    If he would lead them, he must follow behind.
    In this way when the sage rules, the people will not feel oppressed;
    When he stands before them, they will not be harmed.
    The whole world will support him and will not tire of him.

    http://tipiglen.co.uk/tao.html#66

    Reply

  28. This land ultimeately belongs to the people, since they were illegally and immorally dispossessed 200 years ago in the name of landlord greed.
    Paul Wheelhouse should lease it out in small blocks for 999 years to local , interested people who undertake to live there or nearby.
    Just as that great scotsman john mackenzie did in new zealand when he was minister of agriculture.

    Reply

    • Wonder what the Maoris thought about that Hector, one dispossed people disposessing another on behalf of the creation of the British Empire, eh!? What was the legal and moral right for the British occupation of New Zealand?

      Reply

      • Ron, best not get into the maori/aboriginal/red indian/ jamaican displacement arguement. If we hadnt done it, the french/spanish/dutch/japanese would have.
        I have a theory that the lowland and highland clearances were carried out to provide population and farmers for the colonies.

        Reply

  29. hectore, why 999 year leases instead of outright ownership?

    Reply

    • what would you do with it Neil?

      Reply

    • aye, Neil, expound and expand your case for the benefits of the ‘jury’, if not for the ‘accused’

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      • SS & Ron – I don’t know what I would do with it. I don’t claim to have answers.

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        • If you choose to stir the pot, then you should offer something on the plate.

          Reply

          • OK, well you’d need to review the evidence from places like Orbost, lessons learned there (see Jim Hunter’s recent book), and assess demand and feasibility of forest crofts. I think it’s hopelessly over optimistic to just get your GPS out and draw some boundaries on the map. Also, it’s hardly sustainable to predicate it all on agricultural and forestry subsidies underpinned by tax credits. In short we need to do quite a lot of homework. Meanwhile, seeing as we know the local community didn’t express an interest in Rosal, I’d flog it to the highest bidder and give the money to local housing associations to build some affordable houses.

            But I’m not an expert in these matters so maybe my suggestions are wrong but you did ask me. What would you (SS, Ron & HF) do with it?

        • hebrideanfarmer

          I intimated my support for Hector’s suggestion of “what to do with it”
          Did you miss that?

          Reply

          • Neil

            I don’t think it is correct to say the community expressed no interest in this purchase. My understanding is that the sale was originally notified several years ago, and the community did work towards an ambitious buyout proposal. This ultimately fell through, but I suspect this reflects more the challenges faced by communities involved in buyouts – especially in respect of funding – than a lack of interest. So ‘the community was unable to purchase’ may be a better description of the situation.

  30. a long lease will allow the landholder to be properly settled, without the expense of actually buying outright.
    It would also stop them from turning it over at a quick profit to a forestry company.

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  31. The new owners would be eligible for single farm payment, forestry grants etc, and there would be plenty of work thinning trees, brashing, etc.
    and they would qualify for tax credits if work is short.
    They could do rather well.
    IT would take time to build infrastructure, but we scots are good at that, and this time the occupiers will retain the ownership and benefit from said improvements, in total contrast to the rent racking and improvement theft prevalent on private estates.( and the crown).

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    • Hector, you have said in earlier posts that you are a supporter of LRV and since that replaces income tax, then there will be no tax credits. You say ‘new owners’, but they have leased the land and therefor would be tenants of the state in their own country. I often use Fennoscandian analogues in my posts. On my trips there, I have met people who are not landholders but who would not mind becoming tenants. I have met tenants who wanted to become owners. I met owners who wanted to rent out their property and become landlords. I met owners who wanted to sell up and do something else, but I never met an owner who wanted to become a tenant on his own property and certainly not as a tenant of the state.

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    • Hector
      Setting aside your last comment which I reject the challenge to overcome is that at the sort of area you refer, even with existing available support, a family would be very unlikely to be supported. As this is a willing (possibly) seller I offer no objection at all to innovative ideas as to future use, and I’ve offered one idea above, but these plans do need to be rooted in the prospect of economic viability for the project and people involved. That needs to underpin any proposals.

      Reply

  32. Richard’s idea, “For me the best answer would be for a conservation body such as JMT to buy, and steadily, as each planting comes to be harvested, to replant with whatever pollen samples from Loch Rimsdale’s mud suggests was growing a couple of thousand years ago.”

    coupled with Douglas’ thought, “I predict a wind farm application within the next 18 months”

    and ‘forest crofts’, makes me wonder if all three might be combined in some way. The area is large enough to accommodate all three without too much conflict – just wonderin’
    8|

    Just wondering

    Reply

    • Said ‘conservation body’ might even be the Forestry Commission, given that conservation and access are two out of the three new guiding principles of said organisation…

      Hey, presto!

      Reply

  33. Ron, i favour LRV yes, but until it comes, we have tax credits.
    I am just floating an idea of 999 year leases, the owners of said leases would not be tenants as we know it, and would not consider themselves tenants.
    The leases would be assignable, as all farmland should be, and houses could be built by the occupiers just as crofters do.
    As to viability, we read in the press of highland estates getting millions in subsidy, so say £500k divided by twenty leaseholders is £25k each, not a bad income before you rise from bed.

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  34. Unfortunately not that simple. No subsidy available just by having land or farming, & forestry grants concentrate on planting. No new system until 2015 and looks like a gradual phase out of historic but criteria of existing farmer will be needed to get payment unless you are eligible for reserve. Getting land (as we did 5 years ago) is a millstone without either a profitable product or the subsidy that all pre2004 farmers or investors get; start up costs are so high though that even with a good Market you need SFP to pay start up costs unless large savings. Banks will not lend unless serviceable (SFP). Not just good enough to say give them land, need holistic plans combining EU CAP money, social infrastructure, marketting & processing arrangements. Our minister has started the ball rolling by Rural broadband programme, but we are so far behind some parts of EU. As well as examples here Abruzzo national park is a good one. But people need jobs because until such time as food & fibre takes up a more important percentage of income again small scale production at a long distance from markets is only possible for limited niche companies. Whilst a fan of JMT we do have to be aware of well meaning agenda setters who have not experienced practicalities of rural industry & land use. Isolated rural poverty can be most demoralising especially when it breaks your idyll & ambition!

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  35. So if a cap on subsidies was introduced at £50,000, there would be plenty of money for new entrants on rosal.
    No one expects to get a living from smalish areas of land, and once established, who knows what businesses could be got going instead of the empty landscape.

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  36. I would be with Hector on Capping, on SFP rather than on specific projects. This would allow the French proposed higher payments for first few acres. The arguments against are that larger businesses are more efficient and deliver more goods per unit subsidy. Research evidence? Also, commodities maybe but not social goods. If large businesses want economies of scale good on them but should they be funded & should some quite small businesses be getting HUGE subsidies? Personally I’d see them all away and instead maybe income support for extreme situations, subs since 70s have allowed agriculture earnings & cultures to erode. Subs to farmers like drink to the American Indians & Aborigines has numbed the drive & perceptions.

    Reply

    • Well at least part of the way with you there John. We should get out of the subsidy grabbing mindset. It’s as much as part of the problem as the welfare dependancy culture, indeed it’s perhaps just a subdivision of it. Income support? Well that could be accomplished by scrapping the entire Byzantine inanities of the current system by a universal non means tested Citizens Income. The tax disincentive should be removed by the replacement of taxation by the collection of 100% of the annual Land Rental Value as the basis of public revenue. Economies of scale? ; well just as a small example from Fennoscandia, a group of sheep farmer-forest owners forming a private cooperative on their contiguous forest areas, each too small own its own, to lease out Moose hunting to rich hunters from Germany and housing them, for a fee, in forest cabins made by local craftsmen from timber from the local forest.

      Reply

  37. Replying to Jamie McIntyre at October 18, 2013 at 9:04 pm, above

    Thanks for the correction – I hadn’t appreciated there was a history of community involvement with Rosal which had come to nothing, probably, as you say, due to lack of funding.

    However, to be devil’s advocate, the question I was challenged on was, what would *I* do with Rosal? And *my* answer remains to sell it to raise money for local affordable housing (although I accept that raises massive questions about issues of hypothecation of the sale of nationally owned assets to particular or local causes as opposed to0 going into the general pot).

    If *my* suggestion of flog it clashes with the *community’s* desire to acquire it, then I would just wonder (put it no stronger) if the community felt that acquisition was the only tool in its box? Would they still want to acquire, if they had the offer of some affordable houses instead?

    These questions are difficult resolve as the Orbost experience may have demonstrated.

    Don’t have a go at me, I’m just thinking out loud (and grateful to Andy for the space to do so).

    Reply

    • The affordable( can people on JSA afford it, people on minimum wages afford it, could people on the average wage afford it?) housing is going to have to be built on land. Where and who is that land going to come from and after the planning pernission for housing goes through who is going to accrue the vast increase in Land Rental Value?

      Reply

  38. Affordable homes are just modern ghettos.

    Reply

  39. What people need is land to build a home, free from landlordism and rentrack.
    The scottish people have been denied that right for at least 400 years, while the lairds gathered everything to themselves, building obscene monuments to excess like dunrobin castle, floors castle etc etc.

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  40. I both agree and disagree with you! A friend of mine, both his and his wife’s being the families longest settled in the parish, wished to have their “own” house. I could provide a site at an honest price without difficulty, but the hurdles that the planning system erected delayed their acheiving their goal for several years.

    While the clearances were probably immoral (by today’s standards), they were certainly not illegal. What finally achieved the depopulation of the Highlands was two World Wars. While the Lairds and their sons lie, beside their tenants, in rows in France and Belgium, that was not the real cause! When men were conscripted (or enlisted voluntarily) from the townships, and headed South to barracks in England, where the water came out of taps, not the burn, the loos flushed, and the baths were fixed in bath-rooms, is it any surprise that so many refused to return up the glens to the old life? Can we blame them?

    Reply

    • The Scottish courts have in the past given some very questionable decisions; read up on the story of ‘The Seven of Knoydart.’ In times past legality could be just a question of who had the money to buy justice.

      Reply

  41. Richard, if the laird had provided running water and toilets, they may have returned.
    The clearances may have been legal, but who wrote the law? The lairds pals in edinburgh of course, and its still the same today.

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  42. I’m amazed that within the 105 comments above no one has commented on elementary factors such as the location and productive capacity of the forest. Being 31 miles from Helmsdale, served by a single track road on peat with significant weight restrictions already in place, a low yield class lodgepole pine crop, poor services, no broadband and no local community etc., I would be amazed if anyone in their right mind would want to invest or relocate there as part of a community/crofting initiative, even if it is fully funded by the Scottish Government via the Land Fund. I am always happy to be proven wrong and look forward to watching this one with interest!!!

    Reply

  43. Why is there no community?
    because they were cleared!!!!!!
    Why were the trees planted?
    for tax reasons of course!!
    ITS chicken and egg, let the people settle properly and things will happen, the alternative is more of the same, land for the rich and rural depopulation.

    Reply

    • How many ancestors of the cleared folk have ever returned to Central Sutherland to live? At a guess not many. If they had the chance of Kaikoura, South Island or Kinbrace, Sutherland I think I know where their choice would lie. It’s fine talking about political and social ideologies but if the land cannot support the population then you’re stuffed. Have you ever tried growing crops or veg in deep peat? From what I can see the main business in Kinbrace is timber haulage, keepering and estate work and they like the rest of Sutherland travel weekly to Tescos in Thurso or Inverness for their every day requirements. That’s how life is in 21st Century!

      Reply

  44. How can they return when there are no houses, and no available land to build a house?
    Who mentioned cropping?
    Sheep and cattle farming is perfectly possible there, and forestry.

    Reply

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