Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick today spoke out against big businesses purchasing land to offset their carbon emissions, who she claims “lack self-awareness”, while pointing out the need for further land reform in Scotland.
She also raised the need for those proposing “rewilding” projects to understand the social context of why the Highlands are so sparsely populated and consider those who currently live in or work the land.
“One SNP policy I was elected on the strength of is the presumption towards community buy-outs of land – this not only will help us in improving the diversity in land ownership, but it will ensure that local people are involved in decisions on how the land is used.
“I am certain that most would not choose to have it used as an indulgent, conscience-easing vanity project for big business.
“The complete lack of self-awareness of many do-gooders when failing to recognise that they are just another wealthy, private buyer of our land, who is contributing to the continuation of a skewed and unjust land market, is astounding.”
On rewilding, she said:
“Rewilding is so often raised as an action to be taken in my region by people with little to no understanding of those who currently live in and work the land, or, indeed, those who could or should be living in and working the land but are not due to enduring effects of the Clearances two centuries ago.
“The attitude that the Highlands are a playground for the gentry or eco-tourists is also one which persists from those horrific events.
“Rewilding can and should happen in conjunction with repeopling, but it will not if you dream up your big rewilding ideas based on a romantic or Cumberland-esque vision of a sparse, deserted Highlands rather than on the voices and experiences of the local community who currently use and live in it.”