Who owns Scotland?

Who Owns Scotland is a fascinating website created by Andy Wightman, author of the 1996 book of the same name. Wightman aims to document the ownership of 75 per cent of Scotland and to date he has accounted for 42.7% of privately-owned rural land. ‘It will take me about 150 days to achieve my target,’ Wightman told me.

Much of the raw material comes from the book, but Wightman says he’ll be setting a new standard with the website, including searches of every title in the Registers of Scotland.

The site also includes:

  • Analyses and overviews of landownership in Scotland
  • Reports of land for sale in Scotland
  • Resources and further reading including various third-party reports and papers on the topic of landownership
  • Guidance on how to undertake further research in the Registers of Scotland and other public sources
  • A list of links to other useful sites

Wightman says that most of the information on his site is already in the public domain in the Registers of Scotland but it is not in a format that permits easy access by the citizen. It is not online and omits much of the helpful information he provides such as addresses and telephone numbers.

The Registers of Scotland have helpfully cooperated with Wightman’s project, providing access to their records on an academic/research basis.

Readers may also be interested in Wightman’s blog, which often features news on land ownership:
http://andywightman.blogspot.com

So where is the ‘Who Owns England’ and ‘Who Owns Wales’? Kevin Cahill made a start in his book Who Owns Britain but as yet no one has embarked on a systematic analysis of land ownership in the UK. European governments usually opt to sell information over which they hold a monopoly, ostensibly (although often unsuccessfully) to cover costs – the Land Registry being one example. This creates barriers for businesses and campaigners who could develop commercial and civic products on the back of such data.

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