A LABOUR MSP has demonstrated outside a resort snapped up by the Taymouth Castle developers in a bid to “highlight the weakness of the Scottish Government’s Land Reform proposals”.
Mercedes Villalba took her protest to Moness Resort in Aberfeldy over the weekend, in the wake of the news that it had been acquired by Discovery Land Company (DLC), a firm which specialises in luxury, private holiday compounds for the mega-rich.
The 35-acre Moness Resort adds to the US firm’s extensive portfolio of Scottish land, which includes the 450-acre Taymouth castle and grounds, the neighbouring 7000-acre Glenlyon estate, Kenmore Hotel, Kenmore post office and shop, Taymouth Trading, Brae Cottages, Am Fasgadh and Gatehouse, Paper Boat, Police House, and the Boathouse cottages.
As it stands, the Scottish Government’s proposed land reform bill would see a public interest test triggered on sales or transfers of land of more than 3000 hectares. As such, even the largest of DLC’s purchases – the 2800-hectare Glenlyon estate – would not be covered.
Speaking outside the Moness Resort, Labour MSP Villalba said: “Scotland’s being carved up without our say. It’s our land, it should work in all our interest.
“That’s why I’m taking the campaign for land justice to Discovery Land Company who are buying up vast swathes of Scotland to create a private playground for the mega-rich.”
DLC have insisted they will not be creating a gated community at Taymouth as they have elsewhere in the world, but questions for the US firm remain, specifically around their environmental commitments.
Villalba went on: “The Scottish Government’s proposals for land reform are far too timid. They offer no route for the public to challenge existing holdings like this one.
“SNP and Green MSPs must get behind my proposals to ensure Scotland’s land works in all our interest and to address the centuries old, concentrated pattern of land ownership in Scotland.”
The Labour MSP is aiming to cut the threshold for a public interest test on land sales from 3000 hectares to 500.
Land reform expert Dr Calum MacLeod has called for a land reform bill to also introduce such tests when key community assets, such as post offices or jetties, are up for sale.
A consultation is currently open on Villalba’s bill, and she has urged “as many people as possible” to take part before it closes at 23:59 on September 26.
“If you haven’t yet taken part in the consultation, please use your voice and have your say today!” she said.
You can find the proposal and survey here.