LAND ownership distribution is a big problem in Scotland. Many large estates have been owned by families for decades, even centuries, often due to dishonourable deeds in the past and what was no better than theft, often with violence from people they subsequently impoverished.

A recent example is public money being given to landowners in grants to plant trees which will enrich them, and some of them subsequently removing tenant farmers to accommodate this. Why should that be allowed to continue? People should be rewarded for what they do and achieve, not because they happened to inherit by accident of birth and access to privilege.

The other problem is a UK tax system that encourages large-scale land investment, particularly by those using tax havens. These investments have increased the price of land disproportionately, to the benefit of our landed gentry and against the interests of the ordinary people. This is reflected in the £6.4 million which Buccleugh Estates are asking for Langholm Moor (Community land buyout on the Buccleuch Estate looks doomed, June 25).

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Community land buyout on the Buccleuch Estate looks doomed

One advantage of taxing land is that it cannot be hidden off shore. If you are registered as the owner you pay the tax, and if no-one registers the land the state should take it over. If land owners cannot make sufficient profit after land tax is introduced they can sell land. It is very likely they will still be considerably better off than most.

The coronavirus crisis and the ecological crisis are the catalysts that make urgent land reform in Scotland essential. Land owners have benefitted disproportionately over the years. They should now contribute disproportionately by introduction of a substantial land tax to support economic recovery, tailored to increase the more land is held in single owner-ship. We need redistribution of wealth they have accumulated for decades, even centuries, and we need it now.

Substantial land tax would lead to sales and redistribution, which should be restricted in size for particular land uses and to owners who live in Scotland. Our land shouldn’t be for the benefit of the few. Woodland and well-run farms with good animal husbandry and ecological/environmental practices, education and training of increased work force and good local delivery infrastructure should be supported by income from land tax. Owners of large estates have been taking for years – it’s time to give back.

Jim Stamper