27 April 1998
Sorry about the Clearances — over 100 years later

SCOTLANDS landowners are to consider apologising for the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries.

During the Clearances, thousands of people were evicted from the land to make way for sheep and deer.

The move comes as landowners consider the likelihood of radical land reform under the Scottish Parliament.

Dr Maurice Hankey, of the Scottish Landowners Federation (SLF), said the Parliament might pass legislation, which could include limiting how much land individuals could own, and imposing a condition of residency in Scotland before land can be purchased.

The apology was one of a number of initiatives the SLF was considering taking. Andrew Dingwall-Fordwyce, the federation convenor, said the Clearances were irrelevant to the challenges facing landowners today. But he said the federation had to recognise the “considerable passion” that the subject continued to arouse.

Brian Wilson, the Scottish Office minister, dismissed the idea as a hollow gesture. He said: “It would be a more magnanimous gesture if they were to volunteer sporting and mineral rights to local communities, but I doubt if penitence will extend that far”.

  • The Daily Telegraph 27/04/98 page 3
  • The Scotsman 27/04/98 page 7