Balancing the challenges and joys of land ownership

Balancing the challenges and joys of land ownership

By Rob Whitson, Head of Rural Land Management

If you imagine owning a Highland estate is all about strolling through blooming heather with a pack of black labradors, you’re in for a reality check!

Land management in Scotland is under intense scrutiny like never before, with the Scottish Government’s framework emphasising community-focused principles for land ownership and use. Modern owners must manage their land to provide lasting economic, social, and environmental benefits to the community. While many landowners enjoy the privilege of living in this unique environment, they also face a complex and growing array of administrative and legislative demands.

The pandemic added to these challenges, bringing a surge of visitors escaping towns and cities to walk, cycle, ride, paddle, and camp. While most visitors are responsible, landowners have seen an increase in dog mess, litter, gates left open, and fly-tipping. It’s crucial to communicate that the countryside is also a home and workplace for people and wildlife, and visitors must act responsibly to avoid causing damage or inconvenience.

Despite these challenges, land ownership can still be more pleasure than pain. Bell Ingram’s land managers assist a wide range of clients, from sporting and mixed estates to farmers and crofters, in dealing with ever-changing rules and regulations. Whether it’s heather management, predator control, or improving land amenities, we support our clients in staying ahead of legislative changes.

Time is a finite resource, and while you can’t add more hours to the day, you can engage an agent to help manage the challenges of land ownership. This partnership allows you to enjoy your land without being bogged down by its demands. Clear communication and trust built through shared experiences are key to a fruitful relationship between landowner and agent.

Bell Ingram oversees hundreds of thousands of acres for a diverse portfolio of clients, ensuring they maximise their assets while complying with ever-evolving rural management requirements.

Our people

Rob Whitson

Rob Whitson

Partner, MRICS
Rural Land Management
Tel: 01463 717 799

About: Rob is Bell Ingram’s partner in charge of the Beauly office. He specialises in the management of rural properties for a range of private clients across the Highlands. This has included a number of significant and high profile sporting estates. For Land Management clients, Rob has worked on the negotiation of purchase/sale, servitude rights and renewable energy developments. He provides specialist management advice over a wide range of sporting estates particularly in relation to red deer stalking and salmon fisheries. Rob has enjoyed a long involvement with a number of district salmon fishery boards across the Highlands, and is a trustee of the Cromarty Firth Fishery Trust. He is Chair of the Highland Region for Scottish Land & Estates and also leads on valuations of commercial and rural property throughout Scotland in accordance with the RICS appraisal and valuation standards. Interests: Private Estate Management, Rural Land Management, Sporting Management, Valuations.

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