New report will shine a light on Scotland’s rural land market

A report has been commissioned to help understand more about the nature and value of rural land sales in Scotland.

Scotland’s Rural University College (SRUC) will lead the study, which it said will be ‘crucial’ in considering the implications of new natural capital and carbon value in the country’s land market.

Data will be collated from land agents on recent land transactions, with the hope of creating an accurate picture of landowner, buyer and seller motivations – specifically focusing on understanding how increased demand for natural capital investment is driving activity.

It is hoped that an overarching summary of current market activity can be created, in order to inform how emerging value can be harnessed in a way that encourages responsible investment and creates public value as the ‘new sector’ grows.

The university will be aided by land agents Savills and Strutt and Parker in delivering the report, as well as support from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Hamis Trench, chief executive of the Scottish Land Commission – which commissioned the report – said, “Scotland is well positioned to make the most of private investment in delivering land use change that meets the climate targets. Doing this in a way that drives a just transition, where the opportunities, costs and benefits are shared fairly means shaping these markets to work in the public interest.

“Part of this is having improved transparency and shared understanding of how the land market is operating. As it stands, there is uncertainty around the volume and value of off-market, or private, land transactions – and the motivations of both buyers and sellers.

“Global efforts to tackle climate change are driving demand for carbon and natural capital investment and there is growing concern about the impacts of this in the land market. Improved market transparency will help inform evidence-based policy and help address the risks and opportunities.”

Lead researcher Rob McMorran, from SRUC’s Rural Policy Centre, added, “This research represents an important opportunity to develop a comprehensive assessment of rural land market activity in Scotland, as well as providing useful evidence to inform our understanding of how natural capital investment may be affecting rural land markets and land values.

“The project will benefit from a collaboration between SRUC and both Savills and Strutt and Parker, who have a wealth of knowledge and experience of rural land markets. The research will also provide a useful foundation for informing future research on rural land values and land markets.”