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Publication - Research Publication

Impact of diversity of ownership scale on social, economic and environmental outcomes

Published: 29 Jul 2016
Part of:

Report on the impact of diversity of ownership on the socioeconomic outcomes for rural areas.

119 page PDF


119 page PDF


Impact of diversity of ownership scale on social, economic and environmental outcomes
Sustainable Development Frameworks

119 page PDF


Sustainable Development Frameworks

Outcomes Framework

A sustainable development outcomes framework was developed to provide a clear rationale for the collection of primary and secondary data in case studies. It follows a logic model approach, setting out the anticipated local outcomes that may arise from certain actions taken by key stakeholders (e.g. landowners, land managers, Scottish Government, industry, local authorities and communities) that may influence the sustainable development of local areas. The framework also articulates how these outcomes feed into Scottish Government National Performance Framework and how they may be measured (i.e. potential indicators).

The outcomes framework incorporates outcomes that may be attributed to either differing land ownership scales or to a myriad of other factors (see the Other Factors Framework). It provided an overarching structure from which the primary (fieldwork) and secondary data collection were developed with comparative analysis of the data used to assess whether change in local sustainable development outcomes (or indeed lack of change) can be attributed in any way to scale of land ownership or to other factors.

The starting point for the framework creation was to review existing outcome measurement frameworks for estates, including the Sustainable Estates Toolkit (Glass et al. 2013) and the National Upland Outcomes[26], as well as rural-specific outcomes measures guided by the research on Mapping Rural Socio-Economic Performance (Copus and Hopkins, 2015). The Scottish Government's National Outcomes [27] were also reviewed. Based on these resources, and the existing knowledge and expertise amongst the research team (e.g. agriculture, land economics, estate management and outcomes, community development, environmental sustainability), ten outcomes were identified: three economic; four social, and three environmental.

The researcher team then identified the ways in which the outcomes could be assessed, identifying three types of measurement: socio-economic data (D); geospatial data (S) and fieldwork (F).

The finalised Outcomes Framework is presented in Table 4.

Table 4 Outcomes Framework

Scottish Government National Outcomes Impact Outcome Outputs Example indicators ( F = fieldwork, D = socio-economic data, S = geospatial data)
We realise our full economic potential with more and better employment opportunities for our people. We live in a Scotland that is the most attractive place for doing business in Europe Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens. Economic development Economic self-reliance, financial viability Diversified income streams and economic activity.

Creativity/innovation adds value (and profit) to land holding products.
Number of businesses and industry sectors D
Agricultural output D
CAP Support D
No. and level of funding for renewables developments including community owned schemes S
Diverse, plentiful, high quality employment opportunities Employment in diverse sectors (including land management).

High employment. High numbers/diversity of business .
Employment by industry sector, including land management D
Full-time/part-time split D
Benefit claimants D
Employment/unemployment D
Favourable population structure Viable population level.

Growing population able to contribute to economic activity.
Change in total population aged 16-64 (approx. working age) D
Change in total population D Change in dependency ratio D
Quality of life D
Migration, e.g. time spent in community D
Age distribution D
We live in well-designed, sustainable places where we are able to access the amenities and services we need. "We live longer, healthier lives .
Social development High quality, available, affordable homes Housing is affordable and in good condition.

Greater numbers of residential than second/vacant homes.
House prices, tax bands / No houses sold (turnover) D
Housing condition D
Housing density change D
Second/vacant homes D
Proportion of privately-rented housing and/or social housing D
Communities benefit from the outdoors Healthy communities.

Sense of identity and culture.
Recreational access and use of land holding by community F
Access locations, routes (e.g. trails and forest roads) S
Area of land acquired into National Forest Estate S
Active engagement with local communities F
Scottish Government National Outcomes Impact Outcome Outputs Example indicators ( F = fieldwork, D = socio-economic data, S = geospatial data)
We value and enjoy our built and natural environment and protect it and enhance it for future generations." We have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others. Social development Strong rural social fabric and infrastructure High level of support for delivering community needs and projects.

Sufficient number of places and spaces for community activities.
Nature of community support provided (e.g. £ / in kind) F
No. of / levels of use of community centres F
Empowered and confident communities Collaborative, participatory management.

Shared knowledge and best practice.

Community contribution to/voice in landscape scale planning. Well managed land holdings.
Collaborative land use planning and delivery F
Land management partnerships F
Adherence to best practice guidance (e.g. deer management code) F
Residency D
Communities know who manages the land F
We value and enjoy our built and natural environment and protect it and enhance it for future generations. We reduce the local and global environmental impact of our consumption and production. Environmental enhancement Public benefits from sustainable ecosystems Integrated management planning.

Provision of ecosystem services.
Water quality (rivers /lochs / coast /estuaries) - changing status and quality (at least good) D
Soil quality - peatland location S
Flood management schemes S
Enhanced biodiversity Growth in areas of land of high biodiversity quality (improved habitat condition and/or healthy species).

Growth in areas with protected habitats and species present.
Change in areas of land designated as relevant protected areas e.g. Sites of Special Scientific Interest (biological type), Special Areas of Conservation, other habitats and species data S
Agri-environment schemes D
Increase in extent of Biodiversity Action Plan habitats D
Contribution to climate change mitigation Increased woodland planting

Increased carbon storage potential.

Increased renewable activity
New woodland planting S
Renewable energy schemes S
Protection of carbon storing landscapes S

Other Factors Framework

Alongside the factors that influence land ownership decisions there are a wide range of other factors that may have influenced development pathway of the case studies. A framework of 'other factors' that influence local social, economic and environmental outcomes could have been based along the same three sustainability dimensions. However, adapting the approach taken by Miller et al. (2009) to identify drivers of land use change was considered more appropriate for this study, if only because the Scottish Government can control or influence some factors (e.g. policy) much more than others (e.g. labour prices, technology). Miller, et al. categorised 38 identified drivers of change into eight thematic groups:

  • Environmental: e.g. climate change, water quality, soil quality
  • Demographic: e.g. migration, consumer preferences
  • Economic: e.g. prices, labour market [sic], transport, housing
  • Technological factors: e.g. technological changes, improved varieties
  • Policy and institutional objectives: e.g. living standards, water quality
  • Policy and institutional frameworks: e.g. international obligations
  • Policy and institutional instruments: e.g. grants/subsidies, regulations
  • Cultural and social: e.g. public [ sic], land manager [ sic], heritage

The research team considered the wide range of factors that can influence the outcomes to be examined in the case studies and developed the following 'other factors framework':

  1. 1.Geographic: including peripherality/remoteness, land capability, land-cover, settlement pattern, climate, environment, etc.
  2. 2.Infrastructure and technology: including mechanisation (e.g. in land management) and infrastructure/communication improvements, etc.
  3. 3.Economic: i.e. market prices and conditions (e.g. supply, demand, 'thinness') for e.g. labour and capital, fuel, tourism, etc.
  4. 4.Policy: both support and regulation including those for agriculture, forestry, wider rural businesses, rural housing, the environment and energy, as well as income and business taxation.
  5. 5.Social and demography: including demographic (though several of the above factors will influence migration), cultural (both "local" and general, e.g. heritage, consumer/preferences), political (e.g. local government arrangements, locations and practices) and ownership motivations and attitudes (e.g. passive vs. active, resident vs. absentee owners).

These factors, fully detailed in Table 5, are generally not mutually exclusive in that they often relate to more than one other factor including, in many cases, factors influencing land ownership decisions.

Table 5 Other Factors Framework

Section Type Factor Potential Impact on Outcomes
Economic Diversification Business diversification The extent of business diversification in local economy affects local outcomes through creating employment variety, building economic resilience, improving gross added value from local products, attract visitors, etc. The extent of such diversification is likely to be linked to many factors, including available support (grants), finance (banks, asset value growth facilitating borrowing), scale enabling greater borrowing potential, scale offering additionality to project, realisable local opportunities, etc.
Diversification Leisure and tourism opportunities Opportunity for diversification, particularly in tourism, leisure and recreation are often location specific with the area's amenity, culture, heritage, attractions, etc. being the catalyst for bringing visitors to an area from which business piggybacking can occur. Some estates may have final destination attractions (castles) etc. Much of the success of tourism business is associated with internationalisation and improved accessibility through infrastructure developments. Where these opportunities exist the local outcomes will be affected, particularly if local accommodation providers (hotels, bed and breakfast, etc.) can capture trade.
Diversification Entrepreneurialism - other diversification opportunities The entrepreneurial nature and opportunity for local businesses (particularly landed businesses) will clearly affect local outcomes (e.g. Rothiemurchus estate, Laggan Outdoor). With tourism ventures location is paramount but for manufacturing (food, products, etc.) location may be less important where a market niche has been identified (e.g. Cream o' Galloway ice-cream). Sometimes place is important in product identity - and often effective infrastructures to enable modern business (internet, roads) are essential for success. These ventures can have significant impacts on local outcomes through employment, increased local visitors, etc. New business developments are often reliant on appropriate development approvals, the process of which some claim act as a barrier to development.
Workforce Labour Supply Local labour supply is intrinsically linked to outcomes - i.e. without an appropriately skilled labour force the outcomes will be significantly different. This is linked with local demographic change, mechanisation, etc. but also to 'pull' factors through opportunities elsewhere (e.g. urban areas).
General / Local Economy Household incomes General household incomes have increased significantly over the timeframe of the study and households have much greater disposable income to spend on non-essential items that may affect local outcomes than early in the last century. There are issues over high levels of fuel poverty in many rural areas (Skerratt, et al, 2014), but others have seen general incomes rise as result of commuting or regional economic success (e.g. Aberdeenshire and Shetland through the oil and gas sector). Higher incomes has meant that cars etc. have become more affordable meaning that access to urban centres, etc. is easier - this may negatively impact on local services such as shops and garages - and undoubtedly leads to housing pressure.
Landowner finance External source of funds Personal motivations can lead some landowners to utilise external funding sources to subsidise land management activities / land ownership activities, especially sporting and conservation. The performance of the stock market can have a bearing on external sources of finance for many land holdings that may influence investment / employment decisions on estates. .Any changes in the access to external funds (stock market crash/business decline/bankruptcy, etc.) or changes to motivations can affect the outcomes delivered.
Asset Value Land price Inflation Public support paid to landed businesses ( CAP, forestry, renewable energy, etc.) is capitalised into land values as financial returns accrue from that land that otherwise would not (Swinnen, et al., 2008). This, along with tax breaks can lead to inflated land values particularly if the land is attractive (as residency, investment, lifestyle, etc.) to non-farming investors and / or to other local expanding landed businesses. The continued rise in land values has the effect of (a) limiting who can afford to purchase farmland / housing plots, etc. thereby affecting local outcomes, and (b) increasing the capital worth of existing landed businesses that may have greater collateral with which to borrow funds that may be reinvested into the business, or creating diversified enterprises, etc. thereby impacting in local outcomes.
Multipliers Local economic leakage The purchasing behaviour of landed (and other) businesses is likely to have an impact on local outcomes. Where local product/service providers are preferred by land holdings there will likely be greater local multiplier effects compared to businesses that have less or no local purchasing priority. The extent of leakage from primary transactions (and subsequent supplier purchases - upstream) will play a role in the social and economic outcomes achieved locally.
Market Prices Volatility Market prices and their fluctuations can have a bearing on local outcomes as businesses adapt to market signals e.g. the pig sector has historically been 'boom and bust', and; the forestry sector is heavily influenced by timber prices in stimulating employment and business opportunities).
Geographic Location Accessibility The peripherality or accessibility (distance and travel time - including public transport) of local areas to key population centres will affect local outcomes, particularly in terms of demographic structures, but also in access to services, job markets, etc. that impinges on local outcomes. This may have changed over time through infrastructural and technological developments as well as economic factors such as the relative cost of fuel and food (compared to household incomes) in rural areas.
Historic Land Use Land cover / improvement Historic land cover / use may have a strong influence on current land use thereby affecting local outcomes. This may particularly be the case in woodland areas (particularly ancient / amenity woods) but also in terms of unimproved grazings, bogs and wetlands (e.g. there were historic grant schemes available to improve marginal land, to drain wetlands and to install hill drainage). These historic actions can therefore impact on local agricultural and environmental outcomes..
Centres Public service locations The historic location of local government delivery centres (e.g. district council headquarters) may have a long lasting impact on local outcomes through employment provision and managerial positions (and therefore local household income).
Environment Climate and environment Environmental and climatic conditions differ by locality and can clearly impinge on local outcomes (tree/crop growth, livestock numbers, tourism opportunities, housing, etc.).
Land Capability Land capability for agriculture The biophysical capability of land will clearly affect land use decisions and therefore economic potential from the land that will affect local outcomes, particularly land use decisions (and therefore social and economic opportunities). The opportunity cost of the land (i.e. the next best alternative) is important - likely very low on some hill land and is likely to require public support payments to make alternatives viable.
Infrastructure and Technology Infrastructure Road / rail / piers The development of local infrastructure can have a significant bearing on the outcomes. For example, road improvements may make communities more accessible to commuters, second home owners and tourism and recreation visitors, and thus impact on local outcomes. Equally, transport infrastructure improvements have helped more remote businesses access markets / or clients' access to them. Improved road and ferry networks have also eased the extraction of timber / livestock from many relatively inaccessible places. The rail network has shrunk considerably since the Beeching report of 1963, and closures of local lines and stations mean that some communities may have been negatively affected, therefore impacting on local outcomes. The Scottish Government's commitment to infrastructure projects like the Borders Railway, dualling of the A9, Campbeltown pier, etc. is based on the expectation that it will stimulate economic development, employment, housing demand, etc. thereby impacting on local outcomes.
Infrastructure Business parks The location of government-funded business parks / units may impact on local outcomes as these provide opportunities for business development, income generation, employment and growth. The choice of location will be largely influenced by local demand but may also be due to the availability of development land and infrastructure. Development of business parks is reliant on appropriate development approvals and more likely need to be included within the local plan - a pre-condition some claim act as a barrier to appropriate development
Infrastructure Business premises Availability of business premises (public or private) is likely to affect diversity in the economy and may impact on demography (employment / youth retention, etc.)
Infrastructure Broadband / mobile In recent years increasing importance has been placed on mobile and internet connectivity, which can affect local outcomes through, for example, relocation of businesses, creating social and business opportunities (e.g. people may be attracted to an area due to the local amenity but they conduct their business remotely)
Infrastructure Housing Lack of affordable housing can be a problem in some areas and can act as a barrier to development through its impact on the local labour market. This housing issue is often related to land availability, local planning implementation and general economic development of an area (i.e. that can stimulate demand for housing). Second home owners competing for local housing stock may have limited economic impact on the local area. Some landowners will provide housing stock for local residents, whereas others may opt to use such stock solely for staff (tied housing), leave vacant, or lease out for tourism visits. Each of these housing issues affects local outcomes.
Land management Technology development Technological developments have reduced the labour requirement for many landed businesses (e.g. tractors vs. ploughman in farming; harvesters vs. sawmen in forestry; off-road vehicles vs. ponymen in estate management). These clearly affect local outcomes through reduced employment (and associated multipliers) and possibly environmental impact through use of ever-larger and potentially more damaging machinery.
Services Transport Accessibility and cost of transport are the key issues for rural areas and greater distance and less frequent public transport mean that there is higher reliance on private car ownership and greater proportion of disposable income spent on transport. Transportation issues can impact on labour mobility and therefore business locations and ultimately local outcomes.
Services Education Local schools are important for the maintenance of a vibrant young population. Local school closures (particularly primary schools) have often been part of a 'cycle of decline' were low pupil numbers (a result of demographic change) led to school closure, which in turn made the community less attractive to potential economically active in-migrants with children - thus exacerbating the situation. School availability can therefore have major impacts on local social outcomes.
Services Health care Local doctors,, dental practices and pharmacies play an important role in maintaining vibrant communities. Reduction or closure of these services may be due to a combination of a number of factors including declining populations and improved accessibility of towns and urban centres. Lack of these services can make an area less attractive to in-migrants, particularly young families and the elderly. Healthcare access can therefore affect local social outcomes.
Services Shops, post offices, banks, community facilities, pubs, etc. The provision of local services affects the vibrancy of local communities and therefore outcomes. The social cohesion of communities is often affected by facilities that foster local people meeting each other, whether through shopping or attending events in community facilities etc. In much of rural Scotland there has been a gradual decline in the provision of many of these facilities (often because of improved accessibility of larger villages and towns) affecting local social outcomes.
Policy Support payments Agricultural, forestry and environmental support The amount of CAP support (including agri-environment payments, investment in holdings grants, etc.) historically going into a region will undoubtedly have influenced outcomes. The amount of forestry and agri-environmental support (fencing, ground works, planting, etc.) and investment in holdings (buildings, fencing, roads, drainage, etc. ) have the effect of creating work for local contractors / suppliers and associated multiplier effects that undoubtedly impact on local outcomes. Agricultural support has undoubtedly made it harder for new entrants to the sector to purchase land due to inflated land values and access to support meaning when land has been sold often neighbouring farmers (with substantial capital resources) will take the 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity to expand their farm business. Decoupling of agricultural support and the reality of market forces in the last 20 years has seen changes to the scale and structure of some farm businesses (particularly in hill and upland areas where sheep and cattle numbers have declined and non-replacement of retired farm workers) affecting local outcomes. The future CAP will see greater redistribution of CAP support, and this will undoubtedly lead to further change - some of which is already starting to have an impact.
Regulation Business regulations Businesses are heavily regulated in their activities, particularly those that may impact on: (a) the environment; (b) climate change; (c) health and safety; (d) animal welfare. These clearly impact on local outcomes, particularly in relation to permitted management activities (e.g. in designated areas) - some of these regulations can be thought of as restrictive to land managers that may affect local outcomes. The blend of regulation with policy support (e.g. business rates relief) and other socio-economic factors could have a major bearing on locally delivered outcomes.
Investment Renewable energy The advent of Renewable Obligation Certificates and the Feed In Tariff scheme has seen the renewable sector prosper in Scotland, bringing good economic returns to investment and short payback periods. Landowners are most likely to have benefited from these schemes - and larger landowners are likely to have benefited from larger installations. Anecdotal evidence suggests that third-party (large-scale) energy companies prefer to deal with individual businesses rather than groups of disparate landowners meaning that scale may indeed affect local outcomes. The revenue streams / cost savings may have a bearing on outcomes via the reinvestment into other aspects of land management, but the future of such incentives is a political decision and there have already been major revisions to the payment rates available.
State land / national industries Government owned land Outcomes in some rural areas are / were affected by state owned ventures (e.g. by the Forestry Commission). The Government's investment in afforestation in Scotland during the 1920s-1970s saw the rise of many small communities (forestry housing) as people were employed to establish and manage the national forest. These impacted on local outcomes in some communities, though reducing some agricultural opportunities. The reduction in the Forestry Commission workforce may have affected local outputs (employment / incomes) but the remaining housing stock is a legacy, even if a proportion is used for second / holiday homes etc. SNH and Ministry of Defence estates still maintain jobs in some local areas.
Fiscal Policy Tax incentives 'Sideways Loss Relief' provides an opportunity to offset profits made elsewhere against losses in agriculture (or vice versa) providing that the farm made a profit in the previous 5 years (a large incentive for 'lifestyle' farmers). Agricultural Property Relief on Inheritance Tax has reduced the requirement to sell off parts of land to pay tax bills on succession, and has also acted as an attractant to outside investors into land. Similarly, Rollover Relief on the Capital Gains Tax can lead to reinvestment into holdings that otherwise may not have happened. The income tax treatment of forestry until 1988 allowed owners effectively to switch between two bases of taxation. 'Schedule B' was most advantageous when woodland was generating revenue from timber sales as it taxed woodland income on the basis of modest annual values, whereas 'Schedule D' was more advantageous during periods of expenditure because it allowed claims for loss relief on planting and other management expenditure. The resulting losses could be set off against any other income (loss relief). This led to significant investment into forestry land purchase and plantation during the 1980s.
State land / national industries National industries Outcomes in some rural areas have been affected by 'national' industries (e.g. coal mining, energy) and their changing fortunes over time. Many central belt and southern villages were significantly affected by mine closures that still impact on local outcomes today (structural unemployment, poverty, poor health, lack of social cohesion, etc.). The closure of Dounreay will likely have led to changing social and economic fortunes of the surrounding communities (brain / wealth drain) although that will be partially offset by the lengthy decommissioning process. For many workers location is a critical factor (e.g. how close are alternative employment opportunities if closure / downscaling).
Land-use-planning Environmental / heritage designations The importance of environmental designations has grown in the last 30 - 40 years ( SSSI, SAC, SPA, Ramsar, etc.) and these can impact on economic outcomes by restricting activities and developments. Some designations (e.g. National Park, NNR) may relate to the beauty of the area as well as to nature and this may, whilst posing some restrictions on activities may act as an attractant to recreationalists and tourists. Similarly, historic/heritage designations (Ancient Woodlands / Listed Buildings / Historic Sites / World Heritage Sites, etc.) may restrict development activities but may offer business opportunities through tourism.
Land-use-planning Local development planning Local development plans drawn up by Local Authorities aim to protect sensitive areas and mark out land (green and brownfield) that is earmarked for development in all settlements (business development and housing development). These plans can therefore impact on outcomes of local areas - and are often an indication of the vibrancy of a local village (i.e. expansion of development requirements - or its stagnation).
Land-use-planning Planning permission industrial / housing development Regulations may act as a barrier to achievement of local outcomes if planning permission is considered a significant barrier to business (diversification of the rural economy) and housing development. Scale of ownership may provide a greater asset base and more stable platform with which to take development / business risks. Business and housing development may lead to marginal fragmentation of ownership and clearly can affect local outcomes through job opportunities and housing stock.
Social and Demography Demography Demographic patterns Changing demographic pattern will in part be related to peripherality, with population decline still occurring in remote rural areas of Scotland and counter-urbanisation occurring in more accessible. This is undoubtedly linked to local and accessible economic opportunities, service provision, infrastructure, etc. in the "commuter belt.
Demography Migration The relative proportion of in-migrants in an area may impact on the relationship of the local community with the land (i.e. if the connections to farming, forestry and estate work are lost through generations of change in landed activities). In-migration may occur in accessible locations, in high-amenity areas, etc. In-migrants may put pressure on local housing stock / lead to demand for new housing stock supply / development. Out-migrants may be former farm / estate / forestry workers that were closely connected to the land and community, and their loss may impact on community cohesion and therefore local outcomes.
Motivations Owner residency Resident owners may lead to different outcomes from absentee owners.
Motivations Factor residency Resident factors may lead to different local outcomes from third party factors (agents) that are not connected with the local community.
Technology General households Technological developments have made the lives of rural households more comfortable - fridges/freezers meaning that food purchases can be less frequent; computers / television / internet meaning that social interactions are less restricted; cars improving accessibility; and central heating and insulation meaning less reliance on solid fuel.
Motivations Landowners Landowners have many different motivations for ownership of land, and these will undoubtedly influence outcomes over time (e.g. landowners with sporting and amenity motivations for ownership may have entirely different management and control methods compared to landowners who are driven by business motivations or those driven by environmental motivations).
Political Community aspirations Local politics (democracy) and community aspirations may affect local outcomes to varying degrees. Active communities may be responsible for the achievement of certain local outcomes (social cohesion, sense of wellbeing, provision of community facilities, etc.) despite land ownership scale, management or motivations. This may, over time, lead to community ownership of certain assets, or to agreements with local landowners over access to resources for community development.
Culture Local Culture Local culture may play an important role in delivering outcomes particularly when there is a link to tourism (e.g. Ayrshire and Burns, Speyside and Whisky, west coast / Gaelic and crofting, etc.).that
Motivations / Amenity Second and holiday homes The proportion of housing stock that is vacant or used as second homes / holiday lets can have a bearing on local outcomes. In areas of high vacant/second/let housing stock, there may be / have been pressures on local housing supply and local families may be squeezed out of the market (meaning that they may have to leave).


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