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RuralScot An independent publication from brandscotland.com


Who owns Scotland? We might be about to find out

Are you ready? (for the Royal Highland Show)


Distributed with The Times Scotland

The Royal Highland Show - special focus


Feed the world use a drone!

23 June 2016


Scotland’s top young farmers




RuralScot RuralScot is an independent publication by BrandScotland.

23 June 2016 The Crown Estate and Moredun Research Institute are holding a series of animal health roadshow events to increase awareness of current animal diseases



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The Crown Estate’s Scotland Portfolio Taking a partnership approach to land management BY ANDY WELLS The Crown Estate’s Scotland Portfolio manages a diverse portfolio which includes four rural estates, mineral and salmon fishing rights, approximately half the foreshore and almost the entire seabed. We make sure that the land and property we invest in and manage are sustainably worked, developed and enjoyed to deliver the best value over the long term. As a responsible, commercial land manager, with a capital value of £261m, we have driven the development of a locally focused, partnership approach to land use management on our rural estates. For many years now we have carried out activities that create and strengthen relationships in local communities, and diversify the local economy, allowing us to manage our land holdings in a sustainable way. THE SCOTLAND ACT 2016 provides

for the transfer of our management functions to the Scottish Government and we’re now working closely with government colleagues to ensure a

swift and smooth transfer whilst maintaining our high standards of customer service and asset management. THE CROWN ESTATE is pleased to partner with the Moredun Research Institute to support our farming tenants and bring long-term benefits to our estates. Together, we are holding a series of animal health roadshow events across the UK to increase awareness of current animal diseases impacting on productivity. We are also supporting the production of an information sheet and poster by Moredun to raise awareness among farmers and help them manage farm biosecurity, helping improve farm productivity and minimise animal suffering from disease. Given the threats to our agricultural industry from parasites and disease, this is an important area for promoting good practice and understanding the practical actions farmers can take to help protect their livestock. With the future in mind, we take an active approach to asset management, looking to invest where it makes sense

for the long term, providing new opportunities and working to improve the viability of our farming tenants. This is why we recently brought Den Farm at Spey Bay, Moray, to the open market for rent, providing a great opportunity for a new tenant to work with us. The 10-year Limited Duration Tenancy (LDT) tenancy has been successfully let to a local farmer who is looking to expand their business and improve the unit long-term. We have found that taking a partnership approach leads to more sustainable and meaningful decisionmaking. Building relationships with our tenants, customers and stakeholders enables us to share our knowledge and expertise for mutual benefit. This is why we are continuing to listen to and work with our tenants, customers and business partners to drive local partnerships on our estates. For more information about our business activity please contact us on 0131 260 6070 or visit www.thecrownestate. co.uk/our-business/in-scotland/

“The Crown Estate is working with the Moredun Research Institute to support its farming tenants and bring long term benefits to its estates”


23 June 2016



The objective of moving to a single system of land and property registration is to create a ‘national asset’ for Scotland

Who owns Scotland? It’s a question that is often posed and has been, until now, difficult to answer with certainty BY CHARLES KEEGAN Head of Land Register Completion, Registers of Scotland The question of who owns Scotland is the subject of much debate. And when your land is your livelihood, knowing exactly what you own – and having your ownership recognised and guaranteed – is of crucial importance. Scotland is in the process of moving to a single system of land and property registration, with work underway to complete the Land Register of Scotland. This digital register will deliver a complete picture of land ownership across Scotland, and will provide

owners with clarity and security of ownership. Owners of larger landholdings, including farms, are being encouraged to submit voluntary applications to the land register, and are currently being offered guidance on the registration process. The voluntary registration fee has been reduced by 25 per cent until at least next year. LAND AND property ownership in

Scotland is recorded on one of two public registers. The deeds-based General Register of Sasines dates back to 1617, making it the oldest national land register in the world and the Land Register of Scotland is a digital, map-based register. Since the land register was established in 1981 land and property has been gradually transferring over from the sasine register. For owners of land, the land register will clarify exact boundaries, ironing

out any uncertainties between neighbouring properties. It will make future land transactions easier, faster and cheaper and titles on the land register are protected by a state-backed warranty. Scottish Ministers have invited Registers of Scotland to complete the land register by 2024, with a target of getting all public land registered by 2019. At present, 60 per cent of titles, relating to about 29 per cent of Scotland’s land area, are on the land register. Until recently, property titles generally moved onto the land register only when they changed hands. But this change of ownership ‘trigger’ is not enough on its own to complete the land register in the desired timeframe. So Registers of Scotland is using a series of new mechanisms to move titles onto the register. In addition to the change of ownership trigger, taking out new or addi-

tional borrowing with a new lender on a property on the sasine register now triggers a move to the land register. Registers of Scotland (RoS) will also move hundreds of thousands of titles to the land register using new ‘Keeperinduced registration’ (KIR) powers, which allows property to be registered by RoS without an application from the owner. Initially, this approach will only be used in urban residential areas such as private housing estates where RoS already hold a lot of information. RURAL LANDHOLDINGS are often much more complicated than residential property and so are not suited to KIR. Landowners of complex titles are the experts on what they own and submitting voluntary applications to the land register is a more sensible route. Registers of Scotland has set up a team of dedicated advisors who can provide landowners with information

Avoiding discrepancies

Buccleuch’s Eckford Estate

Digitisation will provide an easy reference point

Buccleuch has registered the 3,000 acre Eckford Estate near Kelso on the land register.

BY JAMIE WILLIAMSON Laird of Alvie and Dalraddy Estates and former President of RHASS Voluntary registration of land title is very important for us. Historically, our land wasn’t mapped and so there have been discrepancies with our neighbours’ titles. If it’s on the land register then it’s all on a digital mapping system forever that can be easily referenced. Registers of Scotland has helped me in particular where land has been sold

but what’s been put on the register didn’t match up with the boundary fences and they’ve been helpful in telling us how to resolve this. They’ve shown us how to access the sasine register and in our case we’ve been able to go back so we then know what is recorded and how we can deal with it going forward which has been a great help. A completed land register for Scotland will make it easier to buy and sell land and will be very helpful in any future transactions or tenancies and it also means that anyone can look up who owns which piece of land across Scotland.

BY ANDREW BROUGH Head of Rural Property at Buccleuch In total, Buccleuch has approximately 240,000 acres across the UK, of which about 230,000 is in Scotland. Our aim is to register the entire Scottish estate, but to start with we thought we’d do a

pilot test on Eckford. We wholeheartedly support the Scottish government’s objective of getting all land within Scotland onto the land register. It’s of key importance to us as a land-based business that we know what we own, and what interests other people have across our ground. Working with Registers of Scotland, straight away there was a team ethos. We’ve found that voluntary registration has been great to do. It gives us confidence in our ownership, and it allows us, going forward, to make business decisions using much better information. We’ve given ourselves a five-year

on voluntary registration, and start them on the road to submitting their applications to the land register. New products and services have been introduced including the plans assistance service which can interpret complex sasines deeds and ensure applications meet the mapping requirements for registration. A completed land register will be a national asset for Scotland. For owners, there is no better way to safeguard land and property ownership than a title on the land register. Find out more about moving to the land register: Come to the Registers of Scotland seminar in the Scottish Government pavilion at the Royal Highland Show on Friday 24th June at 9am visit ros.gov.uk/lrc email LRCompletion@ros.gov.uk

Buccleuch staff appreciated the team ethos when working with RoS timespan to voluntarily register all of the Buccleuch estate, which we think is ambitious, but we think we can do it. The key thing for us will be transparency of ownership. We’ll be able to show the people of Scotland what we’ve got, and what we do with it.




23 June 2016

The great land reform debate In the wake of the Panama Papers revelations and the Scottish Government’s long-standing attempts to make land ownership more transparent, two of Scotland’s leading voices go head to head on a subject that has divided opinion

By Andy Wightman

Land Reform spokesperson, Scottish Green Party, and author of The Poor Had No Lawyers The establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 opened the possibility to land reform for the simple reason that for the first time ever Scotland’s land laws would be enacted by a democratic parliament of the Scottish people. Good work was undertaken by the Parliament in those early days with the abolition of feudal tenure, the right of responsible access, modernisation of the law around tenements and the enactment of a community right to buy land. Land reform is about changing the legal, political and fiscal relationship between society and land. Despite those early achievements, the momentum began to wane and it wasn’t until the establishment of the Land Reform Review Group in 2012 that the debate was re-ignited. The Group’s final report provided the template for the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016. One of its most significant provisions is the establishment of a Scottish Land Commission. It will help to keep a wide range of land matters under review and facilitate ongoing scrutiny of important topics such as land information, taxation, human rights and land use policy. I HAVE BEEN campaigning for radical land reform all of my adult life and so I am delighted to have been elected to Parliament to assist the many other MSPs across the political spectrum who want to see Scotland’s land reform journey continue. In this new Parliament, all political parties are minorities and the initiative is in the hands of anyone who can develop, promote and secure agreement to take the next steps on the way to comprehensive land reform. The next year or so will be domi-

nated by the various bits of secondary legislation necessary to implement the 2016 Land Reform Act and by the establishment of the Scottish Land Commission which is to be up and running by April 2017. But already a list of topics is emerging where there is an appetite for further progress. For example, the Land Settlement Act 1919 remains law but hasn’t been used for 50 years and is out of date. Modernisation could provide a mechanism for resettlement of the land by families and communities across Scotland including in and around cities as part of efforts to boost local food production. Housing is an area where land reform could be very helpful. For example, land could be made cheaper for new housing by allowing local councils to buy it at existing use value rather than the inflated value that arises following the granting of planning permission. This approach, still followed in Germany, would allow for more affordable and higher quality housing led by local people rather than developers. Transparency of land information is also vital and more work is needed to complete the Land Register, to make it freely and easily available to users, and to end the secrecy surrounding offshore companies. Taxation also needs a comprehensive shake-up. Reform here has been ad-hoc. The SNP and Tories are committed to continuing the council tax, the non-domestic rating system is to be reviewed by a former banker and the re-introduction of sporting rates is scheduled for 2017. There is an opportunity here to ensure that all land pays its fair share of local rates and that we move towards a comprehensive system of land value taxation. MANY OTHER topics require scrutiny. Compulsory purchase law is being reviewed by the Scottish Law Commission, the Crown Estate is being devolved, crofting law is coming under renewed strain following the suspension of grazing committees on Lewis and common good law governing common land in Scotland’s former burghs is clearly no longer fit for purpose. I look forward to discussing these and many other questions with MSPs from all political parties with a view to building support for a further Land Reform Act within the lifetime of this Parliament. There is a progressive alliance to be formed with Labour, Greens, Liberal Democrats and SNP. We should be bold and ambitious and so too should communities across Scotland. There is a real prospect of taking land reform forward in new and exciting directions and I look forward to being part of that effort.

By David Johnstone Chairman of Scottish Land & Estates

With the Royal Highland Show now upon us, there will be no shortage of topical rural issues for those gathering around the showground to discuss and debate over the course of the weekend. From the fiasco of the Basic Payment Scheme to the vote on the EU referendum, the result of which will become clear during the show, there is plenty to digest for those of us who live and work in the countryside. This is also the first Royal Highland Show to take place since the Land Reform (Scotland) Act received Royal Assent in May after a short journey through the Scottish Parliament. Whilst we are still some way from much of that legislation coming into effect, land-based businesses and landowners now at least have a degree of certainty as to the direction of travel. There is much within the Land Reform Act that Scottish Land & Estates’ members have supported. The drive to increase transparency of ownership, contained within Part 3 of the legislation, builds on our own pledge to improve transparency and visibility of ownership which formed part of our Landowners’ Commitment published in 2014. This pledge sits alongside the ongoing work to complete Scotland’s land register, which has been fully supported by land businesses of all sizes including one of the largest, Buccleuch, which published an update on

its journey towards full registration of its Scottish landholdings earlier this month. However, during the passage of the Bill there was undoubtedly a feeling amongst landowners at times that land reform became an ideological pursuit in the name of politics rather than a process aimed at achieving the best possible outcome for our rural communities and economies. All too often opposition to private or large-scale ownership – rather than how land is and can be used productively – was at the forefront of discussions. In the near future, we will see a right to buy land in order to further ‘sustainable development’ introduced. We have been fully supportive of community ownership of land on a willing seller basis; indeed, we have recently launched a new protocol for the negotiated sales of land to a community. There is clearly unease, however, that the new Act could lead to productive land being sold off against an owner’s will. We believe the new legislation does not have sufficient safeguards for land-based companies that are going about their business in a responsible manner and delivering a range of public benefits. Any purchase made outside of a willing seller-willing buyer basis will create worries not only for our membership, but for landowners of all sizes and types across the whole of rural and urban Scotland. Similarly, we do not believe the case was made for the re-introduction of sporting rates. Whilst it was lauded as a move to get sporting estates paying their taxes, the reality is that rates will have to be applied to all land where sporting rights exist, affecting people across Scotland. OTHER BUSINESSES, such as agricultural units and fishings, are exempt from rates and sporting enterprises were given the same status due to the rural employment that they supported. The case for this assistance does not seem to have changed in the intervening 20 years since it was introduced. It is difficult therefore to see this as anything other than driven by an antilandowner, anti-field sports agenda, despite the Scottish Government’s claimed support for the sector. There is little doubt that landowners feel that the parliamentary process around land reform could have been handled in a better manner. For a start, the legislative process was far too rushed. However, there is a recogni-

tion that the political landscape has changed and as land-based businesses are only too well aware, we cannot stand still and bleat about our lot. We need to embrace the future, and where necessary make changes to continue to play a relevant and valuable part in a modern Scotland. At Scottish Land & Estates’ recent spring conference, which was addressed by the new Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, there was a clear acknowledgment that we are in a new era of landownership. Landowners also made clear their desire to establish a new rural concord – a fresh start in which government, community bodies and landowners work together in a spirit of renewed co-operation. There are those who – for their own ideological reasons – characterise landowners and estates as arrogant dinosaurs implacably opposed to change and hopelessly out of touch. However, that small but noisy lobby do not begin their campaign on the basis of estates needing to modernise; they start it from their position of opposition to the very existence of estates. Given this is the case, there is an onus on landowners to ensure that we do not contribute to the stereotyped image that opponents wish to perpetuate. Instead, we need to develop a better climate of co-operation which could bring about a host of benefits for communities across Scotland. For our part, there are a number of steps that we will look to take to demonstrate our willingness to be enthusiastic partners for change. In particular, we need to show and develop a step change in community engagement – not just around local planning applications and such like – but open and regular dialogue through which contrastive relationships can be developed and the aspirations of communities are recognised and understood. If we are able to achieve this, then I hope land businesses will be in a better position to have their contribution recognised in future years. We know that land reform is likely to be an ongoing conversation – the challenge for landowners is to ensure that our valuable voice continues to be heard in that dialogue.


23 June 2016



Landowners urged to proactively register holdings under new mapping system The Voluntary Registration scheme allows “greater control” over new digital process, says leading Scottish law firm BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN A leading solicitor has urged landowners to proactively register their land under a new, more transparent system of ownership because they will have “greater control” over the process. John Mitchell, a Partner in Scottish law firm Anderson Strathern, says there has been a sharp uplift in clients coming to the firm to register title under the Voluntary Registration scheme. The system – which is in its second year of operation – was established by the Scottish Government to digitise the process of land registration and make it more accessible to the public. Previously, records were kept in either the written Land Register, created in 1981, or the ancient General Register of the Sasines, which dates back to the 17th century. Under the new map-based land register, it will be much easier to look up who owns land and is part of wider government transparency aims to deter certain practices such as the offshoring of assets for tax purposes, as highlighted by the recent online leak of

the Panama Papers. Mitchell, who leads the Rural Land and Business team at Anderson Strathern, explains: “It has always been a political objective of the SNP-led Scottish Government to have transparency over land ownership, and with this legislation which has been brought forward, one will know who is the beneficial owner behind a landowner.” The Voluntary Registration scheme, being carried out under the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 2012, will attract a 25 per cent discount on application fees until next year, and will run until 2024. After the voluntary period expires any remaining unregistered land assets are likely to fall under a compulsory registration scheme, leaving land owners with less control over the process. “Under ‘keeper-induced registration’, land will be mapped to the same standard but if one goes voluntarily the landowner, through their solicitor, has the opportunity to input into the process; if you wait until it is done compulsorily by the keeper, you will not have that same opportunity,”Mitchell adds. Mitchell says the new system, which utilises GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping, has also presented to the firm cases whereby satellite data has conflicted with historical general or written description of land holdings, in terms of ‘overlapping boundaries’, although the firm is yet to see any cases result in court action.

Under the new map-based land register, it will be much easier to look up who owns land

“One may identify boundaries that don’t match exactly and there may be a process of rectification to be gone through,” explains Mitchell. “ At the end of the day it depends on the value and strategic importance of an area of ground. In rural areas there has always been a requirement for boundary straightening exercises.” THE FIRM IS actively working on several tens of thousands of acres of land due to be transferred to planbased land certificates. Despite there being a 10-year period to complete the voluntary scheme, Mitchell says this is an “ambitious” target as only approximately 25 per cent of the Scottish land

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mass was registered between 1979 and 2014; with government intervention it is hoped to complete the remaining 75 per cent by 2024. “Compared to the speed that the task was processed previously this is quite an acceleration,” says Mitchell. He says the end result will mean people will be able to look up who owns land by a title number; currently the process to establish ownership is difficult to do without some understanding of the legal system and title research. Another area of work for the firm, Mitchell adds, is land reform. With the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 receiving Royal Assent in the last session

of the Scottish Parliament and with a Scottish Land Commission due to be established, Mitchell expects a land reform agenda to become “embedded in the process”. Among many forthcoming changes – to be fleshed out by subsidiary regulations – will be expanded rights for a community to buy land, which will see fundamental change to the way holdings are managed. “I think subject to funding being available there will be more community buyouts in Scotland, but funding will be a key issue. The mechanisms are there but the extent of their take-up will depend on a community body’s ability to access funds publicly or elsewhere.”

When you’ve dedicated your life to your farm or estate, naturally you’ll want your legal team to understand rural issues. As the leaders in this area of law, we can help you with all legal aspects of land ownership and use, such as sale and purchase, leasing, dispute resolution, energy projects, succession and tax planning for families and businesses. Over the last 200 years, we’ve worked with many generations of families across Scotland to realise their ambitions. We’d like to help you realise yours. andersonstrathern.co.uk




23 June 2016

Thousands of people will flock to the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston over the next few days

Royal Highland Show celebrates 176th birthday Livestock competition entry numbers up across the board as organisers prepare for “exceptional show” By Nicola Stow The iconic Royal Highland Show will celebrate its 176th birthday when it opens at the Ingliston showground today. Thousands of visitors and exhibitors are expected to flock to the event, which has become the most important date in Scotland’s farming calendar. The four- day extravaganza attracted record numbers of nearly 190,000 people last year, boosting Scotland’s economy to the tune of almost £43 million. And organisers say they are preparing for an “exceptional show” this year.

For the first time in five years the Highland Hall will be full to capacity, housing 1,000 beef and dairy cattle, with Limousin, Hereford and Belted Galloway sections all recording their highest entries since 2007. Royal Highland Show manager, David Jackson, said: “Once again it is clear that the Highland is the place to exhibit, with entries up across the board. “It will be a packed house but we are working hard to ensure that we can cater for as many exhibitors as possible, with changes to the layout of the sheep lines, and continuing to upgrading the showground in a number of areas not least of which is the new livestock flyover. “With this level of entries there is bound to be some keen competition in the judging rings and the grand parades of prize-winning cattle and horses will once again be one of the spectacular sights of the show. “We are very grateful to all of our exhibitors for their continued support

and wish them well in their individual quests to win a prize ticket.” Billed as the biggest celebration of farming, food and country life, the Royal Highland Show is one of Europe’s most impressive rural shop windows, showcasing award-winning livestock and the finest food and drink. It also serves a practical purpose for those working in the agricultural sector, as the trade show gives farmers a chance to look into the industry’s latest technologies and developments. Organised by the charity Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS), the first ever event was held in 1822 at a site in Edinburgh’s Canongate where the Scottish Parliament now stands. The show has been held at the Royal Highland Centre (RHC) adjacent to Edinburgh International Airport since 1960 but was cancelled in 2001 due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Going live: Show streamed by thousands across the world Last year saw the Royal Highland Show launch its first live streaming service, which attracted a global audience of almost 23,000. People from 47 countries tuned in to watch RHS Live – and organisers are hoping to attract even more remote spectators this year. Statistics by Livestream Analytics reveal 22,833 people – some from as far afield as Saudi Arabia, Australia, Finland and Turkey – went online to catch up on the latest agricultural news from Scotland. The majority of views – 21,310 – were made by UK residents. In US, 398 people logged on for the show, compared to just 218 in Ireland.

A further 126 people viewed the event from Australia. According to the statistics, viewers watched for a total of almost 178,000 minutes. Most people – 56 per cent – streamed the show live from a desktop, while 22 percent opted to use a mobile phone and 21 per cent viewed via a tablet. Organisers say RHS Live will be even bigger this year, featuring everything from livestock judging and show jumping to fashion shows, live cooking demonstrations and behindthe-scenes action. Viewers can also join show-related conversations by tweeting to @ScotlandRHShow, using #RHS2016.


23 June 2016



Highlights of this year’s show include:

Livestock Almost 7,000 of the finest cattle, sheep, goats, horses and poultry will be heading to Ingliston. An impressive 1,842 sheep will fill the four large extended marquees located to the north of the showground, which includes an extra livestock facility this year to accommodate the increased numbers of sheep entries.

Countryside area

Food & Drink

With its own loch and stunning landscape, The Countryside area boasts trade stands, demonstrations and events reflecting a wide range of country sports, activities and rural skills. And this year, a family of “high octane” racing terriers will wow crowds with their debut performance. The Ore Country Terriers – featuring a cast of Jack Russell, Border, Patterdale and Beddington dogs – will be showcasing their skills in the Countryside Arena and Rural Skills Marquee Programme. The Ben Potter Birds of Prey Display Team will make a return to the show after a short break last year. In one of the most natural displays of their kind, the magnificent birds will show off what they do best in the countryside surroundings. Meanwhile over at the lochan, Scott MacKenzie’s Casting School will be giving lessons in the traditional art of fly-fishing. The Rural Skills Marquee will

This year sees the return of Larder Live, a live experimental food show, which showcases the diverse range of quality Scottish farmed produce. The Cookery Theatre will have a theatrical element, with chefs being challenged to whip up a dish against the clock. There will be hundreds of products on sale, from Orkney artisan cheese to botanical infused gin from Angus.

Revamped arcade to entice shoppers By Nicola Stow Shoppers will spend more than £8 million at this year’s Royal Highland Show, organisers predict. The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) said the shopping arcade has been revamped to attract more luxury retailers. The biggest brands in countryinspired fashion, including Barbour, Hunter, Fairfax & Favor, Joules and Dubarry, will feature among more than 1,100 trade stands. Two themed bars have also been added to the new “boutique feel” arcade in an attempt to lure more luxury retailers. The first, named the Botanical Garden, will offer a range of artisan Scottish gins, while the Country

Music Bar will feature live bands and the chance to try out line dancing. Show manager David Jackson, said: “The Show is undeniably a destination for the best livestock, the best food and also for the best shopping – we are pulling out all the stops to make sure that this remains. “The investment we’ve made in the 13th Avenue Arcade, and in installing high speed broadband around the showground, illustrates that we are committed to improving facilities year on year for our exhibitors, for whom the show is very important; 38% of our visitors rank shopping as the main reason for visiting and we know that 55% of them spent at least £100 at our trade stands, with 22% of them spending up to £1,000.”

Music showcase specialist rural activities from past and present. The Story of Wool, presented by Highland-based activity company Wild Rose Escapes and the Galgael Trust from Glasgow, will demonstrate the whole process of sorting, scouring, dyeing, carding, felting and weaving wool. Also entertaining the crowds will be the UK’s only extreme unicycle display team, Team Voodoo Unicycles, who wowed audiences at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the London 2012 Olympics.

An eclectic musical line-up has been announced, from pipe bands and celidh vibes to the UK’s top Abba tribute band, Abba Gold, who will take to the West Stage on Saturday. As always, traditional pipes and drums will take pride of place at the show. The Royal British Legion Band (Scotland) and Scots Guards Association Pipe Band will be performing the traditional President’s Salute in the main ring on Sunday afternoon bringing a sense of showmanship and historic tradition to the event.

Show judges announced By Nicola Stow A prestigious line-up of judges has been announced for this year’s Royal Highland Show. A total of 7,000 cattle, sheep, horses, goats and poultry will be judged over the four-day event. The panel of judges features a host of well-known Scottish names, including renowned Simmental breeder Gerald Smith of Drumsleed, Fordoun, Laurencekirk. Smith, a familiar face on the show circuit with his award-winning herd of cattle, will judge the overall beef interbreed and interbreed teams championships. Other beef championship judges include: Michael Robertson of Fodderletter Farms, Tomintoul, for the beef breeder and beef junior championships; Irishman V J Wallace of Trinal-

tinagh House, Garvagh, Londonderry, for the overall beef native interbreed team championship; and James Goldie of Orchard Cottage, Clarencefield, Dumfries, for the interbreed pairs. Beef judges from the north and north-east include James McConachie of Culfoichmore.




23 June 2016

We’ve come a long way since the plough How technology will feed the world and help make it a better place By Keith Christian Director, British Agricultural and Garden Machinery Association (BAGMA) With more than seven billion people living on the planet, feeding them all is becoming an issue and food security now and in the future is an area that is being addressed, in part, by technology. By 2045 it is estimated that there will be more than nine billion people in the world, stretching global resources beyond a manageable limit. We are surrounded by technology that is taken for granted in our everyday lives but is not well understood by many of its users. But how much of it is new and what does the future hold? In 1969 Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon stepping out of the Lunar Module. Technology got him there but today a basic modern calculator (for youngsters that is a thing that looks like a smart phone with buttons and numbers on it but

does not make phone calls or connect to the internet) has more computing power than the Lunar Module or its mother ship Columbia. We are way beyond the technologies that existed back in the 1960s but these technologies have shaped the future of farming and will continue to do so. The challenge is to harness the currently available technology to help meet the ever-increasing demand for food and develop it further to improve performance and productivity. Farming has embraced technology

in most areas with precision and smart farming in both arable and livestock farming. Dairy herds can benefit from fully automated systems that allow cows to decide when they want to be milked and much to the surprise of many they, the cows, decided it should be three times a day. Agriculture is expected to be the biggest market for airborne drones, exceeding usage by the military. Recently there was a lot of news about driverless cars, which all sounded very advanced, but this technology has been used in agricultural machinery for a long time. Massey Fergusson was testing driverless tractors back in

Agricultural drones produced by companies such as German manufacturer Skysense are reshaping the way we do farming the 1980s. Today we have satellite navigation systems, GPS, smartphones, sensors, actuators and laser guidance to name a few bits of technology. We also have combine harvesters that can cut wheat in a straight line within a centimetre’s accuracy and we have the ability to run agricultural vehicles on the land without operators, although this is not allowed in the UK. All of this throws us into a world of

technology that automates many of the seasonal activities on a farm, improving yields, reducing cost and optimising performance. It is not so much a case of what will technology offer in the future but how can we better utilise what we already have. Downtime due to machinery failure at a critical time of the year will inevitably cost in lost profit, but today a tractor or a combine or forage harvester, for instance, can be auto-


For more information and to find your local branch, visit www.nfumutual.co.uk NFU Mutual Financial Advisers advise on NFU Mutual products and selected products from specialist providers. We’ll explain the services we offer and our charges. NFU Mutual is The National Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Society Limited (No. 111982). Registered in England. Registered Office: Tiddington Road, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire CV37 7BJ. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. A member of the Association of British Insurers.

matically monitored by the factory that built it and should there be a problem the driver can receive a call from the factory to advise him of a potential problem or the tractor can self-diagnose and give out its own warning. There is, however, a down side to all this wonderment of technology and that is keeping operators up to speed with the technology. In an industry where the training of a technician can involve a four-year apprenticeship and regular updating by respective manufacturers it is very difficult for those in the education system to keep up themselves and here lies one of the barriers to advancing technology. Training and education in the agricultural machinery industry is paramount to the introduction of new technologies and must be at the forefront of all that is new and helpful in improving our ability to feed the world. What the future holds for technol-

ogy with agricultural machinery remains to be seen but it is clear that what we already have will lead into more autonomous machinery, more robotics with groups of remotely controlled machines under unified control from a central location. The farmer of today is the farmer of the future and will, one day, sit at his or her breakfast table planning and implementing the day’s activities on a screen and may only step out of the house for a breath of fresh air. Maybe they already can do this! Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went to the moon, landed and returned to Earth with barely the computing power of a calculator. It was an incredible achievement. Technology today and in the future will help farmers feed the world. We have to enhance it and use it to provide efficient cost-effective equipment that will help them with what will be another giant leap for mankind.


23 June 2016



Scottish salmon has an enviable reputation - at home and abroad A 10 per cent ‘leap’ in exports shows Scottish salmon is a highly sought after international product By Scott Landsburgh Chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) Scottish farmed salmon graces restaurant tables from Glasgow to Boston, Shanghai to Paris and has won acclaim from international chefs and the Masterchefs of France. This proves a point: when the product is right, the reputation follows. International and domestic interest in Scottish salmon is growing rapidly.

It is a huge accolade for fish farm workers in some of Scotland’s most remote areas that the work they put in rearing high quality salmon is being recognised more and more by experts. In the first quarter of 2016, figures suggest that exports are up 10% following a dip in 2014 due to currency issues. The long-term relationship with France continues as we head towards 2017 and the 25th anniversary of Scottish salmon achieving the French government’s Label Rouge award for quality and taste. In the first three months of 2016, exports to France increased by 13% in volume and an impressive 30% in value. Trade with China and other Far East markets has increased significantly, recording an increase of 112% in value. Demand is high, and our premium brand and product is highly valued. The

Public believe milk should be ‘properly valued’ and farmers paid their fair share Some supermarkets have introduced fair price schemes as shoppers indicate they are willing to pay more By John Armour Food Chains Policy Manager, NFU Scotland I was watching the One Show on BBC One earlier this month when presenter Matt Baker made a passionate plea that we, as a nation, should value milk more than we do. He stated that milk should not be cheaper than water. Of course Matt Baker is from a farming family, and as a past chairman of the English & Welsh Young Farmers he knows the impact that the downturn in commodity markets is having on many hard-working farming families across the UK. Like many of us, I’m often told by friends and colleagues that people are willing to pay more than they do but that price matching between retailers makes it difficult for them to know when their milk purchase actually benefits Scottish farmers. We know that a number of retailers have schemes which ensure that farmers are paid a higher price for their milk. For a number of businesses, this has been important in ensuring that they buck the current milk price downturn. Elsewhere though, Scottish dairy farmers who see their milk used in

the production of butter, cheese and other products, or are reliant on their milk being brokered are finding their milk price skimming the bottom of a deflated market. That is despite the overwhelming public opinion that milk should be properly valued and that farmers should be paid a fair share of the final product. Last month Morrisons launched the latest product in its initiative of giving shoppers the option to pass more money back on to farmers. ‘Cream For Farmers’ allows shoppers to pay 10p more per carton of cream, which will go directly back to farmers. The success of Morrisons’ ‘Milk For Farmers’ initiative demonstrates the desire amongst shoppers to support a sustainable Scottish farming industry and we’d continue to urge shoppers to support farming wherever they can. However, the creation of a two-tier market on own-label products does cause confusion for some. Shouldn’t all milk be ‘Milk For Farmers’? Perhaps the importance of this initiative isn’t that a supermarket has found a novel way to appear to do more for farmers, but that it is actually demonstrating that shoppers are genuinely willing to pay more, even when presented with a choice. We must, as a farming community, show our appreciation of these shoppers. We now know that people are willing to pay more when they know products give a greater (fairer) share back to farmers. We want to see the supply chain learn the lessons from this, not just in milk, but in vegetables, eggs and meat too.

industry understands that the product has to be right to earn the trust and support of buyers and chefs. They demand high quality fish, good welfare standards and traceability and Scottish salmon provides that. Good husbandry and industry expertise set in the pristine waters of Scotland make an unbeatable combination. And the robust standards of production have to stand up to scrutiny. All companies in the organisation are governed by the independently audited Code of Good Practice for Scottish Finfish Aquaculture. This sets out standards of operations for more than 500 compliance points throughout the farming process. Salmon farming is also the largest producer of animal protein to have the RSPCA Assured accreditation.

factfile l Salmon is Scotland’s number one food export, enjoyed in more than 60 countries. l According to research organisation Nielsen, salmon remains the most popular form of seafood among British consumers. They reported that sales in the year to April 23rd 2016 increased by just over six per cent to £873.6 million with fresh salmon accounting for the most of that figure (£762.8 million). However, overall fish sales in the UK dipped

slightly during the same period to £3.1 billion. l Salmon farming invested more than £60million in Scotland in 2015 and directly employs more than 2000 people, mostly in remote, rural areas. l Ongoing investment in equipment and plans for future development like the Marine Harvest fish feed plant in Skye support thousands of additional jobs throughout the supply chain.

l The Scottish Salmon Company and Loch Duart both picked up awards for exports this year. The Scottish Salmon Company was named Exporter of the Year at the Business Insider Made in Scotland Awards for doubling its exports in five years, representing almost 50% of revenue. Loch Duart won Export Team of the Year at this year’s HSBC Scottish Export Awards for its exports to 20 countries worldwide.

Scotland’s Number One Food Export Scottish salmon farming is one of Scotland’s great success stories. At a time when provenance, traceability and quality are becoming ever more valued by retailers and consumers, Scottish salmon is satisfying those demands at home and abroad. With exports to more than 60 countries Scottish salmon is recognised as a premium food, produced responsibly and independently audited against 500 compliance points. Voted by international supermarket buyers as “the best salmon in the world” it’s no wonder that our farm workers are proud to farm Scottish salmon.


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young farmers

23 June 2016

The future of farming in Scotland is bright. Very bright The 10 young leaders forging the way ahead for the rural economy By Kevin O’Sullivan After increasing its membership in each of the last three years, the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs is indisputably an organisation on the up, which is great news for Scotland’s future farmers. With more than 3,500 members and 80 clubs nationwide, the SAYFC has cemented its status as Scotland’s largest rural youth movement and was boosted further in the last year with the opening of five new clubs on the west coast. Open to anyone in Scotland between the age of 14 and 30 (the ranks are made up of farmers, vets and auctioneers as well as, perhaps less traditionally, beauticians, accountants, teachers and doctors), the peer-led network is proving to be a hit with young people seeking important life skills such as public speaking and financial management:

David Barclay East Chairman

David Barclay, 29, lives in Perth and works as an agronomist after completing his degree in Agriculture with Hons in Agronomy from Newcastle University. He believes that the social interaction offered to rural youth via SAYFC is pivotal. He said: “The competitions that we offer and the extensive range of them that are available to our members, from stock judging to all manner of sports through to talent competitions are crucial. All of these events offer members a chance to mix with and meet people from right across Scotland which is something I think we take for granted without thinking about being from a rural area and background.”

Stuart Jamieson National Chairman

during a member consultation 89 per cent felt SAYF provided them with more confidence with one in six stating that Young Farmers helped them secure employment. The clubs are divided into three regions, north, east and west, and there is a National Council which oversees the whole association. A staff team provide ongoing support, and work to develop the opportunities on offer to members as well as raising awareness of SAYFC so more individuals can benefit from the movement. Through their membership, rural youth can take part in competitions and events from rugby, hockey and football to arts and crafts, talent shows, dances, conferences, stock judging and sheep shearing. There is also a very active international programme offering low-cost, safe travel across the world both in groups and individually. Additionally, they offer subsidised or free training in such things as first aid, and have their own Agricultural and Rural Affairs committee who engage with the industry so that their members have a voice on key issues.

David Lawrie East Vice Chairman

David Lawrie, 24, is a dairy farmer after achieving an honours degree in Animal Production Science. He won the United Kingdom’s Ayrshire Young Breeder in 2015 and had the champion Ayrshire at the Royal Highland Show in 2014. He has found friendship an important part of Young Farmers. He said: “No other youth organisation provides the mixture of competitive and social environment. The friends and relationships you make last forever. The association has many traditional competitions such as stock judging and cattle dressing as well as continuing to introduce new ones that interest members.”

Gemma Bruce International Chairman

Gemma Bruce, 25, comes from Udny in Aberdeenshire and has just come back from Tasmania which she travelled to through the SAYFC International Programme. She works as a pharmacist and has a Master of Pharmacy degree. She is keen to encourage rural youth to explore the world. She said: “It is important that members learn from and share their own experiences and culture with other young rural people from around the world. There’s no better way of learning about other cultures than to experience it yourself or to meet the people who live there. Our International Travel programme offers exchanges with other rural youth organisations across the world, and study tours and group trips. Members are also encouraged to host, engage and learn from incoming exchanges.”

Stuart Jamieson, 29, lives in Ellon, Aberdeenshire where he runs his farm after completing a degree at Aberdeen University in agriculture. Stuart took part in the Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership programme which has helped him take more control of his business and explore his individual skills. He is very proud to be part of the association’s 2016 campaign: raising awareness of mental health issues. He said: “One in four people will suffer from poor mental health during their lives. With that in mind we have launched our ‘Are Ewe Okay?’ mental health awareness campaign to try and break down the barriers preventing sufferers talking about their illness, and to assist our members in recognising the symptoms and triggers of poor mental wellbeing.”

Sarah Allison Agri & Rural Affairs Chairman

Sarah Allison, 24, comes from Carnwath in Lanarkshire and works as an agricultural and rural business consultant. She achieved a BSc Hons from SAC for Green Technology and won the RHASS President’s Initiative in 2010. She was also victorious in the Young Advocates for Agriculture National Debating Competition in 2012 and believes young people should have the option to be involved at all levels. She said: “SAYFC is the only organisation in Scotland that tackles both social and economic development in the rural areas. It has a pivotal role in the future success of agriculture in Scotland and has been the birthplace of many industry leaders over the last 78 years. Empowering young people to take control of high-level decisions on the future of the industry is key. Young people’s involvement in policy decisions and representation at high level industry is essential.”

Duncan Morrison Agri & Rural Affairs Vice Chairman

Duncan Morrison, 26, comes from Torphins in Aberdeenshire and is a self-employed new entrant farmer. He has a BSc in agriculture from SAC and has recently established his own suckler herd of cattle. He won the Aberdeen Angus Youth Development Programme in 2014, gaining him a scholarship to New Zealand to study cattle production, and sees strong links with the industry as key to the future. He said: “I am very interested in the association’s agri and rural affairs programme as I feel it is a great link between SAYFC and other stakeholders such as NFU Scotland and Quality Meat Scotland. It also provides a platform for members to express their opinions allowing us to represent rural youth within the industry.”

Lynne Macarthur North Chairman

Lynne Macarthur, 21, comes from Cowdor in Nairn and studied for an HND in agriculture at SRUC. She is a training coordinator for the local machinery ring, and believes the skills gained during her time in SAYFC will be beneficial in the future. She said: “Competitions, both regional and national, are a great way to learn new skills and make new friends; the skills you learn will help you in the future whether personally or within your career.” She added: “SAYFC is a great organisation, with so much to offer for the youth in Scotland.”


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Government grant to help young people with rural skills training

Kim Taylor North Vice Chairman

Suzie Dunn National Vice Chairman/ West Chairman Suzie Dunn, 24, comes from Throsk and studied agriculture at SAC. She works in the service department/ATF station for a haulage company. She believes membership of SAYFC has helped increase her confidence. She said: “The performing and public speaking competitions/elements are what I love the most. When first joining I was very shy with little confidence, but SAYFC gives its members opportunities where you gain key skills, confidence, self-belief and much more which is important for any young person and their future. If you were to join SAYFC I guarantee you would only have one regret – that you didn’t join sooner.”

Kim Taylor, 27, lives in Turriff, Aberdeenshire and is an architect after completing her Masters at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. She has a Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and is a real advocate for trying new experiences. She said: “SAYFC exchanges both national and international are a fabulous way of getting to know people from all over the UK and further afield. Spending three months in Montana with the SAYFC International Programme was the most amazing experience of my life, living and working on ranches. Along with hosting international exchanges, it has given me lifelong friends from all over the world. And of course exchanges with other SAYFC clubs within Scotland are great fun, and you always get to meet up again for a sociable few at the Royal Highland Show every year.”

Andrew Ireland West Vice Chairman

Andrew Ireland, 25, comes from Darvel in Ayrshire and works as a farrier after completing his apprenticeship and qualifying from Myerscough College with a diploma. He was the association’s Member of the Year in 2013, and has held many office bearer roles including Ayrshire Chairman. When asked about SAYFC, he commented: “I very much enjoy getting to know members from all different areas through competitions and events. I believe this is extremely important for personal development and character building. A chance to get on a stage like the Armadillo, Glasgow, in front of over 2,000 people is an opportunity like no other, all available through Young Farmers!”

Cultivating Futures programme will be delivered by the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs Show Exclusive by Kevin O’Sullivan A dedicated programme offering agricultural and rural training to young people who did not go to college or university is set to be launched today at the Royal Highland Show. ‘Cultivating Futures’ is designed to give young people across Scotland the training and skills they did not acquire through formal education but which are vital for a host of roles in the rural economy. It will encompass access to affordable practical training, business and efficiency training, the association’s own leadership programme, ‘Cultivating Leaders’, and an online information hub. “This programme will offer those who did not go to college or university, or achieve all the training they desired through their education the opportunity to pick up new skills that will benefit them within the workplace and in their own social environment,” said Rebecca Dawes, SAYFC Communications and Rural Affairs Manager.

SAYFC recognised the need for rural youth training more than three years ago when it started developing opportunities for members; to date this has included sheep shearing courses, cow signals, cattle trimming, lameness workshops, health and safety and Cultivating Leaders, which was piloted last year. Following a £30,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s Agricultural and Rural Affairs Department, the association is now in a position to further develop the programme and will be rolling out Cultivating Futures over the next twelve months. The practical training will be supported by Tayforth Machinery Ring, Borders Machinery Ring and Highland Machinery Ring, and offered will be Forklift Training and Sprayer Tests to name just two examples. Within the business and efficiency category, rural youth will gain skills in a wide range of topics such as budgeting, managing cash flows and writing a business plan - to understanding the value of good nutrition management. Online, “The Hub” will feature information from the agricultural and rural industry that is of interest to rural youth. This will include an events calendar, training directory, news and reports and an area showcasing job vacancies/sought. To find out more visit www.sayfc.org/ hub or phone the National Office on 0131 333 2445.


Scotland Law Firm of the Year 2016 Who’s Who Legal Awards







Clive Phillips PARTNER +44 (0)1224 392 281 clive.phillips@brodies.com

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23 June 2016

Douneside House is nestled within 17 acres of gardens deep in Royal Deeside

Douneside House is a rare architectural gem: a serenely beautiful Scottish country house, but with a tragic story to tell Lady MacRobert with her three sons, who were all tragically killed

After opening its doors on June 1, the newlyrevamped luxury hotel will offer guests a glimpse of a forgotten past By Kevin O’Sullivan With the year-long Festival of Architecture currently underway in Scotland, it is fitting that one of its more interesting yet lesser known buildings has thrown open its doors to the public as a newly-revamped luxury country house hotel. Douneside House may not be a name that trips off the tongue but after a £5m refurbishment the rural Aber-

deenshire retreat is likely to become a very popular destination for weekend breakers, and equally to those who take a keen interest in their surrounds. In that sense, the property will not disappoint; steeped in the most beguiling history, the property in Royal Deeside was bequeathed to a charitable trust in perpetuity by the late Lady MacRobert on her death in 1954 and now serves as a very vivid reminder of the sacrifice of her three sons, who all died tragically serving their country with the RAF both during the Second World War and in peacetime. That history has been meticulously preserved by the incumbent trustees who have sought to evoke the memory of the once resident family: there are pictures and portraits of the heroic sons and indeed one of the

guest rooms is named “MacRobert’s Reply” after the Stirling bomber Lady MacRobert donated to the RAF as a response to her loss; and until now the property has fittingly been used by serving and ex-military personnel as a place of relaxation. “Douneside has a backstory unlike no other. A part of a vast 7,500-acre estate bequeathed in trust by the late Lady MacRobert, the property is steeped in history,” explains Marcel Wassen, the hotel’s newly-appointed General Manager. “The renovations have been extensive but many of its antiques and furniture have been delicately restored to bring them back to life.” The hotel opened its doors on June 1 after an extensive renovation that saw a complete overhaul of the bedrooms,

restaurant, bar, public rooms and leisure facilities. There are 30 guest rooms in total, 14 of which are located in the house itself with a further five cottages (all with cosy log burners) and apartments scattered among the 17 acres of gardens. “The cottages and apartments are all within a couple of minutes’ walk of the house,” adds Wassen. “We wanted to make them feel like an extension to the main house itself; they are ideally suited for families as they are more spacious. They vary from one to three bedrooms, and like all of the rooms in the house, they have been extensively updated. The renovation has been done to the very highest standard; the house is absolutely stunning.” Wassen himself is a Dutchman whose career has taken him from

the former Eton Collection hotels in London to the five-star Glasshouse and Scotsman hotels in Edinburgh. “After that I worked for a few country houses and I really got the bug,” he adds. “It’s a much more personalised and friendly environment, and I think increasingly that is what people are looking for.” Wassen must have a flair for managing country house hotels – his last role saw his hotel earning the accolade of Country House of the Year at the 2015 Scottish Hotel Awards. The restaurant is also set to become a very big focus for Douneside House. Wassen has brought in David Butters as Head Chef, who has created a range of menus, from a highly sophisticated ‘tasting menu’ for lovers of the fine dining experience, to a table d’hôte (house) menu, to a more accessible


23 June 2016

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The house has undergone a £5m refurbishment, which has seen extensive renovations to its guest and function rooms, leisure facilities and dining areas

range of menu options served in the bistro bar area. “The cuisine has been taken to a new level. Chef Butters previously worked with Darin Campbell at Gleneagles and at various highend properties including the 5-star Longueville Manor,” says Wassen. “We are very lucky to have him on board, and guests will be able to sample some of his finest creations. The response so far has been fantastic and we are now almost fully booked until the end of July.” To work off the calories guests will be able to take advantage of a brand new gym and exercise studio, which has 18 ‘stations’ ranging from

treadmills to power and resistance step trainers; there is also a newlybuilt sauna and steam room and the swimming pool has been rejuvenated. “We are blessed to have a fantastic health club which has undergone a major refurbishment and is really quite a unique selling point,” Wassen adds. “Within our 17 acres of expertly tended gardens we have a tennis court, putting green, play park and croquet lawn so there are plenty of activities available for our guests to enjoy.” Throughout the restoration project, the trustees have sought to retain Dounside House’s links with the military, who will still get exclusive use of the property for the last two weeks of

July and the whole of August, as well as a week-long period over Christmas. “We think that is only right that we continue our special connection with the military, many of whom return to Douneside for their family holidays year after year,” adds Wassen. “At the same time we’re incredibly excited to be opening our doors to the public who we will be welcoming for the very first time.” The MacRobert Trust itself is an organisation that donates around £1.5m-a-year into a range of charitable activities and organisations, through its grant giving scheme. The decision to upgrade Douneside, and attract nonmilitary guests, was taken in line with

the Trust’s ambitions to create a more sustainable estate; allowing the Trust to invest in more charitable activities, including those which benefit the rural economy. Rear Admiral Chris Hockley, CEO of the MacRobert Trust, explains: “Douneside House is undoubtedly the MacRobert Estate’s Jewel in the Crown. Opening Douneside’s doors to the public marks a significant turning point in its history and we hope this change will ultimately allow The MacRobert Trust to increase its charitable giving. The transformation has been significant but I’m delighted that we have maintained the character and charm of what was the MacRob-

ert family home. We look forward to welcoming back our returning guests and sharing the special experience and exceptional level of hospitality and service with new guests who will be able to visit for the very first time.” And time will no doubt tell if the venture proves to be successful, with plans to use the house as a wedding and conference venue; located some 50 minutes from Aberdeen and in the heart of Royal Deeside, close to fishing and shooting sports estates, and within striking distance of the Cairngorms, Douneside House might soon become a building that earns its place within the ranks of Scottish architectural gems.

Experience the ultimate highland retreat at Douneside House. the perfect country getaway in the heart of royal deeside.

The newly refurbished Douneside House offers everything - and so much more - one would expect from a Scottish country retreat. Its rich history and magnificent location in the heart of The MacRobert Estate in Royal Deeside set the scene for a truly memorable stay. Imagine classic interiors, elegantly furnished and decorated with fine art and precious heirlooms. Breathtaking views of our ‘infinity lawn’ and beyond, over the Howe of Cromar. An exquisite fine dining menu created by our award-winning chef, featuring fresh produce from Douneside’s 17 acres of lovingly tended gardens and perfectly matched by an extensive wine and whisky menu. A state-of-the-art Health Club with brand-new facilities, including a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, game room and all-weather tennis court. This and more, delivered with unparalleled, passionate service. Douneside House awaits you with open arms.

for reservations and details of our special offers available throughout the year visit: www.dounesidehouse.co.uk

douneside house, tarland, aberdeenshire, ab34 4ul scotland

t: +44 (0)13398 81230 e: manager@dounesidehouse.co.uk

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23 June 2016

A growing practice Representing the interests of the rural sector it helps to know the issues from personal experience By William Peakin “It’s my life,” says Clive Phillips. Land, agriculture, the rural sector; they are what Phillips was born into, what he grew up with and today they underpin both his professional and personal life. A working farmer, he is also a partner in the agriculture and estates team at law firm Brodies; his professional advice comes with the benefit of the shared personal experience of his clients. “My father was involved in agribusiness, so I grew up with that around me and I have been involved in the sector throughout my life. It was a relatively natural step that my professional career pointed in that direction. I feel very much embedded in the sector both personally and professionally.” He and his wife Liz run their 300acre farm in Aberdeenshire, with 400 sheep, 35 Icelandic horses (Phillips worked in Iceland as a student) and 150 acres of malting barley and other crops. “We manage the farm business in a way that fits around my professional commitments. But the great advantage is that I am closely involved in all the experiences of our rural clients. “I experience what the market is doing, what is happening with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP),

issues of land reform. There’s nothing like having that perspective to get a proper understanding of what our clients are experiencing. Although my office is in Aberdeen, I get out to farms and estates as much as I can; you need to be ‘on the ground’ whenever you get that opportunity.” With this indepth knowledge of the rural sector as a specialist in agricultural law, he and his 20-strong team act for a wide range of landed estates and farming clients with an emphasis on commercial farms and estates with diversified interests. He advises on farm and estate acquisitions and sale, agricultural leases, sporting rights and farming partnerships. “It’s a broad canvas of different issues and I enjoy that immensely,” said Phillips. He has also frequently advised on

diversification projects, particularly wind farms and other renewable energy projects, while understanding the interaction of land ownership, rural business and succession enables him to advise on structuring farming partnerships and other rural businesses to provide strategic succession planning advice. “A lot of client relationships are long-term, where we are very much involved in the development of the business. One aspect, which is different from other sectors, is succession, where farming businesses and estates are handed on to the next generation. So a lot of what we do is focused on supporting that process; exit strategies do not figure high on the list of priorities for farms or estates!”

Clive Phillips knows the challenges facing the rural sector As the economics of farming has changed over the decades, it has meant that businesses have increasingly looked to diversify, collaborate and move up the supply chain, to capture more of the value of what they produce through branding. “We can look back, historically, at small farms with lots of people working on them, but the economic reality has meant keeping costs down and achieving efficiency and scale, or specialisation. “This will continue to be driven by two factors; CAP reform, where the budget is much lower and will undoubtedly put pressure on some farm businesses, and low farm-gate prices across the board globally which is putting pressure on smaller and more marginal businesses. “I think changing models of land ownership and tenancy will have an important part to play, with specialist businesses – in potatoes, carrots, pigs and arable, for example – operating across a number of different holdings. It’s a much more ‘horizontal’ way of

“The debate around land reform has tended to be politically driven and, in that sense, divisive” structuring a farm business, rather than individual farms each with a number of different activities. Cooperatives are getting bigger and bigger and increasingly coming into play, as well.” Phillips believes that reform of the rural sector, both Europe-wide and in Scotland specifically, demands a wider debate around the role of land, managing the environment, food production and security, and ‘the public good’. “As

and when we move out of this period of austerity, and as CAP reform continues to change the economics of farming, then it is a debate that will come to the fore.” It is important, he added, that the rural sector’s voice is heard by the Government in Scotland: “I think the debate around land reform in Scotland has tended to be politically driven and, in that sense, divisive when there should in fact be a proper debate about land use; whether it’s about food production, economics, people and cultural aspects. “I don’t think that has been properly had yet and I think there should be a focus on how land is used and managed and what businesses, whether they are farms or estates, need in order to progress. There is so much to the rural sector today, when you include relatively new aspects such as renewables or agritourism, and the growth in importance of the food and drink industry, it is important there is a joined-up approach with a strong voice.”

The importance of independence Insurance brokers Bruce Stevenson are focused on personal service and organic growth Derek Skinner is bracing himself for a challenge in July. He is cycling stage eight of the Tour de France, between Lourdes and Bagnères-de-Luchon, with four mountain climbs, including the iconic Col du Tourmalet which tops out at 2,115 meters. “My legs couldn’t taking running or football anymore,” explained Skinner, who works for Bruce Stevenson, one of the largest independent insurance brokers in Scotland. “So I got a bike and joined a club. Now I’ve got five bikes and cycle around 150 miles every week.” He and a team from Bruce Stevenson, specialist insurer Hiscox and their broker colleagues are taking part in the Hiscox Tourmalet Challenge. Skinner’s ride in France will raise money for

Young Minds, the child and adolescent mental health charity, and the team as a whole aims to raise £25,000 for various charities. His routine has intensified in recent weeks, as he builds up for next month, taking in an 85-mile cycle around Arran and a 110-mile sportive through the Cairngorms National Park and Royal Deeside. “Cycling has become a bit of an obsession, but I’m really looking forward to this challenge,” said Skinner. This determined streak is evident in Skinner’s work also. “As an independent broker, we are an innovative and dynamic organisation, which is committed to providing the best possible advice, service and support. “We pride ourselves on our standard of service – consistently delivering market leading, bespoke and guaranteed solutions. In an era where independent status is increasingly rare, customers benefit immensely from the personal and professional service we provide.”

Established in 1981, Bruce Stevenson has been going from strength-tostrength over the decades, continually growing as a business and establishing an enviable reputation within the industry. It offers a comprehensive portfolio of products and services covering a wide range of specialist areas, designed to meet the demands of today’s customers and the insurance industry as a whole. As well as providing corporate and commercial insurance and risk management services, Bruce Stevenson has established specialist units devoted to areas such as renewable energy, farm and estates and rural business, property owners, social housing, heritage property and private clients. It currently operates from five locations throughout the UK; in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeenshire, Galashiels and London, employing more than 90 specialist staff. Skinner is one of six director shareholders: “We’re very much an independent firm so the direction of the com-

pany and the culture within is driven by us, which means we are focused on the customer and on providing the best possible products that we can offer. We aspire to be the broker of choice, for both clients and employees.” His specialism is renewable energy where the company is recognised as the leading insurance brokers to the renewable energy sector, with over 20 years experience. Skinner’s specialist team provides a comprehensive range of insurance solutions covering all aspects of renewable energy and with its breadth of knowledge it can anticipate all the major challenges on project timelines. “The key to what we do is really understanding the sector,” he said. “Our success in renewables has been in working with the key elements, be they legal, financial or technical. The growth in our knowledge and expertise in this area has really put us in pole position.” As well as overseeing the Renewable Energy division, Skinner is director of Farms and Estates. “We have a strong rural team within the company. As

experts in protecting the rural sector, our specialist team understands the many issues facing farmers and the agricultural sector. As such we offer bespoke insurance cover to protect their personal and business assets, needs and activities.” The company is looking to develop other niche expertise, such as in food and drink and, one of the fastest growing aspects of the market, cyber liability insurance. “We’re currently working through a five year plan, building on our success and looking over the next two to three years to grow other parts of the business, such as our Borders operation in Galashiels which opened last year,” said Skinner. “But we are committed to remaining independent and are focused on growing organically and profitably, getting the right people in the right areas.” It’s the kind of steady determination that will be on display next month, as Skinner tackles the 147km route through the Pyrenees.


23 June 2016

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A heritage of extraordinary banking service for the modern day Word is getting out about one of Scotland’s best-kept financial secrets. And Weatherbys Private Bank is rising serenely to the challenge of the growing demand for its services A good old-fashioned obsession with client service has made a seventhgeneration family business into a very modern success story. Weatherbys Private Bank’s team in Edinburgh is led by Duncan Gourlay, who is happy to acknowledge that most of its business comes through client recommendations. The lure of unrivalled, personal service is as strong to discerning customers today as it was when the original Weatherbys organisation was founded. In the last three years, the Scottish arm of the company, which has recently moved into Edinburgh’s Rutland Square, has been growing steadily in line with the evident demand for a private banking service north of the Border. A privately-held family business, Weatherbys successfully combines heritage and innovation in the financial services arena. “We’re very much a traditional bank that focuses on long-term relationships with our clients. Most banks claim to to offer a personal service, but the big difference for us is we do actually provide that,” says Gourlay. Clients from all over Scotland are now discovering what that really means. First of all, a visit at home from a senior private banker. Moving banks or beginning a relationship with a private bank is a major decision for new customers, so it’s refreshing to hear that Weatherbys appreciates that they want to make direct contact with the person they will be working with, before making a commitment. Gourlay is convinced of the importance of this level of service, compared to an office-bound or telephone-based relationship. “We go

“We look at the full picture for each individual, so there are no hard and fast rules”

out to potential clients at their home, farm or estate because we get such a good understanding what’s important to them. It’s a huge benefit to us and the client.” The bank has a level of flexibility in its decision-making processes that others do not. Gourlay explains: “We look at the full picture for each individual, so there are no hard and fast rules, for instance on lending to people aged over 70. Other banks may have no-go areas, but we do not.” To bank with Weatherbys, customers must have £300,000 in annual income, or £3m in assets (including land and property). The bank has a low risk strategy for deposits and investment, always focused on safeguarding the interests of its customers. The aim is to help customers support their lifestyle and ambitions today, as well as looking to the future. The approach clearly appeals to the 4,000 clients who have quietly come to Weatherbys Private Bank in the ten years since they launched. They are also taking advantage of wealth management services, including financial planning and investments, as well as a range of account services and trusted advice for business and family banking. As a financial institution, Weatherbys’ pedigree extends far beyond a decade. Founded 245 years ago by Northumbrian James Weatherby, the firm specialised in administering the finances and records of the horse-racing industry. Its services expanded to support owners, trainers and breeders as well as the British Horseracing Authority. Weatherbys Private Bank was originally established to meet demand from racing clients. Its reputation grew rapidly on recommendation and it now proudly serves a majority with no equestrian connections alongside Weatherbys racing customers who were welcomed into the family generations ago. “We started from a solid base with the UK business and have grown quite substantially since then, especially in Scotland,” adds Gourlay. “Because service and attention to detail are paramount, we have never wanted to expand rapidly. But our reputation goes before us and we feel it is a privilege to introduce our exceptional service principles to a new generation of customers, who appreciate the combination of traditional values with innovation and financial excellence.” Weatherbys currently offers one of the most competitive Private Banking rates for Fixed Term Deposits; 1 year at 1.30% Gross/AER (fixed). 18 months at 1.50% Gross/AER (fixed). 2 Years at 2.00% Gross/AER (fixed). Minimum deposit of £75,000/maximum of £2,000,000. Call Duncan Gourlay and the team at Weatherbys Private Bank Scotland for further details

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Profile for Canongate Communications

RuralScot Summer 2016  

Distributed as part of The Times Scotland

RuralScot Summer 2016  

Distributed as part of The Times Scotland


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