Some interesting statements concerning distribution of land within Britain.
A political consensus has hardened that there are too few houses being built and that our planning laws are too restrictive. Equally most people seem to believe that too much of Britain, especially England, has been bulldozed and obliterated; that our land is less pleasant and less green with each passing year. In fact, only 10.6 % of England (and 6% of Britain) is developed. The myth spun about this country is that land is scarce.
Yet the question of who owns Britain, how the land came to be owned and what it means for the rest of us has never been answered adequately.
The United Kingdom is 60 million acres in size, of which 42 million acres are designated “agricultural” land and 12 million are “natural wastage” (forests, rivers, mountains) owned by institutions such as the Forestry Commission, the Ministry of Defence and the National Trust. The remaining 6 million acres are the “urban plots”, the densely congested land on which our houses, factories and offices are built. Most of the 62 million people of these islands live on just 3 million acres.
What this means, in effect, is that 69% of British acreage is owned by less than 1% of the population, or 158,000 families… This maldistribution of land is one of the primary, if largely unacknowledged, causes of the current housing crisis.
For those who question why UK homes are both the smallest in Europe (76 m2) and the most expensive, the answer is that 90% of the population lives on just 5% of the land.
Of the 42 million acres of Agricultural land, 70% of that land is held by 0.28% of the population, and in addition, since the EU’s definition of “farmer” does not require individuals to produce food or other agricultural products, many recipients of the €55bn aid package Common Agricultural Policy, in effect, paid not to farm.
The key observation.
That this system has endured, contrary to all reason, is testimony to the power and influence of those who benefit from it… it is socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.
(New Statesman 21-27 September 2012: Aid For Aristocrats.)