Who owns England?

Guy Shrubsole, author of “Who owns England? How we lost our green and pleasant land and how to take it back, 2019”, has produced a fascinating analysis of all that is wrong with land ownership in England today. While he does not vilify landowners, he criticises how land ownership is shrouded in the mists of time, which suits the establishment just fine, with many happy to make ownership even more opaque by registering companies in offshore tax havens. While the Land Registry is slowly mapping land ownership, the pace is much too slow. This allows landowners quietly capitalise on rising land values near towns, sell land for quarrying or tree planting, develop golf courses, etc., all done with minimal public scrutiny. One of his concerns are sporting estates, where ecological damage by peat muirburn is part of the management system. With climate change upon us, the importance of increasing CO2 sequestration by plant life, peatlands and trees will become of increasing importance. In order to optimise these developments, transparency in land ownership is essential. Landowners would do well to assist rather than hinder this development.