Thursday, 2 February 2012

Scottish Title Sellers And Conservation Part 1

One of the ways the appeal of the "buy land get a title" scam is increased is to claim to do conservation work, that way even if folks realise the "title" thing is a bit of a scam at least they will be contributing to something useful, right? Well not necessarily as we shall see.

Some of these land/title sellers claim to do conservation work, and some of them produce information to back this up. Most if not all of the conservation information produced by these people is sketchy at best with little accurate particulars of work done or money spent given. Lets have a look at just one bit of information given by Peter Bevis / Lochaber Highland Estates (CI) Limited / Highand Titles (or whatever they are calling themselves this month), and see why it is misleading, but might well lead the reader to think they were doing something, when in fact they are doing little or nothing at all. So we'll have a look at what it said in a section of their Highland Titles website on 20/01/2012 and then examine it in detail.

Here is what the website said on 20/01/2012.

Glen Etive and Glen Fyne SPA for Golden Eagles

The Glen Etive and Glen Fyne SPA regularly supports a population of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) of European importance and with 19 active territories in 2003 it represents a significant percentage of Scotland's total population of these endangered birds.
Fund raising in 2011 has enabled us to realise the dream of acquiring a tract of land which will enable us to protect and conserve Scotland's iconic bird of prey, the Golden Eagle. This protected area, to be known as the Highland Titles Nature Reserve, is a large predominantly upland site, rising from sea level to over 1100m. It encompasses a diverse range of habitats including heather moorland, rough grassland, blanket bog, native woodland, montane heaths and exposed rock and scree. There are also freshwater lochans and streams.
Funding for this Nature Reserve has come directly from all our Lairds, but we must pay tribute here to the support that we have received in Q1 2011 from Australia.
And they showed this map of the area. (logo has been altered on this one)

Ok so what's wrong with that then I hear you say, that sounds really good, buying land, setting up Golden Eagle sanctuaries even a whole nature reserve, sounds like something getting done there ...... Errrmmmm don't think so!

Ok read it again and look at the map, does it give any specific particulars? does it say where the land is? does it show where the land is on the map? The answer is of course no, if you read it carefully all it actually says they have actually done is "acquire" a piece of land (they later claimed to have only leased it when put under pressure). Everything is in the future, nothing has yet been done. They don't even say or indicate where that land is located.

The map they provided isn't even their map, they stole it from Scottish National Heritage and re-branded it with their own logo!

The truth of the matter is this, Scottish Natural Heritage set up 6 Golden Eagle Special Protection Areas (SPAs) which took place from 13 January 2010 - 7 April 2010, 6 sites were classified by Scottish Ministers on 28 October 2010. One of those SPA's is called Glen Etive and Glen Fyne.

Now compare the text from the website with the text in this SNH document see the similarity there! Then look at the map provided by Scottish National Heritage at looks familiar to me.

The area this SPA covers is vast and there are many many landowners involved, all of whom are REQUIRED by law to protect the Golden Eagle.

You see the deception here, they make it look like they have set up some protection area for Golden Eagles, when in fact the Golden Eagle Special Protection Areas were set up by Scottish National Heritage and the Scottish Government. If Lochaber Highland Estates / Highland Titles / Peter Bevis owns any land within the boundary of the SPA the law already requires them to protect Golden Eagles. The same applies to all of the many other landowners within the SPA.

Since I started writing this, Scottish National Heritage have complained about the theft alteration & use of their copyright map on the Highland Titles website without their permission. The map has now been removed from their website!

If Lochaber Highland Estates, Highland Titles would care to say where their Golden Eagle conservation site actually is, and what exactly they have done, I'd be very happy to pass that on.

My own wee Lochaber Highland Estate (without a Highland Title attached) falls within the boundary of the SPA, I'm protecting Golden Eagles too, and I'm not looking for any donations at all!

Not much sign of a conservation project there then as far as I can see!

If you are thinking about buying one of these titles and the promise of conservation is part of your decision to buy you should write the company concerned and ask for details of conservation work already done. Ask for specific details of work done, exact locations, if trees have been planted ask for exact numbers of specific species, ask how much has been spent on this work, ask what proportion of revenue is so spent, then satisfy yourself that the answers are correct. Any genuine conservation company should be able and happy to provide this information. Plans for the future is not work done.

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