Who owns the UK? This is a perennial favourite for newspaper articles and has spawned a series of books. There is no simple answer as wealth can be measured in different ways: cash, shares, GDP and, most tantalisingly of all, land.
Land has always been an emotive issue and, even when the vast majority of people no longer work in primary industries, it continues to generate interest, debate and concern. Peasants’ revolts, riots over enclosure and the Luddite movement have given way to conservation areas, local amenity societies and ‘not in my back yard’ pressure groups.
So, back to the original question; who owns the UK? And how has ownership changed over the last century. To answer this, I’m taking ownership of land as the measure. Millions of acres, hectares and square miles of rolling, arable, pastoral, mountainous and forested land. There is no direct correlation with wealth in this list; owning vast tracts of Highland Scotland can, in terms of value, equal a single block of central London real estate.