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TITLE
Lord Lovat talks about land reclamation
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFRLORDLOVAT_16
PLACENAME
Beauly
DISTRICT
Aird
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Kilmorack
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
Simon Fraser, 17th Lord Lovat
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1552
KEYWORDS
Commandos
Commandoes
armed forces
Second World War
agriculture
laird
lairds
Improvers
audio

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Simon Fraser, commonly known as the 17th Lord Lovat, (1911-1995), was the 25th Chief of the Clan Fraser and a prominent British Commando during World War II. He was seriously wounded during the invasion of Normandy in 1944 but went on to make a full recovery. In the post-war period he devoted much of his time to politics and looking after the family estates in the Beauly district.

In this audio extract, taken from an interview with Sam Marshall for Moray Firth Radio, Lord Lovat offers his solution to the land crisis.

'We are losing an awful lot of land. Through the country, through the United Kingdom, I think I'm right in saying we're losing something like 50,000 acres a year of good farming land, and this is a very, very challenging thought. Now when I was chairman of the Inverness County Council, many years ago, I was a tremendous enthuser to harness the mud in the different firths; the Beauly Firth, the Cromarty Firth and the Dornoch Firth. And if you look at low tide going from Inverness to Beauly, or again from Dingwall to Invergordon, you see this rich alluvial mud that's been washed down the rivers for presumably millions of years, and that is good land which is running waste. And I do suggest to the powers at be that if we'd been Dutchmen we could have harnessed the tide and we could have built sea walls and got that mud behind a barrier, eventually getting the salt out of it, and - which takes a year or two, admittedly - but it could be made into wheat-growing land, near the markets of the east. And that frankly is something which has always been my ambition without having the money to do it.

The argument was 'Oh, it's too expensive and anyway the big farmers along the coast are quite well enough off the way they are'. Well, that is an argument which can be put in different ways. There could be closer settlement, reclaimed land could be divided into fifty-acre farms which would be wheat-growing farms, and worth in the terms of produce, ten times that acreage if you were on a hill, which requires liming, draining, and the fertility is quickly exhausted and it goes back to rushes.

When I clashed with Sir Robert Grieve(s), who was one of the early Highlands and Islands Development Board chairmen, I suggested a barrage should be built to cut the tide at Kessock, but Grieve(s) went entirely by something called the 'Jack Holmes Report', which I think was a very foolish document, which treated the Black Isle as a recreational area for the population explosion that was going to come along the Moray Firth. Do you remember, two hundred and fifty thousand people were going to inhabit the Moray Firth coastline? Lord knows what they were going to do; that was never explained. But this project was, 'Keep the Green - the Black Isle Green' for people to go over on, enjoy themselves at the weekend. It was an idea taken from an American project in the Great Lakes, but wholly impractical, and, of course, the bridge across the Black Isle was opposed for a number of years and the result is that it's gone up today, ten years later than it should have done, and twice as expensive. Now one could have had a bridge in the form of a barrage which would have kept the tide back and would have greatly facilitated the reclamation of the land between Inverness and Beauly'

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Lord Lovat talks about land reclamation

INVERNESS: Kilmorack

1980s

Commandos; Commandoes; armed forces; Second World War; agriculture; laird; lairds; Improvers; audio

Moray Firth Radio

MFR: Lord Lovat

Simon Fraser, commonly known as the 17th Lord Lovat, (1911-1995), was the 25th Chief of the Clan Fraser and a prominent British Commando during World War II. He was seriously wounded during the invasion of Normandy in 1944 but went on to make a full recovery. In the post-war period he devoted much of his time to politics and looking after the family estates in the Beauly district. <br /> <br /> In this audio extract, taken from an interview with Sam Marshall for Moray Firth Radio, Lord Lovat offers his solution to the land crisis.<br /> <br /> 'We are losing an awful lot of land. Through the country, through the United Kingdom, I think I'm right in saying we're losing something like 50,000 acres a year of good farming land, and this is a very, very challenging thought. Now when I was chairman of the Inverness County Council, many years ago, I was a tremendous enthuser to harness the mud in the different firths; the Beauly Firth, the Cromarty Firth and the Dornoch Firth. And if you look at low tide going from Inverness to Beauly, or again from Dingwall to Invergordon, you see this rich alluvial mud that's been washed down the rivers for presumably millions of years, and that is good land which is running waste. And I do suggest to the powers at be that if we'd been Dutchmen we could have harnessed the tide and we could have built sea walls and got that mud behind a barrier, eventually getting the salt out of it, and - which takes a year or two, admittedly - but it could be made into wheat-growing land, near the markets of the east. And that frankly is something which has always been my ambition without having the money to do it. <br /> <br /> The argument was 'Oh, it's too expensive and anyway the big farmers along the coast are quite well enough off the way they are'. Well, that is an argument which can be put in different ways. There could be closer settlement, reclaimed land could be divided into fifty-acre farms which would be wheat-growing farms, and worth in the terms of produce, ten times that acreage if you were on a hill, which requires liming, draining, and the fertility is quickly exhausted and it goes back to rushes. <br /> <br /> When I clashed with Sir Robert Grieve(s), who was one of the early Highlands and Islands Development Board chairmen, I suggested a barrage should be built to cut the tide at Kessock, but Grieve(s) went entirely by something called the 'Jack Holmes Report', which I think was a very foolish document, which treated the Black Isle as a recreational area for the population explosion that was going to come along the Moray Firth. Do you remember, two hundred and fifty thousand people were going to inhabit the Moray Firth coastline? Lord knows what they were going to do; that was never explained. But this project was, 'Keep the Green - the Black Isle Green' for people to go over on, enjoy themselves at the weekend. It was an idea taken from an American project in the Great Lakes, but wholly impractical, and, of course, the bridge across the Black Isle was opposed for a number of years and the result is that it's gone up today, ten years later than it should have done, and twice as expensive. Now one could have had a bridge in the form of a barrage which would have kept the tide back and would have greatly facilitated the reclamation of the land between Inverness and Beauly'