NORMAN MacCaig asked a very topical question in his poem, Assynt.

"Who owns this landscape?"

The Scottish Government, advised by Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse, has taken the deer-shooting and fishing rights from the Crofters Association on Raasay and awarded them to an outfit called South Ayrshire Stalking ("Crofters lose shooting rights to outsiders", The Herald, February 21) It is based near Girvan, and its spokesman has stated that it is not seeking to make a fast buck". Mr Wheelhouse has said that he is driven by the principle of achieving the best value the Scottish Government holds on behalf of the people of Scotland.

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Such altruism might be admirable, were it not for the memories of Raasay's history. First the Vikings, then the post-'45 burning of Raasay House, then wealthy speculators like George Rainey and Dr Green. Dr Green, or Dr No, was finally bought out by the then Government, leaving a legacy of ruins.

Raasay House has been rebuilt, and will soon welcome locals and visitors. A new ferry will run in the spring. Since 1995, the crofters have erected fences and culled some deer, selling on the venison for a small profit. The deer and wild game have been well managed.

Now, the crofters' reward is what appears to be a sell-out to the highest bidder.

I suspect that the people of Scotland might be hearing an echo of that well-known tune, Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.

Alasdair H Macinnes,


96 Granton Road,


I WAS appalled to read of the disgraceful decision that the Scottish Government has made regarding the shooting rights on Raasay. Raasay is a fragile island; its population is in decline. Its people sought simply to use the resources of their island for themselves and to build a better life. They built deer fences, took pride in working their land and building it up. They began to build a value-added business – turning meat into burgers and sausages. They started to regrow their own economy. And with one stroke of the pen by an out of touch Scottish Minister the bread is taken out of their mouths. And for what? The meal- mouthed bureaucrats' phrases drip with honeyed insincerity from the lips of Mr Paul Wheelhouse – "best value for the people of Scotland", "duty to secure best price" and so on.

Let us look at what the Raasay Crofters offered. They offered £1150. The winning bid from people who have no connection with the island was £1850 more. For £1850 the Scottish Government kicks the people of Raasay in the teeth.

There is no apology, no regret, just a bland lack of interest and concern.

What does this say about the SNP's view of the Highlands and of its people? What does it say as to its true view of land reform?

Last century the people of Raasay got rid of one of the worst landlords in Highland history, Dr Green.

I see his ghost has now returned in human form and is sitting in pomp in Holyrood wrapped in a Saltire and bleating hypocritical concern over the people whose livelihood he has stripped away.

Hugh Andrew,

West Newington House,

10 Newington Road,