THE Duke of Buccleuch, one of Scotland's biggest landowners, has seen the profits made by a group owned by his family quadruple helped by asset sales although it has noted uncertainty about the impact of the coronavirus crisis and political change.

The latest accounts for The Buccleuch Estates show the business made £51.3 million profit after tax in the year to October 31 2019, compared with £12.4m in the preceding year.

Writing in the accounts, directors said the results covered a year during which the group had embraced change and helped put itself on a more robust financial platform.

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Directors noted the group had sold land, farms and individual properties as they continued to reduce the footprint of Buccleuch.

The largest deal covered the sale of around 9,000 acres of forestry and farmland south of Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway, in a process which was completed early in 2019.

Directors noted the group then decided to sell more land on its Borders Estate, including Langholm Moor and was delighted when two local community bodies came forward as interested parties.

“To allow them time to complete the work required for funding applications there is a period of exclusivity for the groups until later in 2020,” wrote directors. They added: “Throughout this process Buccleuch consulted with the Scottish Land Commission and we are delighted this community engagement has been welcomed.”

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Community is one of Buccleuch Estates’ core values, along with customers, colleagues and environment.

In a section on business risks and uncertainties, the directors observed: “The UK plans to leave the EU and with that the Common Agricultural Policy, post Brexit subsidy regimes will impact both operations and finance structures.

“In addition, continued debate on land reform could result in legislation being passed which would be to the detriment of the Estates.”

Regarding the pandemic they wrote: “It is clear we have encountered a risk very few businesses will have anticipated which has had a profound effect on the world economy and which requires us to reflect very carefully on how we operate the business … The long term impact of Covid 19 is yet to be fully understood.”