A multi-millionaire Tory MSP is trying to scupper Scottish government plans to extend the compulsory purchase of land for sustainable development.

Sir Edward Mountain, a land owning aristocrat, has tabled an amendment that would delete part of the Government’s forestry bill.

SNP MSP Gillian Martin said: “Ruth Davidson really needs to get these selfish landowners on her benches into line.”

MSPs will vote soon on the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill, which transfers the powers and duties of the Forestry Commissioners to Scottish Ministers.

A contentious aspect of the Bill is the proposal to widen the powers of compulsory purchase beyond those contained in legislation dating from the 1960s.

The new provision would include “sustainable development” as a reason for a Government acquisition, but Holyrood’s Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee, convened by Mountain, has been split on the issue.

It has now emerged that the Highlands and Islands MSP – whose full name is Sir Edward Brian Stanford Mountain, 4th Baronet – is behind plans to scrap the section on extending compulsory purchases in the final parliamentary debate.

According to his register of interest, the former Sandhurst-trained soldier has a range of lucrative financial interests.

As a partner in Moray-based Delfur Farms Farming Partnership, he receives remuneration in the form of utilities and insurance for his home of between £35,001 and £40,000 a year.

He also owns 50% of Delfur Fishings, a rod and line salmon fishery, from which he pocketed £14,000 in 2016.

In the “heritable property” section of his register, he estimated that his share of the enterprise operated by Delfur Fishings has a “total market value” of around £8.3million.

The declaration added: “The property yields a gross annual income in the range £230,001 – £240,000.”

It was also reported that Mountain and his siblings shared a £14.5m inheritance after the death of their father.

In a REC committee session scrutinising the Bill, Mountain said during a discussion on the compulsory purchase issue: “I also own a bit of land, so I am nervous about ministers, too. I should declare that I have an interest in a farming partnership.”

During the Stage 1 debate on the Bill, he gave a factual account of the committee split: “The majority of the committee felt that the Government had not provided sufficient justification for its proposed extension of compulsory purchase powers to cover sustainable development. We therefore recommended that the bill be amended and called on the Government to remove that provision.”

Mountain said on Friday: "I have tabled this amendment to the Forestry bill because the provision for compulsory purchase for sustainable development reasons is unnecessary. Under the 1967 act ministers can already compulsorily purchase land for forestry reasons. In addition, there are nine other acts within Scottish legislation that give Scottish ministers compulsory purchase powers. Despite repeated questioning, no reason has been given for this provision beyond 'just in case' which is no basis for robust legislation."

Holyrood’s tight arithmetic means Mountain’s intervention has a chance of succeeding. With the Greens and the Liberal Democrats agreeing with the amendment, Scottish Labour is likely to be the kingmaker on the vote.

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “Scottish Labour supports the proposals in the bill to strengthen existing powers of compulsory purchase of land to promote sustainable forest management. Labour wants to see a wider review of compulsory purchase powers to assess whether they go far enough.”

At Holyrood in 2016, Mountain asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about land reform and suggested the pair go on a walk together. “Will the First Minister accept an invitation to walk with me in the Highlands? We could then look and talk about the real land issues, which revolve around effective and sustainable, as well as productive, management," he asked.

However, Sturgeon declined the opportunity: “While I would normally take up almost anybody’s offer of a walk in the Highlands, if I can use the usual terminology, due to considerable diary pressures I may have to decline for the moment.”