THREE of Scotland’s richest landowners are amongst the top recipients of European Union farm subsidies.

The Duke of Buccleuch, the Earl of Rosebery and Mohsin Altajir’s Highland Wagyu beef-farming business are included for the first time in the latest list of the top 100 recipients of direct Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments compiled by Greenpeace organisation Energydesk.

Their analysis of new government data reveals that one in five of the 100 largest payments under the EU’s “direct” subsidy system now go to people or families on the Sunday Times Rich List — up from 16 in 2015.

The findings are published as the newly-appointed environment secretary Michael Gove, as reignited the debate around the fate of farm subsidies after Brexit by promising to reform the system.

Energydesk first compiled a top 100 list of UK recipients of farm subsidies last year.

It revealed how billionaires, aristocrats, and companies based in tax havens were among the biggest beneficiaries of basic payments under CAP — a type of farm subsidy based largely on the amount of land owned.

A revised list published yesterday, and based on new CAP payments data, shows the three Scottish landowners in the top 100.

The tenth Duke of Buccleuch is reported to own more than 230,000 acres across Scotland through Buccleuch Estates, making him the largest private landowner in the country. The Duke, who is Lord Lieutenant of Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale, owns several grand homes, including Drumlanrig Castle, Bowhill House and Broughton House.

The seventh Earl of Rosebery, 88, inherited 21,000 acres of Rosebery Partnership land on the death of his father in 1974 and in 2014 he sold a painting by JMW Turner for £30.3m — his son, Lord Dalmeny, is the UK chairman of Sotheby’s.

Highland Wagyu is a beef farm owned by the son of billionaire and former UAE ambassador to the UK Mahdi Al-Tajir, owner of Highland Spring. The beef sells at up to £250 per kg and has been used by Michelin star chefs such as Tom Kitchin. The 25,000 acre farm’s website states that “we pamper our Wagyu cattle” in “zen-like buildings” and that they hope soon to have 5000 heads of beef.

The top recipient in the UK was James Dyson, the billionaire inventor whose farm business received £1.6m through the basic payment scheme last year. Dyson is worth £7.8bn according to the rich list and was a prominent supporter of Brexit prior to last year’s EU referendum.

Two charities — the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds —feature in the list, and they have both called for a reform of farming policy after Brexit.

Energydesk says that a total of 36 of the Top 100 recipients are businesses owned or controlled by individuals or families who feature on the rich list and/or are members of aristocratic families.

Overall the top 100 recipients received a combined £49.9m in basic payments last year, more than was paid out to the bottom 35,000 combined.

Greenpeace UK’s policy director Doug Parr said: “Our investigation exposes a broken farm subsidy system that fails both our countryside and the British public.

“It’s simply indefensible that taxpayers’ money is being used to bankroll huge subsidies going to billionaires largely on the basis of how much land they own.

“Public money should reward farmers for contributing to the public good, whether it’s by producing sustainable food or reducing flood risk.”