AS a new migrant to the Highlands I have made a depressing discovery. Many Highlanders are not able to buy property of any sort, or even rent it. Such has been the effect of property value inflation of late. Given the English origins for this deepening of north-south inequality, profound issues of social justice arise.

The plight of the Morvern Community Woodlands group is a classic example. They are trying to buy an unused 6000 acre estate. What a tantalising dilemma they face. On the one hand, a wonderful opportunity to farm, rewild, regenerate and grow local eco-businesses, providing land, jobs and a bulwark against climate change and biodiversity loss. Hope for their children, in short. On the other hand, they have just a few weeks to raise £1.7 million to makethe purchase.

The total cost of the Killundine estate is £2.7m. The community has a £1m grant from the Scottish Land Fund, provided they can raise the rest from elsewhere.

From my perspective as a social entrepreneur they have virtually no chance of putting together a compelling business plan and selling it to investors in a few weeks. Earlier this year I bought a 1200-acre estate on Loch Ness, Bunloit, with £2.4m crowdfunded from individuals and organisations concerned about climate change and supportive of the type of land management the Morvern community intends to conduct. But I had several months to assemble the arguments and make the pitches. The Morvern community will almost certainly have to rely on benefactors.

READ MORE: Estate owner pledges £17k to community buy-out and calls for new land tax​

As I considered their potential catch-22, I found myself asking why it should be. Would it not be fairer, taking a pan-society view of the future, for non-Scots who have the privilege of buying Scottish property to help out?

Here is my rationale. Taking folk like me originally from southern England as example, in many cases we are selling properties with ridiculously inflated prices, driven up because successive Westminster governments have allowed the likes of financial institution bonus-recipients and Russian oligarchs to profiteer in the property market. As a result, for the price of a modest terraced house in south London some of us can now buy small Scottish estates.

This is surely a bad thing for wider society. It considerably amplifies inequality, the social stress identified by the World Economic Forum each year as potentially one of biggest threats to social cohesion going forward.

So, in my view, we should be taxed on our purchases. Even a small surcharge on sales prices would help communities like Morvern purchase their own land. This would, at least to some degree, help address inequality.

True, we incomers pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, the Scottish equivalent of stamp duty. But that goes to the Scottish Government, to finance the whole spectrum of social services that hold a society together. What I am talking about is a small tax that is hypothecated: dedicated to the single task of redressing the unfairness built into Scottish land ownership.

Absent such a tax, in a case like this, we need philanthropy. So I am making a donation of £17,000 to the Morvern appeal. To hit their target, 99 other non-Scot property owners would need to match me in the few weeks left.

Scots buying property with a bit of wealth to spare might also be minded to join us.

And in due course, whatever the outcome of Morvern’s race against the clock, I wonder whether the Scottish Government might be willing to step in and require people like me to pay a distinctly pro-social tax on the purchases we are fortunate enough to be allowed – as things stand – to make.

Jeremy Leggett, an English social entrepreneur, is founder of Solarcentury and SolarAid