THE Queen is to have new neighbours after a “mix of buyers” registered an interest in one of the largest estates in Scotland ever to go on sale.

Valued at £23 million, the 11,512 acre Abergeldie Estate is on the market for the first time since it was handed over to the Gordon family by James III of Scotland in 1482 but the sale has attracted renewed calls for land reform.

A foreign buyer has not been ruled out by estate agents Fraser & ­Mulligan who said that as requests were ­coming from land agents “it was difficult to predict where the ­prospective buyers are from”.

They so far have seen interest from a “mix of buyers ranging from owner occupiers to investment opportunities”.

Part of Cairngorm National Park, the sporting rights are currently leased to the royal family at neighbouring Balmoral and Birkhall but it will be up to the next owner if that continues, the estate agents said.

However, there is little chance of a community buy-out of the estate because of the high price of land, ­according to environmentalists.

Climate change pioneer Jeremy Leggett who has just announced he is to launch a “mass land ownership company” said it was time a brake was put on the “insane land-price ­inflation in Scotland”.

He told the Sunday National: “If the nation keeps being sold in large lots to the absentee ultra-rich, not only does land inequality grow, but we make it more difficult to ­implement the land-management changes we know we need if society is to survive ­climate meltdown and biodiversity collapse.”

Legget, who bought Bunloit at Drumnadrochit and Beldorney near Huntley after selling his solar panel business, is to offer Scots a chance to buy land for rewilding for as little as £10. The former Greenpeace director said he would sell Beldorney to newly formed company Highland Rewilding Ltd.

“I am no longer going to be the ­owner of Beldorney – it’s going to be the sold to the company at a fair ­market rate and the new owners, ­including as many Highlanders and Scots as possible, will benefit,” said Legget, who wants 50% of the board to be women, with the majority of board members coming from the Highlands.

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Abergeldie is advertised as ­having “huge investment potential” and is an “unmissable opportunity for a purchaser to acquire and reshape an iconic part of Royal Deeside”.

Although Abergeldie Castle is not part of the sale, Fraser & ­Mulligan said the estate included “one of the largest residential ­opportunities ­offered with any Scottish ­estate in the past, with 34 residential ­properties ranging from homes, ­cottages, ­farmhouses, lodges, and other ­domestic buildings which can be ­redeveloped to ­provide a ­diverse and flexible ­portfolio to complement the many possible ­developments of the estate and to shape a new Abergeldie fit for the 21st century”.

Malcolm Combe, senior lecturer in Law at the University of Strathclyde, said the chances of the community buying the estate were remote.

“The existing land reform measures in Scots law are unlikely to do anything to get in the way of such a transfer, given they are predicated on there being a local community that has mobilised to register a right in relation to a particular parcel of land that they have a connection to,” he said.

The National:

Richard Bunting of Rewilding ­Britain (above) said there should be more opportunities for communities to be able to buy land.

“We’ve supported the community right to buy land in Scotland, but the reality is that we have a long way to go on this issue,” he said.

He added that the Langholm ­Initiative’s purchase of more than 5000 acres from Buccleuch Estates earlier this year, which has led to the creation of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, and which is the South of Scotland’s largest community buyout so far, was an “inspiring” example of a project that “is restoring nature, ­addressing the causes and the impacts of climate breakdown, and helping to regenerate a community”.

“Hopefully it will be a blueprint for similar purchases but such initiatives are all too rare at the moment,” he added. “It’s important to remember that the Langholm community had just months to raise millions of pounds. That they succeeded in raising £3.8m was an amazing result – but provisos around the £1m ­contributed by the Scottish ­Government’s ­Scottish Land Fund put huge pressure on the ­community, and there were times when the buyout ­appeared to be ­seriously at risk.

“The Scottish Government needs to be learning lessons from these ­experiences, and needs to be putting much more support and funding in place to enable communities to ­purchase land with a view to ­ensuring both large and small rewilding and nature recovery projects.”

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THE Scottish Land Commission (SLC) has pushed for a “public interest test” when large areas of land are put on sale and some form of this is intended to be included in a forthcoming land reform bill put forward during the current Scottish Parliament.

“What we have proposed is a test that would guard against the concentration of ownership,” said SLC’s chief executive Hamish Trench. ­“Conditions might be applied such as the transfer of some land or ensuring housing supply is made available.”

He said the Commission was also investigating whether other sources of finance could complement the land fund.

“Communities themselves have found many ways to bring together funding packages to bring land into community ownership and we are looking at how we could make that easier and more systematic.”