EU Handouts Swell Billionaires’ Coffers
Wealthy landowners receive tens of millions of pounds
1st July 2017
TENS of millions of pounds in European Union subsidies are being paid to landowning billionaires and aristocrats in Britain, a Greenpeace study showed yesterday.
Of the 100 companies and landowners receiving the biggest basic payments from Europe, 20 of them feature on the Sunday Times Rich List, up from 16 a year ago, the environmental campaign group said.
The subsidies are based on the amount of land each owns — the bigger the estate, the bigger the subsidy.
Greenpeace said billionaire Sir James Dyson’s farming business was the biggest private beneficiary last year, receiving £1.6 million.
New entrants on the top 100 subsidy list included the Earl of Rosebery, the Duke of Buccleuch and Earl Bathurst.
Other recipients are the Highland Wagyu beef farm owned by Mohsin al-Tajir, the son of a billionaire former United Arab Emirates ambassador to Britain.
Also enjoying the taxpayers’ largesse are the Duke of Northumberland, Duke of Westminster, Earl of Iveagh, the Guinness family and, of course, the Queen.
Companies belonging to wealthy overseas-based landowners include racehorse breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah al-Saud, Greenpeace said.
In total, the top 100 recipients picked up £49.9 million last year, more than was paid to the bottom 35,000 combined.
Greenpeace UK policy director Dr Doug Parr said: “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, building thriving rural economies, reducing flood risk or protecting our wildlife.”
New Environment Secretary Michael Gove has said Brexit is a chance to get rid of bureaucracy and design a new system of supporting farmers to better protect and enhance the environment.
But he has given no indication that the gravy train will be stopped.
Dr Parr added: “Britain has never had a better opportunity to reshape our farming sector for the common good. Mr Gove should start laying the groundwork for it now.”
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