- Created: Thursday, 15 August 2019 13:20
- Written by Susan Davidson
Who owns England? How we lost our green and pleasant land and how to take it back
Guy Shrubsole, William Collins 2019, 376pp, £20
In compiling this book, Guy Shrubsole has completed a heroic mission. On foot, on bicycle, trespassing, searching computer databases and submitting numerous Freedom of Information requests, he has almost answered the title question: who owns England? Almost, because the Land Registry ‘remains incomplete: over 83% of land in England and Wales has now been registered but the “missing” 17% comprises millions of acres of land whose owner is unknown’. Shrubsole has built on the work of Kevin Cahill’s Who owns Britain? published in 2001 and Dan and Peter Snow’s 2006 BBC documentary, Whose Britain is it anyway? His collaborator, Anna Powell-Smith, is a data analyst on the Who Owns England blog. The map of owners of land in England and Wales is gradually coming together. The continued efforts of other determined individuals like the investigative journalist Christian Erikkson and organisations such as the Open Data Institute are making possible the publication of further detective work – for example Brett Christophers’ The New Enclosure: the appropriation of public land in neo-liberal Britain, which he describes as ‘the biggest privatisation you’ve never heard of’ (see review in FRFI 269 https://tinyurl.com/yxnk6o3d).