In 2017 Scotland marked the historic opening of the new bridge across the Firth of Forth, the Queensferry Crossing. To get a closer look at the new bridge, we examined its title and the information it holds. It may seem like just maps and words, but behind these descriptions is a rather unique registered title, as you might well expect. Read on to find out more.
The title for the new bridge was created in 2014, when ownership of the land was sold by the Crown Estate Commissioners (representing the UK Government) to Scottish Ministers. So though one might believe this to mean that ownership of all land relating to the bridge was transferred to the Scottish Government, the details are slightly more complicated.
In fact, the land owned by Scottish Ministers is shown tinted pink on the map below, displayed in ScotLIS, our innovative new land and information service. These areas contain the three 207 metre high towers and other essential parts of the bridge structure. In addition, the Crown granted Scottish Ministers the right to “construct, maintain and operate a bridge over the Firth of Forth”, this right however, can only be exercised over the areas tinted brown on the plan.
This means they’re able to build the bridge, but under certain specified conditions; for example, the bridge cannot interrupt maritime traffic or fishing rights. It might seem overly specific, but think of it like this: had all land been transferred, then theoretically, the Queensferry Crossing could have just been a brick wall with a road on top! This unusual and clever piece of conveyancing achieves the desired results for both parties while avoiding unwelcome consequences for everyone else who uses this very busy stretch of water.
The Queensferry Crossing’s title raises an important point about land registration in general. At Registers of Scotland we’re making steady progress towards our commitment to complete the map-based Land Register of Scotland by 2024. Prior to this, property deeds were held on the written General Register of Sasines – the world’s oldest continuous national public land register.
This registered title for the Queensferry Crossing gives us a clear example of why the land register provides a more reliable and certain record of land ownership. Whereas a sasine record can be open to interpretation, a mapped title plan shows in black and white (or pink and brown in this case) the exact boundaries and details of a given piece of land. Additionally, the title conditions and historic burdens that specify what the owners can and can’t do with their property are clearly set forth in the title sheet.
For individuals or representatives of clients who are large landowners or have a particularly unique title, the land register offers assurance and precision. That’s why we’re encouraging voluntary registration; by registering your land, you can gain a guarantee to your title that is state-backed and clearly mapped. Now that’s a bridge that’s worth crossing. Find out more about voluntary registration here.