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Treasured UK landmarks "Sold" in global rush for land

Posted by Lucy Brinicombe Senior Press Officer

6th Dec 2012

The White Cliffs of Dover, the Angel of the North, Glastonbury Tor and Brighton beach are among the treasured British landmarks that were "sold" this morning, as Oxfam brought the need to tackle land grabs in developing countries to the public's doorsteps.

Oxfam is erecting "Sold" signs the length and breadth of the British Isles from Barry Island to Norfolk and from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol to the Forth Bridge near Edinburgh. The spoof signs are part of Oxfam's ongoing campaign to stop land grabs, which leave poor people in Africa, Asia and Latin America homeless and without access to the land they rely on for food to eat and to make a living.

The recent rush for land has involved an area of land the size of London being sold to foreign investors every six days in poor countries. Few of these deals have been adequately regulated or policed to prevent land grabs, meaning poor people are being evicted, often violently, without consultation or compensation.

Oxfam's campaigns director, Ben Phillips, said: "With land the size of London's Olympic stadium being sold in the world's poorest countries every 30 seconds, more and more poor people are at risk of having their land grabbed from beneath their feet.

"By erecting these sold signs, without warning, outside landmarks so close to our hearts, we hope to bring home to people what experiencing a land grab is like. Land grabs often happen with no prior consultation - imagine being thrown off your land without warning and finding yourself homeless, landless, penniless and at risk of violence."

The UK is the third biggest base for land investors, according to the latest verified data on land deals (1). Oxfam believes that the UK government has a responsibility to act and lead the way on the introduction of more robust international standards to improve transparency and to protect the rights of poor people affected by land grabs.

Oxfam is pressing the government to ensure land grabs are addressed at the next G8 summit, which Britain is hosting next June, and at the major hunger event taking place during the days before. The development agency also wants the UK government to push the World Bank - with a remit to tackle global poverty and as both an investor in land and an adviser to developing countries - to temporarily freeze its agricultural investments in land. This would give the World Bank time to review its own advice to developing countries, help set standards for investors and introduce more robust policies to help stop land grabs.

Phillips added: "The amount of land worldwide that was sold in the past decade is enough to feed a billion people. If the UK government really is concerned about global levels of hunger, as it claims to be, then it should use the opportunity of the upcoming G8 summit to inspire global action to stop land-grabbing becoming the scandal of the 21st century."


Link to the photographs of the White Cliffs of Dover, Abbey Road, the Angel of the North, Glastonbury Tor, Brighton Beach, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament:

We also have photographs, film and testimonies of a land case in Guatemala.

- Link to photographs, the case study and testimonies:

1 The verified data so far on the Matrix database, which aims to give a global view on land investments, shows that the UK is the third largest investor. See link:

For this or further information contact Lucy Brinicombe on 07786 110054 /

Blog post written by Lucy Brinicombe

Senior Press Officer

More by Lucy Brinicombe