§ Sir Russell Johnston
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what information he has as to who owns Loch Ness; and how the various rights in the loch are apportioned.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
At common law the solum of an inland loch in Scotland is owned by the riparian proprietors. There is nothing in the titles of the two estates which contain the major part of the shores of Loch Ness, Lovat estate and Foyers estate, to indicate any departure from the common law with respect to Loch Ness. The cost of a search. to identify and examine the titles of all parties who might have an interest in the loch would be disproportionate to the results achieved. Such a search could not be guaranteed to be exhaustive because the land register of Scotland, which is map-based, has not yet been extended to the Highlands, and the Register of Sasines relies on verbal descriptions of land which are frequently not sufficiently detailed to permit accurate location of the land.
Salmon fishings can be owned separately from the land and held on a separate title. Other fishings cannot be separately owned, but can be let.
Loch Ness, of course, forms part of a navigable waterway and the rights of all parties having an interest in the loch are subject to rights of navigation.