There have been a great many positive changes on Rum since the completion of the first two Transfers of land from SNH to the Isle of Rum Community Trust back in 2010. During this time, the Isle of Rum community has been finding its feet with the challenges of administering and managing its own business and affairs, including managing the substantial assets and resource it now owns.
As part of this process, the community have been developing and reshaping a strong and positive relationship with former land owner SNH. Still the largest land owner and employer on the island, SNH provides four community members with full time employment, and also several zero hour contracts for work in the SNH hostel, castle, energy supply and for maintenance and reserve works.
The community’s crowning achievement so far, is the fundraising, build and completion this month, of the state of the art Bunkhouse www.facebook.com/rumbunkhouse . With substantial funding from the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands & Islands Enterprise this facility allows for a smooth transfer of hostel style accommodation on Rum (and associated employment), from SNH to the community.
Income from this community business will contribute to the principal goal of effecting a substantial increase in housing provision on the island, both private and community owned. Isle of Rum want to eventual double the island’s current population of around 40 resident adults and children. A range of possible housing sites have been agreed in what is a heavily designated landscape around the A-listed Kinloch Castle, and within a National Nature Reserve, SPA, SAC and NSA. Along with SNH, Highland Council’s planning department have been very supportive throughout this process, as indeed have Historic Scotland with plans for the management of the extensive policy woodlands and Garden Designed Landscape which Isle of Rum also own and manage.
To support this ongoing transformation and in partnership with all stakeholders, Isle of Rum are currently completing a Community Land Use Plan, working with Planning Aid Scotland, to provide an entry as Supplementary Guidance in the new Lochaber Local Plan (with funding from Awards for All and Highland Council).
Isle of Rum are also actively looking at community-controlled, local energy solutions to power this change, and are currently working with partners including SNH, THC and Local Energy Scotland.
Local democracy on Rum also receives vital, ongoing support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise in the form of Local Development Officer funding and also the expertise of their Local Area Team based in Fort William.
With this support and the community’s drive to succeed Isle of Rum aim to continue to achieve great things. Developing a dynamic, thriving community, living in healthy, sustainable homes focused around a busy community-hub. Strengthening links with neighbouring island and mainland communities, as well as with the Scottish Government and its agencies. Isle of Rum will create vibrant businesses focused on the forest resource, on the brilliant natural environment of Rum and on the amazing marine tourism potential, as well as the huge opportunity for renewable energy on the island, particularly hydro and solar.
The Isle of Rum Community Trust, are looking forward to developing their vision to become an increasingly important player in the life of a thriving network of highland coastal communities.