More communities benefitting from Scottish Land Fund

The last awards under the current Scottish Land Fund programme have just been announced, alongside the announcement from the First Minister that the Fund will be increased to £10 million from 2016-20. The new programme opens in April 2016, and details will be announced in the New Year. Watch this space.

Our congratulations go to three of our member communities who have been awarded funding and will now be able to move forward with their exciting plans.

Gallan Head Community Trust will use their award of £200,000 to help acquire a 42 hectare former Ministry of Defence radar station site in Aird Uig, Isle of Lewis. The purchase, under the Land Reform Act (Scotland) 2003, will bring this important site into community ownership for the development of new enterprises to create jobs and help build a more sustainable environment for this remote rural area.

The Trust will also buy a privately owned house on the Gallan Head peninsular to be developed as a visitor centre along with being a base for community events (pic: artists impression of the centre).

Martin Hayes, Chairman of Gallan Head Community Trust, said:

“We are thrilled as this Scottish Land Fund award means that we can complete our community buyout of MOD land and progress our plans for social enterprise. For the first time in many decades, local people will be able to enjoy the unique Gallan Head peninsula. The award means our community can now create opportunities to help local businesses, restore and conserve our remarkable natural environment, and create interest, enjoyment, and learning opportunities for visitors.”

Keose Glebe Steering Group will put their £105,500 award towards part funding the buyout of the Keose Glebe Estate and foreshore situated in the Lochs area on the east side of the Isle of Lewis. Owning the 627 hectare site, which includes 11 crofts, will empower the very remote and rural community to lead and control the management and future development of the Estate enabling them to create new sustainable economic and social opportunities.

Angus Smith, Chairman of Keose Glebe Steering Group, said:

“Our community have clearly shown their desire, support and commitment to taking charge of and shaping their own futures. We are therefore very grateful to the Scottish Land Fund for their support which we hope will be the foundation in making our plan a reality. For us, this award is more than just about the money – as it is about people being seen to have belief and confidence in us, and us having belief and confidence in ourselves. We are only at the beginning of things, but we have momentum and we can make a real difference here.”

Mull and Iona Community Trust will purchase part of a former forestry plantation at Ardmore near Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, Argyll with their £18,630 award. The purchase, under the National Forest Land Scheme, will bring 0.8 hectare of land into community ownership to be developed to provide new storage facilities for local businesses.

Aileen McLeod, Minister for Land Reform, said:

“It is great news that the latest round of awards from the Scottish Land Fund will help seven communities in Western Isles, Argyll and Bute, Highland, the Borders, Fife and South Ayrshire bring land into community ownership. This is proof that the enthusiasm and drive for community ownership is coming from communities across the whole of Scotland.

“This brings the number of communities who have benefitted from the current Scottish Land Fund to over 50, involving £9m worth of funding over the four years of the fund.  In 2014, the Scottish Government committed to increasing this funding, so that a wider range of communities and projects can benefit from the opportunity to develop the land on which they live and work to realise their goals and ambitions.”

John Watt, Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, said:

“These projects are excellent examples of how local communities all over rural Scotland can transform their ambition and hopes into reality. From a dynamic buyout of a Ministry of Defence site on Lewis to the creation of a valuable community-owned facility in Newcastleton, these awards will help to deliver social, environmental and economic benefits for generations to come – helping to sustain remote communities. Each of today’s seven successful groups has worked hard to get to this point and I wish them all every success as they take forward their innovative plans.”

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