A new organisation, East Lochaber and Laggan Community Trust (ELLCT), has been set up with the aim of buying the Rio Tinto Alcan estate near Fort William. The estate which includes the Lochaber smelter, associated hydro assets and around 125,000 acres of land has been under review by Rio Tinto Alcan. The Trust isn’t aiming to run the smelter or hydro assets itself but hopes to find partners who can take over that element of the business with a view to saving the jobs of the smelter’s 150 employees.
ELLCT is chaired by John Hutchison, a well-known figure in the community land movement. John previously chaired the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust and was, until recently, a Director of Community Land Scotland.
If successful, the buyout would place the land into the ownership of the community with all of the future profits being reinvested locally. A series of public meetings is being held across East Lochaber and Laggan to allow members of the public to find out more and to join the Trust as members.
The largest community land buyout to date took place in 2006 when a sporting syndicate sold the 93,000 acre estate covering most of South Uist, Eriskay and Benbecula to Storas Uibhist.