The Fernaig Community Trust was set up to give the local community access to land, and to involve the community in decision-making concerning the land in this area, creating economic, educational, recreational and environmental benefits, for people resident and visiting.
The villages of Achmore and Strome Ferry, together with a few scattered groups of houses, form a discrete and well defined community of about 150 people. It is a fast-growing community, with a high percentage of the population under 18 years. Despite this, the range and quality of facilities available for all groups remains small. There is no school, shop, post-office or other facility within seven miles of the village, the only public building is the village hall, which was renovated in 2000. Employment tends to be centred away from the area and connected with support services, education and fishing as well as tourism, notably B&B. There is also agriculture; two small farms and two crofts. The bulk of the land is owned by the Forestry Commission, or private estates.
There had long been concern here about who owns and controls land, with decisions being made and benefits accruing to people outside the area. The idea that the local community should have some influence and control is very attractive to many of us, whether through land purchase by the community or by some form of partnership working.
Achmore is largely a ‘forestry village’, with eight houses built by FC in 1950, and most residents, until very recently having some connection with the Forestry Commission. Around 30 people collected their wages from the Achmore office in the 1960s, but by the 1990s this was reduced to one employee in the community. However, there was a feeling among some of us that the forest could provide more local benefit with a different approach, and when we heard about developments at Laggan in 1996 where they were negotiating forest purchase by the community, we thought it worth exploring.
The Trust was set up in 1998. It is a company limited by guarantee (No 188633), with charitable status (Scottish Charity no 033722). It is owned by the membership.
The Trust now owns 110 acres of land, purchased in February 2001, which has been used to create small holdings, allotments and areas of mixed native woodland. We also own the old forest office in Achmore. The field, shed and fank at Achmore bridge is not owned by the Trust, but we have a written agreement allowing community use and have a ‘concordat agreement’ with Forestry and Land Scotland which gives us a voice on local forestry issues and developments. In 2017-18 we succeeded in afunding application under the the AECS scheme ’Improving Public Access’ which led to the construction of a 1.7km footpath joing the settlements of Achmore and Braeintra and has proved to be a popular and well-used community asset.
2 Riverside Cottages
Key contact: Colin McAndrew