The Scottish Land Fund has today stepped in to help seven enterprising rural communities take ownership of local land that matters most to them.
Plans to set up a ‘Gateway to North Ayrshire’ and to preserve ancient woodlands near Aberdeen are among seven projects to share £1.2 million in funding.
Beith Community Development Trust received the biggest award of £512,000 to make local ambitions for a community buyout of the 5.24 hectare Geilsland Campus in Beith, North Ayrshire, a reality.
By securing the future of the site as a community asset, the trust hopes to position the campus as the ‘Gateway to North Ayrshire’ providing new job opportunities and boosting the local economy with a range of accommodation and business support, start-up and incubator units.
Jane Lamont of Beith Community Development Trust said: “Geilsland Campus is a beautiful and important community asset not only for Beith but also North Ayrshire. To own it as a community is beyond what we once thought was possible. We are genuinely thrilled about the scope and opportunities that will now become a reality. It’s been an empowering process for the whole community.
In Aberdeenshire, the Maryculter Woodlands Trust will now be able to take forward a long-held ambition of owning the 67 hectare Kirkton of Maryculter Wood. The local community has managed the forest, under agreement with Forestry Commission Scotland, since 2007. Thanks to a grant of £196,000 it will now be able to own and develop it for future generations to come. The award will help to secure the future of the woodland as a community asset, allowing the trust to build on the existing use of the wood as an educational resource, to create new opportunities for volunteering, training and skills development and to initiate a range of income generating activities.
Ed Thorogood, Chair, Maryculter Woodlands Trust said: “Gaining support from the Scottish Land Fund is life-changing news for us. We are also very grateful to our own supportive community and to those who put the framework in place which helps communities take ownership of their local woods. We look forward to continuing our work with the community and network of local organisations to help improve the habitat and amenity value still further.”
The First Minister announced in her Programme for Government that the Scottish Land Fund will be increased to £10 million from 2016-20.
Details of all seven awards can be found in this Scottish Land Fund news release.