From transforming a Ministry of Defence base, to buying a site for a community-owned filling station, the Scottish Land Fund is today helping seven enterprising communities to take ownership of local land that matters most to them.
Other inspirational projects receiving funding today include the purchase of a former steelworks to create a community hub and the buyout of a remote island crofting community.
Over £860,000 is being awarded to groups in the Western Isles, the Highlands, Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, and Argyll and Bute.
Plans to redevelop the former Ministry of Defence radar station site at Aird, Uig on the Isle of Lewis have received a welcome Scottish Land Fund investment of £200,000. Gallan Head Community Trust will use the funding to help acquire the 42 hectare site. 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.
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.”
In the Scottish Borders, the Newcastleton and District Community Trust will use their £51,397 award to take forward plans to purchase the site of a rundown disused garage and forecourt in their remote rural village and develop it as a community-owned fuel filling station. The project will benefit the local community by re-establishing an important local service which will reduce the need and cost to travel for fuel, while improving a derelict
site at the heart of the village. Steven Hartley, Chair of Newcastleton and District Community Trust, said: “The grant from the Scottish Land Fund is an enormous boost and welcome recognition of our efforts as a new Community Development Trust. The prospect of having fuel again in our village is very exciting and will bring a huge economic boost to all – as our local traders and retailers have seen declines in spend as everyone has to travel to get fuel.”
Tayport Community Trust’s plans to purchase the former Abertay Steel Works in Fife have received a £42,000 boost from the Scottish Land Fund to part-fund the deal. The purchase will bring this currently unused 1.3 hectare site into community ownership to be redeveloped for a range of new facilities including a Community Hub, conference, theatre and arts facilities. The plans for the project also include business and retail units as well as attracting tourists with a hostel and camping and caravan site.
Dan Rous, Development Manager of Tayport Community Trust, said: “We are thrilled to receive this Scottish Land Fund money which will enable a piece of land that has fallen into dereliction over the last 20 years to be regenerated and developed into a vibrant and sustainable resource for the local community and visitors to the area. Owning the site will provide a valuable trigger for other potential funders to allow the Community Trust to generate the level of funds required for the whole project. This positive step is a huge milestone for our project.”
In the Western Isles, the Keose Glebe Steering Group will use their £105,500 award to part fund the buyout of the Keose Glebe Estate and foreshore situated in the Lochs area on the east side 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.”
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.”
Ailsa Raeburn, Head of Community Assets at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “We have worked with both Keose Glebe Steering Group and Gallan Head Community Trust and have provided financial support to enable them to develop their projects. The news of additional funding from the Scottish Land Fund is excellent. The support from HIE and SLF will give communities the resource and control they need, to deliver some really exciting projects for the benefit of the people living there and those visiting the areas.”
These are the last awards under the current Scottish Land Fund programme which is now closed. The First Minister announced in her Programme for Government that the Scottish Land 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.
Details of all seven awards can be found in this Scottish Land Fund news release.