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January 25, 2012

Varied approaches to land ownership


Owning land seems to produce very contrasting responses from individuals who find themselves in that position. For some it is purely as an opportunity to maximise personal gain – the history of this country is littered with such examples.  For others the challenge is much more complex. For them it is how their stewardship can result in improved outcomes, both for the land and for those who live on it. The folk on Scalpay can count their blessings.





STV news, 16 January 2012 

Residents of a Hebridean village are being given the chance to have their say on whether to take over the running of their own village.

Scalpay landlord Fred Taylor has offered to give his 300 tenants control of their own land free of charge.

He says he has no plans to sell the land to anyone else and would retain the island if its residents decide not to take it from him.

Mr Taylor, who inherited the island from his father ten years ago, says the residents could set up their own community trust or join the larger neighbouring community estate managed by the North Harris Trust.

The Scalpay Community Land Steering Group is in discussions with Western Isles Council to hold a public ballot early in June.

The group has hired DTA Scotland Consultancy, The Pool in collaboration with Ecodyn Ltd, to examine the financial social and economic impact of various types of land ownership.

Paul Finnegan, steering group chairman, said: “When funding is fully confirmed, consultants are due to begin work on the project and it is their intention to maintain the high level of community engagement which has been in place ever since Mr Taylor made his generous offer to the community in March 2011.

“The brief provided to consultants contains an incredible 161 individual contributions from within the community relating to the future development of the island and we hope that the community will endeavour to maintain that same detailed level of dialogue with the Pool when they embark upon further community consultation work as part of their study.”