December 19, 2012
Lighthouses continue to serve
The number of seamen who owe their lives to the engineering genius of Robert Stevenson will never be known. Two hundred years after their construction in some of the most hostile environments one could imagine, Stevenson’s lighthouses continue to be iconic landmarks around the coastline of Scotland. Although automation has led many to be decommissioned, they remain treasured as part of the local heritage. And some communities have started to see they have potential for more.
One in the south of Scotland…
SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod has welcomed the news that the South Rhins Community Development Trust is to commence community consultation under right-to-buy legislation, following the decision by the Northern Lighthouse Board to sell the 30-acre site and buildings apart from the lighthouse itself.
Dr McLeod commented: “The South Rhins Community Development Trust wants to keep this iconic site in community ownership and build on the good work that has been done over the past twelve years to turn the Mull of Galloway into a popular tourist destination.
“I hope these plans will gain the support of the wider community and allow the Trust to proceed with the community buy-out process.
“A great deal of good work has been done over the past twelve years and I am confident that the community has the skills and commitment to ensure the continuing success of the Mull of Galloway as a tourist destination, but in the future with many of its assets owned and managed by the community itself.”
And one in the north east…
A local community has given a resounding ‘Yes’ vote to plans for the transformation of an iconic lighthouse into a major tourism hub.
Voters in Lossiemouth were polled on if community buyout plans for the Covesea Skerries Lighthouse should go ahead, with the Moray electoral officer undertaking a ballot of every voter in the IV31 6 postcode district.
Hours after the deadline for returned ballot papers the result on Friday revealed an “astonishing” 94.9% of residents in favour of the Lossiemouth Community Company Limited (LCCL) taking the plan forward.
Now the group plan to press ahead with identifying funding sources for the estimated £300,000 required to purchase the lighthouse from current owners, the Northern Lighthouse Board.
Speaking for the LCCL on Friday a delighted Bernard Annikin said: “Under the terms of the Scottish Government’s community buyout scheme we had to show that we had the backing of the local community to purchase the lighthouse, and we felt the best way of doing that was to conduct this poll.
“In talking to people we were aware that they were in favour of this move, but even then we were astonished at the level of support the poll revealed. Almost half of those who could vote did so, which in electoral terms is not at all bad.
“With 2454 of them voting ‘Yes’ and only 130 saying ‘No’, there is a very clear message from the people of Lossiemouth on the way ahead. With that level of backing we know that we can progress with a great deal of confidence.”
Mr Annikin added that the intention now was to first secure ownership of the lighthouse and the LCCL will also consult with a variety of groups on how it will be used in the future. He said: “The main thing that has come through already is that people would like to see the lighthouse become a hub for all tourism activities in and around Lossiemouth.
“There are a number of groups showing an interest in joining us in this venture, including the RAF who may well establish a museum on the site.
“The poll has shown that people are prepared to work together on this and that is vital. We are looking at attracting perhaps 20,000 additional visitors to the area and that will provide a tremendous boost not only for the lighthouse but for all of the existing tourist attractions the area has to offer.”
Chairman of the LCCL is David Stewart, who added: “I am thrilled by the results of this poll which gives us a very clear mandate to proceed with our plans for the lighthouse.
“The LCCL has already looked at a variety of groups who would be able to assist the community in the purchase and that will now be our main priority. The Scottish Government withdrew the lighthouse from public sale and we will seek to ensure that it is under community ownership as soon as possible.
“These are exciting times for Lossiemouth and I’m sure that communities throughout Moray will be watching closely on how our plans progress.”