June 3, 2015
Perseverance pays off for Pairc
One of the most contentious aspects of the Land Reform Act was the right to buy for crofting communities which effectively conferred on them an ability to force a sale. And so it has proved. Not one crofting community has been successful in using this section of the Act. Not that they haven’t tried. Pairc Trust on Isle of Lewis have been at it for 11 years. But all good things come to those who wait as the unwilling seller has finally relented and agreed to become a willing one. The community will finally own their land.
Pairc Trust, who have been trying to buy the Pairc Estate in south-east Lewis on behalf of the local community for the past 11 years, have now concluded missives for an amicable estate transfer from the current private landlord, it was announced at the Trust’s AGM on Thursday 14th May. The date of entry is expected to be later this year, depending on a decision on the landlord’s expenses claim for professional fees.
Following years of conflict and disagreement, the terms of a voluntary transfer of the over 28,000 acres Pairc Estate were agreed with the landlord in April 2014, and endorsed by the community by more than 2 to 1 in a postal ballot, the results of which were announced on 1st May 2014. External funding for the purchase price of £500,000, plus some initial revenue costs, has been confirmed by Scottish Land Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Comhairle an Eilean Siar, together with the Trust’s own resources.
Over the last year, negotiations have continued to convert the agreement into a legally binding document. The main issues which delayed the process, but which have now been satisfactorily resolved, were mapping of the Estate, ownership of the foreshore, whether VAT is payable, SSE’s decision to withdraw from the lease with Pairc Renewables Ltd, the handling of the landlord’s expenses claim for professional fees, and interim arrangements between conclusion of missives and date of entry.
Angus McDowall, chairman of Pairc Trust, commented:
‘It has been a very frustrating year for all concerned, as a whole succession of different issues have been raised, but we are pleased to announce that last week we made a final Offer which has been agreed by the landlord. Missives have now been concluded and we therefore have a legally-binding agreement to buy the Estate which is fully consistent with the terms of the purchase endorsed by the community last year.
If we can now deal with the landlord’s professional fees claim speedily, there is every reason to think that we will finally take title to the Estate later this year.