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January 27, 2016

Wanlockhead hitting the heights

The tiny village of Wanlockhead, located in the Lowther Hills in Dumfries and Galloway, has been making headlines of late. Until recently its main claim to fame has been as the highest village in Scotland.  But last year its reputation as a centre for gold prospecting took on a new sheen when the largest nugget of gold found anywhere for 70 years was panned by a passing prospector. And then just after the turn of the year, the villagers announced their ambitious plans to buy the entire village from Buccleuch Estates.



Residents of Scotland’s highest village have met to take forward their plans for a community buyout.

They were discussing their goal of purchasing Wanlockhead from landowner the Duke of Buccleuch.

Proposals for a community buyout began when neighbouring village Leadhills started the same process back in 2014.

Representatives of Community Land Scotland and the Scottish government attended the meeting to give advice.

Among the aims of the proposed buyout would be to provide economic development opportunities for the village.

They include plans to turn it into a “tourism centre” based around its mining heritage as well as recreational opportunities on the Lowther Hills.

It comes after recent plans emerged which could see up to 140 turbines located in the area.

The next step for the group would be to create a community company for the proposed buyout.

It would then be tasked with registering an interest in buying the land within the current legislation.

South of Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish, who attended the meeting, said local people had “highlighted an inspiring range of opportunities for the future”.

“If the community buyout goes ahead, decision making will be in the hands of the people who live there,” she said.

“They will be given support and funding advice by Scottish government bodies.”

Ms Beamish added that as a member of the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee (RACCE), she was working to make the Land Reform Bill “more robust”.

“The bill will act as a backstop if owners refuse to negotiate on an application by a community,” she said.

“I wish the Wanlockhead group and other groups across south Scotland well for amicable arrangements with the landowners concerned.”