Sleat Community Trust
Facts & Figures
When proposals to build a wind-farm in Sleat fell through, the Trust remained intact and now, through the Sleat Community Plan, focuses on the priorities identified by the local people and puts in place actions and projects to progress sustainable community development. In addition to owning and operating the Skye Ferry Filling Station and Tormore Forest, Sleat Community Trust also: leases the garage to ensure a maintenance and repair service continues; leases office space to two local small businesses, markets Sleat tourist amenities via Visit Sleat and publishes the Sleat Tourism Leaflet; offers a subsidised taxi service for Sleat residents; supplies local businesses and domestic customers with Woodfuel; operates Skyenet a community broadband service; and has conducted a feasibility study/community consultation for new facilities at its Armadale Trading site.
The Trust, which is a charity, has two Trading subsidiaries which operate several social enterprise activities. Sleat Renewables Ltd (SRL) looks after its forestry, renewables and carbon reduction projects and Sleat Community Trading Company Ltd (SCTCL) runs a successful shop, vehicle fuel station, Post Office and leases a garage facility to a local company.
Around 83.5%, £374K
SCTCL operates a retail facility in Armadale which was purchased in 2007 using a grant from the BIG Lottery. The purchase ensured that the petrol station and shop was saved for the area and this service was enhanced a year later with the incorporation of the local Post Office which was in danger of being closed.
The garage area of the facility is leased to a successful local car mechanic whose business has expanded into offering MOT’s. Investment by the Trust, to extend the existing garage property, was one of the main drivers to make this happen.
The Trust purchased a 1000 acre forest in 2011 from the Forestry Commission through the National Forest Land Scheme.
Value of assets
Roots & Links
Established in 2004; a scoping study was carried out by the University of Strathclyde and resulted in a community plan that outlined the needs and aspirations of the community. The Sleat Community Plan allows the Trust to focus on the priorities identified by the local people and to put in place plans for actions/projects to progress community sustainable development. This plan was refreshed recently after community consultation.
The Board of Directors consists of eleven local people, elected by the members of the Trust. Full membership is open to anyone over eighteen years of age and living in the Sleat area. Associate membership is open to anyone in the world who has close links with Sleat and supports the Aims and Objectives of Sleat Community Trust.
There are nine local groups who are group members of the Trust. The Trust has established several advisory groups, these are members of the Trust who wanted to become involved in the decision making process and are prepared to spend time and effort identifying the issues surrounding sustainable development in areas such as affordable housing, environment and tourism.
The Trust maintains close links with external agencies and is a member of a number of organizations. • One of the first members of the Development Trust Association Scotland • Recently helped to host both the Community Land Scotland (CLS) and the Community Woodlands Association (CWA) conferences at the Sabhal Mor Ostaig (SMO – the Gaelic college). • The Trust in conjunction with Highland Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) is to carry out a housing needs survey of the area. • Involved in discussions with the Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Clan Donald Lands Trust (CDLT), Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association (L&SHA), Sleat Community Council (SCC) and SMO management to look at future needs for expansion and development opportunities around the area. • Have a close working relationships with HIE, CWA, CLS, Community Energy Scotland, DTA Scotland, Local and National Government Departments. • Sleat Renewables Limited operates all trading activity within the 1000 acre community owned Tormore Forest and supplies woodfuel to private and public customers • Sleat Community Trading Company Limited looks after the community petrol station, shop, Post Office and leased garage facility at Armadale • Trading has also operated a Highland Council part funded subsidized taxi scheme for several years. • In 2008 students from Flensberg University in Germany visited Sleat for 5 weeks to carry out a Carbon Footprint for the Sleat peninsula and the data from this survey was used by to run a carbon reduction project called Clean Sleat
The Trust has refurbished a property, adjoining their Garage business, to establish a ‘headquarters’ providing a management hub for all the Trusts activities.
Builds Local Capacity
There is considerable potential for individuals and the community to develop skills and learn in the organic processes of their involvement in the Trust. Individuals also attend various training and networking days.
Own and operate the Skye Ferry Filling Station; lease the garage to ensure maintenance and repair service continues; deliver a Visitor Information Service; fund a senior residents activities club; run a subsidiary company to supply local businesses with woodchips and woodfuel; operate a successful local tourist group Visit Sleat which promotes the area as a holiday destination, produces a quarterly newsletter, operate the local Post Office, manages an Enterprise grant giving fund for local businesses and other community groups.
The Trading Company also operates a subsidised taxi service through grant funding from Highland Council. This vital service connects the population to onward transport links and to local services such as the doctor’s surgery.
SRL has commenced the harvesting of the commercial timber, providing biomass woodchip to the local college Sabhal Mor Ostaig and supplying domestic households with log lengths. Local employment has been secured through this enterprise for a full time community forester and a variety of sub-contractors, who have been involved in fencing, replanting and roading within the forest.
SRL has also been involved in a community wind energy development for the peninsula although this work has been stymied due to an inability to connect to the national grid until at least 2020.
SCTCL is also looking at faster broadband provision in the area by working with providers to research if a wireless network can be installed.
The Trust owns Retail premises, Fuel station, Garage,Tormore Forest.
In 2011 the Sleat Community Trust was honoured to be awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award given to volunteer groups for outstanding work in local communities.
• Developing the Filling Station project as a viable long-term business. • Keeping the community involved and supportive. • Overcoming collective volunteer ‘burn-out’. • Having the courage of our convictions
• The need to focus on one project at a time • The need to be realistic about time-scales and budget • The need to believe in our aims and take risks where necessary.
A review in 2011 of the management structure and working practices and procedures was a significant milestone for the Sleat Community Trust. Funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise the review formed the foundation for the Trusts development as it approaches its second decade. Building on from the work already achieved in over 9 years the review has allowed the Trust to re-assess its business and social objectives and to set out a plan to see it grow further into its next decade.
Key projects include:
- A twenty five year plan to harvest the timber, construct related infrastructure facilities, develop related commercial business opportunities and create leisure amenities
• Assessment of options for a community broadband network
• The redevelopment of the community owned assets at Armadale
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