Community given £4.4m to buy Scottish island

A community hoping to stage a buyout of a small island has been awarded up to £4.4 million funding to help them make an offer.

The Scottish Land Fund has announced an award of up to £4.4m to North West Mull Community Woodland Company’s bid to buy the island of Ulva and land on the neighbouring Isle of Mull.

The group, which is the first to register interest in an island under the Scottish Government’s Community Right to Buy legislation, now has until June 9 to agree terms with the current owner, raise the rest of the funding they will need, and complete the sale.

The group plans to purchase an estate, which spans 2,000 hectares and includes the Isle of Ulva, as well as some land on nearby Mull.

The community has said its main priority is to attract new residents to the island, where only six people live.

Chair of the group Colin Morrison said: “We aim to have 20 or more people living on Ulva within two or three years, rising to as many as 50 or more in time as new houses are built. Social and economic development of Ulva will bring benefits to the neighbouring communities on Mull.

“Schools, shops, local services and industry will all receive a boost from the increased population and also from the increased number of visitors we are confident we shall see once accommodation and facilities are provided for them on the island.”

Cabinet secretary for the environment, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “This is further demonstration of the Scottish Government’s commitment to empowering communities via land reform – enabling them to determine their own futures.

“If the purchase is successful, then I’m sure that the people of Ulva, and its surrounding area, will reap the benefits of community ownership for years to come.”

In December 2017, following an independent ballot of 401 voters in north west Mull, almost 64% of people were in favour of the community buyout.