Hebrides crofters win funds for community buy-out

Hebrides crofters win funds for community buy-out

Crofters on Great Bernera in the Outer Hebrides are set to own their island after the Scottish Land Fund agreed to put forward £100,000 to complete the purchase.

The community buy-out by the Great Bernera Community Development Trust, which was overwhelmingly approved by locals in March, can now go ahead.

The Scottish Land Fund - a partnership between the Scottish Government, the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise - will also pay for two part-time posts, a commercial manager and an administrative officer, to help administer the land.

The news is being hailed as the conclusion of a 141-year struggle that began when attempts to evict 58 families on the island led to the Bernera Riot of 1874, an important event in the history of Scottish land reform.

Tom Macdonald, chair of the Great Bernera Community Development Trust, said: “That we are so close, with this grant, to achieving the ownership of ‘The Crofting Lands of Bernera’ is a tribute to the work of local residents helped by various agencies. This completes the circle of land reform.

“It started here on Bernera, so it’s satisfying to see that the present residents can benefit from the acts of our predecessors. We hope that our actions now will be of similar significance for the future and will kick-start the social and economic regeneration of the Bernera community.”

The Scottish Land Fund has also awarded £715,000 to Urras Sgire Oighreachd Bharabhais (USOB), also in the Western Isles, to facilitate the purchase of 14,000 hectares of the Barvas Estate croft land and a salmon hatchery.

Meanwhile, a smaller award of £141,000 has been made to the Tiree Community Development Trust to bring a former shop in Crossapol into community ownership.

John Watt, chair of the Scottish Land Fund, said: “Today marks a significant milestone for these remote island communities.

“With its latest support of two large island estate buyouts, the Scottish Land Fund has now helped put the majority of Lewis on to the path of community ownership.”

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