Moves have started that could lead to another isle of Harris estate being bought by the community.
A feasibility study on a buy-out of Bays of Harris Estate has been launched to assess the potential for economic and social regeneration of the 30,000 acre property over the next three months.
Early next year, a final vote will be held for villagers to decide whether to buy the land or leave things as they are.
A steering committee spokeswoman said: “The study will assess the viability of community ownership.
“The results of this process will provide residents with the information required to make an informed decision regarding the future of the estate.”
She added: “A report detailing the study’s findings is due to be completed by the end of the year.
“Early in 2015, residents will be invited to attend public meetings where the results will be presented and an opportunity given to discuss its contents.”
The steering group invites anyone considering setting up a business venture in the area to “get in touch and take advantage of the wide range of expertise available while the feasibility study is taking place.”
Some islanders believe this is the last chance to regenerate the ailing community and the Scottish Government’s launch of the Scottish Land Fund has boosted interest in taking the Bays of Harris Estate into community ownership.
Those in favour hope it can stem the severe problem of depopulation which sees droves of young people leaving for work in other parts of the Hebrides and the mainland.
The area is almost devoid of children, very few babies are born into the district and only around 30 pupils attend Leverhulme Primary School, the only one in the area.
The Bays of Harris Estate is owned by the Hitchcock family who bought it for £5,000 after the death of Lord Leverhulme, a founder of what is now the Unilever multinational giant, in 1925.
Despite its name the estate covers vastly more than the rugged east coast of Harris. Three distinct tracts of land have no common boundary and the largest area is a wide sweep down the south east side of Harris, from Direcleit, outside Tarbert, down towards Leverburgh, the main settlement in the district which is also the port for the Southern Isles ferry.
If a buyout proceeded successfully, it would take most of Harris under community ownership and leave three other communities, Rodel lands, Leverburgh lands and Kyles Leverburgh in private ownership.