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Western Isles laird opposes land sale

North Uist
North Uist

A Western Isles laird is opposing the prospect of his Hebridean estate being taken off him against his wishes.

Fergus Leveson-Gower, the 6th Earl of Granville, a cousin and godson of the Queen, is aghast at discussions over taking control of the 75,000 acre island of North Uist.

A public meeting is being held on Wednesday night this week to sound out support for a community takeover, believing it will regenerate the economy and stem depopulation.

At this stage, any buyout would be a hostile move as the 54-year-old earl’s stance has been spelled out in a statement issued through George Macdonald, the factor for North Uist Estate which runs the land.

The statement said: “We certainly hope that the community will not favour a buy-out and it is by no means certain that there will be sufficient interest in a buy-out for a similar suggestion was put to the crofters a couple of years ago and this met with a negative response.

“North Uist is significantly different from most estates on which buy-outs have progressed for the Granville family have lived here for the past 54 years and are very much part of the community.

“They are also committed to the island and have tried their best to invest in North Uist and promote the island through their businesses.”

The statement added: “As far as the community of North Uist is concerned I do not see a struggling depressed community suffering under private landlords but rather a vibrant active inclusive community that people are proud to be part of.

“The family have always ensured that the estate is actively managed and our style of management is far from dictatorial, as any person or agency that has interacted with the estate will testify.”

The statement points out the family has given land for the community good such as sites for community wind turbines and offer discounted housing plots for islanders as well as assigning seaweed harvesting rights to an island family business.

It also boosted local tourism businesses by assisting in setting up a new yacht marina, a community-run forest and visitors walking trails.

The estate says the Granville’s businesses generate a £2.5million turnover locally and employ nearly 100 islanders in full-time, part-time and seasonal roles.

The meetings is in Lochmaddy School at 7.30pm.

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