A Western Isles community is celebrating after buying its local estate for £85,000 in just one year.
The Keose Glebe Steering Group yesterday announced it had completed the purchase of the former church land on Lewis.
The estate, on a peninsula between the sea lochs of Erisort and Leurbost, covers about 1,200 acres, almost all of which is subject to crofting legislation. It also includes seven small islands and has a resident population of around 40.
It will now be operated on behalf of the community by Keose Glebe Estate Ltd – a not for profit company, which is seeking charitable status.
Director Angus Smith said: “While the land purchase itself has been central, the buy-out process has also required the community to consider and develop its skills, plans and ambitions for the future, and how these can strengthen and grow social bonds and economic opportunity, for the long-term benefit of all.”
He added that the buy-out had only been possible due to funding and support from the Scottish Land Fund, Western Isles Council – Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CNES), Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Muaitheabhal Community Windfarm Trust, Marine Harvest, Kinloch Community Council and Community Land Scotland.
He said they were also grateful to former landlord Murdo Morrison for agreeing to sell to the community and local people for their “support, belief and enthusiasm” over the past year.
Mr Smith said: “While the Keose Glebe area has had a long and interesting history, this is a new and exciting chapter for us and, as we develop new projects and strategies, again with the help of those agencies that got us here, we look forward with a renewed sense of optimism that real and significant change – for the better – is within our grasp and capabilities.”
CNES’s sustainable development committee chairman Councillor Alasdair Macleod said: “This is a large step for a small community, but this is a group with ambition and vision.”
He added that the council was fully supportive of the project.
Community Land Scotland director David Cameron said it was “excellent news” that the community had completed its purchase in a comparatively short time.
He said: “There is no doubt that they will go from strength to strength as the years go by and the future is safe in their hands.”