A community in Sutherland have successfully secured 3,000 acres of crofting estate after receiving a £273,025 grant from the Scottish Government.
The Garbh Allt Community Initiative has bought the townships of Marrel, West Helmsdale, Gartymore and Portgower – formally owned by Sutherland Estates – as well as 20 sites of historical interest.
The milestone achievement aftertwo long years for the community group, bringing a new approach to land ownership in the east of Sutherland.
Anne Fraser, chair of The Garbh Allt Community Initiative, said: “We are absolutely delighted really and very excited about what that means for the future of the community.
“I think that initially, when Sutherland Estates approached us to see if we would be interested in buying it, people were stunned and we considered how we could make the most of it.
“I am looking forward to standing on it. If my grandparents and my great grandparents could see that we bought up the land, I can imagine how proud they would be of how their offspring have got it back and bought it back for the community.”
The area has long suffered from a lack of employment and depopulation, a trend that Garbh Allt is working to change to give more people opportunities within a thriving forward-looking community.
Mrs Fraser said the community group was also eager to engage with residents across the district.
She added: “We have been considering how we can develop apprentices to get people in the area into housing and employment and how to use that to the advantage of the community.
“We have a lot of junior members of the association. We want to engage people as early as we possibly can by planning how we might interact with schools, youth clubs and young footballers and encourage them to use the community land and get people to have a connection.”