Skye is caught in a “perfect storm” with a lack of sustainable jobs and high house prices making it impossible for young people to stay on the island.
The stark picture of emptying villages, an eroding culture and holiday homes taking over communities is painted in an open letter to the Scottish Government and Holyrood election candidates.
It is accompanied by an online petition that has already been signed by more than 1,800 people.
The letter says there is an “existential crisis”, with islanders having become victims of modern day Clearances.
And it calls for action to help local people access affordable homes and for more jobs to be created in Skye to help retain the indigenous population.
The letter says 10% of island houses are now second homes, compared to 1% across Scotland, and the average house price on Skye has risen to £291,000.
Impossible for young people to stay
It reads: “Skye is in danger. Rising house prices and a lack of sustainable work make it almost impossible for young people to stay in the communities they call home.
“Previously affordable properties are now sold at thousands of pounds above their asking price, too often to buyers who have no intention of living on or at times even visiting Skye.
“Profiteering investors are ransacking our island.
“Owners of multiple holiday lets – ripped from the available housing stock – are putting their personal wealth over our fragile island communities and culture.”
It goes on to say the effect of the current housing market trend is devastating, with former family homes in village such as Staffin or Waternish lying empty for half the year.
“If we carry on the way we are going, there will be no place left for locals and young people,” it says.
“What then? Who will maintain, innovate, and share our culture? Who will pass on our language to the next generation? What is Skye without our culture? Without our traditional music? Without Gaelic?”
The letter calls for incentives to encourage companies and government bodies to relocate jobs to rural areas, the creation of more affordable homes, a clampdown on property ownerships for short-term lets and policies ensuring local people get priority for rented accommodation.
It also wants reform of The Highland Council to separate the needs of rural communities from Inverness.
David MacDonald, who helped create the letter, said: “It has definitely come to a head. The situation is desperate.”
He said doctors and other NHS staff are among those who are unable to find places to rent in Skye.
“Even paying £1,000 there is nowhere.
“Unless you are willing to pay Airbnb prices, which are generally £200 a night, you can’t live here.
“In order to get a house you need a well paid job to pay a mortgage of £300,000 and there are not many jobs here that can support that.
“We see this happen in places like Cornwall and we can’t let it happen to Skye.
“We’ve put something out there that has touched a nerve and got 1,000 signature in less than 24 hours.
“This is the start of us being organised and directing our frustration and trying to do something about it.”
Skye councillor John Gordon said: “It’s encouraging to see young people taking a lead with this petition and being a voice for the issues we are facing on the Island.
“These issues have been discussed a lot and the whole situation needs a radical overhaul.
“It’s now come to a point where change and decisions need to be made, a strategic approach from the government and the council and other stakeholders as well as our communities is needed.
“I would strongly encourage people to sign the petition.”
Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson said a Skye area committee already has extensive powers.
“This is not a centralist council, we have been steadily decentralising many decision and will do more,” she said.
“There are plans for affordable housing in Skye. There needs to be more, but there needs to be more money allocated from central government.”