Community gains right to register interest in buying island.
A community group with ambitious plans to repopulate a Scottish island has become the latest organisation to benefit from right to buy powers.
Scottish Ministers have given consent to The North West Mull Community Woodland Company to register its interest in purchasing the Isle of Ulva in the Inner Hebrides, with a view to attracting new residents by increasing economic activity and housing stock on the island.
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives communities the right to register and then go on to buy land and assets under certain conditions. While the powers have been successfully used across rural and urban Scotland, this is the first time permission has been granted to a community group to register interest in an island under this legislation.
Land Reform Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:
“The Isle of Ulva is steeped in history and rich in wildlife. At its height Ulva had over 800 residents and now has only a handful, a story which is unfortunately all too common to many of our island communities.
“The North West Mull Community Woodland Company is the first organisation to use community right to buy powers to register interest in buying an island. One of the group’s key objectives is to increase Ulva’s population and other small communities should take encouragement from the group’s ambitious plans.
“Community right to buy, which we expanded through the Community Empowerment Act in 2015 and Land Reform legislation in 2016, is unlocking potential in our urban, rural and island communities and giving local people a say in their future.”
To support these changes, the Scottish Land Fund was increased to £10 million. Individual groups can apply for up to £1 million per application and in exceptional circumstances, larger grants may be available.
The Scottish Land Commission was also created this year to ensure that land reform remains on the agenda and one of their strategic objectives includes the desire to improve the effectiveness of community right to buy mechanisms.
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