Rural community land boost

The Scottish Land Fund which will help more rural communities buy their land was launched this week by Environment Minister and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson.

The £6 million scheme will empower rural communities by helping them acquire land.

The Minister launched the fund, which will be delivered by Big Lottery Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, during a visit to Galson Estate which was today celebrating the fifth anniversary of its successful land buyout.

Mr Stevenson said: “Galson Estate on Lewis, which today marks its fifth anniversary in community ownership, is a fantastic example of what a community buyout can achieve.

“Community land ownership can bring tremendous benefits both to communities themselves and Scotland as a whole. Land ownership is key to building independent, resilient rural communities and creating a sense of confidence and community empowerment.

“That’s why the Scottish Government continues to fully support buyouts and is committed to providing opportunities for rural communities to acquire land.

“The Scottish Land Fund, which we are launching today, is designed to give more rural communities the opportunities which communities like Galson have already enjoyed.

“Both Big Lottery Scotland and HIE will ensure the fund makes the best use of existing resources and expertise to maximise the land fund’s potential.

“These are exciting times for Scotland and this fund will help more of our rural areas to take control of their own destinies and build the successful, flourishing communities of tomorrow.”

John Watt, Director of Strengthening Communities with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said:

“The new Scottish Land Fund will be welcomed in rural communities throughout the country, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise is delighted to be playing a part, along with our colleagues in Big Lottery Fund Scotland.

“With many years’ experience in this field, we can offer valuable advice, information and support to help communities prepare their bids, and to design and deliver projects which will make the most of the assets they acquire.”

The Scottish Land Fund will make available £6 million over the next three financial years. It is expected that the fund will open to applications in summer 2012.