Ulva buyout gets green light from Holyrood

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The Isle of Ulva’s community buyout took one step closer this month after being given the go-head by the Scottish Government.

Earlier this month the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham ‘triggered’ the North West Mull Community Woodland Company’s (NWMCWC) Right to Buy the island of Ulva and associated holdings at Ulva Ferry on Mull.

The Ulva buyout group now has until early June to put together a funding package and purchase the property at the price which was set by the independent valuer in December.

John Addy, a director of NWMCWC, said: ‘We are obviously delighted at this news which sets Ulva on a path of social and economic rejuvenation including repopulation.

‘We have drawn up an ambitious, but carefully phased business plan based on a detailed feasibility study carried out by respected independent consultants.

‘The first priority once we have purchased the island will be to renovate the existing housing stock as quickly as possible and provide existing and future residents with security of tenure so that they can plan with confidence for their futures and those of their families.’

Colin Morrison, chairman of NWMCWC, added: ‘We wish to acknowledge the very wide support we have received from the community and from a range of organisations and individuals who share our wish to see Ulva thrive again, this time with the people living on Ulva and Mull in the driving seat.

‘A host of community organisations, businesses and individuals are supporting us including Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT), Ulva School Community Association, Mull Fishermen’s Association, South West Mull and Iona Development, local fishermen and tourism businesses etc.

‘Also in favour are national organisations including Community Land Scotland, Rural Housing Scotland, The Woodland Trust Scotland, Community Woodlands Association Scotland and the Development Trusts Association Scotland. The buyout is also supported by our elected representatives at Westminster and Holyrood.’

Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said: ‘I am confident that the economic potential of the island is great and that it can best be taken forward by local people with local priorities in mind. That is the whole ethos of community purchase and I want to see that succeed on Ulva.’

NWMCWC is applying to the Scottish Land Fund (SLF) for support. However, it can only  fund a percentage of the overall amount so there is a significant sum to find from other sources.

A detailed ‘stage two’ application to SLF will now be submitted, and discussions are ongoing with potential sponsors and partner organisations.