Friends of friends get behind ownership bid

Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes

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Kinloch Castle Friends Association are ramping up their bid to become beneficial owners of the 19th-century masterpiece on Rum.

Following the failure of their asset transfer proposal last year the group  have been in talks with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to discuss the future for the castle.

SNH informed the charitable group that they were now seeking a beneficial owner that would contribute towards three key objectives and that any proposals from the Friends Association would be considered.

The objectives are:

Cultural heritage – securing the conservation and preservation of Kinloch Castle;

Community – contributing to the socio-economic sustainability of the Rum community;

Nature and climate change – enhancing the natural environment on Rum, promoting its enjoyment and minimising the carbon footprint and environmental impact from the use of the Castle.

Following meetings with Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) the group are now seeking funding to move a phased plan forward.

‘It has always been intended that green energy would be used as soon as possible but that there would be a time lag,’ said a spokesperson from the Friends Association.

‘ We are confident that we can demonstrate that we can fulfil the criteria.’

Proposals for phase one include creating bed and breakfast rooms in the former hostel accommodation, including more bathrooms and putting back the bar and bistro.

The second phase is to work towards restoring the other better letting rooms, and the ‘museum’ rooms.

The group has the backing of  Ian Blackford MP and Kate Forbes MSP who have both been very supportive of the proposals.

Mr Blackford said: ‘Their proposals appear to meet SNH’s three key objectives for ‘a beneficial owner’, namely securing the conservation and preservation of Kinloch Castle; contributing to the socio-economic sustainability of the Rum community; and enhancing the natural environment on Rum, while minimising the carbon footprint and environmental impact from use of the Castle.

‘The project seeks to bring much-needed additional employment to Rum as well as ensuring a viable and sustainable future for the castle.

‘I am happy to support any realistic plans that will ensure a viable and sustainable future for Kinloch Castle and wish the group well going forward.’

Ms Forbes commented: ‘Though the group was very disappointed with the asset transfer decision, they are continuing to work hard behind the scenes and I don’t think it is the end of the road for Kinloch Castle.

‘I am keen to support Friends of Kinloch Castle, and met with them before the lockdown to look at this again and see if there is another way of achieving their aims.’

Kinloch Castle Friends Association have also written to HRH the Prince of Wales and to Lord Thurso the Chair of Visit Scotland, who also has enormous experience of the hotel industry, to ask for their support.