Eyes are on Insh

Insh Island and its cave. Photograph: Tony Hardley.

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Neighbours of a ‘sold off’ island are keeping an eye out for plans to develop it.

When uninhabited Insh, close to Seil, Easdale and Luing, went on the market for £125,000 last year, interest in becoming its new owner came from as far away as America and across Europe.

The 15 acres of rough grassland and emptiness in the Firth of Lorne estuary is believed to have eventually been snapped up for more than £300,000, sold to a Midlothian-based business involved in holiday centres and villas.

There are no services on the island, only the ruins of two croft cottages as well as a cave, which, according to free encyclopedia Wikipedia, its previous private owner David Brearley lived in at the north end between 1973 and 2003.

The cave is understood to have been fitted with double-glazed windows and a water tank, according to local knowledge.

Insh had been gifted to the National Trust Scotland (NTS) as part of a wider legacy with no conditions attached.

The sale to a private buyer came in for some criticism from Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell, who said it would have been right for NTS to consult locally and with national heritage bodies before putting the island on the market – there had been reports that it was the late owner’s wish that the island should remain untouched as nature intended.

Mr Russell said there could have been a chance for a community buyout.

New convenor of Easdale and Seil Community Council, Zim Knight said its members had heard nothing officially about the sale, before or after, adding that ‘it would have been nice’ if people living locally had been kept informed due to the fact it had been gifted to the NTS.

Mr Knight continued: ‘The problem is that you can’t get to Insh easily. You can’t get a ferry there. You’d need your own boat but there’s no where to dock. Most people who do make the effort anchor up away from the island then row in and scramble about the island, but there’s nothing much there. It’s quite rough out there, it bears the brunt of the elements.’

‘Officially all we can say is that if someone has plans to develop something they would need to apply through planning. We would get to know about it through the usual official channels and as a community council we would comment  appropriately,’ he added.

David Glennie who is vice chairman of The Scottish Slate Islands Heritage Trust said it would not have been interested in taking on the island but would be ‘appalled’ if it was turned into a holiday complex.

He said although the island was never a slate-producing island, and therefore not officially one of the Slate Islands, people in the past had fed their sheep and cattle on it.

‘We’d heard that the island was to be left unoccupied, so if that was the case it would be of limited use. We wouldn’t have known what to do with it but we’d be appalled if it was turned into a holiday complex. It would not be fitting,’ he said.