Bernera buy-out efforts backed in Scottish Parliament debate

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A community buy-out of the island of Great Bernera found support last week in a Scottish parliamentary debate.

Since a vote in 2015, where 85 percent of residents supported a community buy-out, the Great Bernera Community Development Trust has been working towards taking ownership of the crofting land for the benefit of the local community.

However, despite securing the necessary funding, and offering twice its officially-assessed value in 2017, the owners, the de La Lanne family, have reportedly continued to stall progress.

In his speech to fellow MSPs, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Alasdair Allan stated that he had been contacted by a number of constituents in recent months regarding the ongoing issues they were experiencing with the Bernera Estate.

These included, he said, demands for payment of thousands of pounds before allowing legitimate transactions to proceed, and ignoring correspondence from crofters seeking to exercise their legal right to purchase their own individual crofts.

Mr Allan concluded his opening speech for the debate by expressing his hope that Bernera would one day be in the hands of the local community, saying: ‘The island of Bernera should belong to the people who live there, and to those whose families have worked the land there and fished from the surrounding seas for generations.

‘Morally and culturally, the land is already theirs – we must now continue to do all we can to support the Great Bernera Community Development Trust to successfully take legal ownership, so that the island’s community can begin to develop and thrive once again.’

Following the debate, a representative from the Great Bernera Community Development Trust said members were grateful that the challenges they had been experiencing during the lengthy and ongoing process of Bernera’s community buy-out process had been recognized and were being addressed by MSPs.

‘We look forward to working more closely with the Scottish Government to tackle the issues raised and to find a way of moving forward,’ said the representative.

CAPTION:

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan.

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