From the 10th to the 18th of August community groups took part in Community Land Week, to celebrate the steps they took to take ownership of land and assets in their areas and the benefits which have derived for their local communities. 45 projects were celebrated this year, three times more than in 2018.
Community Land Week is organised by Community Land Scotland in partnership with Scottish Government.
The West Harris Trust celebrated the week by holding a community open afternoon and celebratory ceilidh dance on the 16th of August.
We celebrated this week because West Harris is a special place, renowned for its beaches and wildlife. However in previous years the population of the area was in steep decline and there were limited housing and employment opportunities.
In 2007, local representatives approached the Scottish Government to ask about using legislation to buy their land. This led to the creation of The West Harris Trust in 2010, and the Trust now manages the land to build a sustainable future.
The Trust has delivered a number of projects including; Talla na Mara- a multi-functional community enterprise centre, renewable energy projects and six affordable homes in partnership with the Hebridean Housing Partnership.
The Trust provides rental space for businesses at Talla na Mara, the old Seilebost School and the Cliff and provides electric hookup at two sites.
As a result, the population of West Harris has increased from 119 in 2010 to 151 in 2019. There are now 22 children, including seven pre-schoolers.
Linsay Chalmers, Development Manager for Community Land Scotland says: “When communities purchase the land on which their people live and work, they have the tools to reinvigorate their areas and improve the prospects of future generations.”
“This week of celebration is justly deserved. A huge number of people across diverse areas of Scotland have put in enormous effort to get to this point. Community land acquisition is the start of a long journey, often to reverse many years of decline. The acquisition quickly stimulates confidence which empowers communities to develop economic and social opportunities, such as creating jobs and affordable housing or protecting vital community assets”.
Community Land Scotland is the membership network for community landowners. The current membership owns and manages around 560,000 acres between them. Community Land Scotland represents these existing and aspiring community landowners to reflect their views in promoting changes to legislation to empower communities.
Further information about Community Land Scotland can be found at: www.communitylandscotland.org.uk
Contact: Linsay Chalmers, 07884 314297