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Last Updated: Friday, 12 January 2007, 09:31 GMT
Islanders in huge estate buy-out
Crofters on Lewis are bidding to buy thousands of acres on the island
Local residents are about to take over one of the biggest estates on the Western Isles.

The 56,000 acre Galson Estate on Lewis will be managed by 10 local trustees on behalf of the 2,000 residents.

Following the latest handover, more than half of the Western Isles is now in community or public ownership.

Galson will be the second largest community buyout after the South Uist Estate, which was taken over by local people in December last year.

Islanders raised more than 600,000, with more than 500,000 from the Scottish Land Trust and more than 100,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The change of ownership also means that private landowners are now in the minority in the Western Isles.

Community buyout

The chairman of the trustees, former oil executive Norman Thomson, said it was a historic day.

The push will now be on to attract new industries and support people with new ideas.

Another trustee, Agnes Rennie, said it was the strongest Gaelic speaking community in Scotland, with 80% using the language every day.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise said North Uist was now the only inhabited islands which had not seen some form of community buyout.

Sandra Holmes, a community land advisor with HIE, said the trust had developed a strong business plan.

She said: "The Galson community have been working on this project for a long time now and they have actually developed a very competent and robust business plan."

Communities in forced buyout move
27 May 05 |  Scotland
Crofters back forced buyout plan
10 Feb 05 |  Scotland
Crofters consult on forced buyout
18 Mar 03 |  Scotland

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