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Friday, 20 July, 2001, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
Cuillins owner considers 'gift'
Cuillins
The original price tag for the mountains was 10m
The owner of the Cuillins has said he is willing to consider gifting the mountain range to the nation, if public funding can be found to restore his rundown Dunvegan Castle through a charitable trust.

John MacLeod of MacLeod put the famous Skye mountain range on the market over a year ago but has so far failed to attract a buyer.

The MacLeod clan chief caused uproar when he decided to put the Cuillins on the open market with a 10m price tag.

He still stands by his decision claiming that the cash is urgently needed to save the historic Dunvegan castle from ruin.

But in a new development he has agreed to consider a proposal to gift the mountains to a public charitable trust in return for funding to repair Dunvegan.

Dunvegan Castle on Skye
Dunvegan Castle: In need of repair

The public agencies behind the proposition have welcomed the landlord's willingness to participate.

The John Muir Trust says the proposed move opens a dialogue which could save both the Cuillins and the castle.

In April, Mr MacLeod agreed to allow limited access to the Black Cuillins after tourist businesses in Skye lodged a complaint, arguing the move did not go far enough.

At the time Mr MacLeod said in a statement that he was on "the horns of a dilemma" over the dangers posed by foot-and-mouth and the economic difficulties faced by the local tourism industry.

The Crown Estate Commission launched an investigation amid fierce criticism of the 10m asking price from environmental groups and residents on Skye.

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Jackie O'Brien reports
"Mr MacLeod stands by his decision to sell"
See also:

10 Apr 01 | Scotland
Protest over access to Cuillins
19 Jul 00 | Scotland
New twist in Cuillins sale
18 Jul 00 | Scotland
Cuillins ownership fight ruled out
18 May 00 | Scotland
Cuillins sale title inquiry
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