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Monday, 29 October, 2001, 22:18 GMT
Islanders 'optimistic' as bids close
Achamore House
The current owner is selling the island
Residents of a remote Scottish island are "optimistic" that their bid to stage a community buy-out has been successful.

Offers for the island estate of Gigha closed at 1200 GMT on Monday and it is believed there are up to three private buyers competing with the community trust which is trying to take it over.

It is believed that the island's owner, Derek Holt, 74, will consider the offers before announcing the decision on Tuesday.

Islanders voted earlier this month to launch a drive to buy the 3,400-acre island, off the west coast of Scotland, after it was put on the market by Mr Holt for 3.85m.

Gigha island
Bids closed at noon on Monday
And last week, the community learned they would receive a "substantial level" of National Lottery funding to support their bid.

The Scottish Land Fund could not confirm the size of the award, but it is understood the community will be allocated more than 1m from the lottery's New Opportunities Fund.

The attempted buy-out would be the most expensive bid for community land ownership in Scotland.

The price tag on Gigha is far higher than those for Eigg or Knoydart, which were bought by the community.

The island, three miles off the Kintyre peninsula, boasts 37 cottages, a hotel, shop, a nine-hole golf course, a private airstrip and has a population of 110.

Lottery money

Willie McSporran, a spokesman for the residents, said he was optimistic their bid would be successful.

He said: "I am confident as we have done all we can do.

"We have put everything together by the book and I am hopeful that our bid will be accepted.

"The lottery money is a big boost, but it has not been disclosed exactly how much we have been awarded."

We have put everything together by the book and I am hopeful that our bid will be accepted.

Willie McSporran
After confirmation of the lottery grant last Wednesday, the islanders formed the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust.

The company already has 80 members - from a registered electorate of 89 - and a seven-strong board of directors.

The islanders have also received funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to support their bid, as well as private donations.

Gigha residents have been consulting closely with people on the Scottish island of Eigg, where 63 islanders famously took possession of their 7,400-acre outcrop in 1997.

That buyout was achieved after a 900,000 donation from an undisclosed millionaire from north-east England.

As one of the UK's largest privately owned islands, Gigha has changed hands three times since 1944.

John Morrison reports
"This is about the islanders controlling their own lives"
See also:

12 Oct 01 | Scotland
Islanders back buy-out bid
24 Aug 01 | Scotland
Land reform splits Lib Dems
18 Aug 01 | Scotland
Islanders consider community buy-out
13 Aug 01 | Scotland
Call to help residents buy island
10 Aug 01 | Scotland
Isle be yours - for 3.85m
16 Jul 01 | Scotland
Land reform warning to ministers
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