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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 March, 2003, 16:27 GMT
Estate handover complete
Businessman Ian Scarr Hall has bought the castle
Residents on North Harris have formally taken ownership of a massive estate on the island.

The handover of the 50,000-acre Amhuinnsuidhe Castle estate has been hailed as the largest community buyout in Scotland.

The estate, which includes mountains, lochs and beaches, was put up for sale in April by cider millionaire Johnathan Bulmer.

Islanders paid 2.2m for their share, with much of the money coming from charitable trusts.

This is a wonderful example of a local community coming together to take control of their own social, economic and environmental future
Allan Wilson, Deputy Rural Affairs Minister
Millionaire businessman Ian Scarr Hall bought the estate's castle and fishing rights and intends to use his share for corporate events aimed at improving the environment.

A trust set up by the 800-strong Western Isles community helped raise the money for local people.

Schoolteacher Calum Mackay, who was recently appointed as chairman of the North Harris Trust, said the sale ended local people's concerns over the estate.

He said: "The main difference this will make is that they will know who the landlord is - it is themselves.

"For years and years the North Harris estate has been in the hands of absentee landlords.

Beauty spots

"Now they can have ready access to people they know and discuss anything with them."

The handover ceremony followed a seven-month campaign by residents to take control of the land.

The community decided to make a bid last September after the estate was put up for sale by Mr Bulmer.

Islanders were supported by the lottery-backed New Opportunities Fund, which gave 1.6m.

The remainder of the funding came from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the John Muir Trust, a charity set up to protect remote beauty spots, and local fund raising.

Alan Wilson, Deputy Rural Affairs MSP, who attended the ceremony, said: "This is a wonderful example of a local community coming together to take control of their own social, economic and environmental future."

Islanders celebrate buy-out
01 Mar 03 |  Scotland
Land reform bill wins support
23 Jan 03 |  Scotland
From Assynt to assent
23 Jan 03 |  Scotland
Island officially changes hands
15 Mar 02 |  Scotland

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