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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 September, 2004, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
Executive delays sale of estate
Suilven/Undiscovered Scotland
The 40,000 acres include the impressive Suilven
The sale of a Highland estate has been halted by the Scottish Executive.

The Vestey family have been told they cannot go ahead with a transaction until a legal decision is taken on whether local people can make an offer.

The Assynt estate includes Sutherland's most famous mountain, Suilven. The executive's move has been welcomed.

In 1993, the Assynt Crofters Trust set the trend for future buy-outs when it bought the 21,000-acre North Assynt estate for 300,000.

Bill Ritchie, who led the Assynt buy-out, said: "Our application and the supporting document have been sent to the owners of the land for them to comment on within the next three weeks.

Housing needs

"During that time there's been a prohibition placed on them from actually selling the land.

"While the Scottish Executive is actually considering our application to register the interest, they cannot proceed to sell the land."

Alasdair MacAskill, chairman of the community steering group, said it intended to press ahead with a feasibility study.

The Assynt estate deal has been delayed
Mr MacAskill said: "One of the really urgent needs here is land for housing.

"Affordable housing is a critical issue in the Highlands and Islands and equally critical in Assynt.

"We'd be looking at ways of managing that and there is a wide range of things we'd want to explore."

The 40,000 acres for sale, which could fetch up to 3m, includes Glen Canisp and its deer forest and lodge and two of Sutherland's iconic mountains - Suilven and Canisp.

The area is almost totally uninhabited apart from a few estate employees and extends from Lochinver to Inchnadamph and from Loch Assynt to Drumrunie.

New legislation has given local communities the right to make pre-emptive bids to buy land which goes on the market.

Assynt community considers buy-out
05 Aug 04  |  Scotland
Disunity hits community bid
22 Jul 03  |  Scotland
Land reform bill wins support
23 Jan 03  |  Scotland
From Assynt to assent
23 Jan 03  |  Scotland

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