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BBC Scotland's Isabel Fraser
"The trust has dismissed the 10m price tag"
 real 28k

Thursday, 6 April, 2000, 19:14 GMT 20:14 UK
Cuillins bidder reluctant to pay
The MacLeod clan has owned the range for 1,000
The National Trust for Scotland believes it should be the new owner of the Cuillin mountain range which is on the market for 10m.

The conservation group says it has all the right expertise and belief to safeguard the future of the Scottish attraction on the Isle of Skye.

But it is keeping silent on whether or not it intends to pay current owner John MacLeod, the 29th chief of the clan MacLeod.

John MacLeod
John MacLeod: Current owner
The trust's director Trevor Croft, who held a meeting on Wednesday with Mr MacLeod, said: "The trust's track record is unparalleled in terms of its commitment and input to the conservation of mountain properties in Scotland.

"We commit 2 million per year to the management of our mountain properties and have the back-up professional knowledge to ensure that the highest standards are maintained."

Mr MacLeod is selling up to raise money for essential repairs to nearby Dunvegan Castle, which he has built into a major tourist attraction since inheriting it 1965, and to fund a series of conservation and tourism projects on the island.

Asking price 'too high'

The trust said that while it accepted the 10m was necessary for the renovation work, it felt that the asking price was too high and that entertaining such a sum for heritage land was not in the best interests of the nation or the conservation movement.

The area for sale includes more than 14 miles of coastline, two salmon rivers, a licensed campsite, sheep farm, farmhouse, cottages and traditional farm buildings.

Dunvegan Castle
Dunvegan Castle: Upgrade needed
The trust added it would prefer the castle to remain in private hands and said raising the funds to renovate it would present many more financial problems.

The organisation has the option of entering a Conservation Agreement with landowners.

Although made voluntarily with the owner, it is a binding deal requiring the trust's permission should any alterations be made in the future, regardless of who the owner may be.

Public meeting

Mr MacLeod is believed to be reluctant to enter into such an agreement, but he has promised to introduce the eventual buyer to the trust to discuss the matter.

The group said it would be represented at a public meeting on Skye on Monday when it would reiterate its willingness to lead any potential consortium of conservation bodies.

Mr MacLeod has previously described the decision to sell as the most difficult one of his life, but stressed all the money raised from the sale would be reinvested in Skye.

He has been supported in his decision to sell by the Scottish Landowners' Federation, but has received criticism from a number of other quarters.

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See also:

04 Apr 00 | Scotland
Ben Nevis set to change hands
26 Mar 00 | Scotland
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