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The BBC's Andrew Cassell
"Local people added their voice to calls for more research into the ownership issue"
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Tuesday, 11 April, 2000, 06:50 GMT 07:50 UK
Cuillin sale remains in question
The Cuillin range is a tourist attraction
The fate of Skye's Black Cuillin mountains remains unclear following a public meeting on the island on Monday night.

Clan chief John MacLeod of MacLeod wants to sell the mountains to help mend the leaking roof of the family home Dunvegan Castle.

But local people have challenged his ownership of the tourist attraction and have insisted he should not get a penny of public money.

Dunvegan Castle
Dunvegan Castle: Needs repairs
Mr MacLeod insists a 16th century charter gives him the right to claim the mountains - but during the public get-together in Portree that right was challenged again and again.

Land campaigner Andy Wightman has called for the argument to be settled by the Scottish Executive - and the island's MSP John Farqhuar Munro agreed to seek an emergency debate when the Scottish Parliament resumes after the Easter break.

Highland Council will also pressure the executive to investigate the legal status.

A succession of speakers insisted the laird should get "not a penny of public money" for the Cuillins.

Holding groups 'to ransom'

The council and some of the public agencies involved have insisted they will not bid anything like 10m.

But whether there will indeed be an offer involving the National Trust for Scotland and neighbouring landowners the John Muir Trust still remains open to question.

The meeting heard Cameron McNeish, leader of the Scottish Rambler's Association, say: "Who is going to buy this?

"Mr MacLeod is holding the Scottish conservation groups to ransom. He knows nobody else will buy it and he's trying to get as high a price as he can from organisations like the National Trust for Scotland and the rest."

John MacLeod
John MacLeod: "Tough decision"
There are reports of strong private interest in purchasing the land, although it remains to be seen whether a buyer will stump up the full asking price.

Mr MacLeod has said he will not settle for a penny less than 10m, which he believes is needed for restorations at the ancestral home, Dunvegan Castle, and to develop tourism in the area.

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.

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

06 Apr 00 | Scotland
Cuillins bidder reluctant to pay
26 Mar 00 | Scotland
Clan chief urged to donate peak
04 Apr 00 | Scotland
Ben Nevis set to change hands
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