Page last updated at 01:16 GMT, Monday, 9 June 2008 02:16 UK

Community loch deal moves closer

Kevin Keane
Fife reporter
BBC Scotland news website

Kinghorn loch
Villagers are in negotiations to buy the first of 19 plots of land at the loch

A major step has been taken in a Fife coastal village's plan for a community buyout of their local loch.

The Kinghorn Loch deal is proving to be one of the most complicated application of the Land Reform Act, with 19 pieces of land needing to be purchased.

Agreement has now been reached on the first plot, which will be used to build a new home for the Ecology Centre.

Villagers believe it will take decades to complete the other land sales as owners cannot be forced to sell.

Ronnie Mackie from the Ecology Centre, which is based on the loch-side, said there would be huge benefits if it were community owned.

We need to properly convince the people within the community that those proposals are workable
Richard Brewster

He told the BBC Scotland's news website: "At one point there was a right to walk around the loch which was sold off a number of years ago. So, I think that the community would be the best managers of this."

The centre is home to a working water wheel and several sensory gardens for young children.

This year the centre celebrates its 10th anniversary but it has received notice to quit its current home.

To buy it, Richard Brewster from the Kinghorn Community Land Association said it was likely it would have to organise a public vote.

He added: "We need to properly convince the people within the community that those proposals are workable and that's what they want.

"It is only if we can get their backing that we can purchase the land."

Development scare

Ann Henderson has lived in the village all her life and she is one of many who is behind what the community hopes to achieve.

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Campaigners on the loch buy-out plan

She said: "A great fear went round the town when we thought that they were going to build houses right up to the loch side.

"We have lost one or two areas in the town because of building or caravan sites and the last thing that the people of Kinghorn want is to lose their loch."

Carp fishing, sailing and rowing all take place on the loch.

Angler Paul McLaren said: "It's probably the premier water in Fife and people would either give up fishing or would have to travel a fair distance, probably over the Forth Road Bridge or beyond, to find decent fishing."

The community cannot force any of the owners to sell their land, so once this first deal has been secured they simply have to wait for each plot of land to be put on the market before they can buy it.


SEE ALSO
Community loch plan to be tested
12 May 08 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife

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