Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Land buy-out reform a 'success'

Cultybraggan PoW camp
The buy-out of a prison camp was highlight by the government

The reform of legislation allowing communities to buy the land they live on has been a success, the Scottish government has claimed.

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said at a meeting in Inverness that groups of people across Scotland had benefitted.

The meeting was called by Highland Council leader Dr Michael Foxely, who has concerns about the process.

He said mainland Highland communities had not taken advantage of rules.

Dr Foxley said there had been no major buy-outs on the Highland mainland since the Land Reform Act was passed six years ago.

The Scottish government said more than 60 communities bodies had made more than 112 applications to purchase land and almost 80 applications had been approved since the law was passed in 2004.

The issue of funding of community buy-outs of land has been a hot topic
Roseanna Cunningham
Environment Minister

It said successful bids included Comrie in Perthshire where the World War II Cultybraggan prisoner of war camp has been turned into allotments, playing fields, storage and business units.

Also Silverburn in Midlothian, where a disused water tank had become a community centre and Neilston in East Renfrewshire where a former bank was converted into a community hub.

Ms Cunningham said buy-outs empowered people.

She said: "Having the ability to direct their own future has promoted community confidence, developed participation and cohesion as well as ensuring a sense of pride and long-term sustainability."

The minister added: "While the legislation has been successful so far, it is important that we maintain an open dialogue. We must consider lessons learned and whether new approaches should be adopted.

"The issue of funding of community buy-outs of land has been a hot topic in recent months and I would urge communities to take a creative approach."

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