Local MSP welcomes Helmsdale and District success in land purchase poll
CAITHNESS, Sutherland and Ross MSP Gail Ross has backed Helmsdale and District’s progress towards a successful land buyout from the private Sutherland Estate.
Last week the communities surrounding Helmsdale became the latest example of overwhelming support for a community land buyout, when 96 the area delivered a 96 per cent Yes vote in its consultation ballot.
Locals hope to complete the purchase of 3,000 acres of land in 2017, which could provide development opportunities seized by communities like Knoydart and the Isle of Eigg.
Over the past decade and a half community land ownership has soared to over 500,000 acres, largely concentrated in the Highlands and Islands.
The Helmsdale and District Development Trust (HDDT), which coordinated the buyout process, counted votes from the townships of Marrel, West Helmsdale, Gartymore and Portgower.
Ross, commenting on the result, said: “This is an excellent result which shows that the community is fully behind the venture. I am sure that their drive and determination will lead to a buyout being achieved which will enrich the community.
“Community ownership is a great example of community empowerment. This result is the first step in empowerment.
“Community ownership across the Highlands and Islands has proved to be a success. This part of the Highlands has a strong connection to some of the harshest clearances. The result in the ballot shows that there can be a positive future for the area and I look forward to it taking shape.”
Developing the buyout process has included meetings between local residents, considering renewable energy projects, and mapping local land ownership.
Picture courtesy of Gail Ross MSP
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