FUNDING to help communities buy land in the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway from Buccleuch Estates has been hailed as a “major milestone”.
Newcastleton & District Community Trust (NDCT) has received £850,000 from the Scottish Land Fund to buy 750 acres of land on the Tarras Water & Holm Hill Estate.
The Langholm Initiative has been offered £1 million to fund its plans to buy 10,500 acres of land, including part of Langholm Moor, where it wants to create a community-owned nature reserve with peatland restoration, ancient woodland regeneration and protection for breeding hen harriers.
The Scottish Land Fund is funded by the Scottish Government and run by the National Lottery Community Fund and Highlands & Islands Enterprise.
More than £3.6 million has been awarded to community groups in the latest funding round.
Steve Hartley, chair of NDCT, said: “Community ownership of this land, much of it still used today as it was over 225 years ago, now gives us all a bigger, brighter and more sustainable future.
“This will continue to include farming, but the community also wants to develop new leisure and renewable sectors, spreading the benefits of community ownership to everyone who lives here.”
Kevin Cumming, Langholm Initiative project leader, added: “The Langholm Initiative appreciates the offer of an award made by the Scottish Land Fund.
“It leaves us with a long way to go to succeed, but we are excited to work on securing the rest of the funding.”
Benny Higgins, executive chairman at Buccleuch, said: “When we announced in May last year that we wanted to sell property on the Borders Estate, Buccleuch was fully committed to engaging with local communities to assess their appetite for purchasing the land.
“Today’s announcement of funding for both NDCT and the Langholm Initiative is a major milestone for that process.
“Both groups have different ideas of what they want to achieve but have shared a tenacity and willingness to cooperate that has made the discussions an enjoyable process.”
Higgins added: “NDCT will be finalising their purchase with us very soon and we congratulate them on that achievement.
“There is still some work to be done on the Langholm Initiative buyout and we hope that their crowdfunding campaign will be a success.
“Both parties have jointly agreed a purchase price and we hope this sale can be realised in the coming months.”
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