A £1M investment has been ploughed into the Langholm Moor community buy-out by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE).
Yesterday its board announced the award to the Langholm Initiative in its venture to buy part of Langholm Moor from Buccleuch.
The Langholm Initiative is spearheading a campaign to raise enough funds to buy the land and bring it into community control.
If successful, the buy-out will be the first, large-scale purchase of this type in southern Scotland.
The project was given £1m by the Scottish Land Fund earlier this year but on condition that the town raised the rest of the money by October 31.
The 10,500 acres, in a joint valuation, was set at £6.4m and the total raised now is £2.8m.
A recent donation of £500,000 was received from the Carman Family Foundation, based in Dunblane, and a £100,000 donation by the John Muir Trust.
The buy-out in Langholm has garnered significant support both from the community and further afield and nearly 2,500 people have pledged to give a total of £200,000.
Community ownership of Langholm Moor would enable the Langholm Initiative to develop a new national nature reserve and capture ongoing revenue from the asset.
It would provide a platform to unlock further community-led enterprise development and job creation as well as significant social, environmental and economic benefits to the area.
Kevin Cumming, project leader at the Langholm Initiative, said: “This generous support is a major step towards a successful outcome for the community.
“We have been working closely with SOSE over recent weeks and couldn’t be happier with their commitment to support the people of Langholm.
“We still have a race against time to find the rest of the funding required for a purchase to take place.
“We are investigating every possible option to ensure the buy-out is a success.”
Professor Russel Griggs, chairman of SOSE, added: “We are delighted to support the Langholm Initiative project.
“We recognise that our significant contribution will be a tremendous step towards reaching their ambitious funding package.
“As the new economic development agency for the South of Scotland, our plans to further the region’s economic, social and environmental development are at the heart of everything we do.
“Helping communities to take advantage of the opportunities which community asset transfer offers is one the objectives set out for us in the legislation which put us in place.
“Community ownership is a catalytic step in community development and empowerment.
“It enables communities to make decisions about how assets within their communities are used.
“The successful acquisition of Langholm Moor represents a long-term economic, social and natural capital development project.
“We look forward to working with the Langholm Initiative as the situation develops.”
Margaret Pool, who chairs the Initiative, said; “It’s fantastic and we’re thrilled to bits.
“We’re a long way off but we have to keep hoping that this major donation will encourage others.
“We have not given up yet. We have quite a number of other applications in for consideration.
“We also expect SOSE will give us ongoing support if the purchase goes ahead.”
The Langholm Initiative, formed in 1994, is one of southern Scotland’s earliest development trusts.
The charity is seeking other major funders for the land buy-out. To find out more and to support the crowdfunding appeal, visit langholminitiative.org.uk
Follow on Twitter at @LBuyout.