A REGIONAL MSP has urged the Scottish government to do more to support community ownership in southern Scotland.
Colin Smyth, South of Scotland MSP, highlighted the low number of cases of community land buy-outs in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders compared with the Highlands & Islands during a debate in parliament.
He urged Roseanna Cunning-hame, cabinet secretary for environment, climate change and land reform, to consider what more the government could do to back community land buy-outs such those being developed for Langholm Moor.
After the exchange, he said: “There have been some excellent community buy-outs in southern Scotland such as Castle Loch in Lochmaben and the Mull of Galloway.
“But this is a fraction of the number we have seen in the Highlands & Islands. I hope the government will do more to support more potential community landowners in southern Scotland where the need to.”
Ms Cunninghame said: “The government supports community land ownership through legislation, guidance, provision of advice to community groups and by making available grant funding for communities to acquire land or land assets.
“Since 2016, the Scottish Land Fund has awarded £272,00 to 25 groups in southern Scotland to do feasibility studies into buying land or buildings for community use.
“Of these, 17 groups have secured approval to buy the assets, with funding of just over £1.99m.
“The advent of the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency is a body which we expect to take a positive and practical role in working directly with communities and that could include working with existing legislation, designed to encourage and support the ownership and control of assets by communities.”