A VISIT to two successful community buy-outs in the Western Isles has shown how exciting a prospect such a move could be for Langholm.
A focus on improving life for residents and upgrading the tourism offer has been the main objective of the two organisations on the island of Harris.
The potential to buy part of Langholm Moor arose in the spring when Buccleuch announced it was to sell 25,000 acres, including the moor.
It comprises a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area for its breeding hen harriers and other birds.
A working group was set up and expressed an interest to buy. As a result of talks, Buccleuch agreed to delay putting the land on the open market and gave the group until the end of March to put together a bid.
The Langholm Moor buy-out group will host a community consultation event next Thurs-day, October 10 in the foyer of the Buccleuch Centre at 7pm.
The purpose of the evening is to update the community on the work which has been done so far and the next steps.
The feasibility study will begin next Monday to investigate whether community ownership of part of Langholm Moor is viable.
A team of three consultants has been appointed to undertake the feasibility study and business planning.
Duncan MacPherson, consultant team leader, will attend the consultation next Thursday to give an insight into the process and answer any questions.
Kevin Cumming of the Langholm Initiative and project leader said: “The working group are really looking forward to this consultation.
“It is the community’s chance to tell us what ideas they may have on how the land could be used.
“As part of the consultation, we hope to split those attending into groups and ask them to give their thoughts.”
Last week Kevin visited two communities on Harris where successful buyouts have taken place.
Both North Harris Trust and West Harris Trust welcomed Kevin and discussed how community ownership had benefited their communities.
Kevin said: “These trusts have done some fantastic work and it really opened my eyes to the potential of community land ownership.
“West Harris Trust has done a great job in providing affordable housing and increasing the population, especially by attracting young families to the island.
“North Harris Trust has taken on many projects, including better access to the surrounding land through path improvements and the construction of an Eagle Observatory.
“A clear objective of both trusts has been an improvement in the tourism infrastructure.
“This includes providing electrical hook-ups for camper vans, improving the hospitality offerings and creating fantastic destinations for visitors.
“Langholm has incredible potential as a tourism destination for both its natural and cultural heritage. It is extremely exciting to explore how we could benefit here.
“An important message I took away from the trip was
that community land ownership is a long-term project.
“The benefits are not only for us now but also for our children and grandchildren.
“If it is proven that community land ownership is viable here, the potential projects will take time to realise.
“I would encourage anyone with an interest in the land surrounding Langholm to come along to the consultation event and get involved with the process.
“We would love to hear what ideas the community has.”