THE legal transfer of several thousand acres and six properties near Langholm is expected to be completed in mid-February.
The Langholm Initiative, which agreed a deal to buy 5,200 acres of Langholm Moor for £3.8m last autumn, is working closely with Buccleuch on the process and it’s progressing well.
The land will be renamed the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve and its key objectives will be to restore the moor and regenerate the community.
The other 5,000 acres at the top end of the Tarras valley, which the Initiative was unable to raise money to buy, still belongs to Buccleuch and discussions about its future are ongoing.
As stated in the business plan, which is on the Initiative website, charity is setting up a new trading subsidiary (name yet to be confirmed) to manage the day-to-day running of the estate and create the nature reserve.
The land and assets will be owned by the Initiative but the new trading company will deliver the work and generate the revenue needed to ensure the nature reserve is financially sustainable in the long term.
This structure is commonly used for community land management and has proved successful elsewhere in Scotland.
Margaret Pool, chairwoman, said: “We appreciate the advice and support we have received from the Development Trusts Association for Scotland.
“This approach also helps safeguard the ownership of the land and assets and the charitable status of the Initiative as a community organisation.”
The recruitment of an estate manager and development manager will begin shortly so staff, who can deliver the business plan for the nature reserve, will be in place.
The estate manager post is funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, while the development manager post is funded by South of Scotland Enterprise which has supported the land buyout with £1m.
The development manager post is for a fixed term only.
Recruitment will take time because it is likely that suitable applicants will be in employment and will have to work notice before they can take up a post.
Margaret added: “These are two high quality jobs which will be based in Langholm and we are delighted we have secured funding for these and grateful to our two funders.”
Until such time as the estate manager is in post the board will make arrangements for the management of the properties it will own.
Some of these are tenanted and tenants will be kept informed of the change of ownership and what that means for them.
Margaret said: We’ve been thrilled by the people coming forward to offer their time to volunteer.
“They’ll be needed to help with other work on the estate in the future and should look out for opportunities which will be publicised.
“We hope volunteers, who were involved in the Wild Eskdale project, as well as others will be interested in being involved.
“Last spring was a fantastic year for hen harriers nesting on Langholm Moor.
“As we move into spring, people should be aware that birds such as the hen harriers are ground-nesting and they need to be very careful when walking on the moor.”