Meet­ing spot­light on buy­out plan

The Oban Times - - The Oban Times & West Highland Times -

A PLAN for a com­mu­nity land buy­out in Lochaber is not a ‘con­ser­va­tion project’ but a bid to ‘en­sure re­sources of the lo­cal area are con­trolled by lo­cal peo­ple’.

This was part of the mes­sage de­liv­ered by di­rec­tors at a meet­ing re­gard­ing the East Lag­gan and Lochaber Com­mu­nity Trust’s (ELLCT) pro­posal to buy the 120,000 acre site cur­rently owned by Rio Tinto Al­can.

The dis­cus­sion, in Dun­cans­burgh church hall, Fort Wil­liam, on Mon­day was the first in a se­ries of meet­ings de­signed to of­fer clar­ity on the process, share de­vel­op­ments and drum up sup­port from the 11,000 peo­ple who live in the rel­e­vant ar­eas.

At the meet­ing it was re­vealed there is cur­rently around 700 or­di­nary mem- bers, 80 as­so­ciate mem­bers – those liv­ing out­with the catch­ment – and six ju­nior mem­bers of ELLCT who are aged be­tween 12 and 15. The trust say they would like to have at least 1,000 or­di­nary mem­bers to show lo­cal peo­ple are con­vinced with the idea and back it.

The move­ment echoes sim­i­lar ef­forts on Knoy­dart and South Uist, and while in­ter­est be­ing ex­pressed from the is­lands is also ap­pre­ci­ated, the trust is bound by rules which mean 75 per cent of mem­ber­ship should be from those within the catch­ment area.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, the es­tate was a de­scribed as a ‘sleep­ing gi­ant’ by mem­bers of the com­mu­nity who agreed the buy­out was a once in a life­time op­por­tu­nity. In re­ply to a ques­tion about the cost of mem­ber­ship, di­rec­tors ex­plained mem­bers would only have to pay a max­i­mum of £1 if the trust was wound up.

ELLCT says work­ing groups might need to be cre­ated and it hopes peo­ple with ex­per­tise in ar­eas such as re­new­able en­ergy, farm­ing, fish­ing and bio­di­ver­sity will come for­ward and share their knowl­edge.

Fur­ther meet­ings are planned to take place next week and the trust hopes to have more in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing fund­ing by the end of the month.

The meet­ings are sched­uled as fol­lows: Mon­day (Au­gust 15) in the Braxi Hall In­ver­lochy; Tues­day Au­gust 16 at Roy Bridge Me­mo­rial Hall and Thurs­day Au­gust 18 in Onich Vil­lage Hall, Nether Lochaber. All meet­ings will start at 7pm.

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