Meeting spotlight on buyout plan
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.