Min­is­ter takes mes­sage to Loch Arkaig

The Oban Times - - News -

PRO­MOT­ING com­mu­nity em­pow­er­ment through the new com­mu­nity as­set trans­fer scheme (CATS) was behind Ru­ral Econ­omy Sec­re­tary Fer­gus Ewing’s visit to Loch Arkaig on Fri­day April 28.

Mr Ewing vis­ited the former For­est En­ter­prise Scot­land wood­lands at South Loch Arkaig and Glen­mallie, which were bought by Arkaig Com­mu­nity For­est and Wood­land Trust Scot­land in De­cem­ber 2016.

The pur­chase was one of the last un­der the Na­tional For­est Land Scheme, which has now been su­per­seded by CATS.

Mr Ewing said: ‘The Scottish Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to see­ing own­er­ship of land in­creas­ingly de­volved to com­mu­ni­ties. The Na­tional For­est Land Scheme, which helped 31 com­mu­ni­ties to own more than 10,000 acres of land, was ex­em­plary in de­liv­er­ing this com­mit­ment to com­mu­nity em­pow­er­ment and as­set trans­fer.

‘I am pleased to say we are now build­ing on those achieve­ments and the suc­ces­sor scheme, CATS, is very much part of the Scottish Gov­ern­ment’s vi­sion to strengthen the con­nec­tion be­tween the peo­ple of Scot­land and its land and forests.

‘I am pleased that this new scheme will ex­tend to more com­mu­ni­ties across Scot­land fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties to be­come stronger, more co­he­sive and more re­silient.’

The CATS scheme, which is now open for ap­pli­ca­tions, gives com­mu­ni­ties the op­por­tu­nity to pur­chase or lease land or build­ings from the na­tional for­est es­tate to de­liver greater lo­cal ben­e­fits.

Arkaig Com­mu­nity For­est chair­man Gary Ser­vant said: ‘We are very proud to host the cab­i­net sec­re­tary’s visit to Loch Arkaig. Our mes­sage to other com­mu­ni­ties is to take full ad­van­tage of CATS, to have con­fi­dence that you are best placed to make de­ci­sions about the as­sets on your doorstep, and to un­der­stand that agen­cies such as Forestry Com­mis­sion Scot­land will sup­port you with this.’

An in­de­pen­dent Eval­u­a­tion Panel, with forestry, com­mu­nity and en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­per­tise, has been ap­pointed to ad­vise on com­mu­nity pro­pos­als.

Pho­to­graph: Abright­side Pho­tog­ra­phy

Eu­ral Econ­omy Sec­re­tary Fer­gus Ewing with Carol Evans of Wood­land Trust Scot­land.

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