South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed the recent news that two bids to take part of Langholm Moor into community ownership have secured significant support.
The Langholm Initiative and Newcastleton and District Community Trust are being given £1.85m to purchase the Buccleuch-owned land.
It is part of wider Scottish Land Fund support of more than £3.6m for 16 projects across the country. The biggest SLF award of £1m goes to the Langholm Initiative
Buccleuch announced its decision to sell 25,000 acres of the famous Langholm Moor last year and it is now in advanced discussions with the Langholm Initiative, a charity based in the town, over the potential sale of an area covering almost 10,500 acres. The land has been valued at just over £6m.
Colin Smyth said: “This is fantastic news and these grants are a real recognition of the vision and hard work of Kevin and everyone involved in Langholm Initiative and the team at Newcastleton District and Community Trust It is a vote of confidence in the ambition shown in the plans to create a Tarras Valley Nature Reserve.
“There is still a long way to go to raise all the money needed to buy the land, but I hope these substantial grants act as a real catalyst to bring in more funding.
“If this deal goes ahead, it will allow the Langholm community to decide its own future and would bring significant benefits to the Eskdale community and a local economy which has suffered a number of economic shocks in recent years.
“It would open up new opportunities for eco-tourism, attracting visitors to the area and it would boost the local environment by better promoting and protecting a site of special scientific interest.
“The positive difference community ownership has made in other parts of our region in terms of jobs and opening up access are there for all to see and we would see those same benefits if Buccleuch facilitated the ultimate transfer to the community of Langholm Moor.
“Far too much of Scotland’s land is still in the hands of far too few. A community buy out would not only put ownership in the hands of the community but would safeguard our natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of local people.”