The momentum is building over plans to take Langholm Moor into community ownership, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth, after the bid secured another massive cash boost
The Langholm Initiative are being given £1m by the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency to help towards the purchase of the Buccleuch-owned land.
It follows the recent announcement of an offer of £1m to the Initiative towards the bid from the Scottish Land Fund, £500,000 from the Carman Family Foundation and the news that £200,000 has been raised online from 2,500 supporters.
Buccleuch announced its decision to sell 25,000 acres of Langholm Moor last year and has agreed to the potential sale of an area covering almost 10,500 acres to the community but at an asking price of £6m.
Colin Smyth said: “This is yet another vote of confidence in the bid and shows real momentum building for the ambitions plans to create a Nature Reserve on Langholm Moor. If this deal goes ahead, it will be one of the biggest community buy-outs ever in Scotland and allow the Langholm community to decide its own future. It would bring enormous environmental and economic benefits to the Eskdale valley and a local community that has suffered a number of economic blows over the past few years. Not only would the plans help bring more visitors to the area through eco-tourism, it would boost the local environment by better protecting and enhancing a site of special scientific interest.
“However, there is still a mountain to climb to raise the full amount needed by the deadline of the end of October. One of the frustrations was the decision of the Scottish Land Fund to cap their grant at £1m rather than refer the matter to Scottish Ministers for a higher contribution. I have therefore written to the Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunninghame and the Land Fund urging them to consider a higher grant to help make this bid a reality.
“Even if the group don’t raise the full £6m million, if they come close then I would hope that the Buccleuch Estate will consider a lower bid. This is ultimately land they do not want and they will be conscious of the current debate on land reform. They know there is a growing feeling that we still live in a country where far too much of our land is still in the hands of far too few. A community buy out would put ownership in the hands of the community. There would be a lot of anger if this bid were to fall through so it’s in everyone’s interest to avoid that.”