Picture shows Colin Smyth MSP with Jenny Barlow, Estate Manager
Picture shows Colin Smyth MSP with Jenny Barlow, Estate Manager

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy & Transport & Rural Affairs Colin Smyth has praised the continuing work of the Langholm Initiative on a visit to Tarras Valley Nature Reserve on Friday.

This is the first time the local MSP has been back to the moor since the history making community buy out and during the visit, he met with the Reserves’ Estate Manager Jenny Barlow and Development Manager Angela Williams to hear more about the Initiative’s future plans for the reserve.

The local MSP was also given an update from the team on the current fundraising efforts to extend the nature reserve through the purchase of more of the Moor from Buccleuch Estates.

Colin Smyth said: “It was fantastic to be back on Langholm Moor for the first time since it became Tarras Valley Nature Reserve following the historic community buy out. The last time I was on the Moor it was to back the first community buy-out and it was wonderful to return knowing it is now under community ownership, something I am really passionate about.

“The Initiative managed to raise an amazing £3.8m to successfully buy 5,200 acres and it was great to hear from Estate Manager Jenny and Development Manager Angela about the team’s exciting plans for the future of the moor. The team really have hit the road running with their ambitions to realise the massive potential the Reserve has. The last two years have been really tough for everyone but one of the local lights at the end of the tunnel has been the drive by Langholm Initiative to take forward plans for the nature reserve.

“They are now working to raise an extra £2.2m to buy a further 5,300 and I would urge people to become part of the next stage of the community buy out by donating whatever they can.

“The first buy-out was a truly outstanding achievement by the team behind the bid and fantastic for the Eskdale community. This was the South of Scotland’s largest ever buyout and the community of Langholm really are history makers. But we can and should go further.

“We cannot underestimate the positive impact this has on the local economy through eco-tourism and the boost it gives to the local environment through better protection and enhancement of a site of special scientific interest.

“I was really pleased to visit part of the remaining 5,300 acres that would be part of phase 2 of the buy-out. I hope a deal can be done to bring the whole target site under the ownership of the community. The second part is more remote and would open up even more opportunities.

“Too much of our land is still in the hands of far too few but thanks to this deal, we have made a small step in the direction of righting that wrong and I’m really excited by the aim to go even further.”

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