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Welcome to the Scottish Community Land Network

This site is for people interested in the management and ownership of land-based assets by communities in Scotland. A Scottish Community Land Network, you might say... As you know the internet is a big 'place' with everything about anything so we brought you relevant news and events, and provide opportunities to share ideas with other people interested in this subject. There are almost 1000 members, and more than 800 articles in our archive.

 

Scottish Community Land Network will not be kept up-to-date after March 2012. However, a new site is being produced by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and details will be published on this site as soon as they are available.

The most recent articles are available on the home page - previous articles are in their relevant topic areas (browse the 'Topics' menu on the left).

Sleat so far.....

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Pretty much anyone who’s been involved in the Scottish community land sector over recent years is likely to have heard of the Sleat Community Trust.  I’d seen their name in all sorts of places, cialis sale cialis sale but never really felt like I had a handle on just what it was they were doing.  So a recent trip to Skye seemed a perfect opportunity to call in and find out a bit more about who they were and what they did.

I met up with Duncan MacInnes, vice-chair of the Trust and Henry Mains, the Trust secretary, on a slightly wild and windswept Friday morning.  Given the Trust’s fame now, I wondered how it all got started in the first place.  Henry soon filled me in:  “It really began when there was a proposal to develop a windfarm on the Sleat peninsula.  The development company would have been obliged to pay some of the income from the windfarm to the local community, but in the absence of a local community organisation the money would’ve gone to the Highland Council.  We thought that if that happened, we’d never see the money again, so we set up a steering group to see if we could establish a community Trust and in March 2004, Sleat Community Trust was born.”

As it turned out, the windfarm has yet to be taken forward, but in the years since its establishment in 2004, the Community Trust has gone from strength to strength.  At an early stage they worked with the CADISPA team at Strathclyde University to produce a scoping study for the area.  The results of that study formed the basis for ‘The Sleat Community Plan’ which set out the aims and aspirations of the local residents.

Once the plan was produced, the Trust began establishing working groups for tackle the issues identified in the plan.  This resulted in the setting up of nine advisory groups, involving 40 local people in the decision making process.  And as if that wasn’t enough, the Trust’s also had to respond to other opportunities along the way, which might not have formed part of the original community plan, but which were opportunities that the directors felt couldn’t be ignored.

Just one of those challenges came in the form of the Skye Ferry filling station, when the previous owners decided to retire.   Bravely, the Community Trust decided to step into the breach, and, after a difficult application process, they purchased the garage with the help of a Big Lottery grant.  We called into the garage on our way through and chatted to the shop manager Archie MacCalman who was manning the pumps.  And the shop.  And the post office counter as well. The Sleat sub-post office was also threatened with closure, but is now part of the filling station set up.  Archie seemed remarkably calm about his multi-tasking (surprisingly so, for a man!) dealing with fuel purchases, stamp requests and our questions all at the same time.  So it wasn’t much of a surprise when we found him behind the bar in the local hotel later that evening.  In fact, I’m not sure I made any purchases in Sleat that weren’t supervised by Archie!

The Trust’s not just involved in the filling station though.  They’re also looking at the purchase of a nearby forestry plantation, as well as considering renewable energy options through a subsidiary company - Sleat Renewables and their Clean Sleat project, supported by the Carbon Challenge Fund.  As part of that project they’re organising North West Energy 2010 – a three day event in early March looking at renewable solutions for communities and householders and including a Transition town training seminar.  And then there’s the small scale stuff – like the community rotovator and the publication of a regular bi-lingual newsletter.

With so much going on, it’s not surprising that most folks have heard of the Sleat Community Trust.  But is it all too much of a good thing?  Would they do things differently if they started all over again?  Somewhat to my surprise, both Duncan and Henry were remarkably relaxed about their journey so far.  Asked what they wished they’d known before they started out, Henry paused for a few moments, then shook his head.  “Nothing really, you’re better off learning as you go along.  It’s a more interesting journey that way.”  Duncan agreed, although he did acknowledge that the Trust needs to revisit the original community plan in the near future.  So much has happened to the group in the last five years that they’ll certainly be able to tick off a lot of the original aims and aspirations, but they’ve also become a big business, with significant grant funding and traded income.  The time for a business restructuring is probably fast approaching, so that the Trust can continue to develop and expand in a sustainable way.

By the time we left, I knew why Sleat Community Trust is such a well known name - because they’re doing so much.  But with that success come challenges and it’ll be interesting to see where they go next.  To find out more, have a look at their website or head across to North West Energy 2010.

 

 

 

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