Islanders to launch worldwide appeal to buy Ulva

Children from Ulva take the boat to school on Mull in July 1992. Picture: Donald Macleod/TSPL
Children from Ulva take the boat to school on Mull in July 1992. Picture: Donald Macleod/TSPL
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Islanders will launch a worldwide appeal to help buy the Hebridean island of Ulva after ministers approved a public buyout.

The largest of Mull’s sister islands, Ulva currently has a population of just six - down from more than 500 in the early 19th century.

The community buyout bid was backed by Nicola Sturgeon at this week’s SNP conference and followed the news that Ulva’s laird was about to put it on the open market for offers over £4.25m.

The lottery-backed Scottish Land Fund, which has £10m a year to spend, has seen a surge in interest in community buyouts in fragile rural communities - but only two islands, Eigg and Gigha, have so far been bought by their residents.

Ulva’s bid had been lodged by North West Mull Community Woodland Company, which already administers parts of the island and neighbouring Mull. Director Ian Hepburn told the Guardian that much of the purchase price will need to be raised through crowdfunding.

“We have been inundated with offers of help since the first time this was mentioned,” he said.

Fundraising will be promoted in Australia, where many Ulva residents migrated following the infamous Highland clearances that decimated numerous communities.

Ulva’s most famous former resident was Lachlan Macquarie, a British Army officer and governor of the New South Wales colony, who was born on the island in 1762.

He formally adopted the name Australia for the continent during his time down under and is still hailed as a hero by Australian nationalists.

At the time of Macquarie’s death in 1824 Ulva had a population of more than 500.

The numbers on the island plummeted to 150 by 1848 due to a combination of potato blight and clearances imposed by the then landowner, Francis William Clark.

READ MORE: Hebridean community of Ulva bids for right to buy island