Call to repopulate land affected by Highland Clearances

A network of community landowners is seeking new powers to try and reverse the impact of the clearances in Scotland by using land that was turned over hundreds of years ago.

Community Land Scotland wants to repopulate land that locals were cleared from in the Highalnds, but also in the islands, Aberdeenshire and the Lowlands.

Vast swathes of land were used instead for sheep and deer, while those who were removed from the land often emigrating to Canada and other parts of North America.

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Walk of the week - clearance village
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Community Land Scotland, a body representing community land owners, want cleared areas to be ‘mapped’ to stop them from being developed on, and are seeking powers, including compulsory purchase orders, for areas that have been cleared.

A Community Land Scotland spokesman said: “A lot of time has been spent mapping so-called wild land and some now needs spent mapping Scotland’s lost heritage as part of thinking about our future development.

“It is all about finding more balance in the arguments about landscape and the opportunity to have a more living landscape in which people are an integral part.”

A ruined croft from a cleared area on the Isle of Lewis.A ruined croft from a cleared area on the Isle of Lewis.
A ruined croft from a cleared area on the Isle of Lewis.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have committed to introduce legislation for compulsory sale orders during this parliament.

“These powers need to be effective to tackle the blight of abandoned buildings and small plots of land in town centres and communities but also adequately protect the rights of owners.

“It is currently anticipated the legislation will be introduced during 2018-19.”