Historic day on Ulva as island sale concludes

Negotiations have successfully concluded over the community buyout of the island of Ulva.

Binding contracts were signed today (Friday) and ownership will transfer on June 21.

North West Mull Community Woodland Company bought the island after present owner, Jamie Howard, put the estate, which as been in his family for 70 years, on the market last year.

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The community company, which owns part of Mull, received £4.4m from Scottish Land Fund, financed by the Scottish Government, to make the purchase.

The island of Ulva off Mull. PIC: Contributed.The island of Ulva off Mull. PIC: Contributed.
The island of Ulva off Mull. PIC: Contributed.
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It is now hoped to boost the permanent population of the island, which is home to six people, invest in infrastructure - including housing - and develop the tourist trade.

Ulva was the birthplace of Lachlan Macquarie, seen by many as the “Father of Australia” and the National Trust for Australia has offered to help promote the tourism opportunity for visiting

Macquarie’s birthplace.

Colin Morrison, NWMCWC Chair, said the organisation was “extremely grateful” for the support received during the buyout but acknowledged it had been, at times, a demanding and stressful process for all parties.

He said: “To say we are extremely grateful to all our supporters and to the various funding agencies, organisations and individuals would be an understatement.

“We cannot thank everyone enough, not just for the financial support, but also the encouragement we’ve been given throughout the process.

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“We have been heartened by the degree of interest and depth of support we have received from official agencies, commercial organisations and also private individuals at home and abroad.”

The decision to sell Ulva was “a very difficult one” for Mr Howard, the community company said.

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A statement added: “As stewardship passes from the Howard family to the local community, we look

forward to an amicable transition based on mutual respect and the Board is keen to wish Mr.

Howard and his family all the best for the future.”

The Howard family said in an earlier statement that the ongoing costs required to maintain Ulva could not be maintained indefinitely.

It added: “We have continuously supported the Ulva and Mull communities in making strenuous efforts to try to stem the decline of Ulva’s island population.

“Over the years, the family has worked continuously and carefully to maintain and to improve the fragile infrastructure of the island without damaging or destroying its wild and wonderful bio-diversity, which is rarely found today, and of which it is immensely proud.”

After plans for the community buyout emerged, more than 500 people from around the world contributed to the Ulva Buyout JustGiving crowdfunding site.

The sale was completed under The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 , which gives communities the right to buy land and assets under certain conditions.