Crofting estate trust reverses decline

A REMOTE island community, which made history two years ago by becoming the first to buy out a Scottish Government crofting estate, has already succeeded in reversing a steady population drift away from the isolated region, it was revealed yesterday.

The West Harris Trust was the first community organisation to take advantage of the Transfer of Crofting Estates (Scotland) Act to take over the 16,247-acre Borve, Luskentyre and Scarisatavore estates on the island in 2010.

The trust was established to build new, affordable housing, and create jobs to help reverse chronic depopulation.

Yesterday, two years on from the historic buy-out, the trust announced that the decline in the local population had already been halted with 16 houses either being built, at the planning stage or being converted from holiday to permanent homes.

A trust spokesman said: “These 16 houses based on current commitments will bring 30 people to the west side by 2013. In addition, ten expressions of interest have also been received for business proposals on the west side. Based on these initial proposals, a total of 24 jobs could be created.”