Tiny island of Ulva officially transferred to community ownership

An entire island has passed into the hands of its community after being privately owned.

Ulva residents Rhuri Munro and his wife Rebecca Munro and Barry George celebrate the sale of the island to the residents on June 21. Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

Ulva in the Inner Hebrides once had a population of more than 800, but now has fewer than ten people who permanently live on the island.

The site was officially bought by the North West Mull Woodland Company (NWMWC) on Thursday after former owner Jamie Howard decided to put the estate on the market.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The community right to buy scheme was granted for the bulk of the estate, valued at £4.65 million, following a complex process.

Now the official handover to the people who live on the Inner Hebridean island has taken place.

The bulk of the purchase price and assistance with project management over the first two years has come from the Scottish Land Fund, which provided an unprecedented £4.4m towards plans to repopulate the island and transform it into a vibrant site in the future.

Local residents have thrown themselves whole-heartedly into the buy-out initiative.

One of them, Rebecca Munro, said: “I believe the people who live and work here are best placed to run the island.

“All we are asking for is the chance to shape our own future.

“Community ownership offers us a say in the future and provides opportunities for us and our children.”

Ulva has been in decline in recent years, which was one of the reasons why Mr Howard chose to sell it.

But the remaining residents have spoken of their genuine belief the idyllic island will be revitalised, not least as a thriving centre for tourism.

Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Government’s environment secretary, applauded the buy-out venture.

She said: “This is a historic day for Ulva and I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to the NWMWC for seeing the sale through to its conclusion.

“They can now press ahead with their ambitious plans to regenerate the local economy and ultimately repopulate the island again.”

Ulva was the birthplace of Lachlan Macquarie, who lived from 1762 to 1824, was a governor of New South Wales and is regarded by many people as the “Father of Australia”.

The Macquarie Group has donated £500,000 to the takeover. Links have already been established between the Ulva residents and the National Trust for Australia, which has pledged to promote the island.