‘Global interest’ in living on Ulva as community prepares buy-out bid

Ulva currently only has six inhabitants, but the community company is confident the island can support up to 50 people. Picture: Moira Kerr
Ulva currently only has six inhabitants, but the community company is confident the island can support up to 50 people. Picture: Moira Kerr
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Interest from all over the world is flooding in from people keen to start a new life on the isle of Ulva.

The Scottish Land Fund has pledged up to £4,415,200 to enable a community buyout bid to be lodged for the Hebridean island, off Mull.

It’s very encouraging as it must be getting close to 500 people from all over the world who have given us money

JOHN ADDY

Island owner Jamie Howard’s family have been the custodians of Ulva – which is now home to just six people – for more than 70 years.

Now, as the North West Mull Community Woodland Company prepares to seal a deal to keep the island securely in local hands, would-be islanders are queuing up for a chance to live there.

The community company, which won the backing of residents in North West Mull in a postal ballot, has a business plan which aims to boost the population. And the company is confident that the island, which was once home to 600 residents, will be able to sustain up to 50 people.

John Addy, a director of the community bid company, said they could not start looking for new residents until the island sale had been secured.

But, before the opportunity has even been marketed, interest is being lodged by email, phone and social media.

Mr Addy said: “A whole bunch of people have expressed a whole lot of interest, wanting to set up businesses and wanting to live here. People from all over the world, from Canada, Australia, UK, America, have expressed an interest.”

Around £40,000 has been raised on crowdfunding site Justgiving and Mr Addy said: “It’s very encouraging as it must be getting close to 500 people from all over the world who have given us money.”

Mr Addy would not disclose details about where they might get additional cash for their multi-million-pound business plan, which incudes new housing, infrastructure and business opportunities.

But he said: “We are pretty confident we will get the money, we are getting all sorts of people in the wings.”

The island, which had been for sale for offers over £4.25 million, was taken off the market, on the orders of the Scottish Government, when the community expressed an interest in taking it over.

Mr Howard was not available for comment but Paul Nicol, the Howard family’s representative, said: “The Scottish Government is ­giving this money for six people. If you look at the deprivation in Scotland, in places like ­Easterhouse, it’s the worst in the UK. If you take that they are spending £750,000 per person [on Ulva] it’s morally wrong.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We believe the proposals for Ulva have the potential to deliver a range of important benefits both for those living on the island itself and in the wider community.”