Biggest community land buyout in southern Scotland set to go ahead by end of the year

Plans for what would be the largest community land buyout in the south of Scotland are in "advanced discussion" and could be concluded by the end of this year, the charity behind the acquisition has said.

The Langholm buyout could go ahead by the end of the year.
The Langholm buyout could go ahead by the end of the year.

The Langholm Initiative began investigating the possibility of community ownership after Buccleuch Estates announced its decision to sell 25,000 acres of the famous Langholm Moor in the Borders last year. Over 800 members of the local community signed a petition supporting the Langholm Initiative’s investigation into community ownership.

The group wants to create the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve on the land, which will deliver community regeneration, climate change action, ecological restoration, wildlife conservation and develop outdoor tourism.

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The Langholm Initiative’s project leader, Kevin Cumming, said: “This is one of the most important and forward thinking community plans in the UK. We are in a climate emergency and the decisions we make now will have a massive impact on future generations.

“We have worked extremely hard over the past six months to get to this stage of the process. It has been a positive experience working with Buccleuch Estates and we are excited to try and get the buyout over the line.”

Some of the other plans the community hopes to take forward include the planting of nearly 500 acres of native woodland, peatland restoration work, the development of modern business units and the creation of an eco-campsite.

A joint valuation, undertaken by independent valuers working for each of the parties, estimates the value of the land to be just over £6 million. In March, the Langholm Initiative applied to the Scottish Land Fund for £3m towards the purchase. They have also approached the new South of Scotland Enterprise agency SoSE to support the purchase.

Mr Cumming added: “The south of Scotland lags far behind the Highland and Islands in the support it has received for community land ownership. This is despite facing many of the same issues as that part of Scotland such as aging population, youth migration and loss of industry.”

It is hoped the remaining money will be found through a large scale crowd funding campaign which is likely to kick off in May. The Langholm Initiative is also pursuing other sources of funding to finance the purchase.

A spokesperson for Buccleuch said: “We have been working closely with the Langholm Initiative in relation to the potential sale of land, including areas of Langholm Moor, and these are progressing well. We hope we will reach a positive conclusion before the end of this year.”

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