Tiny Scottish island's population could soar by 6000 per cent

Remote Ulva has a tiny resident population. Picture: John Devlin
Remote Ulva has a tiny resident population. Picture: John Devlin
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The population of a tiny Scottish island could soar by 6,000 per cent after hundreds of people applied to live there - boosting the number of islanders from just six.

The 4,500-acre of Ulva in the Inner Hebrides was the subject of a community buy-out on June 21, 2018.

The island until recently had seven residents, but one member of the former owning family was unhappy over the sale and left. Picture: John Devlin

The island until recently had seven residents, but one member of the former owning family was unhappy over the sale and left. Picture: John Devlin

Islanders, represented by North West Mull Community Woodland Company Ltd, were able to secure up to £4.4 million in funds from the Scottish Land Fund.

READ MORE: Hundreds apply for new life on this remote Scottish island
READ MORE: Tiny island of Ulva officially transferred to community ownership

Donations of £37,000 from more than 500 supporters from around the world boosted the campaign, as well as grants from other sources.

The island until recently had seven residents, but Jamie Howard, a member of the former owning family, was unhappy over the sale and left.

This island is off the west coast of the Isle of Mull, Argyll and Bute, His grandmother bought the island in the 1940s for £10,000 and he was critical of the community campaign, saying it would "struggle".

But plans are afoot to repopulate the island, with 350 people registering their interest to live there.

Some of the suggested careers for applicants included joiners, roofers, crofters, tour guides and foresters.

One of the main objectives for Ulva is to get agriculture going again on the island, which in its boom years in the 18th and 19th Centuries, was home to around 800 people, many of whom made a living collecting kelp.

At present there is just a small flock of rather wild Hebridean sheep and a few feral goats, but a herd of highland cattle will be introduced.

However, prospective islanders have been told that they will not be allowed to renovate homes on Ulva themselves.

In an update, North West Mull Community Woodland Company Ltd said: "Many of the folk interested in moving to Ulva have indicated that they would be happy to carry out their own renovations.

"This just isn't possible as all the major work will have to be done by accredited builders as part of the overall plan."

Applicants were told the project won't be "fulfilled in a piecemeal way" and assured them planning to repopulate Ulva was under way, stressing that it "has to be done right".

The company will work with Argyll and Bute Council to appoint architects to work on the island to restore houses, many of which are ruined.

It said: "There has been a gratifying amount of interest from people wishing to make their homes on Ulva and everyone has been added to a list and will be contacted when we are ready to move to the formal application stage.

"It does need to be clearly stated that this will not be very soon."

The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) created a survey to identify individuals, families, and businesses who wish to relocate to Ulva and become part of the community.

Some fields will be managed to encourage re-establishment of corncrakes, while others will target waders, or the enhancement of species-rich wildflower meadows.

MSP Michael Russell backed the sale and said: "Community purchase gives a new opportunity for Ulva.

"There is a huge amount of goodwill on Mull, in Argyll, across Scotland and even more widely towards the proposed community buyout.

"Moreover it would give an exciting new start for an island that has great potential which will include plans for re-population which this area desperately needs."