Monday, 20 August 2007

Community buy-out : Park Estate

The community buy-out in the Park District of Lewis has hit a snag. Although the first community in Lewis to launch a bid, the Park Trust has met with determined opposition from the landlord in the shape of legal wrangles.

The territory of the Park Estate has been leased to Park Crofters, who in turn have subleased it to Park Renewables - for electricity company SSE to use for erecting 57 windturbines on common grazings. Basically, the moorland south and west of the B8060 Balallan to Lemreway road. It should be stressed that Park Crofters is a company controlled by the sitting landowner. The use of this instrument of interposed leases has been contested in the Scottish Land Court by the Scottish Executive and the Park Trust, who have launched the community buy-out bid. The Court has ruled that this is LEGAL under the 2003 Scottish Landreform Act. Legislation introduced since has closed this loophole, and it remains to be seen whether the new clauses can be made to be enforcible retrospectively.

I have previously made clear my strong support to the various community buy-outs across the Highlands and Islands. Although I am not happy with the proposed windfarm, I will say that if it has to go ahead let it at least be to the economic benefit of the Park residents.

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