Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Pairc buy-out

The latest twist in the tortuous proceedings of the Pairc buy-out has occurred. The Court of Session in Edinburgh has ruled that the community buy-out plans do NOT, as alleged by landowner Barry Lomas, infringe the landowner’s human rights. The next step in this seemingly endless wrangle will be a ruling by a sheriff at Stornoway Sheriff Court whether the ballot by the community in South Lochs on the proposed buy-out was flawed, or not. This is expected to happen in January.

The buy-out relates to unoccupied common land, away from the villages on the Pairc peninsula. In itself, this is not worth a lot, but a proposed windfarm could propel its value (currently unknown) into the millions of pounds.

A vote to investigate the possibility of mounting a community buy-out of the Pairc estate was taken in November 2004. A ballot in favour of mounting a hostile buy-out bid was taken in December 2009, making it the first instance of a hostile buy-out under the right-to-buy legislation, enacted in 2003.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Stòras Uibhist

In the 16 years that I have taken a more than passive interest in community land buy-outs, starting with the Isle of Eigg in 1996/7, I have never seen such a ludicrous situation as what has arisen in South Uist in recent times.

I refer to the article on Hebrides News for details.

The purpose of this blogpost is to question the use (and I have difficulty not prefixing “use” with the letters M, I and S) of the staggering amount of two hundred thousand pounds in legal fees to resolve a dispute between Stòras and a crofting tenant.
Rather than come to a private, amicable settlement, things had to go to court. That happens, also in Lewis, where I am based. Even close relatives take each other to court over land issues, and senior law practitioners get involved in those too. However, Stòras is a landowner, who had a dispute with one of its tenants.

Nonetheless, I question the use of this vast sum of money in legal fees, in spite of a local petition (which went round the estate in 2010) to drop the action.
This sordid episode marks a low point in the modern history of community buy-outs, in my opinion.