Highlands & Islands

5,000% rent increase for Skye crofters 'a mistake'

The landowners of a 20,000-acre estate on Skye said they made a mistake in the way it sought rent increases from tenant crofters without consultation.

Some crofters faced rises of up to 5,000% in their annual payments and refused to pay it.

Following talks, the Clan Donald Lands Trust has accepted an offer from tenants to pay according to the number of livestock allocated to their land.

The trust said it deserved some of the criticism levelled at it.

An agreement was reached on rents at a meeting involving about 50 crofters.

'Bad PR'

Charlie MacGillivray, whose rent was set to go up from £30 to almost £300 a year, said the trust had not consulted with its tenants.

He told BBC Alba: "Had consultation been carried out there probably would not have been a need for this process.

"An agreement could have been reached at an earlier stage."

Mr MacGillivray said the situation had been a "bad PR exercise" for the landowner.

Jan Clarke, of the trust, said communications with the crofters and wider community "could have been better", and it was important discussions were ongoing and not sporadic.

She said: "Gone are the days when the landowner meted out rent rises without a conversation going on."

Trust chairman Jamie Macdonald said there had been a positive outcome from the organisation's meeting with tenants.

He said: "The trustees recognise their responsibility to create and maintain a dialogue with all the stakeholders of Clan Donald, particularly on matters that have a strong impact on the local community."