Highlands & Islands

Approval for hostile buy-out of Pairc Estate on Lewis

A community has moved closer to a hostile buy-out of a crofting estate on Lewis, in the Western Isles.

The Scottish government has approved Pairc Community Trust's bid to take over the 26,800-acre (10,845-hectare) Pairc Estate.

Landowner Barry Lomas said he was considering legal action to try and block the hostile buy-out.

He added that the estate had been open to a community takeover in March last year.

However, he said the trust had "insisted on taking the hostile route".

The government approval opens the way for an independent valuation of the land. Once a value is set the trust will have six months to raise the funds needed.

Four hundred people live on the estate, which has 208 crofts.

'Complex issues'

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham approved the buy-out under the provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

She said: "After serious scrutiny and deliberation, the complex issues surrounding the trust's application have now been fully analysed and I can grant approval for the Pairc trust to go ahead to purchase the land.

"The plans the trust has should help inject new life into the area, rejuvenate the economy and boost the fortunes of all those who live, work and visit this spectacular part of our country.

"I wish them good fortune in raising the money required to purchase the estate and every success in shaping their own destiny."

Community Land Scotland, a group representing community landowners, said it was delighted by the government's decision.

Spokesman David Cameron said: "The Pairc community are to be congratulated for their tenacity and perseverance which has brought about this result.

"We believe that the Pairc situation, a community of declining population and opportunities, was exactly the type of scenario which the legislators had in mind when they drew up the act which allows communities to own, manage and develop the land on which they live and work."

In a statement, Mr Lomas said: "Pairc Estate had wanted the community to take ownership in March 2010, but Pairc trust insisted on taking the hostile route, seemingly for the glory of having taken on the landlord."

He said legal action challenging the hostile buy-out could continue.

Mr Lomas said: "The judicial review is still open, although ministers have chosen to ignore the court, so Pairc Estate may yet continue with actions in various courts to secure fair treatment."

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