The South of Scotland’s largest community buyout is set to go ahead following one of the most ambitious community fundraising campaigns ever seen – with the community of Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway raising the final funds needed in the nick of time.
A landmark community buyout agreement of £3.8 million for over 5,000ac of land has been reached between The Langholm Initiative charity and Buccleuch – paving the way for the creation of a huge new nature reserve to help tackle climate change, restore nature and support community regeneration.
Discussions will continue over the remaining 5,300ac of land the community has expressed an interest in buying.
Benny Higgins, executive chairman of Buccleuch, said:
We’re absolutely delighted to have reached a significant agreement with The Langholm Initiative, and this deal demonstrates what can be achieved when everyone involved is committed to working together.
"The community has done a tremendous job in raising the funds to make this historic acquisition, and the plan to create a nature reserve has attracted widespread support. We wish the project every success.
"Engaging constructively with the communities in which we operate as a business is important to us. We have a long-standing policy of reducing our overall footprint to enable us to invest in other projects, and will continue this policy of selling land to interested farmers, community bodies and organisations which express an interest."
'This is an amazing result'
Margaret Pool, chair of The Langholm Initiative, said:
“This is an amazing result for Langholm which will live long in the memory. Our community has a strong cultural connection to this land, which has never been sold before, and securing it for generations to come means so much to so many. Huge thanks to Buccleuch for their positive engagement.”
Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Land Reform, said:
The completion of The Langholm Moor project is a momentous moment for land reform in Scotland. The project secured a £1 million Scottish Land Fund grant in June, and it is of great testament to The Langholm Initiative that they have secured additional funding, and worked collaboratively with Buccleuch Estates.
"This brings 5,000ac of land into community ownership. I commend both The Langholm Initiative and Buccleuch Estates for enabling the buy-out to be completed.
"This is significant news for the South of Scotland but also demonstrates that, when working together with a shared goal, local communities can be a power vehicle for change.
"I applaud the initiative wholeheartedly for realising their ambition and look forward to it inspiring other community groups to drive and deliver their own projects right across the country.
The purchase – to be finalised by January 2021 – will lead to the creation of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, with globally important peatlands and ancient woods restored, native woodlands established, and a haven ensured for wildlife including rare hen harriers.
"The project will also support community regeneration, including through plans for the community to capitalise on new nature-based tourism opportunities."