Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont has paid tribute to the community buy-outs that
are transforming Scotland’s rural and island communities.
This week Ms Lamont visited the Galson Estate in Lewis, which has been run since
2007 by a trust set up by residents to give them control over how the land is used.
Galson Estate Trust has used its ownership to build homes and create jobs for the
community aswell as conserve the environment. Some 500,000 acres of land in Scotland
is now in community ownership.
The Labour Leader also visited the Stornoway Trust, another public-owned estate.
Following the visit, Ms Lamont expressed concern about the lack of progress in enabling
more community buy-outs.
She said: “What is happening on the Galson Estate is inspirational and mirrors what
is happening across the Western Isles and I want to see many more communities getting
the opportunity to share in the benefits of community ownership.
"These are exactly the kind of benefits that Labour wanted to see delivered when
it took the historic Land Reform Act through the first Scottish Parliament a decade
ago and this has halted and even reversed population decline in these communities
by creating jobs and building homes.
“Despite the fantastic progress in areas like Lewis, it is still modest when set
against the vast areas of Scotland still controlled by a tiny number of landowners
and we need to give more people a stake in the land, with all the benefits that come
“There is no doubt that this has lost momentum over the last few years despite the
opportunities available for more community ownership.
"I welcome the Scottish Government’s review of land reform but the 18-month review
period means it could take a number of years before this is progressed and I am concerned
about the mixed messages being sent by Alex Salmond. The First Minister has failed
to personally visit a community buy-out but did take the time to address the big
private land owners’ annual conference, which they have taken as a `ringing endorsement'
of private land ownership.
"The land reform review group is an opportunity to look at radical recommendations
to bring about significantly more community ownership, make existing legislation
work better for communities and there is no reason why this should not be dealt with
within the lifetime of this parliament."
Community Land Scotland Chairman, David Cameron has welcomed her support.
He said: "I welcomed the opportunity to meet with Johann Lamont and explain the exciting
things going on in community ownership of land and to discuss the areas where we
think there is a need to see public policy develop in order to allow more communities
to benefit. She was very complimentary of what is happening and I know was impressed
by what she saw at Galson and about all the other communities I was able to tell
"We welcome support across the political spectrum for what is happening through the
community ownership of land and the opportunity to brief senior political figures
is an important part of our work.