VILLAGE UPDATE, JUNE 2020

We hope you are keeping well during these difficult times. If you need any help, please don't hesitate to contact the Village Council or the volunteers of Wanlockhead Community Trust. Their contact details are below. A big thanks to everybody who has supported and listened to the community buyout project since January 2016, when a majority of the village supported the creation of a Wanlockhead Community Trust to investigate potential community ownership of the land around the village.

Over the past four years a number of local residents have volunteered in their free time to look into a potential land buyout in Wanlockhead. Fact-finding trips were organised to community-owned estates in Lewis, Harris, Isle of Mull, and Mull of Galloway. A community consultation was carried out with over a dozen follow-up public meetings and regular monthly open meetings. High profile cross-party political support for a Wanlockhead buyout was publicly given. In 2018 Buccleuch Estates offered to transfer to Wanlockhead the ownership of approximately 4,000 acres of land around the village, and the SSE Clyde Community Fund and the Scottish Land Fund awarded funding towards legal advice and a feasibility study regarding a community owned Wanlockhead.

The Feasibility Study was finalised just before the current lockdown restrictions came in place. You can read it here: Wanlockhead buyout Feasibility Study

The report confirmed that a community-owned Wanlockhead will be financially viable in a baseline scenario. Moreover, it confirms our area has been blessed with a number of resources which other areas don't have, and which can provide additional profit, resources and services to our community in the years to come.

We have now reached the final stage of the negotiations that were started in January 2016 to give options for the future sustainability of the village. A firm land buyout proposal is on the table: Buccleuch has offered to transfer the land to the village, and the Community Trust has produced a Feasibility Study which has confirmed to the relevant Government bodies the viability of a community buyout in Wanlockhead. The cross-party political support for a community-owned Wanlockhead will likely remain and a great level of continued support from funders is expected, should the village decide to give the green light to the buyout.

Time for the community to decide

As promised in January 2016, the buyout proposal will be put to a vote so that the community can decide whether we want to own the land around us or not. If a majority of the community votes Yes, life in the village will continue as usual but the landowner will be us, the community, the residents of Wanlockhead, which will decide collectively and democratically what we want to keep and improve in the village. After a ‘Yes’ vote, discussions with the Scottish Government funding agency, the Scottish Land Fund, and other foundations, will follow and we may expect about a year before the legal transfer of land to happen. If the buyout is not voted through by the community, the land will be retained and managed for the private property interests of Buccleuch Estates, and any future development will not necessarily benefit the community as a whole. If Wanlockhead does not seize this opportunity to vote in favour of the buyout there is a possible danger that the land could be sold for commercial development. A ‘Yes’ vote will ensure that future decisions made on land use will be decided by the community.

Dumfries and Galloway Council and Community Land Scotland are currently providing advice on how to provide a local ballot so that the community can vote safely. We are expecting to hear from them shortly and perhaps be able to hold a ballot in July or August. A follow-up advisory will be produced when there is further news..

- - - More info? Want to speak with someone? - - -

Despite the current social restrictions, you are always welcome to contact your fellow villagers and volunteers of Wanlockhead Community Trust. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. Lincoln and Androulla Richford (74435), Mac Blewer (74225), Steven Gillespie (07909 150093), Dominika Torka and David Tkocz (07901 298773), Victoria Chanin (74324), and Anjo Abelaira (74374).

Finally, in the context of the current pandemic, Community Land Scotland, the umbrella organisation of community landowners in Scotland, has published a highly informative report on how community landowners have found themselves better prepared to protect their communities against the current challenges. Read the report here: https://bit.ly/BuiltInResilience