Community trust completes £4.4m right-to-buy purchase of Scottish island

The North West Mull Community Woodland Company had faced opposition from locals to its purchase of Ulva, near Mull

Boat terminal on Ulva
Boat terminal on Ulva

A Scottish community trust has completed the £4.4m purchase of the Scottish island of Ulva, near Mull, as a community asset.

The North West Mull Community Woodland Company, which is behind the plan to buy Ulva, was set up in 2006 to purchase and manage woodlands in the north west of Mull.

The purchase of Ulva was completed today, according to a statement from the NWMCWC, and the ownership will officially transfer to the trust on 21 June.

The acquisition is one of the largest right-to-buy deals to have taken place in the UK, with most other such deals focusing on community assets such as pubs and local amenities.

The bulk of the funds for the purchase has been granted by the Scottish Land Fund, supplemented by local fundraising efforts, the trust said.

In a statement made last year, the NWMCWC said it wanted to invest in Ulva’s infrastructure and local industries, and help it to attract tourism because of its connections with famous historical figures such as David Livingstone, Samuel Johnson and Beatrix Potter.

A community right-to-buy application was then validated, which led to the postponement of the sale of Ulva to private buyers until the Scottish government decided whether to allow the purchase by the charity to go ahead.

The Scottish government allowed the NWMCWC to purchase the island earlier this year, providing it raised the necessary funds.

But the potential purchase has been controversial locally, with Mull Community Council earlier this year voting against allowing the NWMCWC to purchase Ulva.

In a statement made earlier this year, the Howard family, which owned Ulva, said they were opposed to selling to the charity and claimed that the NWMCWC was "relying heavily on the Scottish government to provide the overwhelming majority of the funds, not only to purchase the island but to continue to support its future at the taxpayer’s expense".

Colin Morrison, chair of the NWMCWC, said: "To say we are extremely grateful to all our supporters and to the various funding agencies, organisations and individuals would be an understatement.

"We cannot thank everyone enough, not just for the financial support, but also for the encouragement we’ve been given throughout the process.

"We have been heartened by the degree of interest and depth of support we have received from official agencies, commercial organisations and private individuals at home and abroad."

The 19.9km² island has a population of 16 people, according to its website.

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