Environment Minister, Mairi McAllan, today (Wed 30 June) welcomed news that the aspirations of a further seven communities across Scotland are being realised through Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) exemplary Community Asset Transfer Scheme (CATS).
The Scheme, running since January 2017, enables geographic communities or communities of interest to purchase or lease land for projects that will benefit the community.
Speaking as FLS published its fourth annual report on CATS, Ms McAllan, said;
“The Scottish Government is committed to giving Scotland’s communities more opportunities to develop land-based projects that will deliver benefits such as job creation, skills development, income generation and improved amenity.
“In just four years the scheme has resulted in eleven completed sales (totalling 494 hectares) and one hydro lease, with seven sales and a lease for land to build a community-led renewable energy project in progress.
“These transactions only serve to boost the 94 active partnerships/agreements or leases already in place and the 122 community projects that FLS has facilitated across Scotland.
“I very much welcome this work which helps communities make the best use of the national forests and land and am also pleased to note that other organisations are following FLS’ lead as their forward looking approach is more widely adopted.”
The latest annual report highlights the successes up until March this year and notes in addition, the additional 3 transfers completed since then, and 3 new requests.
Communities can also get involved in decisions on how FLS manages Scotland’s National Forests and Land through FLS Land Management Plan consultations. FLS also has many formal and informal agreements with communities who want to carry out activities including sports events, habitat management, path maintenance or even community buildings.
Examples of some of the benefits that communities are realising from CATS community projects include:
- Completion of the lease for Raasay Development Trust’s community hydro scheme on Raasay, to address fuel poverty on Raasay, provide a small income to pursue projects within Raasay’s 5 year Development Plan.
- The Crannog Centre proposals to relocate to a new site at Dalerb to secure the long-term future of the Scottish Crannog Centre.
- Carsphairn Community Woodland completed the purchase of 48 hectares of woodland at Muirdrochwood, creating a rural economic hub to help address social issues.
- Fairy Pools Car Park, Glen Brittle, Skye – Minginish Community Hall Association (MCHA) in partnership with OATS developed new car parking – and a new toilet block – to cope with increasing visitor numbers. They have planted 420 saplings at the car park to improve biodiversity and amenity and are reinvesting rental income from the car park into the community.
- Dronley Community Woodland, Auchterhouse – managing the woodland and installing all-abilities paths, interpretation material and benches, providing a location for volunteer and for Forest School activities, and now also supplying timber to Tayside Forestry for local woodfuel.
Communities interested in finding out more or in making an application can find plenty of advice and guidance on the FLS website.
CATS delivers on the asset transfer rights for communities covered in Part 5 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 for our national forests and land.