SCOTLAND’S rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing has visited Eshiels Community Woodland – acquired earlier this year by Peebles Community Trust (PCT) – to learn of the benefits community ownership can bring.

Formerly managed by Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) predecessor, Forest Enterprise Scotland, the seven-hectare site near Peebles was sold under the Community Asset Transfer Scheme, which presents communities with the opportunity to take full responsibility for land to deliver greater community benefit.

Touring the site with PCT members, Mr Ewing said: “Enhancing Scotland’s system of land ownership and land use, balancing public and private interests while ensuring that our land contributes to a fairer and more just society, is a top priority for the Scottish Government.

“The FLS Community Asset Transfer Scheme is a prime example of how communities can be empowered by taking over publicly owned land or buildings that they feel they can make better use of for local people.”

Further information about the FLS Community Asset Transfer Scheme and how to apply is available online.