A hydro scheme on Raasay, a woodland in Carsphairn, and a museum at Loch Tay are among projects benefiting from Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) Community Asset Transfer Scheme (CATS).

The scheme, which has been running since January 2017, enables geographic communities or communities of interest to purchase or lease land for projects that will benefit the the local area and its residents.

Forestry Journal:

Speaking as FLS published its fourth annual report on CATS, Environment Minister Mairi 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 11 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’s lead as their forward-looking approach is more widely adopted.”

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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.

The latest annual report highlights the successes up until March this year and notes the additional three transfers completed since then, and three new requests.

Communities interested in finding out more or in making an application can find advice and guidance here.

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