THE GALSON ESTATE BUYOUT
A' gabhail sealbh air fearann Ghabhsainn
“B' ann air an là seo, 12mh Fhaoilleach 2007, a ghabh muinntir Oighreachd Ghabhsainn sealbh air an fhearann aca fhèin."
“On this day, 12th January 2007,
the people of Galson Estate
took ownership of their land.”
Leading up to the buyout - Ar slighe
In 2001, a steering group was formed with the intention of purchasing, for the community, the 22,260 hectare Galson Estate, in the north of the Isle of Lewis. The Estate at that time was under private ownership with minimal estate management or development.
A feasibility study was carried out to identify the economic, social and environmental potential of the Estate, involving an in-depth analysis of the estate’s existing assets and business, the development options and the opportunities presented. This was done with a wide-ranging community-based review and assessment of community requirements. Public and individual meetings were held with local businesses and township grazing committees and information was disseminated through Fios, the local newspaper.
Following the completion of this study in September 2004, the steering group continued with further studies and community consultation and proceeded with an application for grant funding to achieve a community buyout. There was overwhelming support from the community as 85% supported the buyout, and 1153 (75%) became members of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust). Membership is open to those over the age of sixteen who are resident within the estate boundaries.
Of those eligible to vote in the Trust’s Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 Part 3 buy-out ballot, there was a 72% turnout and an 85% majority ‘YES’ vote (830 individual votes out of 976 returns).
The Board of Directors was elected in November 2004 - 30 nominees put themselves forward for 10 volunteer directors’ posts. 76% of the Trust’s membership turned out to elect the directors.
In April 2006, the Trust was awarded funding of £450,488 from the BIG Lottery’s Scottish Land Fund (SLF) and £188,250 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
During the rest of the year, it raised the remaining funds required and the purchase of the Estate was concluded on 12th January 2007.
“On this day 12th January 2007 the people of Galson Estate took ownership of their land.”
"B' ann air an là seo, 12 Fhaoilleach 2007, a ghabh muinntir Oighreachd Ghabhsainn sealbh air an fhearann aca fhein."
Friday 12th of January 2007 will be remembered as a historic day for the community of Galson Estate. On this day, the 56,000 acre estate passed into community ownership, to be managed on their behalf by Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn.
A full programme of events was planned for 12th January and the day was chosen to symbolise the start of a new year and a new era for the community. The celebrations began at 2pm at Galson Farm; a location closely associated with the tumultuous events of the 19th Century in this area. Over 100 people gathered in the yard, despite the storm, to witness this momentous occasion and when the pipes skirled a loud cheer went out to acknowledge the land now belonged to the people.
A commemorative stone was then unveiled by Donald MacLeod, one of UOG’s oldest members, and the youngest member, Kellie Offer. The stone has now been placed at the new Urras Business Centre in South Galson.