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A huge well done to all those who took part in the dry stone walling course on 8th & 9th April. The course was led by Chris Barrowmen and the team made a fantastic job of the “second” wall, which is located at the UOG business centre. The course was a success and a waiting list has been created for those hoping to take part on another course! We hope to perhaps be able to offer another course later in the year, following on from the success of the two sessions already held.

It’s been a challenging couple of weeks with regards to crofting administration with new croft creation being the current hot topic! It has always been an aspiration of the estate to create new crofts and to date this has been entirely possible, whereby a formal allotment already exists i.e. the land has been resumed. Several new crofts have been created and this has been a very positive development. However, the main issue that has become apparent is whether the Land Court view the creation of a new croft as a “reasonable purpose” for the resumption of Common Grazings. We have several live cases, where the approval of the relevant township has been granted, but unfortunately these are now on hold until we have clarity on whether or not land can be resumed for this purpose. It was believed that reform would follow guiding principles to ensure that barriers to create new crofts would be removed, so we can hope that truly is the case.

The Woodland Trust, in collaboration with Point and Sandwick Trust, have launched a free advisory service for any crofters or common grazing committees interesting in planting trees. We recently met with the Croft Woodlands Project Officer, Viv Halcrow, who explained that woodlands give multiple benefits for individual crofters and for villages when the right trees are planted in the right place - including shelter for livestock/crops; sustainable sources of firewood, increased variety in the landscape, shelter and food for wild birds. There is also an opportunity to involve schoolchildren in a range of educational projects as part of the overall initiative. To find out more about the opportunities available those interested should contact the Urras office for more information.

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