SCOTTISH LAND FUND GRANT FROM PUBLIC PURSE TO PRIVATE POCKET

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South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine has welcomed the announcement of grants for projects in the South of Scotland from the Scottish Land Fund this week. However, she expressed her disappointment that a group in Langholm failed to receive the full amount they asked for.

Langholm Initiative was awarded a grant of £1m towards a community buy-out of land near Langholm currently owned by the Duke of Buccleuch. They had applied for £3m, which is half of the total project costs of £6m. The estate comprises 10,000 acres, including protected moorland, commercial forestry and nine dwellings.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,

“A million pounds is a lot of money and I know Langholm Initiative are very appreciative. However, I’m disappointed they didn’t receive the full amount they asked for as they now face a huge challenge to find the rest of the funding so they can draw down this grant in the timescale allowed.

“This is because the Scottish Land Fund conditions state that Langholm Initiative must complete their fundraising and finalise the land purchase before the end of October this year, otherwise they have to give the money back. This means they have only a few months to find the additional £5m, a huge challenge in the current economic climate.

“Although the Scottish Land Fund is an independent body and the Scottish Government have no input to their decision-making processes, I have nevertheless written to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunninghame to tell her about my concerns and ask her if there is anything else the Scottish Government can do to help. I have also written to the Chief Executive of the newly formed South of Scotland Enterprise to ask for their support.

“This is a very valuable project which will bring an important ecological asset into public ownership, preserving it for generations to come. I’m determined to do what I can to make sure it succeeds.”