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Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust

Practice on:

The unique feature of Gigha is that it is owned by the islanders.  It was put on the market by the landlord in 2001 and it was agreed by the community, following a democratic vote, to bid to buy it.  The Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust was formed to handle the purchase.  With the help of the Scottish Government policy, to assist the buy-out of land by local people through the Scottish Land Fund, who provided £3.25 million and a grant from Highland and Islands Enterprise of £0.5 million it was enough to buy the island.  As a test of commitment a condition of the SLF grant was that £1 million had to be repaid by 2004, of which £200,000 had to be from their own fundraising efforts.  This was done on time.

Practical details:
NUTS 1: UKMSCOTLAND
NUTS 2: UKM5 North Eastern Scotland
Start date: 2002
Type of initiative:  private
Description of the practice:

Asset rich, rural Isle owned by Islanders, through their Heritage Trust.


In the past, and now the Trust has very close links with major bodies like Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Argyll and Islands Enterprise (AIE), the County Council and major providers including Calmac who operate the vital ferry.

The island belongs to the community – with all the land and buildings not in private individual ownership.  Any person can, of course, buy a private property on the island but the Trust will be especially helpful to specific businesses and persons with skills currently needed on Gigha.  This includes the hotel and various holiday cottages which have become the basis of the island- tourism initiatives.
The Island has a primary school (the excellent ferry service allows the secondary pupils to travel daily to Campbeltown), a village hall, an airstrip, a golf course and a network of roads and footpaths.

A very special asset is the 54 acre Achamore Gardens.  These are recognised worldwide and were created by the island’s best known past owner, Sir James Horlick, who developed and used the garden to plant his most tender rhododendrons (for which he was an enthusiast) taking advantage of Gigha’s mild climate, with frost and snow almost unknown.  The gardens are now owned by the Trust and are separate from Achamore House.  They are tended by 2 full time and 1 part time member of staff with an emphasis on making the garden as attractive as possible for visitors.

The community has cooperated to create the Gigha Renewable Energy Company.  Despite the island’s beauty the population voted 100% to develop wind power with 3 windmills known as “The Dancing Ladies of Gigha”.  These were funded by a mix of grants and loans to make up the investment of £440,000.  In its first 8 years it has built up a reinvestment fund of £160,000.  It produces an income of £150,000 p.a. and a net profit of £75,000 p.a.  The system produces ⅔ of the island’s requirements.  Gigha is in many ways like any other Highland estate except that the people are the landowners.  The estate has to be managed prudently and this is the job of the Trust.  The Trust is involved in the economy, in seeking economic development and in the island’s lively social programme.  It is in fact a medium sized business with a wide remit.  Major decisions are taken by a democratic vote of the people.  The Heritage Trust has 6 directors.  It employs a Business Manager, 2 admin staff and a project officer.  In the past, and now the Trust has very close links with major bodies like Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Argyll and Islands Enterprise (AIE), the County Council and major providers including Calmac who operate the vital ferry.

Evidence of success
Biological/biodiversity values:

Biodiversity Action Plan for the island, needs to be developed, as this study will help greatly to promote sustainable farming and will highlight areas of special sensitivity that should be protected from development. At present areas of importance are:

  • Farmland and agricultural practice associated with encouraging Corncrakes to breed on the island.
  • The cliff nesting sites on the northwestern coast.
  • Over wintering areas for geese.
  • Areas of native woodland and scrub.
  • Achieving a balanced mix of cultivated areas, grazing and wild areas.
  • Ways of increasing or sustaining the rich flora - especially wild flowers.
Visual impact and recreational value:

Despite the island’s beauty the population voted 100% to develop wind power with 3 windmills known as “The Dancing Ladies of Gigha”.  The system produces 2/3 of the islands requirements.

Cultural heritage:

The story of the Isle of Gigha is fascinating (the community actually bought the island for £4 million in March 2002!), but one aspect which is particularly interesting is; the dancing ladies wind farm is a perfect example of HomeGrown energy. The three windmills of Gigha generate electricity and income for the island, and some of this electricity is sold to Good Energy through the ProGen scheme, which pays commercial scale generators for the power and the renewable certificates they produce. As Scotland’s first community owned and grid connected wind farm, this is a great example of HomeGrown energy.

Environmental impact:

The Islanders appreciate the splendid place in which they live. Looking after the environment is a priority of the Gigha Trust.  Gigha is strongly influenced by the warming effect of the Gulf Stream, which is the reason why Achamore Garden has become a nationally important garden and rhododendron collection.

Economic viability:

The buy-out of the Island and establishing the Turst has given the island employment.  They employ a Business Manager, 2 admin staff and a project officer. The Achamore Garden is the key attraction on the island for day visitors, and the Trust employs 2 gardeners.  Wind turbines that generate income for the local economy, a housing refurbishment programme that is providing high quality accommodation for residents, increasing local business activity and a forward looking Trust with directors elected from the island leading the way - Gigha really is moving forward.Lukas

Transferability:
Opportunities like this don’t appear as often in Wales. Estates are being sold, and it’s not unknown for tenants to make a buy-out purchase for estates. This is an excellent example of a vibrant, proactive island.

Contact details:
Name: Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust
Organisation: Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.gigha.org.uk/index.php


Completed on:
Date added: 8.9.2011  Hits: 157
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