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Scottish Land Fund cash to protect vital rural services

A number of vital community services, including a fuel filling station, post office and community shop, are at the heart of four community owned land initiatives today (THURS 23 MARCH) sharing in grants from the Scottish Land Fund.

A total of £196,258 goes to projects in Aberdeen, the Western Isles and the Highlands. They include plans by The Carloway Community Association to purchase the former Carloway Primary School and associated land situated at Knock, Carloway. The grant of £74,758 will also be used to help develop the building as a Rural Life Centre including a community shop, ATM and post office, as well as a space for new enterprises to grow.

Welcoming the award Mairi Steele, Secretary of the Carloway Community Association, said: “The Carloway Community Association is thrilled that our application to the Scottish Land Fund has been successful. The funding will enable us to buy the former school on behalf of the community and deliver much needed facilities for local people – making the Carloway area a better place to live and work.

“The longer term vision for the site is to develop a Rural Life Centre that will attract visitors, create jobs and generate income that will be re-invested in the community. This grant is a massive kick-start to the whole project.”

Aberdeen is also home to a Scottish Land Fund grant today as the Fittie Community Development Trust receives £53,000 to purchase the former Gospel Hall in Footdee, Aberdeen. As Pauline Brown, Chair, Fittie Community Development Trust explains the group will revive the empty building to create a thriving community owned facility:

She said: “This welcome development means our plans to acquire the disused Gospel Hall for community use can become a reality.  The conservation village of Fittie in Aberdeen is a wonderful place to live, but it lacks a shared community space; there is nowhere for residents of all ages to meet for public meetings or social, recreational and educational purposes. A community space will provide this and an opportunity to welcome visitors to our area.  We’re now looking for the next stage of the project- sourcing funding to refurbish the building - with renewed energy and enthusiasm.”

In the Highlands, the North Sutherland Community Forest Trust, receives £47,500 to purchase Forsinain Wood in Sutherland on behalf of the local community. The purchase, made under the National Forest Land Scheme, will allow the Trust to manage the 35 hectares of woodland as a community asset.

Sandy Murray, Chairman, North Sutherland Community Forest Trust, said "NSCFT is delighted to be awarded this funding to allow us to purchase the Forsinain Woodland which is very close to our saw mill. This will ensure the long term sustainability of a timber supply when prices are high or timber is scarce in the area. It will also allow us to manage the woodland for the benefit of the local community and the environment.”

A community backed proposal to re-open a fuel filling station in the remote rural village of Helmsdale, East Sutherland has received a welcome boost of £21,000. Helmsdale & District Development Trust will now be able to re-establish this important local service.

Announcing today’s awards, John Watt, Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, said: “The Scottish Land Fund is designed to support a diverse range of community land initiatives reflecting the real issues at the heart of local communities. Today’s successful projects are all great examples of people taking control of local resources for the long term benefit of their communities. From re-opening a fuel petrol station to developing a community forest these initiatives will safeguard vital assets for the benefit of future generations.”

Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “I am always pleased to see the variety of projects that receive awards from the Scottish Land Fund. This round of awards highlights this particularly well, with four different projects across the country.

From woods to filling stations and halls to shops, it is clear that local communities themselves are best placed to determine what matters to them, and what will have the biggest impact on their community. It is for that reason the Scottish Government will continue to support communities and help them to make decisions and realise those visions, through the likes of the Scottish Land Fund.”

Ailsa Raeburn, Head of Community Assets for HIE, said: “The latest round of awards from the Scottish Land Fund will help these groups bring some important land, buildings and services into community ownership. Acquiring these will give communities the resources and control they need to deliver some really exciting projects for the benefit of the people living in and visiting their areas. We are looking forward to working with them in the future to help them build on their plans.”

The Scottish Land Fund is keen to support more applications from across Scotland and particularly within urban areas. Groups considering applying should contact the Big Lottery Fund to discuss their idea at or by phoning 0300 123 7110.

For more information on this release please contact

Big Lottery Fund Scotland press office
0141 242 1458

Highland and Islands Enterprise Press Office 
01463 244244

Notes to Editors

  • The Scottish Land Fund reopened to applications in April 2016. The programme is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, both of which have extensive experience of helping communities to acquire and develop their assets for over a decade.
  • The SLF Committee was appointed following the normal procedures for public appointments.
  • The BIG Lottery Fund distributes lottery funding to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. It also uses its expertise in grant-giving to distribute non-Lottery funding. Full details of the BIG Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: BIG Lottery Fund Public Enquiries Line call: 0300 123 7110.
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) delivers the Scottish Government Economic Strategy across more than half of Scotland - from Shetland to Argyll and from the Hebrides to Moray. It aims to support businesses and social enterprises; strengthen communities and fragile areas; develop key sectors, and create the conditions for a competitive and low carbon region. HIE has an annual budget of more than £75m and employs around 250 people in locations around the Highlands and Islands. See more at to different website
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