Gigha dream turns sour? Community ownership in Scotland

Scottish land reform is fascinating. Concepts of ownership were utterly incomprehensible to me as an Australian living in the Highlands & Islands (aspiring to council housing – what the devil?). And the notion there were still absentee landlords or any form of landlord – horrifying! Yet watching the community buyouts I get the impression some are happy to with the status quo. Inconceivable! Throw off the shackles! But then, these are folk ‘aspiring’ to council housing. Have so much respect for people taking the lead in community ownership – they seem to receive a lot of vitriol from all quarters.

Hope Gigha works out. In fact I’m sure it will. Reform like this takes generations.


The Sunday Herald carried a story today headed “A tale of two islands as Gigha dream turns sour” [subscription needed]. It makes for challenging reading for advocates of community ownership in Scotland, especially when Gigha has often been presented as a successful example of a community taking the reins, together with places like Eigg and Assynt.

I have visited the Isle of Gigha twice. My first visit was an unofficial fact-finding trip, undertaken when I was an undergraduate law student keen to set foot on community owned land and who wanted to speak to those who had facilitated the transfer of Gigha from lairds to locals (those locals being embodied by the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust). There are other examples of community ownership available. (One I know particularly well, thanks to my annual visits to Point on the Isle of Lewis. Point, Stornoway and other areas comprising…

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