New vision for Rum
A new vision for a thriving community on Rum owned by its inhabitants has been outlined today by Environment Minister Michael Russell
Mr Russell has given the green light to the Isle of Rum Community Trust to conclude with Scottish Natural Heritage, an agreement on about how land and property in Kinloch Village and Glen could be developed in the future, in the ownership of the community.
He also announced that crofting is set to take take place on the island for the first time.
As part of a meeting with the Rum Task Group, Mr Russell said:
"The Scottish Government is committed to the sustainable economic development of this truly unique island.
"In December I convened the Rum Summit, which led to the formation of the Task Group which is meeting jointly with the Rum Steering Group today.
"Today marks a significant step in the ongoing work that has been carried out.
"I want to see a process put in place to enable the local community to own and manage land and property in Kinloch Village and Glen, and to develop a thriving local community with a sustainable economy.
"Of course, during that process - which I want concluded as soon as practical - there are a number of issues which need to be resolved. The will is there to resolve them and the Government will ensure that happens.
"The Trust and Task Group partners will now explore the means by which this can,all take place with the end result being clear benefits for the islanders, the island and for the local economy, including increased tourism.
"An element of this is the agreement already in place that up to five crofts will be created to help bring some more people to live on the island.
"Crofting has been enormously successful in other parts of Scotland and I see no reason why it cannot flourish in this attractive setting. The sale of a few house plots needs also to be considered.
"Much has been achieved in the last six months, which is an enormous credit to the Task Group and the community. I want to see the interested parties continuing to work together to achieve a truly prosperous Rum.
"I will ensure that the Scottish Government is fully engaged in the task and the full summit will re-convene in December to ensure continued urgent progress."
Rum has been owned and managed by the Government conservation agencies since 1957. It passed from the Nature Conservancy Council to SNH in 1992.
The Rum Summit, convened by the Michael Russell on December 3, 2007, brought the island's community and the key Government agencies together to discuss the economic, social and environmental potential of the island with the principal objective of developing a joint approach to realising the full benefit of the isle's resources.
The summit agreed - and the Minister endorsed the proposal - that a Task Group should be formed to identify and facilitate actions in support of the development of a dynamic community on Rum which is not solely dependent on SNH. The purpose of the meeting on the Isle of Rum on 6 June is for the Rum Task Group to report to the Minister on the progress it is making on achieving its remit.
Achievements of the Task Group during the last six months include:
- Investment of £500,000 by SNH to improve the water supply and initiation of a feasibility study to improve the electricity supply. These are essential pre-requisites for further development on the island
- Formal establishment of the Isle of Rum Community Trust as the future custodian of community interests on the island
- Recruitment of a development manager to work with the community and Task Group partners to take forward planning for community development on Rum
- The Village Development Plan has been endorsed by the local community as providing the basis for planning future developments
- SNH and the community have submitted an application to the Crofters' Commission for designation of 50 hectares of croft land to support up to five crofts on the island
- SNH in consultation with the community have identified the potential extent of property which could in due course be transferred to the community
The Isle of Rum Community Trust (IRCT) will lead on the development of a crofting allocations policy over the coming months which will include decisions on whether there should be a phased approach to the release of crofts and over what timescale. Other key considerations for the Crofters' Commission and the Community Trust include the building of croft houses, SNH stock grazing management requirement, and support for the development of croft management plans and funding applications.