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Community land buyout complete

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By Fiona Reid
Community land buyout complete

THE South of Scotland’s largest community buyout has been legally completed following one of the most ambitious community fundraising campaigns ever seen.

And the purchase of 5200 acres of land at Langholm will pave the way for the creation of a vast new nature reserve.

The landmark agreement of £3.8 million was reached between The Langholm Initiative charity and Buccleuch last October, after a six-month fundraising drive by the community.

A crowdfunding campaign raised £200,000 and funding also came from South of Scotland Enterprise, John Muir Trust, The Carman Family Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Bently Foundation and The Woodland Trust.

And with the transfer of ownership finalised, the initiative and community now owns the land, including six residential properties, for the first time in its history.

Work is to begin immediately on creating the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve to help tackle climate breakdown, restore nature, and support community regeneration.

Margaret Pool, chair of The Langholm Initiative, commented: “Together we’ve achieved something which once seemed impossible, and we can celebrate as a new era begins for this special land with which our community has such a deep and long-standing connection.

“Our sincere, heartfelt thanks go to so many people for making this historic moment for Langholm happen – including the generous donors and tireless volunteers, and to Buccleuch for being so supportive and positive in their approach.”

Benny Higgins, executive chairman of Buccleuch, said: “To have concluded the sale to the community is a fantastic achievement, and a great example of what can be achieved when communities and businesses like Buccleuch engage openly with one another and work to a common goal. This was achieved by goodwill and working together, following voluntarily all the relevant guidance and protocols.

“We look forward to seeing the plans for the area coming to life over the coming months, and wish The Langholm Initiative all the very best with this.”

Meanwhile, more has been revealed about the reserve plans.

Peatlands and ancient woods will be restored, native woodlands established, and a haven ensured for wildlife including rare hen harriers.

It is also hoped there will be new nature-based tourism opportunities.

And, discussions are continuing with Buccleuch over another 5300 acres of land that the community wishes to buy, and which could double the size of the new nature reserve.

The Langholm Initiative aims to show how community ownership can be a catalyst for regeneration with the environment at its heart, and hopes its success will inspire others.

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