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Moor ownership dream gets a boost

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By Charlotte MacKay
Annan and Eskdale
Moor ownership dream gets a boost

THE dream of Langholm Moor being owned by the community moved a step closer to reality last week thanks to a £1.85 million grant from the Scottish Land Fund.

The money has been awarded to Newcastleton and District Community Trust (NDCT) and the Langholm Initiative who are each hoping to take over parts of the historic moorland. Buccleuch Estates announced its decision to sell 25,000 acres of Langholm Moor last year and is now in advanced discussions with both groups.

NDCT has received £850,000 in order to take ownership of 750 acres of land on the Tarras Water and Holmhill Estate from Buccleuch Estates. The land is important strategically to Newcastleton, allowing the community control over its future development – particularly important after devastating floods hit the village in February this year. Control of land around the village will assist with flood prevention, while development plans will allow for improved public access, a local energy network, sympathetic development of forestry and continued farming.

NDCT chairman Steve Hartley said: “Community ownership of this land, much of it still used today as it was over 225 years ago, now gives us all a bigger, brighter and more sustainable future. This will continue to include farming, but the community also wants to develop new leisure and renewable sectors, spreading the benefits of community ownership to everyone who lives here.”

Meanwhile, a further £1 million has been awarded to the Langholm Initiative, which has ambitious plans to take over a much larger area of the Langholm Moor and turn it into a community-owned nature reserve. Langholm Initiative had requested £3 milllion – half the of cost of the £6 million project – and will now need to raise the rest of the money by October if they are to be able to complete the purchase.

Chairwoman Margaret Pool said: “We very much appreciate the Scottish Land Fund’s £1 million award. It’s well below the £3 million we applied for, but we know these are difficult times. Langholm Moor holds huge cultural significance to local people and we’re working tirelessly to bring this land into community ownership as part of a groundbreaking project to tackle climate change, boost nature restoration and support community regeneration.”

If the purchase is successful Langholm Initiative want to create the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, with globally important peatlands and ancient woods restored, new native woodlands established, and a vital haven ensured for iconic wildlife like hen harriers. The group is urging people to support its crowdfunding appeal, which has already raised £85,000 with an additional £100,000 pledged by the John Muir Trust.

Project officer Kevin Cumming added: “We’re keen to hear from people or organisations who can help us seize this unprecedented opportunity to create something truly special for our children and future generations. We’re also hugely grateful for the wonderful donations to our crowdfunder, which have shown amazing support, and for the positive engagement from Buccleuch Estates.”

NDCT and Langholm Initiative are among 16 community groups across Scotland receiving awards from the Scottish Land Fund, which is funded by Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the National Lottery Community Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Annan and Eskdale, Front

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