The future of Scotland’s most southerly point has taken a big step forward today (May15) thanks to a grant from the Scottish Land Fund. The Mull of Galloway Estate will be brought into community ownership and protected and developed as a tourism and heritage asset.
The Mull of Galloway Trust will purchase the Mull of Galloway Estate from the Northern Lighthouse Board through the Community Right to Buy process to protect and sensitively develop an area that is critically important to the local economy.
Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, John Watt, said: “The Scottish Land Fund, with funding over three years, seeks to empower more rural communities, giving them the resources they need to achieve their plans of local sustainability. Communities are capable of immense achievements when they own and manage their local land and assets and this scheme will bring clear long term benefits for the Mull of Galloway. I am delighted to announce today’s grant and look forward to seeing the project develop.”
Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, said: “I am delighted that the Scottish Land Fund is empowering the Mull of Galloway Trust to take control of their own future by helping them to acquire the Mull of Galloway Estate. The Scottish Government strongly supports communities across Scotland in their efforts to manage assets to the benefit of local people and the economy of their area. This project is an excellent example and will allow the Mull of Galloway Trust to develop the land and the Mull of Galloway lighthouse into a fantastic tourism and heritage asset that is critically important to the local economy and to fulfil the community's aspirations to generate jobs and prosperity. In doing this, this unique project will help enable the community of Kirkmaiden to achieve sustainable economic, social and environmental improvements.”
The Mull of Galloway Trust’s Mull of Galloway Community Buyout project will use today’s grant of £338,500, which represents 95 percent of the land costs, to purchase the land as well as three former lighthouse keepers' cottages, engine room, exhibition, RSPB reserve and visitor centre and the fog horn. The lighthouse tower is not part of the sale and continues as a working lighthouse operated by Northern Lighthouse Board. The Mull of Galloway Trust is now just £4,000 short of the full cost of their project.
Community ownership and management of the Mull of Galloway Estate will safeguard existing jobs and create more volunteering, training and local employment opportunities. In turn, it will develop local skills and confidence, strengthen community participation and allow the residents of Kirkmaiden to achieve economic, social and environmental improvements in the area.
Launched last year, the £6 million Scottish Land Fund is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by the Big Lottery Fund in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Rachael McCormack, Director of Strengthening Communities at HIE, said: "The Mull of Galloway Trust had overwhelming local support to acquire this unique heritage site. Projects like this create opportunities for generations to come together and for local assets to be put to use, helping to create a better future for our communities. Not only will this project provide rare access to a Stevenson lighthouse, there are many valuable outcomes such as developing skills, improving the economic and social fabric of the area and delivering rewarding volunteering opportunities. Our dedicated teams at HIE support communities with ambitious ideas and look at how the Scottish Land Fund can help."
Maureen Chand, Director of the Mull of Galloway Trust, said: "We are absolutely delighted that we have been awarded funding from the Scottish Land Fund to purchase the Mull of Galloway Estate from the Northern Lighthouse Board. This has taken many months of hard work to get to this stage and we are grateful to the local community who have overwhelmingly supported this project. We now look forward to taking over the site and protecting it for future generations."
Steve Hardy, also a Director of Mull of Galloway Trust, added: “We want to preserve the area as a place of beauty and tranquillity. And I’m hoping this will be a step towards my personal dream of bringing back the warning siren. Edinburgh has its one o'clock gun so perhaps Scotland's Land's End could have its one o'clock foghorn."
The Mull of Galloway is the southernmost point of Scotland by Kirkmaiden in Dumfries and Galloway. Overlooking the Solway Firth and Irish Sea it’s a bird lover’s paradise being an RSPB nature reserve with stunning views and a coastal heath busy with wildlife. Its lighthouse was built in 1830 by Robert Stevenson and was automated in 1988. The foghorn, which is part of the buy-out, was used as an extra warning to shipping to avoid the Mull's rocky coastline and was in use until 1987.