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Machrihanish Community flying high

28 May 2012

A long awaited community buyout of the former RAF Machrihanish air base was confirmed today [28 May 2012].

The Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC) has purchased the former RAF base. This is the culmination of the largest and most complicated community buyout under current Scottish land reform legislation, which has been completed with support and financial assistance from the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Water and the Ministry of Defence.

Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson visited the site today and met with senior members of MACC as well as other members of the board. He was given a tour of the site and heard about future plans.

Benefits of the buyout include:

  • £1.7 million investment in local infrastructure
  • £300,000 to address issues relating to the condition of the base (e.g. road - maintenance) and other costs
  • 137 former MoD houses and commercial properties connected to water supply for the first time
  • Upgrade of the private sewage system and electrical infrastructure

MACC future plans for the site include commercial and industrial use - renewable energy and biomass plans - as well as residential and recreational purposes.

Mr Stevenson said: "Land ownership is key to building independent, resilient rural communities and creating a sense of confidence and community empowerment. That's why the Scottish Government fully support buyouts and is committed to providing opportunities for rural communities to acquire land.

"The MACC buyout will benefit both the local community and businesses. Benefits will include improvements to the water, sewage and electrical infrastructure at the site.

"The transfer would not have been achieved without the commitment of members the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company. They were quick to see the benefits that community ownership could bring, ensured the community supported their vision and have worked tirelessly to deliver the base into community ownership."

Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said: "Flourishing communities are essential to building sustainable economic growth for Scotland and The Scottish Government has supported the Machrihanish Community throughout the buyout process and will continue to do so.

"There is potential now for Machrihanish to reap the benefits of the expansion of the renewables industry in Scotland and build growth in the tourism and leisure sectors and this will benefit Kintyre as a whole.

"Highlands and Islands Enterprise will remain on hand to offer their expertise and I know that the local community will grasp every opportunity that comes their way."

MACC Chairman Ian Wardrop said: "It has been a long road but all the hard work has finally paid off. I would like to acknowledge the tremendous support we have had from the community, and the ongoing help, advice and financial support from our partners in Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Argyll and Bute Council.

"I am also personally very grateful for the unstinting support of my fellow Directors who have all given so freely of their time during these protracted negotiations."

Douglas Cowan, Area Manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: "We wish to congratulate MACC on the purchase of the air base on behalf of the local community. The base has tremendous potential which will be able to be developed over the coming years through community ownership and management.

"The buyout has had strong local support and, following recent multi-million pound investments in tourism and wind tower manufacturing, is another exciting development for the long term future of Kintyre. HIE will continue to work closely with MACC to shape and support their ambitions."

Related information

The former RAF base at Machrihanish was declared surplus to defence requirements in October 2008. Covering an area of over 1,025 acres on the Kintyre peninsula, it is a key site in phase one of the National Renewable Infrastructure Plan. It is the site of a wind tower manufacturing facility, recently acquired by a joint venture of SSE and March Wind Technology and the site of Highlands and Islands Airports Limited Campbeltown airport. The disposal of the base has been the subject of a long running right to buy process. The deal was concluded on 11 May.

The Scottish Government and HIE will continue to work with MACC to ensure the economic development potential of the base is achieved.

Scottish Water is currently undertaking detailed exploratory work prior to starting work to connect the properties to the base. It is planning an information day at Machrihanish to give customers the opportunity to discuss what is being planned. The work is expected to be completed by spring 2013.

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