We’d actually been talking about it for quite some time. I suppose it goes back to probably ’91 I think, when the original Eigg Trust was set up, and that was set up by four individuals who had a real interest in land reform and some connection with Eigg in some shape or form. They set up the Eigg Trust with a view to buying Eigg. They kind of brought the ideas to Eigg and everybody voted in favour of what they were aiming to do. Nobody felt ... I think the sort of crucial thing in it all is that folk probably didn’t have the confidence at that point to actually go for it themselves. So the Eigg Trust, in a way, were a good vehicle. It kind of started the ball rolling. And we had a lot of workshops, community planning workshops. Then, and over the next few years really, and we spent one winter in particular where we went through every aspect of life on Eigg really. We broke it down into sort of headings like ‘Infrastructure’, ‘Agriculture’, ‘Tourism’ ... you know, we went through each individual heading and there was somebody from every household attending the workshops, and we built up a picture of how people wanted to see Eigg develop or areas that they didn’t want to see developed, and that’s always been the basis for what we’ve done here, really. And we just started going to different ... at the time there was an organisation called Highlands and Islands Forum that ran a series of conferences that were looking at different kinds of community enterprises, really, including land ownership but not only that. There was community owned woodland and even down to a community hall. You know, there were all sorts of different aspects and through that an awful lot of us met an awful lot of different people from different communities and that started giving people a bit more confidence. We got better at running meetings, we got ourselves a bit better organised and that’s how it slowly came together. And the Scottish Wildlife Trust have had a presence here for a long time. They’ve always managed the SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) sites here and have had a summer warden here for a long period of time now. They had expressed an interest in being part of some kind of community buy-out. They didn’t want to buy Eigg themselves, they didn’t want to be responsible for the whole thing, but they were happy to be a part of it. And the Highland Council, their Land and Environment Select Committee had voted in favour of helping any community who wanted to try and buy the land so they were there as well, expressing an interest. And that’s how we came to have the partnership that still stands, that’s how the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust is made up, of three partners: the residents, the SWT (Scottish Wildlife Trust), and the council.

  • Maggie Fyffe
Thursday 4th February 2010