I certainly think there are opportunities here and I think the community owning the land and the lease would be a major step forward to realising those opportunities. I mean, there are things we can do here and now and we’re trying to do that at Co-chomunn Na Pairc at Ravenspoint. You don’t need the land for every development, clearly, but I think having the land, control of the land, would be a major step forward in terms of providing more areas for housing, for example, generating income for the community particularly through a community wind farm. Looking at the sums of the work that we’ve done, a small scale community wind farm could bring the community in far more revenue than the community share, community benefit, of the commercial wind farm, so there’s no question that owning the land would be a major way of generating income and that income would be used for social projects. Our aim in all this is to help the community, reverse the population trends and provide good quality services for local people and there are opportunities to do that. I mentioned not just renewable energy but through tourism and the wider sense of bringing people in to look at and enjoy the environment, to enjoy and understand the history and culture, the Gaelic culture of the area ... Gaelic for example is a resource that this area particularly has to offer. At Co-chomunn Na Pairc we’ve already organised a couple of Gaelic learners’ courses where people have had formal lessons in the mornings during weekdays. The rest of the time we’ve taken them out into the community which makes these courses different from many courses and certainly the feedback we’ve had has been very positive. So people have been to the church for a Gaelic service on the Sunday, they’ve been to the local Gaelic medium unit of the school on one afternoon, they’ve been to people’s houses. Ladies of the area have invited students to come in and talk Gaelic with them and their neighbours. Now that’s the sort of thing that’s very difficult to find on the mainland, for example, and it’s something this area has to offer and it’s something we could do more of. I think having the hostel is a resource too so I think organising holidays, packages for people to learn Gaelic, to learn about the history of the area, to enjoy the outdoors through walking or other recreations and things like fishing for example ... I think there are many opportunities there and I think having the land would be an important component of maximising the potential of all of that.

  • John Randall
Thursday 3rd June 2010