Sunshine in Stirling

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Community Land Scotland maintaining its reputation as the sunniest conference!

Friday 18th May saw 100+ individuals, passionate about Community Land Ownership travel from all over the country to Stirling for the annual Community Land Scotland Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was “What can we learn from Community Land Owners?”. The answer predicted in Ian Hepburn’s welcome was “quite a lot”. A prediction that would turn out to be quite accurate!

The keynote speech was delivered by Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform. The message was that the continuing growth of Community Land Ownership should be celebrated and supported and that community land isn’t just for the Highlands and Islands but all areas of Scotland. Furthermore, Land Reform needs to be understood as being part of a bigger picture; strengthening Scotland’s communities. This involves cross-sector and cross-policy collaboration involving Land Reform, Planning, Housing, the Islands Bill and many more.

Following the keynote speech were presentations from Anne Fraser, Garbh Allt Community Initiative, and Professor Jim Hunter and Dr Calum MacLeod from Community Land Scotland. The first afternoon concluded with workshops on: reaching one million acres in community land ownership; Crown Estate Scotland’s assets and opportunities; CRtB Abandoned and; Neglected Land and celebrating our community land culture.

Day two of the conference was no less interesting or inspiring. Following the welcome back from Angela Williams, the delegates heard from Rebecca Munro; a resident’s perspective of the CRtB of the Island of Ulva. Rebecca stressed that it is hard work, it can be intrusive on your day to day life but that communities involved in the process need to carry on. At the end, you can find yourself in their position; the community owning their home.

The morning session ended with a panel discussion on Land and Culture chaired by Agnes Rennie (Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn) with: Mairi McFadyen (Abriachan Forest Trust); Polly MacInness (Sleat Community Trust); Dr Issie MacPhail (UHI) and; Lucy Conway (Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust).

The afternoon workshops gave the opportunity for delegates to take part in a theme from the previous day or join in a few new conversations: Resettlement and repopulation in rural Scotland; Engaging young adults in community land management; How community landowners can share knowledge and; Urban community land opportunities and challenges.

As always, a fantastic event that stimulates many ideas, discussions and questions. Our interest, of course, is how community land ownership can help facilitate the delivery of genuinely affordable, suitable and desirable homes in rural Scotland. From the many conversations we had over the two days, it is clear that those who are passionate about their communities owning their land are equally as passionate about their communities having the housing they need.

Amazingly, thanks to Alasdair Satchel from North West Community Woodlands Company, audio recordings of the presentations are available. A fantastic opportunity if you couldn’t make the conference or you want to hear the stars of the show again!