A local charity have been appointed to facilitate the development of a community led management structure of the Sound of Barra.
Voluntary Action Barra and Vatersay (VABV) will be working with the local communities to provide options for a governance structure that will be presented to Ministers this summer, and then establish the management group later this year. Marine Scotland will continue to provide support as required throughout this process.
Last year it was announced that the Sound of Barra was to be given international recognition to make the site a Special Area of Conversation (SAC) - despite widespread opposition from the local community.
Following this decision the Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse confirmed local people from the community around the Sound of Barra would have a leading role in the future management of the SAC.
VABV have adopted the following guiding principles to create a community management group:
* Appropriate governance that delivers a greater understanding of needs
* Partnership working to reach public interest decisions
* Empowerment by influencing the decisions that affect lives
* Community driven, with local accountability
* Aspirational, inclusive, and wide ranging
* New ideas, solutions and innovation
Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:
“The Sound of Barra SAC is a diverse and precious environment, home to important seal populations with reefs and sandbanks that support many species.
“I have previously said a community-led approach to the management structure will ensure as much local involvement as possible. I want all those with an interest to work constructively with VABV to secure a bright future for Sound of Barra and the wider region. I look forward to visiting again later this year.”
VABV Development Manager Eoin MacNeil said:
“Voluntary Action Barra & Vatersay is delighted to facilitate this piece of work on behalf of our island communities. The Sound of Barra is a truly rich environment and it is vital that the community are central to leading and managing this great resource, recognising and building on all it has to offer.”
Western Isles Councillor Donald Manford said: “Since the last century our community has been striving to stem the relentless loss of influence over the environment and resources around our shores. We have for the first time an exciting opportunity to create a structure which will empower the people who work here to actively manage our resources.”
Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, commented: “This is a sensible decision by Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, which I hope now helps put the future management of the Sound of Barra in the hand of the communities who have looked after it for generations, and whose future livelihood depends upon it.”