Celebrating a decade of community ownership

Urras Oighereachd Ghabhsainn team at the 10th anniversary event.
Urras Oighereachd Ghabhsainn team at the 10th anniversary event.

A decade of community ownership was celebrated at the Galson Estate this week.

Community company Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn launched a programme of various events which will run throughout the year to mark the ten year anniversary.

The first event in the programme is the launch of a new £10,000 grant funding stream as part of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn’s Community Investment Fund, coming just months after the opening of a £5,000 stream.

Agnes Rennie, chair of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn, said: “It gives me great pleasure to kick-start this year of celebration and invite our community to join with the directors and staff in the various planned events.

“It’s a time for reflecting on all that has been achieved and also to look forward to what we hope the future will bring.

“After ten years, we are uniquely placed to shape the kind of community we aspire to see in the future, with a new and expanding investment fund, a refreshed vision and a cohesive strategic plan.

“I need to thank fellow directors, past and present, our staff over the years and many others who have played important roles in supporting the Urras.

“Progress in the years ahead will be dependent on partnership and collaboration and I look forward to making the most of shared ambitions and mutual interests both within and outwith the Estate as we move forward.”

One key development undertaken over the past decade, one which underpins the sustainability of the Urras and the wider community was the installation of three wind turbines at Ballantrushal, near Barvas.

This has since allowed the set-up of the Community Investment fund, which enables the distribution of funds from the development back into the community.

The £5.1m wind energy project was hugely challenging, but highly rewarding as it has been key to sensitively harnessing the natural assets of the estate to ensure an income for ongoing development, with the expectation of major social and economic impacts over the longer-term.

Ten years in community ownership has meant various challenges, but with a significant increase in the estate value, an increase in employment, facilities and general land management, it can be concluded that this has proved to be a successful model of land ownership for the community of Galson Estate as they move into the next exciting phase.