Pairc residents to be balloted on estate transfer

A postal ballot of local residents of South Lochs and members of Pairc Trust will take place shortly on whether to agree the terms of an Amicable Estate Transfer negotiated by the Pairc Trust (acting on behalf of the local community) to buy the Pairc Estate in Lewis.

The ballot will be independently conducted by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, with ballot papers issued this week and votes counted on Thursday 1st May. A previous ballot in March had to be called off by Pairc Trust because of new issues raised by the landlord.

Angus McDowall, chairman of Pairc Trust, said:

‘I am very pleased to report that, following further discussions and negotiations, the landlord has now withdrawn the demands he was making to receive income from any commercial wind farm to be built on the Pairc Estate beyond the first 25 years of generation.

The terms of the amicable estate transfer negotiated are now consistent with the terms presented to and endorsed by the community meeting held last November. The detailed legal document setting out the agreed terms, subject to community support in a postal ballot, is being made available for inspection by local residents and members, and community meetings to explain the terms and answer any questions have been arranged for 24th and 25th April.’

The Board of Pairc Trust is recommending that the terms of the negotiated amicable estate transfer should be accepted. We have been awarded funding which, with our own resources, fully covers the purchase price (£500,000), legal expenses, and revenue costs over the first two years of community ownership of the estate (including the creation of two new jobs). Compared with the alternative of asking the Scottish Government to reactivate Court proceedings relating to the landlord’s appeal against their approval of our 2010 applications, the amicable transfer will result in:

* a quicker and more certain purchase of the estate

* community ownership of substantially the whole estate and associated leases, not just the common grazings, so avoiding the complication of crofters having two landlords

* a higher income to the Pairc community from any commercial wind farm built on the estate