Andy Wightman: Land Action Scotland campaign

Tony Gosling tony at
Tue Oct 9 23:38:55 BST 2012

About Land Action Scotland
Land Action is a network of individuals who plan 
to launch a series of campaigns to challenge 
landed power in Scotland and the concentrated 
pattern of private landownership. We aim to 
democratise land and allow the people of Scotland 
to reclaim a stake in their own country.
Our campaigns will be characterised by empowering 
individuals to take a personal action that is 
positive, fun, creative, meaningful and which can lever real change.
Please contact us with any ideas and initiatives 
you would like us to consider. Please bear in 
mind we have very limited funds and very limited 
human resources. We hope this will change.
Email: mail at

David Stewart MSP backs Mount Stuart Trust campaign
Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart has 
backed the Land Action Scotland launched to open 
up membership of the companies that own the 
Island of Bute and the Applecross peninsula. 
Alongside other supporters from across the 
country, he has filed an application to join both 
the Mount Stuart Trust, the company that owns and 
manages 89% of Bute, and the Applecross Trust 
that owns 60,600 acres in Wester Ross.
Both organisations are charitable companies 
currently wholly controlled by a tiny number of 
people, all of whom are absentee. Land Action 
Scotland, established by author and land rights 
campaigner Andy Wightman, is encouraging 
residents of Bute and Applecross to apply to join 
the organisations to give local people a clear 
say in how their community is run for the first time.
More than a hundred applications for membership 
rights have been made since the campaign began on 
Thursday 27 September, including one from local 
MSP Michael Russell. If those applications are 
successful, new members will work with local 
residents to ensure that if and when they wish, 
both communities will have control over the respective estates.
David Stewart is moving a debate in the Scottish 
Parliament today (Thursday 4 October) 
congratulating the Isle of Gigha on ten years of 
pioneering community ownership. (1) He said:
“Over the 10 years that the people of Gigha have 
been in charge, the population in the community 
has risen from 96 to 160. Their experience serves 
to illustrate the potential that community ownership can deliver.
“I have made an application today to join these 
two organisations as a member and hope that it 
will be considered carefully in due course. A 
wider membership could revitalise the communities 
in those two places and bring fresh energy and enthusiasm for the future.
“I know that the Scottish Government’s Land 
Reform Review Group will be taking a close look 
at how land reform has developed over the past 
ten years, and I urge it to think radically about 
how the people of Scotland can become more 
directly involved in the ownership of land in their communities.”
It is understood that the Land Reform Review 
Group will be launching their first consultation 
and announcing the names of the ten advisors 
appointed to help them in their work.
Andy Wightman, co-ordinator of the new Land Action Scotland campaign, said:
“I’m delighted that David Stewart has backed the 
Land Action Scotland campaign to put local people 
in control of their communities. The importance 
of local accountability is a principle which does 
not belong just to one party or another: it’s one 
of the democratic foundations of devolution itself.
“Pressure is now rapidly mounting on both 
Applecross and the Mount Stuart Trust. Many 
excellent people are applying to join these 
companies every day, and the existing owners 
should regard this as an opportunity to do the 
right thing, to bring in some strong new members, 
and to work out how exactly the transition to 
local control can best be managed. We are ready 
to work with them to deliver that change.”
Speaking last week, Michael Russell MSP said:
“I have had a very productive discussion with the 
[Mount Stuart] Trust in recent days and I think 
their work is very important to the island. It 
seems to me, however, that there would be great 
benefit to be had from a wider membership that 
included those who live on the island or who work closely with the island.
“I would support local people seeking and gaining 
membership and my own application is simply 
designed to draw attention to the issue. I hope 
the Trust will think seriously about the matter 
and I will be writing to them to make that point.”

(1) David Stewart is moving a Members’ Business 
debate at 1230 Thursday 4 October 2012 on the following Motion
*S4M-04081 David Stewart: Isle of Gigha, 10 Years 
of Pioneering Land Reform—That the Parliament 
congratulates the community of the Isle of Gigha 
on the tenth anniversary of what is considered 
its pioneering community buy-out; acknowledges 
the efforts of the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust 
to redevelop the community by introducing 
development projects in the area; understands 
that, over the 10 years, the population in the 
community has risen from 96 to 160; welcomes the 
inspirational example that it considers those on 
Gigha have set for other communities; believes 
that there is much work still to be done 
throughout Scotland regarding land reform and 
that valuable lessons can be learned from Gigha, 
and calls on the Scottish Government to support 
future community land reform across the country 
by committing to legislate on the recommendations 
of its Land Reform Review Group before the end of the parliamentary session.  
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