View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 21 March 2011

Monday 21 March

An overcast and very breezy day. When I was outside it felt quite cold in the wind, although the mercury is at 11C / 52F. Two hundred miles to the east, in Aberdeen, the mercury is forecast to reach 17C in bright sunshine. This results from the wind passing over the mountains and warming up as it descends on their eastern flanks. In German speaking countries they call it the föhn effect.

I am very pleased to learn that the Scottish Government have now approved the right of the Pairc Community to force their landowner, Mr Barry Lomas, to sell his estate against his will. It is understood that Mr Lomas is considering legal action against this decision.

An independent valuation of the land will be carried out, after which the Pairc Trust has six months to come up with the money. If this is successful, projects for the regeneration of the area can be implemented.

This saga has dragged on for more than 6 years, starting in November 2004 when the community voted to go for a buy-out. The estate owner has used every delaying tactic in the book, trying to frustrate the legal right of the residents to buy the estate.

A complicating factor has been a proposed windfarm for the Pairc Estate, which (upon approval) would send the cost of the estate spiralling out of the reach of the Pairc Trust. Whether this will be given the go-ahead remains in the balance, particularly now that the Scottish Parliament is about to rise for elections on May 5th.

I would like to join with the Rural Affairs Minister in wishing the Pairc Trust every success in raising whatever funds are required for the purchase, and in their endeavours to regenerate the Pairc area of Lewis.