New crofts created in the Highlands

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The Independent Online

The first new crofting community to be set up in more than half a century is to be established in the West Highlands, the Government announced yesterday.

The first new crofting community to be set up in more than half a century is to be established in the West Highlands, the Government announced yesterday.

Eight new crofts, each of about eight acres, will be created on former farmland within the 6,000-acre Balmacara estate on the Kyle of Lochalsh, close to the Isle of Skye.

Governments have for centuries been hostile to crofting, originally for fear that such small farms would be a breeding ground for Highland uprisings. And many landowners have preferred to clear their land of people so that they could gain more income by extensive sheep farming.

Yesterday's announcement underlines important changes planned for land ownership and management currently before the Scottish Parliament. From next year, crofting tenant communities will be allowed to buy their land at a controlled price even if the owner opposes the sale.

Fiona Mandeville, of the Scottish Crofters' Union, said: "The creation of new crofts at Balmacara is recognition of the importance of crofting in sustaining communities with employment and homes in areas where there are often few other economic opportunities."

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