News, Culture & Society

Residents fear homelessness if Ulva island is sold

It was once a bustling Scottish outcrop where 570 islanders made their home.

Now the population of Ulva is down to six – and they fear it could fall even further as the island changes hands.

The tiny isle off the west coast of Mull is owned by Jamie Howard, who put it on the market for offers over £4.25million this summer.

It was once a bustling Scottish outcrop where 570 islanders made their home – now just six remain on the isle. Pictured, concerned islands fear they’ll be may homeless if the land is taken over

The tiny isle off the west coast of Mull is owned by Jamie Howard, who put it on the market for offers over £4.25million this summer 

The tiny isle off the west coast of Mull is owned by Jamie Howard, who put it on the market for offers over £4.25million this summer 

But the handful of permanent residents left on Ulva want the Scottish Government to facilitate a community buy-out.

They fear a private owner could close down the island, leaving those in tied houses homeless. 

But they would have to raise most of the eventual sale price, which would be set by the Government.

Islanders could apply to the Scottish Land Fund, which can offer grants of up to £1million for a buy-out.

Barry George, who has lived on Ulva for 21 years, said: ‘This is the only roof I have. The worry is, if we get the wrong person and they shut the island, I am in a cardboard box in a doorway. We could get somebody who just wants it as a deer stalking estate.’

But the handful of permanent residents left on Ulva want the Scottish Government to facilitate a community buy-out 

But the handful of permanent residents left on Ulva want the Scottish Government to facilitate a community buy-out 

They fear a private owner could close down the island, leaving those in tied houses homeless. Pictured above, restaurant The Boathouse which is included in the sale 

They fear a private owner could close down the island, leaving those in tied houses homeless. Pictured above, restaurant The Boathouse which is included in the sale 

Mr George, who runs the community bus service on Mull, moved to Ulva when he worked for a fish farm which leased homes for workers. 

He said: ‘When I came here, all the houses were full and there were children. There were Christmas parties, Burns suppers – but now we have houses stood empty.

‘With a community buy-out our priority would be to repopulate the island. I am sure we could get people to come here.’

Potential buyers from all over Europe inquired about the island but now the For Sale signs are down pending a Government decision on an application requesting time to prepare a community buy-out.

The application came from North West Mull Community Woodland Company, which looks after the interests of remote areas of Mull and surroundings. 

Director John Addy said: ‘In the 1840s, before the Clearances, the population of Ulva was 570.

‘We are not suggesting that we could go back to that but we are thinking of, in 20 years, perhaps we could manage 30 people working there.’

Other residents include Rebecca Munro, 30, her husband Rhuri, 34, and their two young children. 

Mrs Munro runs the island’s Boathouse restaurant with her sister-in-law Emma McKie, who lives on Mull. 

Her father-in-law Donald Munro, who has been the Ulva boatman for decades, also lives on Mull, but both could find themselves jobless under a new owner.

Mrs Munro said: ‘For us, it’s worse because it’s our home as well as our business and if somebody came in and shut it down we would lose everything. Private ownership hasn’t worked, so why shouldn’t the community be given the chance?’

A Government spokesman said: ‘Ministers will make a decision on the case upon receipt of all relevant information.’

Mr Howard has until 5pm today to lodge comments with the Government on the community’s wish to buy Ulva. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.