Ullapool Community Trust (UCT) is investigating the potential development of Lael Forest as a community asset transfer. The Scottish Government is keen to drive land reform through the Community Empowerment Act which supports communities to take ownership of land and assets. This can generate income for the local community which can be fed back into local businesses and partnerships as well as strengthen the ties between the community and the land, creating local employment and resilience. In this case, stronger links to the Forest will promote greater control over its resources at a local level, provide a more diverse range of opportunities for locals and for tourism and ultimately create something unique in our Woodland.
Two community consultation meetings were held as part of the overall consultation process to inform the community about the feasibility study (Being carried out by an external team of qualified consultants) and to get their views on development opportunities and associated issues relating to community ownership of parts of Lael Forest. The first meeting took place on the evening of September 3rd 2019 in Braemore Hall, to enable people living closest to the Forest to share their views. It was attended by approximately 40 people. The second meeting took place on the evening of September 4th 2019 in the Cal-Mac ferry terminal in Ullapool. It was attended by 28 people. There has also been a community survey which has had approximately 150 responses to date as well in- depth semi-structured telephone interviews with key stakeholders. The full results of this community engagement are currently being formulated into a feasibility study which will be presented back to the community to review potential options for the Forest.
Our consultancy team are currently looking at a small, medium and large options within the Forest as part of the feasibility analysis. Nothing has been decided, but we are in the process of preparing a report which will give further detail on potential viable options for the community to take forward. These options will include; how much community benefit can be realised; how economically viable any developments might be and a detailed 25-year business plan on any activities associated with the chosen option. That is, if the community decides it is in favour of a community asset transfer on any of the options presented by the consultants.
If you would like more information on the project or have an interest in joining the working group please get in touch!