On 12th June 1997, the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust took ownership of the Isle of Eigg.
Under the previous landlord system, island residents had suffered from:
- a lack of home and business security
- poor housing conditions
- lack of employment opportunities – with seasonal work patterns
- poor infrastructure – no mains electricity supply.
After a long period of insecurity and instability, the community felt that the only way the island could develop in a sustainable way was through a community buyout.
A major fundraising campaign was launched with the support of the Highland Council and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Members of the general public donated the entire purchase price of £1.5 million. Highlands and Islands Enterprise gave the buyout a grant of £17,000.
After the success of the buyout campaign, led by the Trust, structures were set up to make sure that the Islanders would always have an opportunity to be involved in decisions that affected their community. Residents attended workshops and open days to decide where new homes should be built and how the basic infrastructure can be development.
A strategic plan has been developed through community consultation. With this plan, we work to improve the built and natural environment and the basic infrastructure of the island. The local community is now involved in all the major decisions that affect the island and achievements include:
- By 2006, we had renovated five properties on the island. This created employment and has substantially improved tenants’ living standards.
- Our work has also allowed for many other developments, including:
a new multi purpose centre – shop, post office, tearoom and craft shop fencing and felling conifers to make way for the natural regeneration and new planting of native species
- our own broadband network and island website – this has greatly improved the marketing capacity of individual tourist businesses.
- Renewable electricity grid
- Increased population with young people returning, or not leaving, and setting up new homes and businesses.