Press Release


04th November 2019


Strategic planning to secure a strong, sustainable future for the Mount Stuart Trust and the Isle of Bute is at an advanced stage, with key decisions expected by Spring 2020.

Speaking ahead of the next phase of community consultations, Colin Boag, Managing Director, Mount Stuart Trust, said:

“We are working intensively with community groups, Argyll and Bute Council and the Scottish Land Commission to develop a range of initiatives to improve the rural and urban landscapes on the island of Bute and to unlock growth opportunities for the local economy.

“There is a great sense of purpose and commitment from everyone involved. This is matched by a desire to make progress on a number of crucial projects. The Trust will conclude a strategic review by the end of the year. In conducting this 10-15 year ‘look forward’ we have been well supported through discussions with individuals and community bodies across the island.

“As part of the overall review, we are creating a specific rural strategy focussed on building a sound, sustainable future for farming and forestry on the island. Following an initial consultation with key stakeholders in July, we are developing the rural strategy through a number of joint working groups. These are examining key priorities including dairy farming, rural training and skills, forestry development and the environment.

“Our emerging rural strategy builds on work completed with Argyll and Bute Council to support their bid to the Scottish and UK governments for a multi-million-pound Rural Growth Deal. Working together with the Council, Fyne Futures and the Bute Island Alliance, we drew up a proposal for investment of £3million to pilot on Bute a new transformative rural development model for niche food and drink and primary island industries.

“With confirmation last month that the Rural Growth Deal had been secured, we look forward to working with the Council to agree how Bute can play a full part in harnessing the potential of such a significant investment in the rural economy”.

Highlighting the potential of the Rural Growth Deal, Councillor Aileen Morton, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said:

“This scale of investment is a transformational vote of confidence in the future of Argyll and Bute.

“This area has fantastic natural resources, an innovative, skilled workforce, and public and private sector organisations committed to its future success.

“However, to deliver the change needed to build our economy and with it, a sustainable future for Argyll and Bute, we need significant investment. That is what we have achieved through our Rural Growth Deal.

“Our next step will be to work with the Scottish and UK Governments to prioritise how we put this investment to work for Argyll and Bute.”

Mount Stuart Trust is also consulting with local communities about the proposals to release urban land for community projects. This important work is being conducted in line with the Scottish Land Commission’s protocol on community engagement.

Andrew Thin, Chair of the Scottish Land Commission, said:

“We welcome this approach by Mount Stuart Trust to open up opportunity on the way land is owned and managed on Bute. We have been supporting the Trust in engaging with the community on their new strategy. By following the Commission’s protocol – ‘Community Engagement in Decisions Relating to Land’ – the Trust has been able to use the guidance to work together with the communities to make better – and fairer – decisions about land use benefiting all of those involved.

“Scotland’s Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement sets out a clear ambition about the relationship between land and people in Scotland promoting greater diversity in ownership of land including more community ownership, high standards and transparency of land ownership and use and better community engagement in decisions about land. This initiative by the Trust is a step in achieving this ambition.

In August, Mount Stuart Trust, with Scottish Land Commission representatives, held an urban community workshop with key community organisations in Rothesay, the largest town on the island. Discussion centred on how potential community projects could utilise land in Rothesay currently in either Council or Trust ownership.

Land Commission Community Engagement Officers are supporting the development of a community engagement plan to set out clear expectations of how the Trust will communicate and engage effectively with local people.

Colin Boag added:

“Throughout the discussions with various community representatives, a number of local groups have expressed interest to make use of some or all of the land on offer. We welcome their interest in creating opportunities for positive change on the island of Bute.

“I am confident that the depth of collaboration and between Argyll and Bute Council, the Land Commission, local communities and the Trust is set to bring a strong sense of renewal and confidence to the island.”