Newcastleton secures 'milestone' community buyout from Buccleuch

Residents in Newcastleton have bought hundreds of acres from one of Scotland's biggest landowners.

The area, known as Holm Hill, cost Newcastleton & District Community Trust around £850,000, which they secured from the Scottish Land Fund.

It comprises 750 acres, which had been part of the Duke of Buccleuch's Borders estate.

The transfer of land is one of the most significant community buyouts ever seen in the south of Scotland.

Greg Cuthbert, from the Trust, described it as a "major milestone".

He said the community planned to use the land to boost tourism in the area, as well as offering more housing, farming opportunities and providing renewable energy.

Benny Higgins, the Executive Chairman at Buccleuch, said it was a "proud moment", and that the estate had been reducing in size for many years.

He denied the sale was the result of changing laws around land ownership, and said the decision to sell the land, rather than gifting it, was about keeping the business "sustainable" and "protecting jobs".

Wanlockhead village Credit: ITV Border

Two other community groups face a race against time to raise money for further buyouts of Buccleuch's land.

The Trust in Wanlockhead, Scotland's highest village, has agreed a fee of £1.5 million for around 4,000 acres of land around the village.

They have applied to the Scottish Land Fund for financial support, and are waiting to hear back.

The Langholm Initiative has already secured £2.8 million of funding, from Scottish Land Fund, South of Scotland Enterprise, and private donors, to buy 10,000 acres of land known as Langholm Moor.

However, they need to raise the rest of the money by the end of October, or risk losing their £1 million grant from the Scottish Land Fund.

The agreed price for the full 10,000 acres is £6 million, but they also have the option of purchasing around half of that, for £4 million.

They plan to turn the area into a nature reserve, and say this would boost tourism and create jobs, as well as protecting the environment.