23rd September 2018
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Review ordered into management of council-owned crofting estates

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Shetland Islands Council is to review its management of the two big crofting estates it owns following complaints of bureaucratic delays in selling land and assigning crofts.

The council bought the Busta Estate in 1975 and the Burra and Trondra Estate in 1985, consisting of nearly 65,000 acres of land.

Day-to-day affairs, such as rent collection, are looked after by the council’s assets and properties unit while legal transactions are done by private lawyers contracted to the council.

In the face of criticism, particularly from Burra and Trondra Community Council, a full review is to be carried out over the next few months involving the local elected representatives, tenants of the estates, solicitors, valuers and others.

One idea put forward is for the estates to be managed by people in the areas themselves.

It is not the first time the council’s management of the estates has been called into question. In 1995 the councillor for Burra and Trondra, Alastair Goodlad, branded the SIC the worst landlord the area had ever had.

Following a review it was decided the following year not to sell the estates or transfer them to local trusts. One reason was the potential six-figure annual income to the council from a super-quarry which was being contemplated for Northmavine at the time.

The problem of securing land for houses was highlighted again in 2003 by councillors Alistair Inkster and Northmavine member Bill Manson.

The 4,800-acre Burra estate includes land in Burra and Trondra. The council bought it from Alexander Cussons for just £20,000. It consists of over 60 crofts.

The 60,000-acre Busta estate has around 190 crofts and as well as parts of Northmavine it includes Papa Stour and land at Dale of Walls. The council bought it for £0.2m from Mr Cussons for possible oil-related developments.

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One comment

  1. After the super quarry bit the dust (prominent supporters Drew Ratter and Bill Manson) the urgency to review or secure land ownership went off a bit.
    Is this review of the Busta estate in any way connected to a certain windfarm development in the area?
    What is the likelyhood of a community buy-out coming from folk in Vidlin, Voe, Eid etc. A community buy-out of land currently controlled by the council owned Busta Estate. What if the community decided they didn’t want a windfarm, or conversely, they did, but would keep land rents to themselves? Would our dear council then work to oppose this community buy-out? We certainly do live in interesting times!

    Reply

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