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Landowners, windfarm investors, and community representatives in Strathdearn come together to discuss community benefits

Over 40 landowners, including Transport Scotland, SSE Renewables, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, and Tomatin Distillery were invited to meet by representatives of the Strathdearn community to encourage communication and transparency around community benefits from land in the area.

The event was initiated and organised by Strathdearn Community Developments and supported by Scottish Land and Estates.

The event was attended by a number of landowners, windfarm investors, and members of the community alongside the Good Practice team from the Scottish Land Commission who were there to provide advice.

Topics on the agenda included four proposed new windfarms, the dualling of the A9 and train links to Tomatin, as well as the challenge of access to affordable housing in the area.

The community was recently gifted land by Tomatin Estate to develop six houses with housing built on the land then offset against any future private developments.

Maureen MacDonald-Cooke, Project & Development Manager for Strathdearn Community Developments, said, “Strathdearn Community Developments have worked with Tomatin Estate by releasing land to the community for affordable housing.

“This venture is of mutual benefit and will mean the Community plan to deliver six much needed family homes within Tomatin.”

Head of Land Rights and Responsibilities at the Scottish Land Commission, Emma Cooper, opened the roundtable by outlining some key developments in reform and the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement (LRRS).

The LRRS sets out the Scottish Government’s vision for the ownership, use and management of land, setting out the balance between the rights of landowners, managers, and local communities.

Duncan Bryden, Director of Strathdearn Community Developments shared information on the anticipated investment in the area over the next five years as well as insight into the work of the community, one of the primary drivers for this meeting.

Participants also heard from the Chair & Founding Director of Highland Tourism Community Interest Company, Yvonne Crook, and Elle Adams, Strategic Lead from the Findhorn Watershed Initiative. The Findhorn Watershed Initiative have been working with a number of local landowners on the River Findhorn where important discussions and projects have taken place to safeguard the wellbeing and its inhabitants of the river.

The roundtable closed with a panel discussion that included speakers from the day where a positive dialogue as to how the community of Strathdearn can benefit from land use and investment in the area emerged.

Emma Cooper said, “Events like this are hugely important in building open and transparent communication between landowners and the communities that live on and use the land.

“It is encouraging to see a community take the initiative to organise an event like this, and for the invitation to be so enthusiastically received by so many local landowners and land managers.

“By initiating this roundtable, Strathdearn Community Developments have shown how communities can take the lead in engaging landowners, something at the Scottish Land Commission we are keen to see more of.”