For Argyll received this statement this morning from the Applecross Trust Administrator, Archie MacLellan, responding to media comments on applications for membership of the Trust.
‘It is unfortunate that a number of points made by Andy Wightman in regard to the workings of the Applecross Trust as reported in recent press are incorrect and misleading. It is also very disappointing that as the author of the Land Action Scotland campaign Mr Wightman has requested basic financial information from the Trust but has made no approach to discuss or enquire about any of our activities. It is also notable that of the 87 applications received to join the Trust, none are from Applecross.
‘The Applecross Trust prides itself on maintaining much of the Applecross Estate in such a way as to preserve its unique and historic character for public benefit. This is done with a view to ensuring protection of the estate’s environment and amenities while encouraging access to and appreciation of the estate.
‘We are involved in many community partnerships since the objectives of the Trust primarily relate to land management and public access to the estate. Community engagement is therefore integral to all decisions made. These can be large scale issues such as affordable housing, rents and employment or more discreet initiatives which aim to enhance the lives of those who live and work on the peninsula.
‘The Company within the last 12 years has sourced and invested in excess of £6M in the Estate. The Directors of the Company, as a Charitable Trust, only claim travel expenses which last year amounted to around £1k. They receive no financial remuneration for their efforts.
‘The current £2M Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme (ALPS – details below), for example, aims to create income and improve wellbeing for the people of Applecross through the provision of employment and training opportunities alongside the more direct benefits to the area’s unique built and cultural heritage.
‘The Trust is also currently undertaking a programme of property improvements which are designed to maximise availability of local housing at affordable levels. Since 2010 the Trust has invested nearly £500k through ALPS and over £250k in renovations to houses for local people.
“There are numerous other examples of partnership and development work with which the Trust is closely involved including training of 180 members of the Applecross community in outdoor and practical land-based pursuits, the provision of land for community activity, upgrading housing for local residents at affordable rents and purchasing a local church for community use amongst many, many others. We will continue to play an hugely active role in the Applecross community’.
The opening paragraph of this statement from Mr MacLellan on behalf of the Applecross Trust raises an immediate question on the precises situation of applications for membership of the Mount Stuart Trust and the Applecross Trust.
On its website, launched yesterday, Land Action Scotland said that over 90 applications for membership had been lodged at the registered offices of these two Trusts; that some of these were from residents of both communities; and some were from ‘across Scotland’.
The Applecross Trust says at the end of the first paragraph o0f its statement above that: ‘of the 87 applications received to join the Trust, none are from Applecross’.
Elementary maths leaves over three – say four – applications only for membership of the Mount Stuart Trust. Even if all of these are from Bute and none from ‘Across Scotland’ , this is hardly an indication of a significant popular movement on the island.
Both of these positions reinforce our own immediate discomfort at what might then have been and now seems to be an external intervention to provoke local discontent in both of these communities.
This is disappointing.
On the positive side, the evidence that has arisen from the responses of both Trusts – the Mount Stuart Trust’s was published here last night – has been an educative insight into the sense of social responsibility embedded in well managed estates and the variety of ways in which this is expressed.
Both of the estates in question, in Bute and Applecross, would seem to pay substantial and proactive attention to their support for, integration with and promotion of their respective communities.
Of course such support can sometimes seem paternalistic and controlling but it cannot be said to be disengaged.
There are badly managed estates and there are estates that neglect their responsibilities as, for example, once-attractive estate properties left empty and in declining repair at Loch Striven, where community building is to everyone’s advantage; and protected birds being illegally poisoned with carbofuran in Glen Orchy.
The Bute and Applecross Estates seem singularly ill-chosen as targets for progression to forced community control. Of course the best of all possible worlds is a well managed estate with a resident landlord; but an energetic estate, with a care for progress and actively engaged with the community is an enabling resource and a valuable shelter.
The Applecross Trust describes the Landscape Partnership Trust and the North Applecross Woodland Company:
The Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme
‘A community partnership which began in 2006, ALPS was established by the Trust and involves the development and delivery of a £2M programme aimed at improvements in built and cultural heritage, access and training.
‘The Trust is the leading partner which manages and facilitates ALPS and which secured the funding over a 4 year period. The programme consists of 40 different projects, the details of which can be found here at the Visit Applecross website. To date the Trust has invested nearly £500k in the programme which has a further 12 months to run to completion.
‘Other partners within the programme are Applecross Historical Society, Applecross Bealach Group, Applecross Archaeological Society, Applecross Crofters, Applecross Traditional Crafts Group, Applecross Community Council and 2 Co-opted Community members.
‘As part of the programme the following projects have been completed:
- ‘Upgrade of Clachan Church at a cost of over £250k, Burial Ground mapping and works to a Holy Well site. The scheduled site of Clachan Chapel is being developed as part of ALPS in conjunction with the Highland Buildings Preservation Trust. ALPS is funding a 3 year Heritage Manager’s position and the administration of ALPS is being undertaken through the Trust.
- ’6km of paths have been restored with a further 2.5km of new paths created and 2km of new routes opened. Further developments will be carried out next year which will further extend the public footpath network.
- ‘Other projects include Place names, Broch, Festivals & events, Interpretation, Guided walks, Archive digitisation, Archive training, Archaeological Training, Roundhouse construction and training, Interpretive planning, Website development, Bardic School, woodland restructuring and croft land and habitat improvement programme.
- ‘As part of the training element 180 training places have been provided to members of the Applecross Communities to date, 21 of which are accredited, on a wide a range of training including Dyking (DSWA Levels 1 & 2), Ecology, First Aid (St. Andrews), Bees, Chainsaw (CS30/31), Website design (Business Gateway), Basic IT, Green woodworking, Basket making, Access (Fieldfare Trust), Fertile soils (Greenway), Wild food, Geology, Path building & maintenance, Pesticide use (PA1 & 6, Book keeping (Business Gateway) and Lime mortar.
- ‘Lorna Lumsden, who was Trust Administrator between 1989 and 2006 was awarded the MBE for her services to Applecross, a proposal which was put forward by the people of Applecross in recognition of her achievements. One of these which was ahead of its time was the formation of North Applecross Woodland Company (NAWC).
- ‘The Trust’s current Administrator, Donald-Archie MacLellan, is a West Highland and Skye tenant crofter who understands the cultural workings of the area and possesses a deep and wide understanding of crofting and Highland Land Use and of the area’s needs. As part of his core role, he liaises closely with all of the Community groups in the interest of balancing the demands of the area’s Communities.
North Applecross Woodland Company
‘This is a partnership between the Trust and the Crofting townships of the north Applecross peninsula which established 1,500 hectares of native woodland from the year 2000. Income from this scheme is providing a surplus which, along with match funding from the Trust will allow for further investment in land management to help sustain a thriving crofting community.’