More than 500,000 acres of land is now in community ownership in Scotland, the Scottish Government's Land Reform Minister Dr Aileen McLeod announced today.

Dr McLeod was visiting South Uist Estate in the Western Isles, an area where 70% of the population now live on community-owned land. The estate was bought by the community in 2006.

A total of 122 communities have successfully registered their interest in buying land in the Register of Community Interest in land, and 52 communities comprising 71,000 people have been helped to acquire a total of more than 90,000 acres through support from the Scottish Land Fund.

The fund has provided £9m to date, and the present Government has a target of 1m acres in community ownership by 2020.

Dr McLeod commented: “A fantastic example of a community making a real difference to the local community is here in South Uist where the community purchased the South Uist Estate in December 2006. They now manage 93,000 acres of land from sporting rights, fishing rights, croft land, various commercial and residential buildings and commercial land including quarries, fish farms and a MoD base, covering almost the whole of the islands of Benbecula, Eriskay and South Uist, as well as a number of other small islands.

“I am determined to see a more fairer and equitable distribution of land in Scotland where communities and individuals can own and use land to realise their full potential, and land reform is essential to achieving this."