AN OLD military base used to hunt for nuclear submarines during the Cold War will be transformed into a spot for tourists to listen to marine life as part of an £860,000 cash injection for communities across Scotland.

A range of groups in the Western Isles, the Highlands, Scottish Borders, Fife, Argyll and Bute and South Ayrshire have won a share of the Scottish Land Fund payout for their plans including running a community-owned filling station, turning a former steelworks into a community hub and launching a buyout of a remote island crofting community.

Minister for land reform Aileen McLeod said: “It is great news that the latest round of awards from the Scottish Land Fund will help seven communities bring land into community ownership. This is proof that the enthusiasm and drive for community ownership is coming from communities across the whole of Scotland.

“This brings the number of communities who have benefitted from the current Scottish Land Fund to over 50, involving £9 million worth of funding over the four years of the fund.

“In 2014, the Scottish Government committed to increasing this funding, so that a wider range of communities and projects can benefit from the opportunity to develop the land on which they live and work to realise their goals and ambitions.”

The Gallan Head Community Trust on Lewis will use their £200,000 grant to turn a former MoD radar station on 42-hectares of land into an observatory, gallery and visitor centre. They will also install underwater microphones to record whales and basking sharks so locals and tourists can tune in to the sounds of marine life.

The remote surveillance station at RAF Aird in Uig was built to give early warning of Soviet attack during the Cold War but the collapse of the Soviet Union and the advance of satellite technology made the base redundant. Martin Hayes, chairman of Gallan Head Community Trust said: “This award means that we can complete our community buyout of MoD land and progress our plans for social enterprise.

“For the first time in many decades, local people will be able to enjoy the unique Gallan Head peninsula. The award means our community can now create opportunities to help local businesses, restore and conserve our remarkable natural environment, and create interest, enjoyment, and learning opportunities for visitors.”

Funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Land Fund aims to help rural communities become more resilient and sustainable through the ownership and management of land and land assets.

John Watt, Fund committee chairman said the projects were “excellent examples” of how communities can transform their ambitions into reality.

The Keose Glebe Steering Group will use their £105,500 to help fund a buyout of the Keose Glebe Estate and foreshore in the Lochs area on the east side of Lewis.

Locals say that owning the 627-hectare site, which includes 11 crofts, will empower them in the future management and development of the estate.

From listening whales to elder care: How the money will be used

GALLAN Head Community Trust on the Isle of Lewis received £200,000 to turn a former MoD radar station into an observatory, gallery and visitor centre with whale-listening facilities.

Keose Glebe Steering Group will use their £105,500 to help buy Keose Glebe Estate and foreshore in the Lochs area on Lewis. 

The Newcastleton and District Community Trust in the Borders was awarded £51,397 to develop a community filling station.

Tayport Community Trust plan to purchase the former Abertay Steel Works in Fife with the help of their £42,000. They will create a community hub, conference, theatre and arts facilities, and a hostel and caravan site.

Glenurquart Care Project got £201,000 to buy land at the back of a care centre in the village of Drumnadrochit, Inverness-shire, to build new amenity housing for the elderly, supported by the services of the care centre.

Ballantrae Rural Initiative in South Ayrshire will use their £250,000 grant to buy a house and garden to turn it into a 12-bed residential care facility for the elderly.

Mull and Iona Community Trust will buy part of the former forestry plantation at Ardmore on the Isle of Mull, Argyll with their £18,630.