THE Isle of Eigg celebrates its 25th community buyout anniversary next weekend.

The community of the Hebridean island bought it in 1997, and the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust manage the island on their behalf.

Secretary of the island’s heritage trust, Maggie Fyffe, said: “In the 1990s, the whole community suffered from the poor management and bad decisions of several private landlords.

“People were being threatened with eviction, there was no investment in any of the island buildings or infrastructure and we were all very worried. The news that we eventually raised, through private donation, the £1.5 million to buy the island was absolutely fantastic.

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“Since then, it has been a huge amount of hard work and effort to do all that we have done – but it’s wonderful to see our children returning to the island to live and work and the global interest in all that our community has achieved.”

After the buyout, Eigg became the first place in the world to provide constant electricity from renewable wind, sun and hydro power.

The system was so successful, it is used as a model worldwide.

MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, Kate Forbes, called the buyout “a remarkable testament to the resilience and vision of islanders”.

She said: “The island has become a hub of community enterprise and innovation and is home to a host of key endeavours.”

Within a year of the buyout, the community had built a new shop and cafe to cater for residents and visitors. The population of Eigg has even doubled in the 25 years to 110.

The National: Aerial view of the island of Eigg, Rum is in background.....Photograph by Colin Mearns..Pic taken 5 October 2009..

The island has been so successful that the original shop and café have been completely redeveloped after a £3m regeneration scheme. The new space includes a bigger cafe and shop, a craft shop, visitor facilities and office space.

Eigg created the Tree Nursery project in 2018, which aims to produce up to 20,000 native plants each year to be sold on the mainland and other islands.

The island plans to reach Net Zero by 2030.

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Cafe owner and residents’ association chairperson Stuart Fergusson spoke of the island’s optimism despite a tourism lull during the pandemic. He credited the “vision and bravery” of the community to meet the challenges of the past few years.

He said: “If we fail, it’s our responsibility. But if we succeed in increasing the population, supporting local businesses to grow and thrive, protecting our natural and cultural heritage and attracting more visitors – then it’s our success and one we have worked hard to achieve.”

Eigg will celebrate the anniversary with a party on June 10 and a ceilidh on June 11.