Isle of Lewis
Background to Pairc Estate
The Pairc Estate is currently owned by Pairc Crofters Ltd extends to an area of approximately 10,840ha. The majority of the estate is under crofting tenure, the main exception being an
area of grazing land at Steimreway. In total, there are approximately 208 crofts on the estate, spread between 11 townships. The estate is mainly hilly moor land with a large amount
of fresh water lochs.
The present population of Pairc (also known as South Lochs) is some 400, mainly located on the north and east coastal fringes of the estate in villages linked to the rest of Lewis and
Harris by the B8060 road. The key community services on the estate comprise:
a local primary school at Gravir
a medical surgery, also at Gravir
a community shop, loch-side café, hostel, small meeting room, exhibition area and other visitor attractions at the Ravenspoint Centre, Kershader
a Resource Centre in Kershader which includes a meeting space for community groups and local nursery provision
a small community hall in Orinsay
Tigh Ceilidh (meeting house) in Gravir
community polytunnels in Habost and Gravir
Pairc Crofters Ltd has no built assets of its own on the estate. While we believe income to the estate (from croft rents, wayleaves, etc) currently exceeds outgoings (mainly the
collection of rents), the estate appears to have been managed on a fairly inactive basis with apparently little investment over many years. The population of Pairc has fallen throughout
the 20th century from nearly 2,000 a century ago to around 400 today. Fishing rights were not transferred when the estate was purchased and shooting rights are leased to a
Key socio economic features of the Pairc area at the time of the 2001 Census of Population, compared with the Western Isles as a whole, were:
61.0% spoke Gaelic (compared with 59.7% of all Western Isles residents).
42.2% were aged 50 or over (compared with 40.0%).
65.0% of those aged 16-74 were economically active (compared with 66.0%).
33.7% of those aged 16-74 were working full time (compared with 36.4%), 12.6% were working part time (compared with 13.0%), and 11.4% were self
employed (compared with 9.7%).
The main sectors of employment were the public sector (31.1% cf 31.8%), fishing/fish farming (14.8% cf 5.8%) and construction (11.9% cf 10.5%).
79.5% of people owned their residence (compared with 73.7%).
Population decline has characterised both Pairc and the wider area of Lochs for at least 100 years. Between 1901 and 2001, the population of the Lochs area as a whole declined by
61.7% from 4,733 to 1,814 - the steepest decline of any Western Isles parish except Uig. In the more recent past, 1981-2001, the Lochs population declined by 22%. Moves to
Stornoway have been one factor in the decline, but net migration from the Western Isles as a whole has been the major explanation. The population density of South Lochs
Sustainable Communities Area in 2001 of 0.02 people per hectare compares with that of the Western Isles as a whole of 0.09 people per hectare (i.e. the area is four times more
sparsely populated). Between 2001 and 2006, the Multi Member Ward of Pairc and Kinloch experienced further population decline of 7.4%. Thus, there is a threat that South Lochs'
already elderly population structure will become even more unbalanced unless new opportunities are developed that attract young people and families into the area.
A Community Appraisal undertaken in 1998 in Pairc and Kinloch set out the community's priorities on issues affecting their lives. When asked about the most important changes
needed, over 75% of the respondents identified lack of local employment, lack of facilities for young people, and limited entertainment and social life in the area as their main
concerns. A copy of the Community Appraisal is available from the Trust office
Pairc Trust was established on behalf of the community of the Pairc area of Lewis in 2003 with the aim of buying the Pairc Estate from its current owners by negotiation or, if necessary,
using the Crofting Community Right to Buy provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. The Trust is a company limited by guarantee (No SC261145) and a registered charity
The Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Trust are available. The objects of the Trus are set out in the Memorandum of Association. These relate to the conservation and
regeneration of the Pairc area through social and environmental works for the benefit of the local community. The Trust is mandated by the community to pursue the purchase of the
Pairc Estate and to maximise community benefits from any commercial wind-farm which may be developed in the area.
Directors of the company have been elected by members or appointed under section 21 of the Trust's Articles of Association. The Directors have a wide range of experience and skills.
The Trust currently employs a part-time administrative officer. The Trust aims to work in co-operation with other local community groups to further common objectives. For example,
we have signed a partnership agreement with Co-Chomunn na Pairc (the Pairc Community Co-operative), which owns the Ravenspoint Centre at Kershader where the area's only shop
is located. This commits the two organisations to work together in the overall interests of Pairc residents, and we believe community ownership of the Estate will open up many more
opportunities for such joint working.
Our attempts to buy the Pairc Estate on behalf of the community have been subject to long delays. In 2005, the Government referred to the Land Court issues relating to the legality of
an interposed lease over the estate agreed between Pairc Crofters Limited (the landlord) and Pairc Renewables Limited (the tenant). The Land Court concluded in 2007 that the
interposed lease was valid and that we had the right to purchase the interest of the tenant in this lease. Between 2007 and 2009, inconclusive talks were held with the landlord about
a possible voluntary (or ‘amicable’) transfer of the estate.
Pairc Trust have made three applications to the Scottish Government under Part 3 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003:
An application in May 2005, following a positive ballot held in November 2004. This application, which had been overtaken by events, was eventually turned down by the
Government in March 2011.
Two new applications made in February 2010, following a positive ballot held in December 2009 – one to buy land, and another to buy the interest of the tenant in an
associated lease, on the Pairc Estate. These were approved by the Government in March 2011.