Hundreds apply for new life on this remote Scottish island

The Scotsman, by Ian Marland

More than 350 people have expressed an interest in moving to a remote Scottish island. Ulva, on the Scottish west coast, was the subject of a community buyout last year.

A survey was set up to attract people with appropriate skills in building, forestry and tourism.

Colin Morrison is chairman of the North West Mull Community Woodland Company, the body representing residents. He said: “There’s been a lot of interest because I think it has captured the imagination.

“A lot of people are now aware of what we are trying to do – I think we have done reasonably well in getting the word out.

“There is a paucity of housing in rural areas, so there’s lots of interest because there’s not much else that comes up.”

He said: “We need to be able to show the level of interest before we can apply to renovate and build more houses.

“This survey is about showing and quantifying the demand and the interest.”

The island was home to more than 800 residents in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, there are currently just five people living there in two properties. The island has no roads, but does have an award-winning restaurant.

Islanders secured £4.4 million from the Scottish Land Fund and cash from the Macquarie Group and a crowdfunding campaign to buy the island. The initial plan is to renovate up to six existing properties to at least double the population in the next few years.

After that, the long-term target could be to have 50 people living on the island. Mr Morrison said: “Some of the properties we will be renovating will lend themselves to new families.

“But our aim is to get a good balance of people on the island. “In the next couple of years we hope to get into double figures fairly quickly. “In the longer, longer run we are looking at up to 50 people living on the island.”

He said: “A local primary school already exists just across the water on the mainland at Ulva Ferry. “The secondary school is in Tobermory on Mull and children will be transported there from the island.”

Renovation work on the piers is getting under way shortly, and discussions are ongoing about establishing new woodlands. The survey for applications closes at the end of January, so there is still time to apply if you think you have the relevant skills.

More information on living on the island can be found here.