28 October 2022
NatureScot has been working to secure the future of Kinloch Castle for several years, making significant efforts to investigate a range of options including community asset transfer, which have been unsuccessful.
We have been working with Isle of Rum Community Trust (IRCT), which does not necessarily represent the views of all of the members of Rum Community, at every stage of this process keeping them and residents informed of the opportunities and progress.
What is for sale is Kinloch Castle, together with its associated curtilage and steading, all of which have been offered to community interests and have either not been taken up (IRCT) or not met asset transfer tests (Kinloch Castle Friends Association) or not met due diligence tests (other beneficial owner applications).
The Rum National Nature Reserve is not for sale and will not be offered as part of any settlement.
NatureScot fully supports the Land Reform Bill and follows best practices and protocols. In fact, we led the way in community empowerment with our asset transfer of land to the IRCT in 2010.
The Kinloch Castle assets are part of an offer to buy from businessperson Jeremy Hosking. Mr. Hosking has a record of accomplishment in built heritage renovation. The intention is for a charitable trust to restore and conserve Kinloch Castle and its contents, and create and run a hotel business.
Mr. Hosking’s offer sets out a sustainable future for Kinloch Castle at no cost to the public purse. Mr. Hosking has made clear his intention for the Castle Trust to operate as a good neighbour to IRCT and NatureScot.
However, Mr. Hosking has set out his desire for a degree of privacy across the front of the Castle, which currently has servitude rights for IRCT and NatureScot. There are solutions on the negotiating table and a desire from Mr. Hosking to find mutually agreeable alternative access arrangements.
The deal does not include any transfer of the island's electricity system and water supply to Mr. Hosking. NatureScot will remain the statutory provider of electricity until we find a sustainable solution for upgrading the island power and water supply in equal partnership with IRCT, the Castle Trust, and MoWI.
We will continue to engage with IRCT and work through key aspects of the sale (access, power, clarity of proposed constitution, and future castle use) and ensure we allow sufficient time to do so. This will include reaching an agreement on how best to assess the level of community support for the project.
We are of the view that this unique opportunity provides a sustainable future for Kinloch Castle, allowing us to reinvest some of the proceeds of the sale into island infrastructure, offer opportunities for island employment, businesses, and community growth as well as a tourist attraction for the Small Isles and west coast of Scotland.
What is clear is that with the state of public resources we cannot continue to manage a building such as Kinloch Castle at the expense of the Scottish taxpayer and that the only sustainable solution is attracting private finance.
We no longer have the resources to spend on the castle, and it has become a liability and a declining asset without investment. It currently takes staff time, as well as funding, for ongoing, reactive maintenance. This undermines our ability to tackle the biodiversity crisis.
The alternative is that the potential of Kinloch Castle is not realised as an asset, and is managed to decline and ruin, an option that will still come at a cost to the public purse of around £1 million.