Former reservoir may pass into locals’ hands

Peter Williamson and Irene Cumming of Newburgh Community Trust, pictured at the old reservoir. (Photo: Steve Brown)
Peter Williamson and Irene Cumming of Newburgh Community Trust, pictured at the old reservoir. (Photo: Steve Brown)
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A former reservoir outside Newburgh could soon be owned by residents of the area.

Lochmill is owned by Scottish Water, who now want to sell the loch, which has not supplied the town in recent years.

Newburgh Community Trust (NCT) registered interest in owning the loch in 2007 and will now get an opportunity to buy it under the terms of the 2003 Land Reform Act.

Trust chairman, Andrew Arbuckle, said this week that NCT had to prove to the Scottish Government there was public support for the purchase, and a ballot would be held in January to justify the move.

He said everyone living in the KY14 6 postcode would receive a postal ballot paper in the new year, asking if they supported the purchase.

“We need to get more than 50 per cent of the locals actually voting in support before the Government will accept the bid.

“That is a big ask, but all we are calling for is for people to demonstrate a wish to keep some of their heritage in local control.”

He added that explanatory leaflets will be distributed in the coming week to every household, giving the background behind the bid as well as the obligations that come with ownership of a reservoir.

If the ballot is successful, the trust will be able to access the Community Land Fund for the majority of the cost of the purchase.

In addition, Fife Council local budget has helped with funding to carry out the necessary ballot.

Mr Arbuckle added: “We will be carrying out a due diligence exercise with qualified professionals prior to any purchase and we have already quantified our insurance obligations.”

Ownership of the loch would bring an annual income from both the local angling club and a neighbouring farmer grazing the land.

Following a public consultation in February, in which locals expressed a wish to see the property remain as a quiet area, the trust has no plans for development. Anyone with any queries can contact Mr Arbuckle on (01337) 870209).