Resounding support for community to buy local reservoir

Peter Williams and Irene Cumming of Newburgh Community Trust, who are hoping to buy the Lochmill Reservoir, near Newburgh
Peter Williams and Irene Cumming of Newburgh Community Trust, who are hoping to buy the Lochmill Reservoir, near Newburgh

An overwhelming number of Newburgh residents have said yes to plans for a £47,500 community buy-out of the town’s Lochmill reservoir.

On Wednesday the results of a ballot were counted and of the 1323 people who voted - 55 per cent of those eligible to vote - 95 per cent agreed the scheme put forward by Newburgh Community Trust (NCT), should go ahead.

NCT chairman Andrew Arbuckle said: “I am pleased to report that the public have supported the bid to purchase Lochmill reservoir and that the required 50 per cent support has been achieved.

“The official figures were 1325 (55 per cent) of the possible) votes were cast and of that number 1269 or 95 per cent supported the bid - a truly astonishing and encouraging response.

He added: “I am very pleased that we have crossed this hurdle.

“It is now up to the Scottish Government to confirm that we can go ahead with the purchase. They have one month in which to let us know.

“In the meantime, we will carry on with our plans for raising the necessary cash for the purchase as well as taking preliminary steps in the legal process of buying Lochmill.

Mr Arbuckle explained the Trust has three months to raise the £47,500 to pay Scottish Water for the reservoir - the amount set by Fife’s District Valuer - and a process of due diligence has now begun.

Much of the funding, he said, is expected to come from the Scottish Land Fund.

Lochmill contains two Sites of Special Scientific Interest and is a popular area with nature lovers.

It is hoped that as well as safeguarding the site’s natural beauty, an informal path may be constructed to allow greater access to the area.

Mr Arbuckle added: “I would particularly like to thank Fife Voluntary Action for their professional support and advice through this process and especially with regard to the ballot.

“Fife Council has also been very supportive of the Trust’s action, both through the Local Area Budget and through providing independent supervision of the ballot.

“Munro Gauld of Highlands and Islands Enterprises has also helped us with advise in the process and the Trust thanks him for that.

“All in all I think this is a tremendous day for Newburgh and the surrounding area. It really demonstrates that given a chance, people are interested in protecting their own heritage.”