Cracking resilience problems on Eigg

Eigg is a small island in the Hebrides: five miles by three, with 100 inhabitants.  Try adding to your resilience challenges: harsh climate, high transport costs, poor soil, and … a series of despotic landlords.

However the gift was in the problem: the despots provoked Eigg’s people into creating the first community land buyout in Scotland, back in 1997.  This was a truly heroic piece of pioneering: since then, legislation, funding, and new legal structures have made it far easier for the 60 or so other Scottish communities who have followed on this path.

IMG_0333Although the buyout of Eigg was almost 100% privately funded, the Eigg Heritage Trust have been persistent and successful since then in obtaining sizeable grants which have created a resilient, sustainable infrastructure on the island.  This includes:

  • An impressive, home-grown electric grid, powered by a mix of hydro, wind and solar
  • A new community hub with cafe, food and craft shops and a range of facilities for tourists and residents
  • Renovation and new build to provide affordable housing, with a points system to prioritise needed skills, young families and returning islanders
  • Revival of traditional crofting, integrated with good environmental management

There are two other features that really impressed me on my recent visit: one is the real quality of community, underpinned by a remarkable mix of skills within a population of only one hundred.   The other is the astonishing beauty and sparkle of this land, with its exquisite beaches, birds, and mountains.

A great way to experience Eigg, and contribute to its progress, is to do a programme at Earth Connections, the new Eco Centre: see

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