A COMMUNITY bid to purchase an island populated by five people has received the official backing of the Scottish Government.

Roseanna Cunningham, Scotland’s Land Reform Secretary, has given her consent for a community group to purchase Ulva and the adjacent Ulva Ferry port on Mull.

The group now has until June to put together a funding package to meet the £4.24 million asking price. North West Mull Community Woodland Company (NWMCWC) has received an independent feasibility study on its bid, and will now submit its business plans and a funding application to the Scottish Land Fund (SLF), which provides grants for community buyouts.

READ MORE: Islanders halt £4.25m Ulva sale with community buyout plan

However, the SLF can fund only a percentage of the overall amount so there remains “a significant sum to find from other sources”.

A crowdfunding campaign has raised £25,000 in donations from around the world, but this remains well short of the asking price. The group is also seeking a further £250,000 to buy Ardalum House on the island, which was converted into the short-lived Ulva Hostel but now lies empty alongside disused cottages and an abandoned church.

The island’s five tenants run The Boathouse cafe, Ulva’s only active business which attracts around 5,000 visitors a year.

Director John Addy said: “The first priority once we have purchased the island will be to renovate the existing housing stock as quickly as possible and provide existing and future residents with security of tenure so that they can plan with confidence for their futures and those of their families”

READ MORE: Islanders halt £4.25m Ulva sale with community buyout plan

Colin Morrison, chairman of NWMCWC, said: “We wish to acknowledge the very wide support we have received from the community and from a range of organisations and individuals who share our wish to see Ulva thrive again, this time with the people living on Ulva and Mull in the driving seat Michael Russell, Scotland’s Brexit Minister who represents the area in the Scottish Parliament, said: “This is another helpful step forward. I am confident the economic potential of the island is great and it can best be taken forward by local people with local priorities in mind. That is the whole ethos of community purchase and I want to see that succeed on Ulva.”