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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Lucy Garcia

Pioneering bid to rewild and repopulate Scottish estate launched by eco-millionaire

A BUSINESSMAN who made his fortune in the solar energy sector is to launch a bid for Tayvallich estate in Argyll through an investment company, Highland Rewilding.

Jeremy Leggett, who previously worked for Greenpeace before investing in a solar power company which he later sold for millions, already owns an estate in the Highlands as well as one in Aberdeenshire, but is now planning on launching a bid for Tayvallich, along with fellow investors.

Leggett wants to see the area rewilded and is promising to work with the local community in a bid to see the area also repopulated.

The selling agents have pushed the closing date back to February 28 so he can piece together the £10.5 million asking price through a mix of equity, crowdfunding and bank loans.

If that mix succeeds, says Leggett, it’ll be the first time British banks have ever lent to a major rewilding project. It is hoped that the purchase could provide a viable template for future bids in other areas.

Leggett accepts that the local community must be central to any plans and admits that community ownership is the best model where possible.

“Straight community buyouts are obviously better for communities,” Leggett says. “But the Highlands Rewilding model provides a degree of community co-ownership – via shareholding in Highlands Rewilding – and a vehicle for private investment to provide working capital for nature recovery.

“Private capital is imperative because of the enormity of biodiversity collapse and climate meltdown.”

Local community groups have been cautiously welcoming with Martin Mellor of Tayvallich Initiative Steering Group: “This isn’t community ownership but it might be the next best thing.

“Fundraising to buy the whole estate would have been very hard for a small community, so it’s good to have an organisation with community prosperity at its heart.”

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