THE long-standing row over access to Rubha Reidh lighthouse could finally come to an end if a community buyout application is successful.
After bitter wrangling between the community in Gairloch and the couple who run an accommodation business at the lighthouse, Tracy and Roger McLachlan, local people have united in a bold move to attempt buy the property.
Gairloch Community Council has garnered support for the buyout proposal, with more than a quarter of local people backing it in just seven days of canvassing.
The council posted on its Facebook page: “The community believes that the only way to secure access for all in perpetuity at Rubha Reidh is to have this historic landmark asset in community ownership.”
The application has now been lodged with the Scottish Government by Gairloch Community Development Ltd. The McLachlans and other parties involved in ownership of the site have until May 29 to respond before Scottish minister Angela Constance rules on the issue. She has seven days to do so.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government’s community right to buy scheme received two late applications from Gairloch Area Development Ltd to register an interest in the site.
“The landowners and creditors noted within the applications now have 21 days to provide views on the application to Scottish ministers, after which a decision will be made in June.”
Community council secretary Fran Cree said: “It’s a waiting game for us now.”
The buyout application comes in the face of the lighthouse accommodation being put up for sale by the McLachlans at a price of £450,000.
But it is understood the sale will have to be put on hold until the community buyout decision is determined.
High-end estate agency Strutt and Parker still lists the property on it website, describing it in glowing terms.
They were “unable to comment”, while Tracy and Roger McLachlan were away.
Just last week, an incident involving the McLachlans during Arctic Convoy veteran Roy Elwood’s visit to the lighthouse was reported to the police.
Dingwall-based police inspector David Ogilivie said: “An incident at the lighthouse was reported to us.
“We investigated the details, all the parties were spoken to and given firm advice, and there was found to be no criminality involved.”