Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed new Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) figures that reveal 41 community groups in the Western Isles now own their own land.

Just under 500 community groups in Scotland have benefited from the SNP’s progressive land reform policies that help enable communities control their own destiny.

In its manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections in 2016 the SNP committed to a target of 1 million acres of land being in community ownership by 2020 and the Scottish Government looks well on its way to achieving this.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “The Western Isles are at the forefront of Scotland's drive to enable communities to thrive and make decisions about their own areas. This is at the very heart of our community empowerment strategy that is aiming to make Scotland a more prosperous and fairer place to live.

“Communities across the Western Isles have truly embraced land reform, with 41 community groups being empowered to bring community assets and - nearly half of the land area - into community ownership, with some areas such as Pairc having to fight for many years to exercise these rights.

"Here in the Western Isles we face some severe demographic challenges with a projected population loss of around 14% by 2039. Community trusts will have a key part to play in trying to stop this from becoming a reality as land reform is a key vehicle to encourage more people to live and work in our islands, and to build stronger, more sustainable and attractive communities."