A controversial ballot set to gear up Scotland’s highest village for community ownership has gone ahead.
An 81.5 percent turnout saw residents in Wanlockhead back a village delegation’s move to buy the land.
Fifty-five per cent of voters supported the plan to take over 3863 acres owned by the Duke of Buccleuch in and around the village.
Lincoln Richford, chairman of the Wanlockhead Community Trust, said: “This is the first big step towards a brighter future for our community.
“If we can own the land we can make our own decisions about its use. Today, locals said yes to self-empowerment and self-determination. It is an historic day for all of us.”
But the move has not been without controversy and 40 villagers pledged support for a petition to Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham, calling for the ballot to be set aside whatever the outcome.
They branded Wednesday’s poll “not fit for purpose” over claims that it would be shambolic and was conducted at short notice.
Some villagers claimed the ballot, overseen by members of the trust, would not be impartial.
They also raised concerns that only full-time village residents were allowed to vote, excluding owners of second homes.
The trust embarked on the buyout plan in 2016 but they had to prove they had community support so conducted the ballot.
Some residents raised fears over the costs of managing some of the land, where there are disused mine shafts. Lead contamination is also a problem.
Mr Richford reassured those with fears over the ballot. He said: “We did have independent observers, including people who were from the village who were against it.”
WCT board member Dominika Torka said: “It is very exciting where we can go as a community with this buyout if we put our minds to it.”
There will now be a joint valuation of the land with the Buccleuch Group, ahead of a bid for cash from the Scottish Land Fund to help with the purchase.