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More important, they would also be securing a rare opportunity to own one of Scotland's most recognisable jewels. However, Vladi Private Islands, the Hamburg-based estate agency acting for the marquess, said that it expects a British-based charitable environmental trust with a special interest in birds to submit a formal bid for the island on Monday. Farhad Vladi, the agency's president, declined to disclose the trust's name, saying it would prefer to remain anonymous in the event that the bid is rejected.
He also declined to say how much the trust plans to bid.
The puzzle of the continued failure to find a buyer, which has perplexed scientists and environmentalists, can now also be explained. A small part of the island is already in private hands, deterring a number of potential buyers who might otherwise have been keen to make Ailsa Craig their hideaway paradise.
He hoped to develop a five-star hotel, but claims that planning regulations made it impossible. Vladi said he had received expressions of interest from around 50 potential private buyers, of which around 15 he had deemed as serious. But he added: "As soon as people become aware that a plot of around one acre and some of the lighthouse keeper's buildings are owned by someone else, they are not interested.
Environmentalists will be delighted that the island is now expected to be taken over by a conservation trust. Ailsa Craig has had a dramatic and vivid history and was a haven for Roman Catholics escaping the rigours of the Reformation, who also hoped it could assist the Spanish in any future attempt to invade Scotland. Later it would become a prison. Previously, there has been concern at just how often little parcels of privately owned land in Scotland are being traded indiscriminately and with uncertain outcomes.
Ailsa Craig: Its History and Natural History
Land reform is again becoming a burning issue in Scotland. More than half of the country is owned by fewer than individuals, much having been illegally annexed following the Scottish Reformation and passed down through the nation's richest families ever since.
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