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MACC Celebrates 5 Years of Community Ownership

11th May 2017

Considered by many to be one of the most ambitious and complex purchases completed under the Land Reform Act in Scotland, Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC), the group behind the purchase, are celebrating the 5th anniversary of the community buyout of the former RAF Machrihanish Airbase. The 1000 plus acre site has been rebranded MACC Business Park and has grown from strength to strength with 80 tenants onsite employing over 180 local people.

Celebrating 5 successful years is no small feat considering the size and scale of the asset that needs to be cared for; it includes a 3 kilometre runway and taxiway, 25 high voltage sub stations and 7miles of associated cabling, 22 miles of water mains, a private sewage system, over 200 properties dating from the 1940’s to 2000’s, 11 miles of road network and 6.25 million litres of fuel storage capacity.

Tom Millar MACC Chairman commented “Since the MACC group was formed in 2008, we started with what was a seemingly unachievable ambition of purchasing Machrihanish Airbase, four years and much negotiation later the sale was concluded on the 11th May 2012 at 12noon. This was a daunting moment with the new challenge of now delivering the outline business plan and ensuring that the business park could run on a sustainable footing going forward. We now find ourselves five years later exceeding all expectations from the initial business plan. This was in no doubt due to the hard work and effort of the directors and staff with support from various government agencies along with the invaluable backing from the local community. We now find ourselves setting a new 5 year business plan very much focussing on a growth strategy for future investment in the site to create employment and business opportunities so that the business park can deliver further economic benefit to the area”.

Jennifer Nicoll, Area Manager Argyll and the Islands, Highlands and Islands Enterprise said: “For Highlands and Islands Enterprise, MACC encapsulates our unique remit of community and economic development. The community ownership of Machrihanish Airbase has created significant economic impact and opportunities. Five years in, we are only scratching the surface of what MACC could be, and we look forward to what the future will hold.”

Pippa Milne, Argyll and Bute Council’s Executive Director of Development and Infrastructure said: “In just five years MACC has become a shining example of what community empowerment can achieve, and the contribution it can make to the local economy. The sky is literally the limit for MACC’s ambitions as it aims to establish a UK spaceport in Kintyre. The council is proud to be part of the Discover Space UK consortium and we eagerly anticipate what the next five years will bring. We look forward to working with MACC to make things happen to benefit Argyll and Bute.”

It has been an interesting journey so far for MACC, one that has seen the site host:
• a temporary hospital during extreme adverse weather conditions
• a temporary power station
• Graeme Obree’s ‘Beastie’ human powered land speed record bike
• Several legs of the Scottish Tarmac Rally Championship
• a short film production
• Press events for Bentley Motors 2014 Continental GT
• Running club competitions
• Cycling club speed trials
• Winter agricultural shows
• Young Farmer Events
• Several tough mudder events
• A Santa dash
• Model aircraft flying events
• An onshore salmon farm
• A go karting club
• A shooting club
• Several weddings and a conference

And the next five years look no less interesting with the further expansion of the wind turbine manufacturing plant on site operated by CS Wind UK, a solar PV farm application in planning, development of on-shore aquaculture as well as Highlands and Islands Airports Limited operating an active commercial airport and the business park now competing to become the UK’s first commercial spaceport delivering satellites and eventually even people into orbit from the UK.

These are indeed exciting times and the MACC Group are looking forward to the challenges the future will bring to the business park.

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