Wild goats resident on the Isle of Ulva


Recent articles regarding the community buyout process

My Week Country Life – The Trouble with Small Worlds

The Sunday Times – “Ulva highlights the problems of land reform”

Howard Family Statement

Now that missives for the sale of Ulva have been concluded, the Howard family would like to thank the residents of Ulva for their exemplary courtesy and dignity during the buyout process. It has been a stressful and uncertain time not made any easier by the distasteful and unhelpful conduct of the political class.

We sincerely hope that that the Community Group, NWMCWC, will prove to be responsible and worthy guardians of this beautiful island into the future, and that the residents of the island will be treated with sensitivity and will always be allowed a voice regarding the management of the island.

The Howard family is proud of the achievements made by 3 generations over the last 70 years or so but fully realise that times have changed and that it is now time to move on.

Ulva Buyout Bid – Update 25/01/18

The Howard family would like to address the recent articles posted below that have been published in the Oban Times this month (Thursday 25th January 2018).

As the current owners of Ulva, we continue to comply with the Land Reform legislation which unfortunately limits our choices with regard to the future of our beloved island. We only want the best for Ulva’s future and of course will continue to offer our support and reassurance to Barry George and the Munro family if the buy-out proposal is unsuccessful. As previously mentioned there are steps we can take to ensure their future on Ulva if the island does go to a private buyer. We are not going to just give our home away to the “highest bidder”, we have invested a huge amount of our lives on this island and we would not allow the next owner/s to come in and close off this precious place to outsiders.

Having lived and farmed full time on Ulva for the last 70 years the Howard family know too well the difficulties of running a remote Island. With this experience, we feel that the NWMCWC may have underestimated the challenges of running Ulva along with the associated costs of development. Understandably the, unelected, NWMCWC are relying heavily on the Scottish Government to provide the over-whelming majority of the funds not only to purchase the island but to continue to support its future at the taxpayer’s expense.

Anyone who lives or travels to Mull can quite quickly see where this so called £4 million plus could be better spent encouraging the ever-depleting rural community to remain in the area and not be drawn to the prospect of better jobs and easier access to public services that towns and cities can offer. This opinion is clearly felt by the majority of the, elected, Mull community council who overwhelmingly voted 7:1 against the moving forward of the NWMCWC bid. (see Oban Times article below)

The buy-out bid not only affects the Ulva and North-west Mull community it will have a ripple effect on the whole of Mull and beyond so it is important that the right decision is made.

(Click to enlarge)

UPDATE – Community Buy-out Bid

The Howard Family would like to make the following statement with regards to the information that is being provided to those eligible to vote on the Ulva buyout proposal. Voters should be aware that much of this information provided with the ballot papers is extremely biased and ill-informed. It is only fair that those with a vote are given the correct and accurate facts and figures before making their final decision.

Furthermore, we would like to reiterate that we only want the best for Ulva and its future.

Jamie Howard recently met Mull Councillor, Mary Jean Devon, to discuss with her the number of people on Mull, in particular, North Mull, who had approached him to express their concern at the ability of NWMCWC Ltd. to properly manage Ulva should they be successful in their buyout bid. It was felt that they would struggle to find suitable funding both for the purchase and development of the island, running into many millions of pounds. Mary Jean Devon has passed on these concerns to Mike Russell MSP.

The NWMCWC Ltd. stated in their promotional literature recently that if the buyout was unsuccessful then Ulva will be sold to the highest bidder. This is not necessarily the case.

When Ulva was placed on the market (all marketing has now ceased according to the rules regarding Community Buyouts) potential buyers intimated that they wished to invest in the infrastructure of the island which included building on the successful tourist businesses currently operating.

The Howard family would like to offer reassurance that should the buyout bid fail and Ulva is purchased by a private individual they will make every effort to ensure the following:

  • Security of tenure for current residents
  • Maintenance of The Boathouse restaurant and public ferry service, including use of the piers by the fishermen
  • That sufficient and appropriate investment will be made to the infrastructure on the island

There is a very good chance of finding the right buyer with the funds required to both purchase and sustainably develop the island. Private investment in Ulva would not only bring great opportunities for local employment it would also encourage an increase in tourism activities and visitor numbers throughout the year, as well as potential investment in locally initiated projects all at minimal cost to the already thinly stretched Public Purse.

Community buy-out – Times online article

Times online article, Saturday 4th November 2017 – READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

“I was completely flattened, and hugely disappointed that they could have treated us in this way,” he said. The community had been pre-briefed that an exciting announcement was to be made. But I had been told nothing.”

Island News

October 2017

New years day sunrise from Ulva ferry 2017 ©Kiloran Howard

Winter sunrise, Ulva ferry, Jan’17

Jamie Howard and family would like to address some of the recent inaccurate comments expressed locally and in the media, both preceding and subsequent to the community buy-out bid for their much loved and cherished home, the Isle of Ulva.

The decision to market the island has been made with the utmost reluctance, and difficult though that decision has been, our only wish now is that whoever the future owners/custodians turn out to be, this island will continue to be the magical and unspoiled remote Hebridean beauty it is today and that it may remain open to all who wish to visit to explore this unique treasure.


The Howard family has been the privileged custodian of the Isle of Ulva for approximately 70 years. Throughout the last three generations, the Howards have continuously supported the Ulva and Mull communities in making strenuous efforts to try to stem the decline of Ulva’s island population. Over the years, the family has worked continuously and carefully to maintain and to improve the fragile infrastructure of the island without damaging or destroying its wild and wonderful bio-diversity, which is rarely found today, and of which it is immensely proud.

Particularly during the last 30 years, the family has initiated and put in place multiple schemes to increase the number of residents and to open the island to visitors:

  • The renovation of houses and the church (several of which are Listed)
  • The building of a freshwater system
  • The installation of solar panels
  • The restoration of Sheila’s Cottage (a thatched croft in which visitors can see displays of the island’s heritage)
  • Repair and upkeep of the boat piers and slipways
  • Provision and subsidising of the ferry boat
  • The purchase of a new barge to help transport goods and livestock between Mull and Ulva
  • The establishment of the Boathouse Restaurant & Café
  • Creation of 5 signposted walks
  • The introduction and planting of a native woodland scheme and the opening up of Ulva to education and research projects

Special services in the church have also been organized throughout the year (when the weather has permitted access) and support given to the local primary school on Mull. However, the revenue which comes into Ulva is far outweighed by expenditure on it, and regrettably this is an unsustainable financial situation.

See timeline of Howard family achievements on Ulva here

These projects have undoubtedly increased visitor numbers but failed to halt the decline in the resident population. The special and difficult challenges of living on a small, remote island with rough roads and limited housing stock appeal to few. As it is today, Ulva residents number no more than four adults (which includes Jamie Howard) and two children. Would-be residents tend to come for a short while but then leave, unable to come to terms with the demands of living on a remote small island that, in addition, lies off the larger island of Mull.

In spite of the Howard family’s significant expenditure over the last 30 years to support the needs of the island and its small community, considerable further tranches of money are required merely to maintain the status quo, let alone for investment in future sustainable development.


Current Situation
The Howard family continue its long-running support for the community and the excellent relationship that has been created over many years. Sadly the ongoing costs required to maintain Ulva cannot be sustained by the family indefinitely. There are few or no grants available to private individuals for such things. The impossibility of continuing in this vein, and recent family bereavements, have propelled the decision to put the island on the market.

Jamie Howard will continue his support of this community for the near future and wishes the North West Mull Community Woodland Company well in its bid to raise the funds necessary to purchase and to develop Ulva sympathetically and sustainably, and hopes the legislative process will be as smooth a process as possible for all concerned. Whether the ultimate custodianship of this lovely place is achieved through a private sale or through the public purse is still to be decided, but whoever it is, it is the wish of this family to hand the torch over so that Ulva continues to be cherished and valued.

The island will continue to be open to the public through this process and we very much hope visitors will come to Ulva and see why we, the Family, love it so much.


Deer silhouette, Ulva

Deer silhouette, Ulva

Corncrake calling