We can’t afford the Craig

a NATIONAL charity has distanced itself from rumours in the press that it was set to buy Ailsa Craig.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds say that they are not in a position to buy the historic landmark, which it is currently the leaseholder of.

The island, which is home to tens of thousands of seabirds and famed for its curling stones, is currently leased by the conservation charity and managed as a nature reserve.

Dr Dave Beaumont, RSPB Scotland regional reserves manager said the charity is ‘proud to be leaseholders of such an important landmark,’ but are unable to meet the £2.5million asking price.

He said: “There have been rumours in the press that the RSPB is in discussions to purchase the land, but this is not the case.

“Because of its international importance as a seabird colony, we have a definite interest in its future, but we are not in a position to buy the island at its current asking price.

“We rely on the generousity of individuals and grants from public and commercial bodies for our income, and as a charity we need to make sure these funds go as far as they can.

“Our lease on the island runs until 2050, and this currently allows us to achieve our conservation goals.”

Ailsa Craig is home to the third largest to third largest gannet colony in the country. Designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the island also provides a perfect nesting site for guillemots and kittiwakes, and has a population of some of the UK’s largest slow worms.

Tens of thousands of puffins used to breed at the top of the island’s soaring cliffs, but their population was devastated by the accidental introduction of rats in the 19th century, and is only now slowly recovering following the rats’ removal.

Dr Beaumont added: “We’ll be watching the sale closely and will be very keen to work with the new owners to further the conservation of this magnificent island.”