Rumours are rife this week that the iconic island of Ailsa Craig is set to finally be sold after being on the market for the past two years.
Reports have emerged that a British-based charitable environmental trust with a special interest in birds is set to bid for the island, which is for sale for £1.5 million.
However, when the Gazette contacted the RSPB for information, it would neither confirm or deny this.
A source said: “I am afraid that I can neither confirm or deny anything at this stage. All I can say is that the RSPB is keeping its options open in relation to the negotiations over Ailsa Craig.”
The island is home to Europe’s largest gannet colony and also an increasing number of puffins.
The Marquess of Ailsa put the island, which lies 10 miles off the Ayrshire coast, up for sale in May 2011 asking for £2.5 million, but a quick sale never materialised.
The asking price was reduced by £1 million earlier this year and Vladi Private Islands, acting for the Marquess, also refused to disclose the trust’s name.
Speaking to the Guardian at the weekend, Farhad Vladi, the agency’s president, said: “This is a serious and very positive bid, and I am very hopeful at this development.
“This trust is based in Britain and the patron is British, and they have other interests in Britain, but at this stage it does not want to reveal its identity.”
The buyer would not have the island to themselves as Scottish Indian businessman Bobby Sandhu bought four cottages over a decade ago as well as a shed and some land.
He had hoped to develop a five-star hotel but said planning regulations made this impossible.
Vladi says it has deemed 15 expressions of interest as serious bids for the island.