• Charles Delcourt

Isle of Eigg

Eigg, situated on the west coast of Scotland, is a small island belonging to the Inner Hebrides. It reached a modest amount of fame in 1997 when the inhabitants became owners of their land. Today, they ‘re self-sufficient in electricity and have created a model of community self-governance.

As they grew tired of series of Landlords who came with promises and wishes but no real actions, the inhabitants managed to make a buy-out and own their land with the help of various type of founding and a nice story.

This buy-out allowed them to take in hand the destiny of the island with the aim of self-government. Since then they established a unique model of management and development. They meet regularly in the community hall to plan the future for Eigg.

One of the community first main work was to build a pier and create a link to the mainland and help the development of the island. Then they quickly aimed the energetic self sufficient and in 2008, Eigg became the first place in the world to be autonomous in electricity by using the combination of solar panels, wind turbines and hydros.

In contrast to the tendency of other islands and remote places, they created and maintained a dynamic community life. Not only do young islanders return to settle, but the island offers an easy path for anyone wishing to live there to realise their dream and rent land for next to nothing. Today the community is composed by people of different ages, stories and origins with a certain love for the island as common denominator for all. All the community is spread along the one and only road of the island. Thus distributed, really different kinds of houses are consistent with everyone’s way of life.
The landscape too has been transforming due to the National Trust’s and islanders efforts in reforestation, the effects of which are already visible.

Now that the aim of self-government and self-sufficient has been reached, Eigg sees its population growing, a range of new activities appearing, such as music festivals, beer brewing or basketry, eco-center... The island produces all its own, sustainable, carbon-free energy, mixing solar, wind and hydroelectric power in an innovative system.
Eigg has just celebrated its 20th buy-out-anniversary looking back on this positive evolution.

This photographic work dwells on this little society and attempts to render the ambiance of the place. A portrait of a friendly community evolving a bit against the usual fate of isolated places.

Charles Delcourt