Glen Urquhart Community Council

Glen Urquhart Community Council

Meeting held on

Monday 28th March 2016 at 8.00pm

Blairbeg Hall, Drumnadrochit

1.  Present: Pam Lucas, John Duncan, Ken Fraser, David Fraser and Fiona Urquhart.

Also present were Dan Luscombe, Margaret Luscombe, Cliff Green and Donna Green, (STAG); Cllr Margaret Davidson; Jayson Drummond, (Green Highland Renewables); Val Cooper (Minutes Secretary) and 3 members of the public.

Apologies: Peter MacDonald and Stuart Ross.

2. Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes of the meeting held on 22nd February 2016 were adopted as a correct record (David Fraser / John Duncan)

3. Matters arising from minutes

Item 3 Community Emergency Plan – Further progress was being made within the subgroup set up to establish the plan.  Margaret Davidson advised that information relating to those with only electric heating might be available through the Highland Council and from Albyn Housing for their respective tenants.  

Item 3 Flooding – David Fraser advised that no response had yet been received from Highland Council in relation to flooding works in the village and he would continue to push for a resolution to the issues at Kilmichael and Balmacaan over the summer, thereafter it would be the intention to receive a commitment for works for the Drumnadrochit village area.

4. Treasurer’s Report

Peter MacDonald was not present at the meeting but had reported that the balance remains at £1567.80.  It was also likely that the funding for the next year would remain as present despite the budget cuts due to the rise in the electoral role locally.  

5. Policing Update

No officers were present at the meeting but the following report had been provided via email:

Road Safety – As part of Operation Route, 1 fixed penalty ticket was issued for a road offence.  There was one non injury Road Traffic Collision.  There has been an increase in issues regarding debris on local roads as is expected at this time of year.  

Public Protection – There have been a number of sheep worrying incidents by dogs.  Where possible there have been routine patrols around the village in order to prevent any public order issues.  There has been one incident involving disorder within licensed premises.  There has been a high profile missing person enquiry which is currently ongoing.  Police are grateful for the assistance the public has given and continue to request any information that would assist them.

Drugs / Alcohol Misuse – One incident of disorder in licensed premises.

Crimes of Dishonesty – None noted.    

6. Renewables

Green Highland Renewables River Coilte Hydro Development – Jayson Drummond was welcomed to the meeting and provided the following update on the proposal for a hydro system on the River Coilte.  This development is in partnership with Balmacaan Estate, Forestry Commission Scotland and Green Highland:

- The system will have two intakes, the main one will be 6m high, a hidden structure, situated within the gorge.  The second intake will be in one of the feeder burns and will be 1.5-2m high.  A buried 1m pipe will run the length of the system.  The structures will be non-intrusive with a large façade and a single pitched roof.  There will be one outfall.

- Some tree felling will be required and as many non-native species will be removed as possible, with the area being replanted with broadleaved native riparian species.

- A large quantity of waste has been dumped near the site over many years, this will all be removed.

- A disused Scottish Water weir will be removed, this will create a 1.5km length of good habitat for juvenile fish.  There was also a concrete slab protecting a Scottish Water pipe further downstream, if the pipe is no longer in use this slab could also be removed.

- Green Highland company directors will contact GUCC and Soirbheas in relation to community benefit.

- Work on site is expected to start in June or July 2016, with an anticipated completion date of September 2017.

- There will be no new overhead cables for the grid connection.  The details of the connection have yet to be finalised, Green Highland would be liaising with SSE for the best position, thereafter a buried cable will be installed.

- It was agreed that there would be no Sunday working on the site.

- The scheme would have an installed capacity of 1950kw.

- Lorry traffic to the site will vary throughout the different phases of construction.  It was anticipated that there will never be any more than an average of 3 lorries per day.  The development was happy to avoid certain times for lorry activity eg school opening and closing hours.  Pam Lucas would provide details of such times to Green Highland.  Action – Pam Lucas

Cnoc an Eas - proposed wind farm – A document of Supplementary Environmental Information (SEI) has been submitted by Force9 Energy and GUCC has made its response.   Soirbheas and Force9 Energy had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in relation to community benefit and the SEI was submitted immediately after the MoU was signed, the applicant suggesting that it indicated community support.  GUCC have always made it very clear that an MoU does not in any way provide support to a development, rather, the arrangement is set up to establish the best benefit deal possible in the event that a development does go ahead.  Entering into a MoU in advance of planning approval ensures that a developer cannot renegade on any informal agreement, as currently, there is no legal obligation on a developer to provide community benefit.  New Government Guidance (issued after the Cnoc an Eas application was submitted) now iterates that any agreement entered into is taken as a positive move in relation to planning, and it is unfortunate that GUCC and Soirbheas were not aware of this change.  Soirbheas have since written to GUCC confirming their neutrality with regards to the planning process.  This episode has been a learning curve for all involved, it was felt that it would have been helpful for Highland Council Planning Officers to advise Community Councils of the new guidance, especially those CCs currently involved in major new development proposals since community council members are not experts in these areas.  It was confirmed that GUCC has written to the Highland Council planning department reaffirming their position, and proposing that guideline 68 should not apply to this development as it was issued after the application had been made.  It was also confirmed that GUCC members would be meeting with Soirbheas representatives to discuss the situation and procedures for the future. It was agreed that GUCC were doing their best under difficult circumstances and thanks in particular were passed to David Fraser for all his work on this.

Druim Bha – The application has gone to appeal and no further update was available.

7. Roads

A831 – Pam Lucas advised that she had written to Highland Council regarding various issues on the A831 and invited a representative to drive the length of the road with GUCC members to see the various problems.  A date has not yet been received and a reminder will be sent.  It was clarified that a new speed limit was not being requested for the 12 mile stretch of road, but rather, extended on either side of the existing 40mph limit to include the Glentore and Upperton section, although a review of other parts of the road would be useful.  It was suggested that filling the road edges with rock might help prevent lorry trailers swinging when they hit the verges, as is happening at the moment.  It was also suggested that cutting back the scrub along the length of the road would improve safety, increasing visibility and allowing pedestrians to use the verges to walk on.  

8. Loch Ness Homes

No update available.  David Fraser advised that he would contact David Sutherland and John Fraser to request updates.  Action – David Fraser


9. Planning Applications

16/00905/PNO – Prior notification for Forestry related building works (non-residential) (road) land 325m north of Milton of Buntait, Glen Urquhart – noted.

10. Correspondence

- Sample received of Queen Elizabeth 90th birthday commemorative coin  – noted.

- Bear Scotland A82 Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit drainage improvements information letter (commencing Monday 18th April for two weeks, Monday to Friday 7am to 7pm).

11. Any Other Business

Facebook Page – STAG requested that information relating to the 11th April deadline for public submission of comments relating to the Cnoc and Eas windfarm proposal be included on the Glen Urquhart Community Facebook page.  Action – Fiona Urquhart

Dog Fouling – Some dog walkers are leaving poo bags hanging on trees in the Balnain forest area, which seems to be a ridiculous thing to do. A request was made for a posting to be put on facebook requesting members of the public to take dog mess home with them for disposal and reminding people that  there is now an £80 fine for dog fouling.  Action – Fiona Urquhart

Sunday Events – A member of the community had commented that an Alastair Crowley play had recently been shown at the Craigmonie Centre.  It was suggested that material such as this, with a possibly offensive content, should not be shown on a Sunday.

13. Details of Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 25th April in the Craigmonie Centre, Drumnadrochit.  

There was no further business and the meeting closed at 9.30pm.