Glen Urquhart Community Council

Glen Urquhart Community Council

Meeting held on

Monday 23rd May 2016 at 8.00pm

Balnain Hall, Glen Urquhart

1.  Present: Pam Lucas, John Duncan, Ken Fraser, David Fraser, Peter MacDonald, Stuart Ross and Fiona Urquhart.

Also present were Cllrs Margaret Davidson and Jean Davis; Cliff Green and Donna Green, STAG, Janice MacRae, Balnain Primary School Headteacher, Constable Graham Prentice, Police Scotland, Malcolm Sutherland, ETAPE, Gillian Skinner, Chamber of Commerce, Julie Grant, Soirbheas, Val Cooper (Minute Secretary) and 2 members of the public.

Apologies: none received.

2. Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes of the meeting held on 25th April 2016 were adopted as a correct record (Fiona Urquhart / Peter Macdonald)

3. Matters arising from minutes

No items not already covered by the agenda.

4. Treasurer’s Report

Peter MacDonald reported that the balance stands at £1429.57, payments since the last meeting had included hall fees, Craigmonie Woodland Association donation (and letter of thanks received), purchase of a book token as agreed, and stationary costs.  

5. Policing Update

Constable Graham Prentice was welcomed to the meeting and provided the following report:

Road Safety – There have been 5 incidents relating to driving behaviour, 5 RTC’s and 5 incidents relating to road issues.  Current works on the A82 continue to be an issue.  As the  tourist season picks up there has been an increase in driving issues relating to bad driving as can be expected.

Public Protection – There has been one assault in Drumnadrochit.  There have been two fires.  Police have located the missing person Jason Gates and would like to thank the local community for their assistance in this matter.

Drugs / Alcohol Misuse – No incidents of note.

Crimes of Dishonesty – There has been 2 incidents of theft in Drumnadrochit.

There followed a discussion relating to the police response to a local crofter using crow traps.  Constable Prentice reported that the legislation relating to vermin control was very clear and it was the responsibility of individuals to ensure they keep up to date with any changes.    

Constable Prentice was thanked for attending the meeting.

6. Review of Loch Ness Etape 2016

Malcolm Sutherland was welcomed to the meeting and provided the following update of the 2016 event which was held on 24th April:

- Feedback from all agencies (eg Police Scotland, Traffic Scotland, Red Cross etc) and participants had been extremely positive.

- The results of the survey carried out after the event had highlighted the most positive aspects of the event being the scenery, location (iconic loch), and safety.

- There had been 4200 entrants (3300 in 2015, and 1250 in 2014), 80% of entrants lived in Scotland (93% in 2015), and 70% spent at least one night in accommodation near the event.  

- To date £170k had been donated to MacMillan Cancer Support and the organisers were confident of achieving the £200k target.  In addition a number of participants had raised donations for various other charities.  The figures have yet to be finalised.

- 230 locally recruited marshals had helped with the event and taken part in organised meetings and briefing sessions.  The local knowledge of the marshals had been advantageous to the running of the event.  Donations had been made to the organisations / charities the marshals had represented, for the GUCC area these had included Great Glen Outdoor Club, Balnain Parent Council, Glen Urquhart Shinty Club and Blairbeg Hall Fund.

- A donation of £500 would be made to an organisation in the GUCC area.  In 2015 this payment had gone to Blairbeg Hall.  GUCC to agree and confirm organisation to benefit from the 2016 payment.  Action – GUCC

- Visit Inverness and Visit Loch Ness had been the official partners working with the organisers in 2016 and had confirmed that they would be happy to continue this arrangement for 2017.

- The Drumnadrochit Chamber of Commerce had noted that there was no increase in business resulting from the 2016 event.  It was noted that the 2017 event proposed to have increased participant numbers with an anticipated positive knock on effect for outlying areas although it was agreed that the majority of participants would naturally choose to stay in Inverness.  The organisers continued to be happy to work with local businesses to promote the area and would welcome any ideas from the community for encouraging more visitors to the Drumnadrochit area.

- It was agreed that the same weekend in April would work well for the 2017 event (23rd April).  It was agreed that although participant numbers would increase, road closures would be kept to a minimum.

Malcolm Sutherland was thanked for his attendance and input to the meeting.

7. Renewables

Proposed wind farm at Cnoc an Eas – The planning application had been refused by Highland Council.  The developer has until 9th August 2016 to lodge an appeal.  It was noted that wind recording masts had been installed on site and it was agreed that data from the SSE mast at Shewglie would be useful to use for comparisons.  

Review of joint meeting between GUCC, Strathglass Community Council and Soirbheas – A meeting had taken place on 16th May.  Since Soirbheas was set up in 2009, the number of potential renewable schemes, (wind and hydro), that could impact on Glen Urquhart and / or Strathglass had increased significantly. In addition, recent Scottish Government Guidance had altered the planning status of agreements reached between community bodies and developers.  Both community councils have had to deal with contentious wind farm applications in recent years and the meeting sought to develop clear governance between the three parties in order that they work together for the best long term interest of the glens and wider community.  The meeting sought to establish what each party wishes from the relationship and ideas for consideration for the future, and to identify key challenges such as the recent Scottish Government Guidance.  

David Fraser advised that each party had summarised their aspirations / concerns regarding the GUCC / SCC / Soirbheas initiative. Several differences of priority, perception and aspiration were highlighted.  Difficulties resulting from the changes in Scottish Government Guidance related to shared ownership and community benefit were discussed. The changes had the potential to create significant problems in terms of negotiating community benefit. It was noted that the Highland Council had failed to keep community councils adequately informed of these changes.

It was agreed that the community councils will lobby the Scottish Government drawing attention to the danger of significantly disadvantaging communities and that David Fraser, Ian Campbell and Alan James would form a working group with the purposes of:

 a) Defining the regular financial reporting that the Community Councils would like to see from Soirbheas, whilst acknowledging the reporting commitments they already have to meet; and b) Setting the rules of engagement for Soirbheas for future renewable energy projects to try to maintain Soirbheas’s role as a neutral negotiating body. This may also include providing guidance to Soirbheas on the community wishes.  The meeting also acknowledged the work put in by the directors of Soirbheas on behalf of our 2 communities and thanked them for their continued commitment.

GUCC further discussed the need for clarity relating to all developments including micro-hydro systems, all of which should be administered by Soirbheas on behalf of the communities.  It was confirmed that external bodies such as FCS were happy to work through a company such as Soirbheas.  GUCC were also in agreement that if developments, (ie Cnoc an Eas), were to go to appeal it is vital that all organisations and groups in the community speak with one voice.  

Thanks were passed to David for all his work on these issues.

Shenval Hydro Scheme – It was noted that a planning application for connection to the distribution network had been submitted and would be considered under agenda item 9.  Julie Grant advised that Soirbheas were currently investigating the possibility of investing into this development and had only a 12 week timeframe in which to secure funding.  Soirbheas were also in discussion with Green Highland Renewables and Forestry Commission Scotland with regards to community benefit.  GUCC would be kept updated with any developments.

8. Roads

A82 – Margaret Davidson advised that she had scheduled a meeting with the new Transport Scotland North Manager, and representatives from BEAR Scotland and Scottish Water to discuss ongoing drainage issues in Drumnadrochit and on the A82.

Members were pleased to note the competed works to the layby on Loch Ness side and were in agreement that the new stone wall is particularly attractive.  Concerns relating to cars not getting off the road properly and inadequate bus bays were however noted.

A831 & A833 – Pam Lucas advised that she had met with Alistair Nairne from Highland Council to review the A831 and A833.  Line painting and filling in of potholes would take place on the A833, measurements had also been taken for the possible installation of a “stop” sign at the Culnakirk junction with the A831.  Erosion of the verges on the A831 was noted.  The possibility of a livestock crossing sign for Mill of Tore would be investigated, as would extension of the 40mph limit to the Upperton road end and to Mill of Tore corner, along with reducing the speed limit through Balnain itself to 30mph.  Janice MacRae, Head Teacher at Balnain Primary School was welcomed to the meeting and advised that she had recently met with Alan Bryce from Safe Routes to School and had discussed various issues including a 30mph speed limit in the immediate vicinity of the school, upgrading and extending the footpath from the main road to Balnain hall, and line painting and bus stop lines outside the school.  The footpaths around the school and on the A831 were used regularly throughout the school day.  The timings for the 20mph flashing signs had been adjusted to reflect school opening and closing times and GUCC suggested that direct control of the timings by the school would be advantageous (currently these are controlled by Highland Council).  GUCC also suggested that a crash barrier along the pavement / road edge from the school junction to the crossing would provide added safety.    

 9. Loch Ness Homes

16/01977/PIP – Erection of 1.5 storey dwelling house land NE of Ceilidh Tail Cottage, Drumbuie, Drumnadrochit – noted

16/01987/FUL – A 10.5km buried HV cable connecting Shenval hydro shcme to the distribution network at Corrimony windfarm Allt Seanabhaile, Shenval, Glen Urquhart – noted, plus endeavours of Soirbheas to secure community benefit were noted.

16/02173/PIP – Erect 3 houses land to south west of Dalmeny, East Lewiston, Drumnadrochit – noted plus concern re potential parking issues for an additional 3 properties to be highlighted to planners.

Loch Ness Homes – Margaret Davidson advised that the first meeting between Loch Ness Homes and community group was scheduled for 18th June.  Margaret had met with David Sutherland to discuss the commencement of work, the stipulation for a phased development, and a suggestion to hold a community exhibition before work begins.  

11. Correspondence

Items of correspondence already circulated to members by email.  

12. Any Other Business

12.1 Ardendrain Brae - A number of large dead elm trees pose a potential threat to the road.  Action - Margaret Davidson

12.2 New Kilmore – part of the perimeter wall of the old part of New Kilmore Cemetery has collapsed.  John Fraser (adjacent landowner) advised that he would arrange repair.

12.3 Drumnadrochit Pharmacy – David Fraser wished to reassure the community that while the building currently housing the Pharmacy is for sale, a 3 year lease was in place and the Pharmacy would not be moving.

12.4 Community Broadband – Margaret Davidson advised that she was producing an information sheet regarding the roll out of superfast broadband to communities.

13. Details of Next Meeting

The AGM following by routine meeting was scheduled for Monday 27th June in Blairbeg Hall.  

There was no further business and the meeting closed at 10.00pm.