Glen Urquhart Community Council

Glen Urquhart Community Council

Minutes of Meeting held on

Monday 24th August 2020 at 8.00pm

via conference call

Due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19, and in line with government guidelines, the GUCC business was discussed and agreed via conference call.  Until restrictions are lifted the Community Council will aim to produce a monthly agenda and report using the standing timetable. If anyone wishes to join the next meeting via conference call please contact any member of the CC.

1. Present: Dianne Fraser (Chair), Pam Lucas, Stuart Ross, Fiona Urquhart, David Ferguson, Dominic Thierry, and Val Cooper

Also present: Councillor Margaret Davidson, Debbie McWhirr, Gordon Watson, and Sandra Reid, Forest & Land Scotland.

Apologies: David Fraser and Councillor Helen Carmichael

2. Minutes of the last meeting
The minutes of the meeting held on 22nd June 2020 were approved as a correct record. (Dominic Thierry / David Ferguson)

3. Matters arising from minutes

Item 3 - Glen Urquhart Signage – Approval received from Bear Scotland, now awaiting Highland Council approval. Action – David Fraser

Item 3 - Old Kilmore Car Park – Site meeting to be arranged when restrictions are lifted.  Action – David Fraser

Item 3 - Beechwood Access – Work completed and report issued to Highland Council.

Item 7 – To contact New Start regarding contributions to local larders – Completed and funding route now closed.

Item 10 – Planning – response sent to Highland Council re application 20/01946/FUL.

Item 10 – Scotmid Site – response awaited from Highland Housing Alliance re site proposals.

4. Treasurer’s Report

David Ferguson provided the following report:

Our Bank account holds funds for Community Council and Cnoc an Burraidh burial chamber restoration works.  At our last meeting in June, the balance was £42,506.21.  For clarity, the accounts have been split into two parts;


Current Balance

Community Council funds total £10,060.19 of which £7,500 is “ring fenced” for Loch Ness Tourism Strategy / Glen Urquhart Place Planning.

Cnoc an Burraidh funds total      £29,524.59

In the last month, we have had some movement in our account detailed as table above.

Latest Bank statement issued 14th August 2020, the balance is £39,584.78

5. Police Report

The following report was submitted in advance of the meeting:

Road Safety – On the 28th of July 2020 two drivers received fixed penalty notices for driving offences on the A82 at Drumnadrochit. On the 31st of July 2020 there was a minor collision on the A82 at Borlum farm. No offences were identified and no one injured. Officers are aware of issues with trial bikes on the path at Balmacaan woods. Patrols have been conducted when able and members of the public are encouraged to contact police when this antisocial behaviour is observed so a response can be mounted in the hope of identifying offenders. If anyone has concerns re speeding in particular areas please contact your local officers so activity can be focussed on the problem areas.
Public Protection – No incidents of note.
Drugs / Alcohol Misuse - On the 1st of August 2020 on the A82 at the junction with Balmacaan Road a male was arrested for breaching bail conditions and another was given a police warning for their disorderly conduct. This incident has been deemed as alcohol related.
Crimes of Dishonesty – No incidents of not.

Other - On the 4th of August 2020 there was a report of damage to the public toilets at Drumnadrochit car park. Enquiries are ongoing into this crime. On the 16th of August 2020 there was a report of youths causing annoyance near to Borlum Farm, Drumnadrochit. Enquiries are ongoing to trace and speak with these youths.  
Police are aware of reports of campervans and caravans staying overnight and acting in an anti-social manner in the Drumnadrochit car park.
Police have liaised with the relevant department of the Highland Council (Traffic Management and Control – Inverness, IV11NH) and appraised them of the situation. Police have been advised that overnight parking of campers and caravans lies with the Highland Council to deal but reports of anti-social behaviour of such persons can be investigated by police to identify any offences when reported. Traffic Management at the Highland Council are now fully aware of the issue and police encourage members of the public to reach out to them to highlight ongoing issues with overnight parking in this area and any others in the local area.
Police are also aware of the discussion around littering and this ongoing problem. Police will liaise with the environmental health department of the Highland Council to support them as efforts are made to identify offenders and patrol the areas.  

Please can we remind all Community Councils to pass any requests/information to the section email address

If members of the public have any issues which we can assist with then please inform the Community Council who will pass them on to us.  

Members noted the Police comment in relation to littering, and Margaret Davidson confirmed that all Highland Council were able to do was to clean up, and indeed, the workforce should be commended for their responsiveness and the many unsavoury areas they have had to deal with.  If there are any particular problem areas this information can be passed to Margaret Davidson and she can ensure they are dealt with.  Campervan waste continues to be a particular problem, and Highland Council is trying to get investment in toilet facilities around the Highlands, however budget restraints continue to make this extremely difficult.  Issues of noise, littering, lack of social distancing etc are police matters.  It was agreed therefore that Dominic Thierry would write to Carron McDiarmid at Highland Council to ask for statistics relating to the number of charges which have been imposed upon individuals for littering, and to raise the question of signage advising against littering and the implications of doing so, it was hoped that signage might act as a deterrent.  Members were in agreement that they should take any steps possible to mitigate these instances of littering, and to work with key agencies in doing so.  Other options discussed included working with the local schools to arrange litter pick-ups, and press releases showing local beauty spots which have been adversely affected by littering.  It was further agreed that David Fraser and Dianne Fraser would draft a letter to local MSPs to raise this Scotland wide issue in Parliament.  Action – Dominic Thierry / David Fraser / Dianne Fraser

It was also noted that the issues of motorbikes in Craigmonie wood area, and speeding at Borlum Bridge area have been reported to Police Scotland.

6. Glen Urquhart Active Travel and Cycleways

Gordon Watson was welcomed to the meeting and advised that the Working Group have done analysis of possibilities and devised a wish list of routes and options which could be explored and might be feasible for work.  David Fraser has liaised with Forest and Land Scotland (FLS) and the Woodland Trust to get their input.  Possible funding streams are being explored by the Working Group and the first phases of work might involve creating a proper footway in Balnain from the forestry entrance to Balnain Hall, visitor signage, routes around Drumnadrochit, and connecting up paths to make them more multi use.  Discussion is also taking place with the Woodland Trust and FLS representatives to discuss linking up the Affric to Kintail Way, and with Craigmonie Woodland Group to discuss signage etc.  The Working Group still needs to liaise with landowners who might be affected by some of the items on the initial wish list.  Thanks to Gordon and the other members of the Working Group for the work they have undertaken.  Dianne Fraser confirmed that she would set up the next meeting of the Group to continue to move things forward.  Action – Dianne Fraser

7. Forest and Land Scotland Updates on Craigmonie and Balnain

Response received from Duncan Cameron, Civil Engineer, FLS, “Craigmonie progress – Approximate 3000 metres of the paths have been scraped of debris and new culverts installed to create a temporary access road for construction work, this has taken 2 months so it’s good to now get stone brought in to construct the path surface and reduce the access road to 1.5m for the path.  The path is now complete at the bottom of the site.  Forwarder tracks across the hill have been landscaped and are already greening up.  By the end of September the trails should be open again”.
Balnain Forest Entrance – “This is planned to be surfaced with asphalt next year. To carry out these repairs the carpark and forest will have to be closed for the duration of the works, this will alleviate recurring potholes in that area”.
Balnain Lochletter Wood – “Re uneven surface, the next time we are working in the woods I will look to sort this”.

Sandra Reid, FLS was welcomed to the meeting and reiterated the above notes, she also added that there was a delay with the installation of the bridge, and it may be October before it is reinstated.

8. Flood Alleviation Schemes

a. Drumnadrochit Green Scheme - Delayed until early 2021, monthly updates have been requested to ensure we have early visibility of further details.  Highland Council have confirmed that funding and planning is in place, and Margaret Davidson will continue to work to try and bring the start date forward.

b. Balmacaan / Lewiston - Following the problems last winter Highland Council, Woodland Trust and Forest and Land Scotland have revisited the options to manage excess water getting onto Balmacaan Road in the vicinity of Balmacaan Farm. One option being looked at is using the old Duck Pond for attenuation. Neighbours on the downstream side had previously expressed concern that this may cause changes to ground water levels. To gather facts about the relationship between water level in the pond and ground water near the houses a gauge has been installed in the pond and a borehole in one of the gardens. The borehole is 10m deep and no water was found, this will be monitored over the winter.  A letter would be sent to residents of Balmacaan / Lewiston.  Action – David Fraser / Margaret Davidson

9. Roads / Drainage

Update on A82 work from Keith Black - “Due to the ongoing Covid 19 issues, FLS will not be carrying out any tree felling operations this year. (there will be a need to deal with a suspected diseased tree and this will be a one day operation).  Felling work has been re-scheduled with a target date of October 2021.  To facilitate this we will still have to carry out geotechnical surveys and install safety fencing in the Bark Sheds / Grotaig area.  It is likely that this will be through the winter months and will mean some work under traffic control measures (traffic lights), to ensure the safety of our workforce as well as the public using the road.  When I have firm dates for these works I will be in contact again to discuss with you. In the meantime should there be any questions around FLS working on the A82 then please do not hesitate to contact me”.

A82 Road – Response received from Transport Scotland;
Drainage improvements for the section of the A82 from Clansman to Abriachan – “With regard to the roadside drainage issues specifically between Abriachan and the Clansman, BEAR have advised that the problem appears to be sections of old filter drain where surface water is having difficulty penetrating through the top layer.  In these locations, surface water can accumulate at the low point and cause localised ponding.  At sample locations BEAR have already broken through the top layer to find an effective filter drain beneath which is able to cope with the surface water draining into it.  Consequently, BEAR now intend to address all areas of filter drain along this length where the roadside filter drain has become compacted.  At each of these locations, they are to remove the upper layer of compacted filter drain and to replace with new stone.  They are confident that this action will result in the carriageway surface water to be able to drain away successfully thereafter. BEAR intend to carry out this work in the autumn”.

Rocks lying by the side of the road – “There are a few locations on the A82 which are affected, and BEAR intend to catch these all at the same time. This work is scheduled to be carried out within the coming weeks”.

Speed monitoring at the Clansman Hotel – “As agreed at our meeting, a speed count was to be carried out during a non-tourist season month and one during a tourist season month. The first speed count was carried at the end of March of this year. It was on a 24/7 basis and speeds were recorded from 24/03/20 to 30/03/20, inclusive. A summary of the findings are as follows:

7 day mean speed was 55.8 miles / hour

7 day 85th percentile was 63.8 miles / hour.

The tourist month season speed count was carried out only a few weeks ago, at the beginning of August. The speed count data captured during this time is still being processed by the Traffic Consultant concerned. As soon as this becomes available, I shall forward it on to you”.

White Lines to be removed at the new roundabout at the Health Centre – “The white lines in question are to be removed with a piece of machinery, known as a Hydroblaster.  It is specialised equipment using high pressure water jetting, rather than the traditional hot air lance.  The Hydroblaster is considered to be more environmentally friendly.  The equipment comes from England and BEAR are currently in the process of organising matters.  If all goes well, I would hope the lines would be removed before the end of September.  Whilst the exercise will be able to remove the lines, a slight shadow will remain on the carriageway in the short term, which should disappear over time through wear.  This is a situation brought about from a fresh piece of road being exposed to the elements which had up until then been covered by a layer of paint.  That aside, I do not envisage this posing a problem on site for motorists in their understanding that the roundabout will no longer be two lanes”.

A831 gulley cleaning – Margaret Davidson confirmed that she had spoken with Alan Johnson who confirmed that he would do his best to attend to this before the winter.  

Surface water in village and Pitkerrald road – Still outstanding issues and an update is awaited.

10. Planning Applications

20/02305/FUL - Alterations and extension, Meall Gorm, Culnakirk, Drumnadrochit - noted

20/02242/FUL - Erection of storm porch and garage, Cnoc Brae, Culnakirk, Drumnadrochit – noted
20/02160/FUL - Erection of a replacement reception building and the siting of five holiday pods, Ancarraig Holiday Cottage Park, Bunloit, Drumnadrochit – GUCC has put in a response.
20/02778/FUL - Alterations and erection of extensions to house and formation of access
, Tigh Ban, Bunloit, Drumnadrochit – note concern re ongoing issues re water and road, response to be submitted Action – Fiona Urquhart
Local Plan – Response received from Highland Council, “Following on from your submission to the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan (IMFLDP) Call for Sites in Spring/Summer 2019, I would like to provide you with an update on progress.  Unfortunately various factors have delayed the plan preparation process.  The COVID 19 outbreak has inevitably caused disruption, with some staff being redeployed to high priority front line services.  Whilst a small number of staff continue to be engaged in redeployment activity, development plan work has continued as much as possible.  It is likely that the plan will play an important role in addressing both the Climate and Ecological Emergency and the medium to longer term economic recovery from the COVID 19 pandemic.  The delay is giving us a chance to monitor the Council’s economic recovery board to understand the emerging recovery action plan and align this with the emerging plan as much as possible”.

“We recently had our Development Plan Scheme approved at Committee which confirms our aim to seek approval for the Main Issues Report (MIR) for the new IMFLDP from relevant Area Committees, and then finalise and issue the MIR for public consultation, before the end of the calendar year.   We will look to use social media to keep people up to date on the plan over the next few weeks/months.  We will also let you know by email the date of the publication of the Main Issues Report when it is confirmed”.

Margaret Davidson added that she was aware of large areas of zoning for housing in villages, and has raised concerns about this, highlighting the need for safeguarding for the future.  She was also aware that side roads under severe pressure in many places, as a result of increased housing and no improvements to unadopted.  It was hoped that new policies would be included to address both of these issues.

11. Correspondence

Urquhart Castle – Reopened with visitor numbers limited.

Highland Small Communities Housing Trust – Request for nominations.

HIAL Air Traffic Management Strategy – request for members of the public to join the consultation on the assessment of the impacts of changes to air traffic control arrangements.

12. AOCB

Street Name – The new street name was formally agreed as “Balantraan”.
Housing - Margaret Davidson advised that Highland Council were looking into the purchase of 6 houses in new Skye Homes development for rent to buy scheme.  If demand is there for this type of scheme then it could also be proposed as an option for the Highland Housing Alliance’s business model for the Scotmid site.  It would be requested that any such housing is offered to local people in the first instance.  

13. Details of Next Meetings
The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 28th September 2020, arrangements to be confirmed.  

There was no further business and the meeting closed at 9.10pm.