Glen Urquhart Community Council

Glen Urquhart Community Council

Minutes of Meeting held on

Monday 22nd February 2021 at 8pm

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

             Also present: Councillor Margaret Davidson, Gordon Findlay, Calum Mackintosh, Bobo Morrison and Fraser Mackenzie.

             Apologies: Stuart McLeay and Councillor Helen Carmichael.

              Everyone was welcomed to the meeting.

2.       Minutes of the last meeting

The minute of the meeting held on 25th January 2021 was approved as a correct record (Dominic Thierry / Pam Lucas).

3.       Matters arising from minutes

Item 3 – To send follow up letter to Highland Council re littering and flytipping issues.  Agreed that this should also be cc’d to Margaret Davidson.  Action – Dominic Thierry

Item 7 - Pitkerrald road issues have been addressed.  Still to write to Tullochs about Old Kilmore and the actions to be taken so Highland Council can take over the parking area there.  Action – David Fraser  

Item 8 – To continue to liaise to ensure consultation with the Springfield Development.  Action – David Fraser

4.       Treasurer’s Report

David Ferguson provided the following report:

Our Bank account holds funds for, Community Council & Cnoc an Burraidh burial chamber restoration works.  At our last meeting in January, the total balance was £29,600.39.  In the last month, there has been some activity in our account so the balance has changed, details as follows;

£65.98 for paint, for Cnoc an Burraidh

£168.23 for printing of Community Newsletter

£120. for distributing Community Newsletter

 Community Council  (balance was £9390.14)

£7,500 is “ring fenced” for Loch Ness Tourism Strategy / Glen Urquhart Place

£9,390.14 – (£168.23 + £120)  New balance = £9,101.91

Cnoc an Buraidh  (balance was £20,210.25)

£20,210.25 - £65.98  New balance = £20,144.27

So new total balance is as follows; £9,101.91 + £20,144.27 = £29,246.18  It was confirmed that the printing and distribution of the newsletter costs should be deducted from the £7,500 and David Ferguson confirmed that he would update this for the next meeting.

5.       Police Report

The following report was received in advance of the meeting:

Road Safety – 4 x fixed penalty notices issued for road traffic offences including speeding.  A number of static road checks were carried out by local officers throughout the reporting period, however no major issues were identified.

Public Protection – Police continue to monitor local compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines. There have been no reported incidents over this period.  Following what appears to have been an accidental incident of a dog attacking sheep in a field in Drumnadrochit, local police request that all dog owners in close proximity to farm animals / cattle etc keep their dogs on a lead or under proper control at all times.  We are fully aware that sometimes accidents can happen but if dogs are kept under proper control then this will minimise the opportunities and ensure the welfare of the animals.

Drugs / Alcohol Misuse – No incidents of note.
Crimes of Dishonesty – No incidents of note.

David Fraser advised that he has been in communication with the local constabulary about speeding through the village and the results from road traffic survey from Borlum Bridge to Temple Pier.  In particular at Lewiston junction the average speed recorded was 32.4mph and 15% of motorists were doing 37 mph or more.  Local police will be keeping an eye on that junction, and are aware a lot of speeding in both directions happens during the early morning.  This has also been reported by Transport Scotland to the Road Safety Unit in Dingwall, and Bear Scotland are looking at options for traffic management.  David Fraser will continue to push for the results of the speed checks which were carried out at the Clansman.  Action – David Fraser

6.       Consultations

A)       Local Development Plan

GUCC newsletter will be delivered to all residents this coming week, encouraging engagement with the Local Development Plan and this includes two evening online meetings for discussion and information.  The community response needs to be finalised towards the end of March.  Three areas were forward by land owners for consideration, the Loch Ness Homes site which is under development, the Springfield area which is being finalised, and the field area behind the Health Centre up Balmacaan Road, which has been rejected by Highland Council.  An improvement with the current plan is that there is far less pressure on communities to have growth, and Drumnadrochit has already seen significant growth in recent years.

B)       Transport Scotland Strategic Transport Projects Review 2

A response is due by 31st March, the review makes some reference to the A82 but GUCC would want to push for some improvements eg north bound laybys and cycle route feasibility study.  Margaret Davidson advised that she had raised issues particularly relating to road safety with Kate Forbes recently too, and she had suggested calling a meeting with Transport Scotland which she would attend and would encourage the other Highland MSPs to also attend.  For the next meeting on 22nd March GUCC will need to have a clear proposal of how we will be responding.  David Fraser will work on this but would encourage other GUCC members to assist with this if possible.  Action – David Fraser / All

C)       Bhlaraidh Windfarm Extension

SSE Renewables have scheduled online exhibitions from 24th February until 12th March, with a live chat option available on the 24th, 25th and 26th February.  GUCC were in agreement that it was good to have these dates for discussion, however it would also make sense to have further opportunities for discussion available towards the end of the session when people have had time to look at the information.  GUCC will not make any formal response to the proposal at this stage and would encourage members of the community to find out as much information as possible at this stage so an informed decision can be made when it comes to planning.  It was agreed to contact SSE Renewables to request further live chat sessions.  Action – David Fraser

D)       Bunloit Estate Community Consultation

The consultation is currently taking place and includes a forum for Q&As.  There are a number of buildings being proposed which amounts to quite a significant development.  GUCC welcomes the web-based consultation and early engagement and will take a view when and if a planning application comes forward.  It is however important to be informed with all the information available prior to that.  

E)       Loch Liath Windfarm

GUCC recognised the need to discuss possible engagement with developers, in relation to the 3 potential windfarms in the GUCC area, particularly in relation to any community gain / benefit which would come should the windfarm go ahead.  Early engagement is a sensitive issue however this is one of the roles of Soirbheas, to engage carefully so it does not commit the community in any way.  GUCC members were in agreement with asking Soirbheas for their proposals and ideas on how they feel they could engage with the 3 different windfarms which are proposed whilst making it clear that engagement does not mean support, and then once that information is received GUCC can give Soirbheas a clear indication of how they should then move forward.  It was agreed that Fraser Mackenzie, Soirbheas Director would take this issue forward with Soirbheas, and liaise also with Strathglass CC.  If any of these developments go ahead there is a body in place which can deal with funding.  It was also confirmed that there is a written constitution of how this engagement should be conducted, and that this must be through joint agreement between GUCC, Strathglass CC and Soirbheas, and not the responsibility of one organisation.  GUCC were all in agreement with this course of action.  Action – Fraser Mackenzie

7.       Roads / Drainage / Winter Maintenance

A)       A82 Road

Speeding at Lewiston covered under the Police Report in Item 5 above.

Maintenance of footpaths along the A82, particularly between Drum Hotel and Temple Pier is the responsibility of Bear Scotland in terms of potholes and edges, and of Highland Council in terms of sweeping and vegetation cut back – there are a number of boulders which have fallen off the walls in this area and it would be good to have these replaced as well as sweeping undertaken.  It was agreed that David Fraser would contact both Highland Council and Bear Scotland to ask who is responsible for these works.  Action – David Fraser

David Fraser confirmed that he has contacted Bear and Transport Scotland regarding drainage, potholes, and water flowing across the road at the end of Temple Pier straight and will send a reminder.  He has also spoken to Kate Forbes about these issues.  Action – David Fraser

David Fraser advised that during the winter of 2021/22 Scottish Water will be digging up the road in the Drum Bridge area, however in the meantime, Bear Scotland has been asked to undertaking patching work and then schedule in resurfacing once Scottish Water have completed their work.

Streetlights from Drumloin to the pelican crossing at the Post Office have been out of action for the past few days.  David Fraser advised that he would report this issue.  It was noted also that the lights for the zebra crossing are not bright enough resulting in poor visibility in this area and Transport Scotland would be looking at ways of trying to brighten the lights in that area.  Action – David Fraser

B) A831 Road

Culnakirk potholes are getting increasingly bad as well as water washing down the hill as there are no offlets.  Margaret Davidson advised that she would request works in this area.  Action – Margaret Davidson
The road surface between Kilmichael and the junction at Drum Bridge is in very poor condition – see Item 8 below.
There are a number of bad potholes forming on the Glen road, and it would be good if Highland Council could check the length of it.  It is particularly bad at Strathnacro.  Action – David Fraser
Members of the community are encouraged to report issues via the Highland Council website .

8.       Scottish Water Updates

A)       Wastewater Treatment Plant

Members of the community have been requesting information regarding capacity for the village and its expansion.  David Fraser advised that he had met with Scottish Water representatives who advised that they would be undertaking an upgrade to equipment in the wastewater treatment plant, upgrading the equipment, this will involve installing a more efficient oxygenation system, which will result in the ability to treat larger volumes of wastewater.  See planning application in Item 9 below.  

B)       Water Mains Upgrades

Skye Builders have indicated that the water system does not have the capacity to support their next phase of housing.  Scottish Water will be upgrading the system from Kilmichael area to Drum Bridge and once this is done there will be sufficient water for the next stage of development and notifications of these works will go to households affected by the works.  This is currently programmed to take place before Easter, and thereafter it would be good to do resurfacing on this stretch of road.  For the Springfield development, Scottish Water will need to upgrade the system from Drum Bridge to the fire station and this is currently programmed for winter 2021/2.  GUCC representatives will meet with Scottish Water representatives in due course, and it is proposed to suggest that while these areas are dug up and exposed it would be prudent to also undertake work to upgrade the sewers and drainage.  It was hoped that road surface improvements would follow this work.

9.       Planning Applications

A)       Active Applications

20/04818/FUL - Erection of house and installation of septic tank and soakaway, land 180m south west of Birch Wood, Drumnadrochit - noted

21/00459/LBC - Alterations to house, installation of replacement windows and removal of flat roof porch, Allanmore Farmhouse, Pitkerrald Road, Drumnadrochit - noted

21/00463/FUL - Alterations to house, installation of replacement windows and removal of flat roof porch. Erection of boiler house and greenhouse, Allanmore Farmhouse, Pitkerrald Road, Drumnadrochit - noted

20/04848/FUL - Retrospective erection of a shed Achtermarack Farm, Drumnadrochit - noted

21/00537/FUL - Installation of pumpset kiosk, dosing unit, safety shower, blower units and pipework, Drumnadrochit Waste Water Treatment, East Lewiston, Drumnadrochit – noted

21/00525/FUL – Alterations, extension of building to form ancillary accommodation, Old Schoolhouse, Bunloit – noted

21/00594/FUL – Temporary siting of catering van, Fiddlers Bar, Drumnadrochit - noted

20/04756/FUL - Erection of caretaker's cottage, Incheachart Triangle, Bearnock, Glenurquhart – (this application was discussed following the meeting with Pam Lucas [neighbour to site] not in attendance) Members were in agreement to submit comments that the caretaker’s cottage should remain as such and linked to the accommodation development, that this construction reduces available parking for the pods, and perhaps should be compensated with additional parking elsewhere for the pods.  Safe and sufficient access for emergency vehicles is important as well as access for construction traffic.  Action – Fiona Urquhart  

B)       Highland Housing Alliance / Old Shop Site

David Fraser provided the following update:
In the last Local Development Plan, the site of the old shop was shown as being suitable for housing or commercial use knowing the Loch Ness Homes development would be going ahead and Scotmid would vacate the site.  The shop went on the market and one of the conditions of purchase was that it could not be a shop, and could only be sold as housing or another use which was not in competition with Scotmid. GUCC approached Scotmid with two requests; that old shop be demolished, which they refused, and that recognition of the shinty field and its requirements be highlighted to purchasers, again this was refused.  Highland Housing Alliance (HHA) and Highland Council purchased the site and developed a proposal for 17 flats within a building which would be higher than current shop with a pitched roof.  GUCC communicated with other community organisations and the unanimous feeling was that this was not a good option for the site.  Further discussions took place at local committee level and HHA came to a situation where they said that with community input they would consider a land transfer, demolishing the shop and swapping the playpark and car park, and putting in up to 10 two storey houses.  The community would then take ownership of the old shop site.  There has now however arisen a serious issue with insurance as playpark would be situated beyond the end of the shinty field.  GUCC, GURCA and GUSC are working together to look for a solution that works for the site.  If this fails, the default position of HHA is to go back to the 17 flats on the shop site.  More meetings will take place over the coming weeks to try and move this forward and these local committees are working their way through this difficult situation as best they can.  As soon as there is any clear progress to report or consult on information will go onto the community website.  GUCC do not want to create an unrealistic expectation or post details of commercial negotiations in public forums but are working hard to find the best solution that can be delivered and want to be able to consult on options which are all deliverable.   

Loch Ness Homes – There has been no liaison meeting for some time and it is proposed to ask for an update on future phases going ahead.  GUCC does not want a prolonged situation where the temporary huts remain on the connecting paths between the shop and the houses.  Action – David Fraser

10.       Correspondence

No correspondence not already circulated.

11.       AOCB

A)        Active Travel Update

The Working Group is continuing to push for funding for a proper footpath between Balnain and the forestry entrance, hoping for approval and then funding.  Works could be undertaken in sections, and GUCC will continue to push for this.  

B)       Forestry Buildings Balnain / Mens Shed Update

FLS have advised that until they work out their plans for Glen Urquhart on a wider scale they are unable to make any decisions relating to the buildings at Balnain.  David Ferguson advised that he would continue to liaise where necessary and would also keep an eye out for other possible locations for the Mens Shed.    

C)       Banking

Dominic Thierry advised that he had received a request from a member of the community with regards to the possibility of a mobile banking facility for Drumnadrochit as an alternative to the Post Office if that is no longer available.  It was noted that GURCA are monitoring the Post Office situation to try and ensure that we do not end up without this facility in the village.  The preferred option would be to try and keep the PO and its banking facility as a priority.

D)       Milton Playpark

It was noted that the playpark had recently been closed off.  Margaret Davidson advised that this had been done for Health and Safety reasons, along with many other parks locally, and this was a temporary measure until some improvements could be made.  It was unfortunate that prior warning had not been given and Margaret Davidson advised that she would seek to have further information for the next meeting to update members.  Action – Margaret Davidson

E)       Drumnadrochit Main Flood Prevention Scheme

David Fraser provided the following update on the flood prevention scheme:

Works were due to go ahead this year, and tree felling work has already taken place.  Correspondence to residents advised of a design issue and that works would not now take place this.  Margaret Davidson and David Fraser met with the design team, noting that the project was already very delayed, and the possibility of nothing happening before next winter would leave the whole of the centre of the village vulnerable.  Agreement was reached to go ahead with the section of works at Kilmichael and in Don Frasers field upstream of Drum bridge, and in doing so this will protect most of the village and the houses around Drum Green.  The problem with the area along the riverside behind the houses on Drum Green was that they had planned to dig a deep trench between the houses and the river and fill this with clay, which would then have a small wall on top of that.  It has since been established that this is not suitable for that location, and the proposal now is to instal a steel sheet pile wall with a small wall along the top – the finished result will look exactly the same as the original proposal.  This work is such that it can only be undertaken at the river between June and September, and if it is not done this year, then next year could have extensive construction works during a potentially improved tourist season which is not a desirable proposal.  As a result of the discussions a proposal was made to push for the sheet pile installation this summer and then the more cosmetic less intrusive work next summer, and this proposal is with the engineering unit of Highland Council at present.

There was discussion about these changes which included representation from residents where there was a general feeling of scepticism about the design change, and the communications received from Highland Council being less than open and transparent.  It was agreed that David Fraser would contact Highland Council to advise of the concerns raised, and to make strong representation that GUCC is fully supportive of as much work as possible taking place this year, to include river protection work to Drum Green area, as well as the need for a written assurance to residents that the second phase will be undertaken next year, and a commitment to meet with residents to explain the decisions made and answer any questions they may have.  Action – David Fraser

12.      Details of Next Meeting
The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 22nd March at 8pm, arrangements to be confirmed.  

David Fraser thanked everyone for their input.  There was no further business and the meeting closed at 10pm.