The following is a report from the May meeting of the Stornoway Trust, which includes all the public business discussed.
Golf Club Lease
There was a detailed discussion regarding the Golf Club’s continued failure to sign their new lease. Trustees agreed that the Trust’s solicitor should be instructed to issue a termination notice, should the Club continue to fail to reach agreement with the Trust. They will be given the statutory notice period of 12 months from the date of the letter.
Trustees were unanimous in their agreement that alternative arrangements for the leasing of the property be deferred until later in the year.
Point & Sandwick Power (PSDT)
The Chair had been in touch with PSDT’s Chair and, although he welcomed the prospect of a meeting between trustees from both organisations, it was not possible to organize until June, due to holiday and other commitments.
HIE (Creed Park)
Trustees were informed that the conveyance had been completed.
Melbost & Branahuie Crofters v HIAL (or6572)
Trustees were informed by the Factor that the Scottish Land Court had confirmed that the settled case for the hearing has now been lodged. The date of HIAL’s appeal to the Court of Session is awaited.
Scottish Water – Back Tolsta Water Main (l39.15 & l39.16)
Negotiations are ongoing between Scottish Water and the communities involved in order to agree terms.
Aignish 50b Application
Trustees noted that appeals are being heard on 4 and 5 June in the Land Court in Edinburgh.
Melbost & Branahuie, Sandwick & Lower Sandwick and Sandwick North Street Grazings
Trustees also noted that these appeals will be heard along with the Aignish 50b Application.
Trustees noted that the Factor had shared the Trustees’ concerns over what appeared to be a deeply flawed planning application to the Comhairle’s Planning Department, and forwarded a copy of the correspondence stating the Trustees’ position to Aquatera.
The Factor informed Trustees that a meeting to discuss the formation of a management group had now been scheduled for Tuesday 28th May with the users of Cuddy Point.
The office has received reports of marauding deer in the Newmarket area, with local concerns expressed regarding perceived threats to health and wellbeing, particularly that of children.
While the reports suggest that stags are the problem the official stalking season for stags does not open until 1 July leaving the beat holders reluctant to shoot until the season is officially open.
The Trustees considered how to approach this difficult issue, and mindful of the Factor’s advice that all steps required appropriate licences and permission from SNH, concluded that the most sensible approach was to leave this operational problem with the Factor, in line with a previous decision. The Factor would liaise with the beat holders about any steps that could be taken at this time.
The Factor also updated Trustees on the Deer Management Group’s progress: a strategy is now in place. Trustees were well aware that the question of deer management polarises the community but hoped that this could be addressed through the recently established local Deer Management Strategy.
Trustees noted the report and Management accounts for the quarter to 31 March 2019.
As part of the review of the management accounts Trustees also noted that the Trust is still awaiting agreement from HIE about the rent review for the Arnish yard, and reiterated their disappointment that this has not progressed.
David Morrison presented the May report from Lewis Wind Power to the Trustees. He highlighted that the revised planning application had been submitted.
Trustees were updated on the visit to OFGEM in London on 2 May 2019, by Norman A. Maciver, Calum Maclean and the Factor, accompanied by Calum Iain Maciver of CnES. The purpose of the meeting was to further stress the importance of their consent in favour of a 600MW subsea cable to the Mainland. It was felt that the meeting was productive from all sides and the Trust will submit its consultation response along the lines discussed at the meeting by the 31 May deadline
Trustees noted the copy of the written judgement issued by the Court in relation to the Druim Leathann Section 19A.
The Factor informed Trustees that FORSA has recently been taken over by BayWa, a subsidiary of a large and successful agricultural co-operative established in Germany. The company is still committed to the Druim Leathann project, retaining the existing staff to continue their ongoing engagement with the community.
Community Windfarm Consortium
Trustees noted that details of the cost and scope of wind modelling is awaited in order to establish to what extent, if any, the proposed turbine layout could impact on the existing Arnish Moor site.
The Factor also informed Trustees that the bird study had commenced.
CASTLE GROUNDS REGENERATION
Trustees noted the progress report prepared by Jo Bagrie. These updates are shared regularly via the Trust’s social media account.
Trustees asked that the signage around the grounds be checked for visibility to help visitors find their way.
Trustees noted that the Comhairle has been asked to negotiate the provision of alternative parking with one of their current tenants.
Litter in the Castle Grounds
Trustees considered a report about the provision of litter bins in the Castle Grounds and decidedto remit consideration of the provision of bins to the Enterprise Subgroup.
Trustees agreed in principle to recommendation 3.2) to run a publicity campaign about the problemof littering in the Castle Grounds, subject to the details being determined by the Enterprise Subgroup.
Presentation by Mrs Helen Haugh
Trustees noted that Mrs Haugh had presented her findings to Trustees on Thursday 16 May. The next stage of her research will be at Port Sunlight and she hopes to be in a position to share the outcome with the Trust.
In her presentation, Mrs Haugh commented on the value of the Trust’s impressive archive and stated that she was surprised at how often it had to be referred to by staff during her visit. She also mentioned the valuable work carried out by the Trust’s former Archive Manager during her time with the organisation.
It was agreed that the Archive Working Group should be responsible for planning an exhibition as part of the Trust’s centenary celebrations in 2023.
The first meeting of the Archive group will take place on Thursday 30 May at 1pm.
Mountain Bike Trail Extension
The Factor updated the Trustees on the progress the group has made in seeking to create their own more demanding extension to the mountain bike trail.
They have identified a steep descent on the Gallows Hill track and will peg it out with the Factor’s approval. They hope to engage the help of a professional track designer and builder to help them plan and build the track and have asked if the Trust can help with the provision of the material required.
Trustees approved the project; agreed to the work being carried out, and to contribute the material required. The office was asked to check the insurance implications and ensure that the Trust’s insurance provider was kept informed.
From Brown to Green: A New Crofting Revolution in the Hebrides.
Trustees noted that Members of the Land Subgroup met to receive a presentation from a tenant of the estate, on how he believed the Island’s peat resource could be better utilised to help alleviate fuel poverty while also improving the crofting environment to the crofters’ financial benefit.
During discussion on this proposal, and having reflected on past schemes carried out in the sixties and seventies, as well as more recent attempts initiated along the lines he was proposing, the constraints of environmental designations, changing market needs and the questionable financial viability of these schemes were explained. The tenant was, however, informed that his proposals would be kept in mind should opportunities arise for their implementation to add value to LWP peat management options if their wind farm development is enabled to progress.
Trustees agreed that the tenant be thanked for taking time to convey his development proposal to the Trust.
Trustees noted that a visit organised through HIE gave the Land Subgroup members, accompanied by other Trustees, an opportunity to see the ongoing development within the site on 7th May.
Firstly, Martin Macleod led the attendees through the Seaweed Processing Plant, which is currently nearing completion of a multimillion pound extension aimed at enhancing the value and demand for the production on a worldwide market.
Secondly, the group was given a tour of the Fabrication Yard by Sean McCarthy of DF Barnes who confirmed that the manpower has been increased to eighty-five. The work is currently confined to offshore piling contracts while the company aspire to broaden the scope of their production in an increasingly competitive market.
APPLICATIONS FOR TITLE IN TERMS OF THE CROFTING REFORM (SCOTLAND) ACT 2010
There were three applications for noting.
APPLICATIONS FOR ASSIGNATION OF A CROFT TENANCY
There were five applications.
NOTIFICATION OF APPLICATIONS FOR TENANCY BY EXECUTRIES TO CROFTING COMMISSION
There were two applications for noting.
APPLICATION TO SUBLET TENANCY OF CROFT
There were three applications.
APPLICATIONS FOR FEUS
There were two applications.
APPLICATIONS FOR USE OF LEWS CASTLE POLICIES
There were three applications, which Trustees approved. The third – a late application on behalf of Pride Hebrides – was approved subject to clarification of the route to be taken, given that the Porter’s Lodge is currently a building site.
NOTIFICATIONS OF CROFT REGISTRATION
Four intimations were noted by Trustees.
APPLICATION FOR A WAYLEAVE
Trustees homologated the Factor’s approval of three applications.
There were seven items of correspondence for Trustees’ consideration.
There were six plans submitted.
DOCUMENTS FOR SIGNATURE
There were seven documents requiring signature.