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Minutes – May 2019

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.

Aquatera Ltd

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.

Cuddy Point

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.

Marauding Deer

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.

Management Accounts

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.


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.

Salt Barn


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.

Arnish Site

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.


There were three applications for noting.


There were five applications.


There were two applications for noting.


There were three applications.


There were two applications.


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.


Four intimations were noted by Trustees.


Trustees homologated the Factor’s approval of three applications.


There were seven items of correspondence for Trustees’ consideration.


There were six plans submitted.


There were seven documents requiring signature.



Report: April 2019 Meeting

The following is a report from the April meeting of the Stornoway Trust, which includes all the public business discussed.
Golf Club Lease
Having noted that the already protracted negotiations regarding the new lease agreement continue to remain unresolved, Trustees were disappointed to learn that the Club has dispensed with the services of its legal agent. It was agreed that eth Estate solicitor communicate the Trust’s concern to the Club, reminding them tha failure to conclude the agreement before the end of the year could trigger termination of the lease.
Point & Sandwick Power (PSDT) Joint Interim Project
Trustees noted that the 2018 community fund portion had been received.
It was agreed that a meeting of the members of the Joint Interim Committee from the two respective trusts, be arranged at the earliest opportunity.
LWP Equity Option
The Factor informed Trustees that since the Invitations to Tender were issued LWP terminated their interest in the Eishken project.
Following the review of submitted tender(s), there will be a need to consider how best to proceed given the transfer of ownership of the Uisinis project, to the landlord at Eishken.
HIE (Creed Park)
Trustees noted that the conveyance of Plots 1 and 2 will be settled on 1 May 2019.
Scottish Water – Back Tolsta Water Main
Trustees noted that terms over the acquisition of the land at Tolsta have been agreed with the Grazings Clerk. The acquisition of the plot in Back has still to be agreed.
Aignish 50b Application
Trustees noted that applications appealing the Crofting Commission’s refusal to grant the four townships consent under the 50B provisions of the Crofting Act have been co-joined by the court and will be heard in Edinburgh on 4th and 5th June 2019.
Melbost & Branahuie, Sandwick & Lower Sandwick and Sandwick North Street Grazings
Following the Land Court’s refusal to reject LWP’s Section 19A application, the respondents submitted their appeal to the Court of Session. Proceedings have been sisted to allow the section 19A hearing to proceed.
Financial Report
a) Authority to Change Bank Mandate
Trustees approved a resolution permitting the removal of the Trustees who have resigned, from the bank mandate, and to add the co-opted Trustees to the mandate.
b) SYT Land Ltd
Trustees appointed Mr Charles Bruce Nicolson and Mr Kenneth Angus Maciver to the board of SYT Land Ltd to replace Mr Colin Maclean and Mr Alexander John Murray.
c) Western Isles Development Trust (WIDT)
Trustees nominated Mr Donald Nicholson to replace Mr Colin Maclean on the WIDT Board.
Governance, HR & Finance Sub Group
It was agreed that all Trustees should be involved in this group, effectively turning it into a sub- committee of the Trust.
a) Pentland Windfarm
Trustees noted that the uplifted rent paid by Pentland Windfarm represented an increase of 11% on the previous year. The Factor informed Trustees that the performance would have been even greater but there were a number of planned, and unplanned shutdowns. The rent is divided 50:50 between shareholders and landlords.
b) Forsa
Trustees were pleased to note that the Scottish Land Court granted an Order approving the Section 19A Application on 29th March 2019, a written judgement is awaited.
c) Community Windfarm Consortium
Trustees noted that WIDT have approved the grant application submitted to help fund bird survey work on the proposed site. It is hoped that this work will start in the near future since two years of data is required.
As the Head of Consultations at OFGEM had indicated his willingness to meet, Trustees endorsed the decision for a delegation, including an officer from CnES to meet with OFGEM on Thursday morning at 9 0’clock in their offices in London. The object of the meeting would be to give assurances that the Trust (and the Comhairle) were focused on delivery and were aware of a number of small projects, which should lift the take up of capacity on the interconnector to over 520MW.
Castle Grounds Regeneration
Charles Nicolson informed the meeting that, as a Trustee, he could no longer represent the Comhairle on the Project Board. The Comhairle will nominate a new member in due course.
Trustees discussed the report prepared by the Project Officer. They were particularly concerned about the cost implication of the excavation of peat at the far end of the bastion wall. They accepted the Factor’s view that whilst this would require careful management by the Project Board, it had been fortuitous in leading to the identification of clay pipes draining into the Castle Green. This meant that an additional drain was required at the bastion wall but should also mean that the ongoing problems on the green are finally solved.
Trustees reiterated the need for frequent meetings of the Project Board and for the Project Team to be mindful of their responsibility to bring all changes and complication to the board.
Trustees were pleased to note that a Head Gardener and a Gardener had been appointed following the recent recruitment process.
Report on Allotment/Amenity Ground
Trustees noted that a list of all the allotments and amenity ground on the Stornoway Trust Estate has been compiled; there are more than 200 sites. A list of those with outstanding rents, absentee tenancies and other issues attached, has also been compiled.
The next stage is to source copies of the resumption plans, so that the Land Subgroup can clearly identify locations. However, it is anticipated that the Land Group will need to visit the individual sites.
General Estate Matters
a) Newton Sea Wall
The Factor reported that he had written to the Newton Tenants outlining the Trust’s longstanding view on the Comhairle’s ongoing obligation over the care and maintenance of the sea wall at Newton. A meeting had been convened by the Association to which the Trust, together with CnES and SPA had been invited but due to another commitment the Factor was unable to attend.
The attendees were informed of the Trust’s position, which concurred with the legal advice received by the Port Authority on the same issue.
b) Salt Barn
Trustees noted that the Comhairle’s Development Service Department has resurrected plans to establish a Salt Barn site at Marybank. The area is currently within the LWP lease but their engineers have confirmed that the proposal can be accepted provided it does not impact on their 8m straight road access requirement.
c) Community Asset Ownership Research
a) Trustees were pleased to note that Ms Helen Haugh, a Cambridge based researcher, funded through a Leverhulme Scholarship, has sought the Trust’s approval to include the formative years of the Trust in her research.
She also hopes to research the Leverhulme Archive at Port Sunlight and has offered to share her findings with the Trust. She has a personal interest in Historic Garden research in her spare time and has already identified folders within the Port Sunlight Archive which might shed more light on the design work and plant mix in the Grounds when Leverhulme was adding to the Matheson legacy.
b) Trustees agreed that it would be appropriate to create an Archive Subgroup to support the work being carried out by Mrs Fairbairn and Miss Macdonald in managing the valuable archive held by the trust.
While Mrs Catriona Murray and Mr Kenneth Maciver were nominated to form the group it was agreed that all Trustees be encouraged to participate in the work involved.
Additional Items
The meeting also considered the following:
– Two offers of pre-emption
– One application for title under the Crofting Reform (2010) Act
– Two applications for assignation of a croft tenancy
– Five applications to sublet tenancy of a croft
– One application for a feu
– One application for the transfer of tenancy of allotment/amenity ground
– Seven requests to use Trust land for charitable/community events.
– Nine notifications of croft registration
– Five applications for financial assistance
– One application for a wayleave
– Four plans submitted
– Five documents for signature
Cuddy Point
Trustees agreed that the Trust should facilitate a meeting between all users of the Cuddy Point facilities, with a view to establishing a management Group for the area. The remit of the group would be to fundraise for improvements and to manage access to the area, particularly the slipway and boathouse.
Scottish Land Court
Trustees noted a copy letter received from the Scottish Land Court in relation to the registration of land which formed part of a common grazings but excluded from land registered with ROS.
The Court’s conclusion mirrors the solution proposed by the Trust when the problem was first identified.

Iain Maciver: 25 Years as Factor

On Friday evening, staff, trustees and their spouses gathered at the Cabarfeidh Hotel to celebrate Iain Maciver’s 25th anniversary as Estate Factor.

The current Chairman, Norman Maciver , spoke of Iain’s dedication to the post, of his public conduct as Factor, and his impressive memory. He then presented Iain with a painting by Ivor Mackay, and an inscribed shepherd’s crook as tokens of the Trust’s appreciation. Mairi, Iain’s wife, was presented with a bouquet of flowers.

After Iain had responded with his characteristic display of memory, recalling his early years in post, further tributes were paid to him by former Chairmen, Coinneach Maciomhair, and Charlie Nicolson.

Coinneach regaled the company with recollections of colourful public meetings at which both he and Iain had been, and spoke of the legacy that has been built over the past quarter-century.

Charlie then spoke warmly of Iain as someone who had been a friend to his staff, and to the Trustees throughout his time in post. He echoed all that had been said about his integrity and capability, and wished him many more years as our Factor.

In case there are any budding historians, or eagle-eyes pedants among you, however, I am duty-bound to point out that Iain actually became Factor in 1993. You will realise, therefore, that his 25th anniversary fell in 2018. The official line is, that having been an election year for the Trust, other matters were bumped down the agenda for a time.

However, I can exclusively reveal that the delay was caused by the Trust having been all-male, a bit dim about anniversaries, and getting the date wrong.

Nonetheless, staff, trustees and – I am sure – the wider community would wish to pay tribute to Iain Maciver for his continuing commitment to the pivotal role of Estate Factor. We are proud of the manner in which he acquits himself, both publicly and in all his dealings with his team, and the trustees. It is our privilege to know him, and to work alongside him for the benefit of this estate.

Invitation to the Stornoway Trust Nursery – Tuesday 28th May

The Stornoway Trust Nursery, located above the sawmill in the Castle Grounds, has, thanks to a grant from the Postcode Lottery, been working on its rejuvenation now for almost a year. Initially tasked with propagating native trees to re stock the Castle Grounds, we have now branched out into other areas, including the growing of produce for the Woodlands Centre.

The Trust would like to invite people who have an interest in plant propagation, or an interest in what future plans we have for the site, to come  and see the growing facilities and talk about the different methods we use to propagate our plants, and the problems that can occur.  It will be an informal session with some entertainment.

We plan on hosting this session on the 28th May 2019 at approximately 10.30am.

In order to get an idea of numbers, can you please let the Estate Office know if you plan to attend, on or tel 702002

We look forward to welcoming you!

Stornoway Trust Nursery – Safeguarding our Ash Population for the Future

Amongst the Tree varieties we are planting up in the Stornoway Trust Nursery at the moment, one particularly interesting prospect for the future is ASH, (Fraxinus Excelior).

Picture from the Woodland Trust

At present there is a ban on transporting Ash due to Chalara Ash Die Back Disease, widely reported in Europe and in more than 150 locations on mainland Scotland and England.

This is a disease that was first identified on the UK mainland in 2012.  It is a fungal disease that attacks ash trees and once infected it is 100% fatal to the tree.  It has been estimated that at present 80% of ash trees in Britain have been lost to the infection and predictions are that eventually 95-99% will be lost.

Leaves are normally only infected by the airborne spores of
the fungus. Spores are produced on fallen ash leaves and
shoots in the litter layer usually between June and September
in the year after infection. The spores appear to be able to
disperse over tens of kilometres. Over longer distances the risk
of spread is likely to be via the movement of diseased ash
plants. Movement of logs from infected trees may also be a
pathway for spread although the risk of this is considered low

- Source the Woodland Trust

As far as we are aware Ash Dieback has not affected the Isle of Lewis, protected as we are by the expanse of the Minch.  This opens up the possibility that when the ban on the movement of Ash is eventually lifted, The Stornoway Trust Nursery may be in a position to be a much-needed supply of disease free plants for re stocking mainland areas from our locally propagated source.

It  would be an excellent opportunity to use our unique geographical location to help in the conservation of this important tree species.

Castle Grounds Project Update

Contractors working in the Castle Grounds have discovered a chamber below one of the paths. It is similar to another previously discovered, and has water running through into top of the area in which it is situated. Inside chamber there is a fireclay pipe in line with the swale above the path and an outfall into the top of the bowl.

The archaelogist has been notified and contractor has cordoned off chamber meantime.

The photographs show the view of the chamber opening from outside; and the interior of the chamber.

Landscaping chips for Sale at the Sawmill

Locally chipped landscaping bark

Landscaping garden bark from the Stornoway Trust Sawmill

Several useful benefits, including:

  • Minimal transportation – locally grown and chipped
  • Ideal for tidying garden borders, flower beds and paths
  • Reduces garden maintenance, suppressing weed growth
  • Improves moisture retention around plants
  • Helps reduce soil erosion caused by heavy and prolonged rain
  • Can be used to keep plant roots protected from frost
  • Long-lasting material

A bulk bag of Castle Grounds Landscaping Bark contains approximately 1m3 when packed and is available for pick up from the Sawmill in the Castle Grounds 

1m3 bulk bag £80

We will also shortly have available smaller bags – details to follow.

Please contact the Sawmill on Tel 700400 or the Estate Office on 702002 to place an order.

Pizza at the Woodlands Cafe!

Photo by Brenna Huff on Unsplash

Pizza is now available at The Woodlands Cafe!! 😍

Served from 12pm to 4pm

Available for sitting in and takeaway!

Keep an eye on  The Woodlands Cafe Facebook Page to be in with a shout for a free pizza as they will be running a “like and share” promotion this week.

The Woodlands Cafe are planning to extend their opening hours on Fridays over the summer for takeaway – more details to follow.

Deliberate damage to our Ecotoilet

Funded by the Scottish Landfill Community Fund

What a disheartening sight greeted our Grounds Staff this morning.  The Ecotoilet, which took so much effort to secure funding for, has been deliberately damaged.  The toilet paper holder has been smashed open and the toilet paper was piled into the toilet pan and generally spread around the unit.

Many Grounds Users over the years have asked about the possibility of facilities in the Grounds but the practicalities of getting services to a remote location has always been the challenge.  When we read about the environmentally friendly waterless toilets, which work simply using sunlight and wind, we were captivated by its possibilities.

Keen to secure one of these facilities for the Grounds, the Trust staff made a number of funding applications over a period of more than 6 months.  Finally in July 2018, we were successful in securing a grant from the Scottish Landfill Community Fund to fund a wheelchair accessible Ecotoilet.  The grant covered the capital cost of the unit and the Trust contributed the transportation and installation costs.

We had hoped a further funding campaign would secure a second Ecotoilet for somewhere else within the Grounds but incidences like these make that an uphill challenge.

On a more positive note, we have already got the team working on repairs so that locals and visitors alike are able to continue to use these facilities and we hope that this is  one-off incident that will not reoccur.

Food Miles Aware at the Woodlands Cafe

Today’s Special –
Crispy Chicken Caesar Salad served with Garlic Bread

The Stornoway Trust Nursery is coordinating with our Woodlands Cafe to reduce our Food Miles where we can find opportunities that are practical and possible.

Today’s special at the Woodlands Cafe is Crispy Chicken Caesar Salad served with Garlic Bread.  The salad leaves are straight from the Stornoway Trust Nursery and we hope to keep up a steady supply now as our crops mature.

The Garlic Flat Bread was made in-house in our New Pizza Oven – more about our Pizza offering later this week!  We hope the Nursery will be able to contribute to our Pizza menu too – oregano, basil, rocket and peppers are all in progress!