Category Archives: reports

Report of Trust Meeting – September 30th, 2019

Report on business discussed at meeting of Stornoway Trust on September 30th, 2019.

LWP Report

Trustees were reassured that the project management team of LWP remain committed to the Stornoway Wind Farm project.  The LWP Board meeting is due to take place in October at which the way forward will be discussed.

Trustees confirmed that they remained fully supportive of the project.

Trustees concurred that continued engagement with OFGEM and politicians may be required address the disadvantage faced by island generators trying to compete in the renewable energy market.

LWP’s plans for early engagement with grazing committees to convey how they plan to progress the Stornoway Wind Farm project were warmly welcomed by trustees.

Monthly Progress on Parks for People Project – Lews Castle Grounds Regeneration

Trustees noted the report prepared by the Project Officer, and noted that the next meeting of the project board would take place on October 9th. Improvements to the decking and carpark at the Woodlands Centre are almost complete, and the removal of a willow tree from the Shoe Burn now affords a nice view up to the Matheson Bridge.

Stornoway Trust has requested that the contractor extend the central drain on the castle Green by 60m in an effort to pick up outlets for the Castle. Once this work is complete, reinstatement of the green can commence.

Work in the private gardens is almost complete, and the rebuilding of the bastion wall is well underway, with an anticipated completion time of spring 2020.

The Scottish Civic Trust’s sculpture will be stored until work on the sea wall is completed, and will eventually be installed by the junction of the shore road, between the Castle Green and Gardener’s Cottage.

Management Accounts

CIB Services presented the management accounts for the first quarter to the Trustees which showed that the underlying position was in line with the budget.

Golf Club Lease

Given the late arrival of the response from the Golf Club, trustees felt that they had insufficient time to consider the submission, and agreed to remit the matter to a special meeting to which the estate solicitor would be invited.

The Factor will, in the interim, acknowledge receipt of the email.

Melbost & Branahuie Crofters v HIAL

Trustees noted that the Grazings Committee has been made aware that the Trust will hold the reletting of vacant shares in abeyance until the outcome of the HIAL challenge to the Court of Session is determined.

Water Extraction Project

The Factor reported to Trustees that the first shipment of water had been canned and the company is now seeking outlets for its product.

Cuddy Point

The Factor reported to Trustees that a further meeting will be held with stakeholders to discuss future development/management options for Cuddy Point.

Renewables

OFGEM Consultation Response:  Transmission link to Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

Trustees expressed concern that Stornoway Wind Farm’s lack of success in the recent CfD auction could undermine the Islands’ Needs Case, and the outcome of Ofgem’s impending decision on the 600MW subsea link to Arnish.

General Estate Matters

  1. i) Salt BarnTrustees noted that plans for a proposed layout have been completed showing how the site can be leased and used by third parties who may also have an interest in the site.
  2. ii) Litter in the Castle Grounds Trustees noted that arrangements are in hand to provide replacement bins at key locations within the Grounds.  Talk with other stakeholders are ongoing over a more coordinated approach to litter management with the Castle Grounds.
  3. iii)    Nursery Report Trustees noted the report prepared by the Nursery Supervisor and were pleased with the progress to date.  They asked the Estate Office to arrange a visit to the Nursery for all Trustees.The Supervisor reported that the polytunnel for service user groups was now ready to be occupied, having had a new cover installed. A second open day was planned for late September, and both HHP and Citizens’ Advice had agreed to attend, and it was hoped that this would open up opportunities for new user groups to become involved, in an effort to tackle social exclusion in partnership with other organisations.There is to be more collaboration between the Nursery Supervisor and Woodlands Manager in order to plan crops which can be grown by the former and used by the latter.New plants have been brought in by the Head Gardener and the Nursery Supervisor has been making could use of the hydropod to propagate new plants from cuttings he has collected. The Stornoway Trust Nursery is also grateful to friends who have donated plant material for this purpose too.
  4. iv) Gardener’s Report

 Trustees were similarly pleased with the progress recorded in the report from  the Head Gardener.  Trustees asked the Factor to relay their appreciation of the work carried out to date to the Nursery and Garden staff.

Work has been continuing to keep paths clear of weeds and fallen leaves, and to tidy the verges.

There are more than 600 perennials – thanks to the help from the nursery – ready to plant in the spring. These include wallflowers, lupins, hollyhocks and delphinium for the borders, as well as ox-eye daisies, forget-me-nots and pansies for the woodland flower beds.

At present, a delivery of bareroot trees is awaited, ahead of the first phase of woodland restocking, which will begin in late autumn. Meantime, fallen trees are being removed, and there has been some thinning out of sycamore saplings, mainly in the area around the private gardens/Lady Matheson’s monument.

The Gardens team is also beginning to build stone flower beds, and has been exploring sources for Victorian rose species as part of the renewal of the private garden

.v) Woodlands Centre

Trustees were informed that the new manager was now in post and the service was moving forward.

It was suggested that the planned visit to the Nursery should include the Woodlands and the private gardens so that Trustees could view for themselves the completed works.

Trustees also discussed the following:

OFFERS OF PRE-EMPTION

One offer of pre-emption.

CROFTING COMMISSION

Notifications to Landlord

Trustees noted that two notifications of decrofting, and two notifications of assignation of croft tenancies have been received. There were four notifications of succession of croft tenancy.

APPLICATION FOR TITLE IN TERMS OF THE CROFTING REFORM (SCOTLAND) ACT 2010

Trustees approved four applications seeking title under the terms of the Act.

APPLICATION TO ASSIGN CROFT TENANCY

Trustees approved six applications to assign croft tenancies.

APPLICATION TO SUBLET TENANCY OF CROFT

Trustees approved one application to sublet.

APPLICATION TO DIVIDE CROFT

Trustees approved one application to divide a croft.

APPLICATION FOR APPORTIONMENT OF COMMON PASTURE

Trustees supported the submission of one such application to the Crofting Commission.

APPLICATION FOR USE OF LEWS CASTLE POLICIES

Trustees homologated the Factor’s decision to grant permission to one applicant.

NOTIFICATION OF CROFT REGISTRATION

Trustees noted that intimation of three such registrations had been received.

DISCHARGE OF STANDARD SECURITY

Trustees homologated the Factor’s decision in granting this to one applicant.

APPLICATION FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Trustees agreed to the request for a donation of wooden toadstools to Laxdale Primary School.

CORRESPONDENCE

 There were four items of correspondence, with one additional late item held over for a special meeting.

PLANS SUBMITTED

Trustees noted that two notices had been served on the Trust in terms of local planning legislation.

DOCUMENTS FOR SIGNATURE

Trustees homologated the signature of five documents.

Castle Grounds Regeneration

We are very pleased with the progress being made with the project – the lantern on top of the Boatman’s Tower now has a roof, and the new bastion wall already extends to 20 metres, having only been commenced on Monday! Thanks to everyone working so hard to make this project a success, and restoring the Castle Grounds to their former glory.

Report on the Trust Meeting of August 26th, 2019

The following is a summary of the discussion which took place during the August meeting of the Stornoway Trust.

Trustees joined in paying tribute to the late Fiona Cowan, who passed away on 21st August. Ms Cowan had been a member of the Trust from 2006, until 2012, the first woman to be elected, and contributed much during her term of office. She continued to be a supportive friend of the Trust after her period of trusteeship had concluded, until ill health sadly prevented her from visiting the Estate Office.

The Factor was asked to convey the condolences of trustees and staff to her family at this difficult time.

LWP Report

The LWP report, presented by David Morrison, provided an update on a number of issues, including:

  • Most of the consultation responses have been received and there will be some follow-up meetings;
  • Preparations are underway for the 19a Land Court hearing, scheduled to begin on 22 October.
  • EDF attended a meeting in Stornoway on 25 July of the proposed consortium to examine the feasibility of local hydrogen production.

Mr Morrison reported that the timetable for the CfD auction has been extended by approximately two weeks but this is not expected to delay the announcement.

Goathill Farm

Trustees noted that the process of conveying ownership of the strip of ground back to the Trust is progressing with HHP’s Solicitors now involved in the matter.

Golf Club Lease

The Chairman, having previously shared with Trustees an email from the Club Captain informing him that a Solicitor’s letter, outlining the Club’s response to the draft lease, had been sent to the Estate Office, informed the meeting that the said correspondence had not been forthcoming.

Trustees expressed their dissatisfaction over the Club’s handling of the matter and further discussed reports of adverse and ill-informed comments on social media.  Perceived to have emanated from sources within the Club, and regarded to be attempts to discredit the Trust, Trustees asked that such behaviour be monitored and appropriate action taken to address such posts if required.

Point & Sandwick Development Trust (PSDT)Joint Interim Project

Trustees noted that a meeting between the respective Trust members is still to be arranged and decided that the balance of this year’s fund, amounting to £15k, should be rolled over into next year.

HIE (Creed Park) and Arnish

Trustees noted that the finalisation of the lease arrangements for the new tenants at Creed Park is in hand.

Trustees then discussed the lack of progress on the Arnish lease and expressed frustration at the continued lack of movement on this matter.

Melbost & Branahuie Crofters v HIAL

Trustees noted that while this matter is still progressing via the Court of Session, it is understood that parties are in discussion towards reaching a more amicable settlement.

In the meantime, the Factor is in correspondence with interested parties with regard to the vacant shares which have largely occurred on account of croft land being subsequently removed from crofting tenure as a result of the MOD occupation of the affected crofts.

Monthly Progress on Parks for People Project – Lews Castle Grounds Regeneration

  1. Trustees noted the report prepared by the Project Officer. Ms Bagrie updated the Trustees on progress with the Woodlands Decking. A price is awaited by the contractor for treated timber for the wooden joists and they hope to be able to confirm cost and timetable later in the week. Although this has caused a delay the effect should be minimal.
  2. The Chair stated that the Project Board had requested that financial summaries were to be presented to every Board meeting in order to keep members abreast of ongoing project costs.
  3. Trustees noted that Ms Riona McMorrow of the Heritage Fund will be here in early September and that the project monitor will be visiting the site later in the month.

Trustees discussed the ongoing issues with the Castle Green. The Factor explained that it was now clear that there were a number of old drains discharging into the Green, including ones believed to be from the Seaforth Lodge era. The proposed Bastion Wall drainage should solve some of this problem but further work will be required to capture all newly-exposed outlets from the Castle.

Whilst he shared the Trustees frustration he advised that the critical issue now was to ensure that a solution was found.

Scottish Water – Back Tolsta Water Main

Trustees were pleased to note that Scottish Water have resolved the outstanding issues with the tenants and are now in a position progress the notification and consents process with the Trust.

50b Applications

Trustees noted that the Trust’s Solicitors have sought to recoup, at the Trust’s behest, the legal expenses incurred at the recent Land Court Hearings.  Given that Appeals lodged to the Court challenging the Crofting Commission decision to refuse the four 50B Applications, submitted on behalf of the four crofting townships, were deemed to be against the best interests of the wider crofting community, the Trust felt it necessary to participate in the support of the Commission’s findings.

Trustees were disappointed to learn that the Land Court’s decision in support of the Commission refusals is likely to be further challenged on behalf of the Applicants in the Court of Session.  Of concern to the Trustees is their apparent determination to incur significant costs at the community’s expense, on a mission which, should they succeed, endangers the future development of additional wind generation across the Stornoway Trust Estate, and thereby exposing the Trust’s own community equity aspirations to unwarranted risk.

Water Extraction Project:  Loch Mor a Chrotaich, Arnish Moor

Trustees noted that the first extraction of water from the loch has been transported to the mainland for canning.  The company is now progressing a marketing exercise to help establish the product, which will hopefully determine its commercial viability.

Aquatera Ltd

Trustees reviewed a notification of revision received from Aquatera together with the Factor’s response to the original notification.

Cuddy Point

Trustees noted that now that the holiday period is over, a further meeting, which will hopefully allow participation with a wider users group, is to be convened

Community Land Week

The Factor updated Trustees on the events organised for Community Land Week.  The meeting with the Grazing Committees had been well attended and the discussions had been productive. Those attending were supportive of additional meetings being held over the winter months.

REPORTS

Renewables

i) OFGEM Consultation Response: Transmission link to Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

Trustees noted a copy of a letter submitted on the Trust’s behalf by the Factor in response to the consultation by OFGEM on SHEPD’s DSO recommendation.

ii) Community Windfarm ConsortiumThe Factor informed Trustees that the scheduled meeting had been postponed and that he would update Trustees of progress once the rescheduled meeting had taken place.

General Estate Matter

Salt Barn

The Factor informed Trustees now that key members of staff in the Engineering Section of CnES had returned to work he expected the matter to progress.

Litter in the Castle Grounds

Trustees were aware that several complaints have been received from the public in regards to the Trust’s decision not to replace the litter and dog bins from the Castle Grounds.  Trustees were pleased to note that, in fact, there was support for the initiative of taking personal responsibility, with reports of people helping to collect litter on a voluntary basis, as well as positive comments.

They did not wish to change the decision but wished to ensure that the phased withdrawal of the bins was implemented properly.  They also highlighted that the planned education initiative needed to be accelerated.  To this end they instructed that staff should monitor continued litter collection and provision of bins throughout the Grounds.

Nursery Report

Trustees noted a report prepared by Jonathan Torrance, Nursery Supervisor. The main points were:

  • Changes in personnel, with the appointment of Jack and David as Head Gardener and Gardener, respectively; they are based at the Nursery, which has been a great way of enhancing communication between nursery and grounds staff.
  • The shared vision for the nursery is as a community resource, as well as a commercial venture.
  • The Nursery has been supplying the Woodlands Centre with plants, such as basil and samphire, for use in their kitchen.
  • The public engagement day was a huge success, and the Nursery Supervisor and team found the level of interest to be a great encouragement.

Gardener’s Report

Trustees noted reports for July and August prepared by Jack Pocock, Head Gardener. The main points were:

  • The garden team has been clearing salmonberry from the core area; it’s hoped that the cleared areas can be replanted in spring and that any subsequent regrowth can be spot-treated with herbicide.
  • It is planned to use a lot of mulch – of which there is a plentiful supply to hand in the Castle Grounds.
  • Most grassy areas are going to be cut repeatedly this season in order to tidy them up – eg in front of the Matheson monument, Cuddy Point.
  • Currently, the emphasis is on clearing and maintenance, with most planting being held off until the spring. Some planters have been placed strategically in order to provide a splash of colour in the meantime.
  • Planned areas include: rockery, stumpery, fuchsia collection, sedum bed, pinery, poppy bed.
  • Jack is awaiting a response from the College on training.

Woodlands Centre

Trustees noted that Craig Morgan, Manager, is leaving his post after nearly 13 years at the Woodlands Centre.  He started work as a Saturday boy, earning promotion over the years to eventually becoming Manager.  We wish him well on his move to the mainland.

Subgroups

Enterprise

Trustees noted that two meetings of the Enterprise Subgroup had taken place: on 25 June and 18 July 2019, for which minutes had previously been circulated.

Archive

Trustees noted that the Archive Subgroup met on 27 June 2019 and that a number of action points arising therefrom are being processed by the Group.

APPLICATIONS FOR TITLE IN TERMS OF THE CROFTING REFORM (SCOTLAND) ACT 2010

Trustees noted that four applications for decrofting in order to take Title, in terms of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, have been submitted.

APPLICATIONS FOR ASSIGNATION OF A CROFT TENANCY

Trustees supported six applications to assign the tenancy of a croft.

Trustees noted that the Crofting Commission had approved nine applications to assign tenancy of a croft.

NOTIFICATION OF APPLICATIONS FOR TENANCY BY EXECUTRIES TO CROFTING COMMISSION

Trustees noted that two notifications had been received.

APPLICATION TO SUBLET TENANCY OF CROFT

Trustees approved one application to sublet tenancy.

Trustees noted that four applications to sublet tenancy of croft have been granted by the Crofting Commission.

Trustees noted that the Crofting Commission has refused one application to sublet tenancy.

APPLICATIONS FOR FEUS/ TRANSFER OF TENANCIES OF ALLOTMENTS/AMENITY GROUND

Trustees discussed three cases.

APPLICATIONS FOR USE OF LEWS CASTLE POLICIES

None

Applications for Homologation

Trustees approved one request.

NOTIFICATIONS OF CROFT REGISTRATION

Trustees noted that intimations have been received confirming that ten tenants have applied to register the crofts listed on the Crofting Register held by the Register of Scotland.

APPLICATION FOR A WAYLEAVE

Trustees homologated the Factor’s action in approving four wayleaves.

CORRESPONDENCE

There were five items of correspondence requiring the trustees’ attention.

PLANS SUBMITTED

Trustees noted that five notices have been served on the Trust in terms of local planning legislation.

DOCUMENTS FOR SIGNATURE

Trustees were invited to homologatethe signature of nine documents.

Governance

Trustees agreed it appropriate to review governance procedures of the Trust in order, where necessary, to enable the Trust to effectively fulfil its varied responsibilities in a manner compatible with present day good governance standards.  To commence the process, it was agreed that a meeting be convened to allow consideration of the appropriateness of the long established Standing Orders, to determine the present day capacity and relevance of the provisions therein.

 

Progress with Castle Grounds Regeneration Project

We thought that those of you who haven’t been to the Castle Grounds lately might be interested to see the fantastic progress that is being made with the £5million Regeneration Project that is currently ongoing.

These are some general views of the core project area, where paths have been reinstated; a shot of the Coat of Arms on the Porter’s Lodge, which is undergoing restoration; a picture of the rediscovered sundial plinth in the private gardens, and a view of the lantern on top of the Boatman’s Tower.