Nursery Field fencing underway

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Work began today on fencing off one of Ardentinny’s favourite dog-walking areas. As announced by Forestry Commission Scotland at the last Community Council meeting, the ‘Nursery Field’ between Glenfinart Caravan Park and the beach path is to be leased for grazing.

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Nursery Field to be leased for grazing

At the recent Ardentinny Community Council meeting, Forestry Commission Scotland representative, David Robertson, reported that the land, commonly known as the ‘nursery field’, is to be leased for grazing and that stock fencing will soon be erected around it.

Google Earth view of Nursery Field.

Google Earth view of Nursery Field.

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Walled Garden reopens with Eggstravaganza

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Glenfinart Walled Garden reopens for the new season this Easter Monday. The garden will feature a range of activities for all the family, adding to the fun of the Forestry Commission Scotland’s Easter Eggstravaganza at Glenfinart Bay, Ardentinny. A selection of home-baking will be available as well as fun and games for the young ones in the Children’s Garden.

The garden is open 7 days a week, 12.00 – 16.00hrs until 29 September.

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Nature Trail closure – protest appeal

We reproduce below correspondence received from Marian Norris, Vice-Convenor, Ardentinny Community Council, which relates to the closure of the FCS Discovery Trail.

IMMINENT CLOSURE OF ARDENTINNY NATURE TRAIL

This is a picture of the Ardentinny Nature Trail, and a copy of a letter I have sent to the Forestry Commission. I have also asked for the support of the Ardentinny Community Trust, Ardentinny Centre, Strone Primary School, the National Park and Councillor Bruce Marshall. I would be grateful if all those who, like me, would like to retain the Nature Trail for the village, put in your protest by writing to

David Robertson :  david.robertson@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Argyll District Office, Glenbranter

Gordon Donaldson: cowal&trossachs@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Cowal and Trossachs Forest District, Aberfoyle, Stirling, FK8 3UX

Simon Hodge:

Forest Enterprise Scotland, 1, Highlander Way, Inverness Business Park, Inverness IV2 7GB

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Dear Sir

As vice convenor of Ardentinny Community Council, I would like to make a formal protest at the plans of the Forestry Commission to close the Nature Trail and Bird/Squirrel Hide at Ardentinny.  I visit it frequently, and think it is a wonderful facility for the village. I have watched squirrels and many species of bird, and the hide has also been used by the local camera club. Many varieties of wild plants can be seen, and I have particularly enjoyed the profusion of violets and primroses in the Spring. The information boards were of great value to visitors and also of educational value to local schools. I understand that Ardentinny Centre will be following the John Muir scheme this year, and as a trained John Muir leader I can state categorically that the nature trail would be invaluable to support this study. It would also be very useful to any local school following the Forest Schools syllabus.

Ardentinny residents are grateful to the Forestry Commission for the new toilets it has provided at the beach and for its continuing grass cutting and removal of litter. The number of visitors has increased recently and is likely to continue to do so with the interest in the restoration of the Walled Garden and the Coronation Wood, and the re-opening of the Outdoor Centre, and the continued attraction of the beach and forest paths. It is ridiculous that just at this time the Commission should make the decision to remove one of its best and most creative amenities.

The Forestry Commission has cut back its Education and Recreation activities considerably over the last few years, and while I understand the financial restraints they have to work under, this would seem to be a comparatively low cost facility.

I would be most grateful if you could consider any strategies by  which we could keep this great addition to forestry education. I am sure there must be possibilities that volunteers could assist in the maintenance of the trail, and perhaps we could join together to restore the information boards so that this facility would be available for future visitors and schools for a long time to come.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Marian Norris

Vice Convenor Ardentinny Community Council

 

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Community Councillor “horrified” at removal of nature trail

Entrance to the Discovery Trail

Entrance to the former Discovery Trail

A Community Council member has expressed her horror at the removal of the Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) Discovery Trail behind the beach picnic area at Glenfinart Bay. Vehicles are no longer permitted to use the road to the nature trail and a locked metal gate has been erected at the foot of the road near the FCS house.

New gate at access road to nature trail

New gate at nature trail access road

The Councillor, Marian Norris, said she had made use of the trail many times and had organised camera club visits to the nature hide. “The nature trail is a fantastic facility for schoolchildren, especially as we are now attracting many people to the village with the Walled Garden and the beach. My feeling is that the Forestry Commission is no longer making recreation a priority in the area”.  She agreed that the trail was no longer suitable for those with disabilities and that she accepted that the small parking area be closed. However, she expressed a hope that the nature hide and information on the birds, flowers and trees could remain, as well as the paths and hide being kept open. She asked if a compromise could be reached to retain the facility.

David Robertson of FCS explained that, with the limited resources available to FCS and with the area not generating any income for FCS, it was pragmatic to focus on the most popular footpaths and to do these well. Indeed in the last year three staff members from the area had retired and had not been replaced. The facility also did not meet disabled criteria. In addition, David Robertson explained that there were also reports of anti-social behaviour and dumping of rubbish in the area, hence the installation of the gate near the FCS staff residence. He also pointed out that there are six other walks in the Ardentinny area which remain open. Information related to the trail is no longer sited at the location, nor will it be promoted by FCS, thus reducing Forestry Commission Scotland liability in the area.

Other Community Council members criticised FCS for not consulting the community on the closure and its failure to consult with residents on enhancing local facilities which had been discussed in previous years.

On a positive note, the suggestion was made that the community might participate in maintaining the nature trail with some possible assistance from Ardentinny Outdoor Centre. It was agreed at last week’s Community Council meeting that both the Community Council and Community Trust would explore this possibility with FCS.

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Trail entrance

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The former parking area at the trail entrance

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Information signage on the trail

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Entrance to the nature hide

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The hide interior

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Discovery Trail

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Community Council adopts new format for meetings and Forestry criticised for no warning of military manoeuvres

Perhaps in an attempt to encourage more community participation, Ardentinny Community Council announced a more succinct approach to its meetings in the future, with any business not concluded by 21.30 being carried over to the next meeting. Also, with the introduction of prior ‘business meetings’, it was proposed that matters arising from the minutes would take a much shorter time and that other items on the agenda could be addressed more quickly. Why not come along to the next meeting and support those who work on our behalf.

The meeting of the 4th December brought to light some interesting issues:

One of two portable toilets (with cautionary notice) temporarily installed at the Baron MacInturner Forest near Ardentinny for use by the visiting armed forces. [Click to enlarge]

The MOD has promised to supply a written response to the concerns raised recently by the Community Council. A member of the Community Council also raised concern that the MOD had undertaken manoeuvres in the surrounding area during November with no forewarning to residents.

David Robertson of the Forestry Commission apologised for not having informed the community in advance but explained that it had been a last minute request for approximately forty troops in training to camp at the beach area and that it seems that they had not informed FCS of the intention to do any more than just camp for one night. He said he would get in touch with the MOD in this regard and report back at the next meeting.

The deteriorating condition of the roads and the lack of gritting and/or signage on the Larach once again predominated discussion with the Community Council promising to write immediately to the Council’s Roads department.

The subject of the proposed windfarm at Cove was raised. It was agreed that Ardentinny Community Council would circulate all residents with outline information on the proposal together with details of the next presentation to be made by the Roseneath Peninsula West Development Trust in the Queen’s Hall , Dunoon on Monday 10 December at 19.00hrs.

Finally, it was agreed to put the question of a local emergency action plan on the agenda for the next Community Council business meeting.

Proposed Cove Windfarm letter to residents from Community Council (PDF).

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Ardentinny Community Trust Annual General Meeting

Ardentinny Community Trust Ltd. held its AGM on Friday 22 July, 2011. It appears to have been a packed year for the Trust’s Walled Garden sub-committee which stacked up various meetings with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE); Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS), of which it is now a member; Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO); and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and its independent panel of advisers. There were also seminar and conference attendances in Campbeltown, Blantyre, and Ardfern and knowledge and skills exchange visits in Rothesay and Haddington.

Glenfinart Walled Garden Business Plan.

In the interim it prepared a successful application, which included its first draft business plan, to FCS for the community purchase of Glenfinart Walled Garden, in accordance with the expressed wishes of Ardentinny residents. It also prepared and submitted grant funding applications to the Co-op Community Fund; Trusthouse Charitable Foundation; Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE); Awards for All; and LEADER.

It has already received initial grants from HIE and Firstport which, having to be spent before the end of the last financial year, secured the cost of conveyancing and other legal services and the purchase of a poly tunnel, in preparation for the garden’s first cash crop. There has also been local fund raising with a regular stall at Ardentinny’s weekly open mornings at the village hall and at Kilmun Flea market. Local artists have been very supportive of the project, donating their work in aid of the charity and Pauline Gordon, the Trust’s Treasurer, reported a current walled garden bank balance of £4,038.22.

There are further fund raising plans for a garden party in September; a raffle; guided historic walks from next spring; a bag packing day at Morrisons on Nov. 26th; a cello concert in December and a Variety Concert in Dunoon in January 2012. The committee also has plans to sell its own line of EWE products which will be well designed, locally produced, arts and crafts which can be taken to markets locally and further afield and the Trust also plans to publish a History of Ardentinny and Glenfinart which should go on sale next spring with all profits going to the walled garden charity.

During the meeting a proposal was made that the Trust hold open meetings every two months in order to raise awareness of the work being done, further advertise the project, and hopefully attract more donations and/or loans. This was agreed. In accordance with the Trust Constitution, all the Directors stood down and the following were elected to the Board: Dennis Gower, Pauline Gordon, James Gordon, Merle Ferguson, and Anna Williamson. Officers will be elected at the next Directors’ meeting.

It is also the intention of the Board to appoint three more directors with specific skills necessary for the project. In addition to the Board, there are plans to appoint a part-time, self-employed project development manager supported by grant funding. The Trust’s updated Glenfinart Walled Garden Business Plan will soon be available on its website www.GlenfinartGarden.org. This 22 page document grew out of the Trust’s initial village survey and continuing consultations. It is also intended to reflect its subsequent research and work in trying to deliver, not only the purchase of this community asset but to incorporate as many as possible of the community’s requested uses and functions of the garden in a viable and sustainable way. Plans, being what they are, are adaptable to changing needs and circumstances and it is hoped that the immediate and wider community will engage in taking this exciting project forward.

Ardentinny Community Trust AGM Minutes.

Glenfinart Walled Garden Business Plan.

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No warning of aerial spraying – again! (updated Aug. 1)

As local residents will have seen on Tuesday (26 July), a helicopter was spraying the hills above Ardentinny forest. A similar operation was carried out in August last year. At that time Russell Lamont, the FCS Environment Manager, assured us that the community would be advised of future spraying operations. Unfortunately this did not happen.

Cowal & Trossachs Forestry Director, Gordon Donaldson has informed us that FCS had been contacted regarding the spraying but was unsure as to whether the contact was made by David Marshall or the contractor carrying out the work.

Gordon Donaldson said “When the contact was made the date and time of the work was not known as this is dependent on the weather, however Russell reminded them to contact the local community and other departments to keep them informed. Unfortunately, from your contact and the number of calls we fielded on the day, this has clearly not been done. I have made contact with David by email informing him that in future he must do this”. He continued “I am sorry that contact has again not taken but can confirm that the work being done was similar to that outlined by Russell last year in his email contact with you then”.

Considering that the aerial spraying was undertaken on what was one of the hottest days so far, the likelihood of walkers being in the vicinity was very real. The lack of any advance notice to the community or any form of warning signage in the area is an issue of concern.

Update 1 August
We have today received the following correction from Gordon Donaldson, FCS:

Contrary to the supposition of my email to you, when I deduced from the number of calls we received about the spraying that community contact had not been made, I am now able to correct that position.

David Marshall has contacted me and he has informed me that both the Ardentinny and the Benmore and Kilmun CC’s were informed of the intention to spray, by email on the 12th July 2011. He also intimated to me that neither CC made any comment in response to the contact. In addition he confirmed that SEPA and the MOD were fully informed of the planned helicopter spraying.

I should also add that spraying of this kind is not effective in wet weather so any planned spraying needs to wait for a suitable weather window and therefore can not be set by date and time.

We have contacted Ardentinny Community Council inviting their comment on this issue.

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