Minutes 8th November 2021

Minutes of Meeting held on 8th November 2021 via Zoom Web Conference

Minutes approved: 13 December 2021

Present: Betty Wright, Chair (BW); Marion Turner, Secretary (MT); John Denniston, Treasurer (JD); Silvia Muras, Vice Chair (SM); Andy Wright (AW); Rob Pope (RP); Anna McInnes, Minutes Secretary (AM); Anna Patfield, Planet Sutherland (AP), David Watson, KoSDT (DW); Alison Moore, Christine Mackay; Stuart Hewlett; Posy MacRae, Gledfield Parents Council (PM)

Apologies: Buster Crabb


1. Welcome: BW opened the meeting and welcomed attendees.

2. Apologies: Buster Crabb

3. Approval of September 2021 minutes: Approved as true and accurate record. AW proposed, MT seconded.

4. Matters Arising:

  • Bonar Straight Speed Limit: As of previous Sutherland Committee meeting, the Roads department was to consult with Legal department on 30mph proposal. A further update is expected after SC’s next meeting to be held on 22 November.
  • Christmas Lights: Jamie MacRae has kindly agreed to put up lamppost lights again. BW will suggest dates to him: 27 Nov or 4th December, weather dependent. The suggestion to decorate the tree with permanent lights was tabled for discussion until next year due to cost/logistics. ACTION: BW
  • Queen’s Green Canopy Project: CC will work with local groups to plant trees in Spring 2022. DW mentioned that Fisheries Trust is organising tree planting along the riverbank and wants to pull together different groups; good opportunity to engage community and develop planting strategy. He will keep CC updated on these plans.

5. Chairperson’s Report (BW):

  • THC Climate Conference: discussion noted in Climate Change Update Item 9.
  • CARES Conference: Community and Renewable Energy Scotland. Grid restraints and lack of upgrades mean we can’t develop a Smart Grid locally.
  • Fuel Poverty Conference: Update provided by DW in Item 9.
  • Beinn Tharsuinn AGM: BW attended for first time.

6. Secretary’s Report – including Correspondence & Matters raised by local residents (MT): All correspondence circulated by email prior to meeting. Items noted:

  • Christmas in the Square Event: KoSDT planning this event for Friday 17th December.
  • Nominations for Volunteer Awards: KoSDT are holding a volunteer awards night on Tuesday 30th November. Deadline for nominations is Friday 12th November.
  • Community Council Complaints Procedure: Helen Ross, Senior Ward Manager for THC, has advised that community council complaints process has been put in place. Information can be accessed online on THC website here: Community Council Complaints Process.
  • Flooding at Kincardine Cemetery: MT has finally received a reply that this issue is on the list of matters to be addressed during the winter months. MT has written to advise resident who initially raised the issue and will monitor and follow-up in a few months.

7. Treasurer’s Report (JD): Report circulated by email ahead of the meeting. As of 29th October2021 the balance at the bank was: £54,858.79. This comprises: Restricted funds: £54,031.67; CC Admin fund: £579.17; Windfarm Admin fund: £247.95. The balances of the restricted funds are: CnC: £28,437.02; BnO: £24,099.37; BTWF Community Projects: £1,422.081; RWE Path: £73.20. Expenditure since 27th Aug 2021: £3,000 to Ardgay Hall- CnC annual award; £1,500 to Gearrchoille wood- CnC annual award; £100 to Jean Richardson- Honorarium from BTWF; £17 for Remembrance Day wreath- from admin funds. Income since 27th Aug 2021: £1,500 received from THC from Beinn Tharsuinn fund for planters etc. Expenditure not in statement yet: £110 to badminton club- BnO award; £120 to minutes secretary for Aug and Sep meetings- from admin funds.

8. Core Paths – Proposal that A&DCC Join Scotways: BW and AW met with Matt Dent from THC on 5th October and walked from Old Town to Badvoon. Tracey was informed but did not attend. Informed Matt about desire to improve profile and encourage use of core paths; he will consult THC and respond. BW emailed Matt to advise that ideal outcome would be to replace bridge at Badvoon, and proposed setting up working group to take forward. SM noted that Highland Local Access Forum will have Zoom meeting on 6th December to discuss this and other nearby paths. MT and BW will speak with David Hannah and keep working toward solution. ACTION: BW/MT

9. Regular updates

  • Planning issues:
    • Lairg ll Windfarm re-design 21/00849/FUL – approved
    • Midfearn Distillery Ltd. Pre-application Notice: Proposed whisky distillery on Midfearn Estate at Easter Fearn. Information available online at www.midfearndistillery.co.uk. Two public consultations will be held:
      • Event 1: Face to face. Edderton Community Hall on 01/12/2021, from 3pm – 7pm
      • Event 2: Online using a virtual live chat feature on 20/01/2022, from 3pm – 7pm
  • Climate Issues:
    • Planet Sutherland: AP had to leave meeting early but sent email report ahead of meeting.
    • Highland Climate Change Conference: BW attended and reported there are lots of exciting things going on locally to support climate change initiatives. One important takeaway from the conference was the frustration of energy grid restraints and lack of progress being made: wind farms in Sutherland produce 9 times the amount of electricity consumed yet without infrastructure for smart grids can’t take advantage of it and Sutherland has one of highest rate of fuel poverty nationwide. All Conference talks are available on THC website here: Highland Climate Change Conference.
  • Windfarms:
    • Invitation to community benefit discussions for Garvary Wind Farm. Nothing else since last meeting.
  • Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust: DW reported on the following items:
    • Falls of Shin: procurement process to install a new operator. Significant issues across the hospitality industry with staffing. Engaging with local groups.
    • Bonar Bridge Post Office: will re-open on Thursday 11th November. There will be an event in early December. Posties will stay headquartered at the Barn until the new year.
    • Barn Polytunnel: growing well, have had help from enthusiastic volunteers. Will be reorganising the sheds to have more space. There are also new trees in the Square.
    • Community Christmas Event in the Square: to be held on 17 December, outdoors with possible use of the hall depending on the weather.
    • South Bonar Toilets: have submitted another application and had good meetings with THC planners. They can give a sympathetic rejection and advance to the Scottish Govt for review.
    • KALM Project: extended for 6 months with another 12 sought to deliver social projects.
    • Kyle of Sutherland and Lairg Volunteer Awards: Online event to be held of 30th November to provide awards to outstanding volunteers. MSP Maree Todd will attend and give prizes.
    • Sutherland Fuel Poverty Summit: Finance Secretary Kate Forbes provided the keynote address for this fantastic, full day event that attracted national coverage and attendees from all over Scotland. Hopefully fed into Scottish Govt fuel strategy.
    • Tree Planting Strategy: this is ongoing; great way to engage with community and contribute to the battle against climate change.
  • Highland Council: No councillor in attendance.

10. AOCB

  • Posy Macrae from Gledfield Primary School Parent Council attended. They have submitted funding application to transport children to swimming lessons in Tain. Costs are shared with Edderton Primary School. Decision on application to follow at private grant session.
  • Gearrchoille AGM to be held on Saturday 13th November in the shelter in the wood.

11. Date of Future Meetings: The next meeting will be 13th December over Zoom, per guidance from THC to continue virtual meetings until Spring.

13.Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund Applications (private session):
  • Year 2 Coire na Cloiche Annual award of £3000 to Culrain Hall.
  • • Year 1 Coire na Cloiche Annual award of £1500 to Kyle of Sutherland Heritage Society (KOSHS).
  • • Application to the Beinn Tharsuinn Wind Farm fund from the Gledfield Primary School Parent Council: This application was transferred to the Coire na Cloiche fund and awarded as Year 1 Coire na Cloiche Annual award of £1000 to Gledfield Parent Council.

Meeting closed at 20:10

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