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Have you Heard a Crex Crex

Corncrakes have been arriving since the 8th of April and their rasping calls are starting to be reported across the Hebrides, Western Isles, Orkney & North Scotland.

This noisy visitor migrates every year from central Africa and spends the summer raising chicks in the long vegetation around our crofts and farms. Unfortunately, corncrakes have suffered serious declines throughout the UK and the fortunes of this noisy bird remains precarious. On Tiree numbers remain strong but the number of calling males dipped below 300 last year, something that has not happened for over 16 years.

With support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, RSPB Scotland is working with farmers, crofters & communities continuing to help improve the breeding success of this rare bird. At the end of the 19th century, corncrakes bred in every region of the UK and tales of sleepless nights from the loud ‘crex crex’ were common. RSPB Scotland would love to know if this bird is causing sleep deprivation in your area! And with the launch of a new website for the project ‘Corncrake Calling’ RSPB Scotland are asking members of the public if they have seen or heard a corncrake. Reports can be submitted online here

https:// www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/ conservation/projects/corncrakecalling/ report-a corncrake/ and will help monitor the locations of the birds particularly in areas where we least expect them.

If you would like to get involved in the project, managing habitat, reporting corncrake calling or signing up as a Corncrake Champion, you can go to the website https:// www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/ conservation/projects/corncrakecalling/ or email CorncrakeCalling@rspb.org. uk

Doing the return to school differently in Argyll and Bute

Argyll and Bute Council has taken an innovative approach to ensure that young people feel safe, secure and resilient as they settle back into school-life after lockdown.

With pupils having spent a lot of time away from friends in recent months, and many no doubt feeling anxious, the council teamed up with Scout Adventures Lochgoilhead and Ardroy and Benmore Outdoor Education Centres, to develop an itinerary of outdoor learning activities for children and young people across Argyll and Bute, focussing on positive health and wellbeing.

Scout Adventures Lochgoilhead, were asked to deliver activities for the council’s school hubs during last summer’s lockdown. Due to the number of schools involved, the company enlisted the help of Ardroy and Benmore Outdoor Education Centres too, and together they put on a number of hugely popular outdoor activities. Because of this success, the trio are working with the council once again to deliver further outdoor learning for all Argyll and Bute pupils, from now until the summer break.

The Council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “The last 12 months have been a challenging time for everyone, not least our children and young people. “We know how important outdoor learning is in education, and we have no shortage of stunning natural resources around us, so I’m delighted that we’re working in partnership with these local centres again to provide pupils with amazing experiences. “It is vital to us that activities are flexible and focus on delivering what our pupils need. For some schools this means orienteering in the playground, for others it means being able to go mountain biking or hillwalking. It is also really important that every school has the chance to benefit from these type of activities, regardless of their location. Argyll and Bute has a diverse geographic landscape so it’s vital that all our children have the same opportunities, whether they live on the mainland or one of our islands.

“Outdoor learning has many, many benefits. It helps physical and mental health, enables young people to connect with the world around them and encourages independence; all things that are equally important as we enter into this recovery phase. I look forward to hearing about some of the exciting adventures our young people get up to.”

Judith McCleary, Head of Outdoors and Adventure at Scout Adventures Scotland, said: “The evidence for outdoor learning is long established; it builds confidence and helps with mental health and wellbeing. The stories we have heard from pupils, teachers and the instructors have really brought this evidence to life. One young person had never walked up a mountain before, which is quite unusual in a place like Argyll and Bute, but all his peers gave him a guard of honour when he reached the summit and the cheers could be heard from afar. “Allowing young people to connect with nature gives them the chance to flourish in a way they have never been able to before. We are so glad that we have been able to help deliver this programme. The last year has been extremely hard but, through these outdoor experiences, we are helping young people to recover and assisting Argyll and Bute Council in putting the wellbeing of pupils at the heart of their return to school.”

May Meeting of Tiree Community Council

Working our way towards a new planning policy for the community council, a debate on water saving measures, news on the redevelopment of the pier marshalling area and a reduction in the number of same-day ferry tickets were some of the subjects that came up at the May community council meeting.

John Patience and a subcommittee of councillors has been working on a new planning policy for the community council for a few months. A draft is finally ready. The Scottish Government recommends that community councils have ‘a special role [in the planning process], representing a broader yet still local view which can be set alongside the comments of those with a more individual interest’. Our proposal is that if a local planning application has the potential to impact on a significant number of people in the community, raises important matters of principle for Tiree, departs from the Local Development Plan, or concerns a Listed Building, we will consider it. These are likely to make up a small proportion of the total planning applications.

John explained that the community council’s status as a ‘statutory consultee’ simply meant that Argyll and Bute Council had a statutory duty to inform us about planning applications; it does not mean that we had to comment on every application. We agreed the draft presented by John. This is now out for consultation on our website, following which there will be a public meeting to allow us to collect feedback.

Scottish Water came to one of our public meetings a few months ago after several new house builds had been knocked back because the company could not guarantee supply during times of peak demand. They rowed back on this decision – for the time being. Now they have become keen on water saving measures for the island. Leaks in the network, according to company figures, are surprisingly low. But Scottish Water are now proposing a trial of shower timers for part of the island. These are designed to nudge us away from long showers. Their effectiveness would be monitored by the company, comparing water usage in the area being studied with the rest of the island. This sparked quite a debate. There was a school of thought that this was a good ‘green’ measure and we should be doing this anyway to save the planet. Others felt that this was a cheap way for the company to wriggle out of building expensive new boreholes and pumphouses that would really solve the capacity problem. We agreed to support the proposal, but keep the pressure on the company to provide us with robust supplies for the years ahead.

We have been in dialogue with CMAL – who own the Gott Bay pier and marshalling area – and CalMac – who operate them – about their plans for redevelopment, now that work at the business end of the pier has finished. We know that significant safety concerns around the marshalling area were logged in a 2019 consultant’s report. But try as we might – and we have tried at the highest level – CalMac have refused to give us access to the findings. Our own survey about the pier, which attracted 99 replies, brought together a lot of useful suggestions from those who live around, work in and travel through, the pier. We have passed these on to CMAL. It is a complicated patch of land, with ten landowners to consider. We are looking for better-managed parking, a safer separation between pedestrians and cars, a dedicated bus stop, a separate marshalling area for cyclists, good refuse facilities, clearer signage and a waiting room at the end of the pier. We know the budget for the work is £350,000, which pays for less tarmac than you think. We will do our best.

We also heard just before the meeting that the turn-up-and-go ferry passenger tickets are being restricted to just four – for Tiree and Coll. These tickets were introduced last year as a way to allow islanders to get to and from the mainland at the height of the tourist season. This seems too few, and will keep a close eye on the situation.

Dr John Holliday was in the chair. Phyl Meyer, Gerard McGoogan (who joined us from the Oban ferry), Alison Clark, Stewart, John Patience and Louise Reid were present.

Community Fuel Station Update

Since our last update TCE Ltd are pleased to announce that we have now achieved a signed off design of the new fuel station and appear to have succeeded in bringing the project within our budget, a major achievement in itself. We have also submitted our planning application and we have a formal programme for the works.

The station will have two pumps, one petrol and one diesel, located at the rear of the forecourt. These will be accessible regardless of the direction a vehicle approaches from or which side its fuel filler is on. There will also be a red diesel pump. All will have card readers to allow fully autonomous operation using credit and debit cards. Account cards will be issued to the emergency services and critical services operators. Cash sales will also be possible for those who prefer this payment method.

The main storage tanks will be located below ground and we are looking at a similar solution for the red diesel tank, but this has still to be finalised. A small secure compound will be located at the east end of the forecourt. There will be two charging bays for electric vehicles complete with all the infrastructure required for the charging points. We are hoping to have the charging points installed as part of the works but cannot confirm this just yet. If that does not happen, we will be looking to have them installed as quickly as possible thereafter. There will also be a compressor to inflate pneumatic tyres.

The storage volumes are dramatically increased from the current capability and should allow us to continue to provide fuel for up to three weeks in the summer AFTER a tanker delivery is due should there be a problem getting a tanker here. In the winter when ferries are more affected by the weather but demand is lower, this resilience is expected to rise to about six weeks, again after the expected delivery date. It has been difficult projecting sales into the future and a big thank you goes to the Maclennan family for their help in this regard.

With the 2030 electric vehicle deadline announced by the government, overall sales are expected to fall but we suspect that there is a possibility that petrol might rise in popularity for a while. Consequently we have future proofed the storage capacity by incorporating two compartments into each tank which will allow us to vary the proportions of petrol and diesel stored. At first however, it is expected each of the two principal fuels will occupy two compartments each.

Timescales are perhaps the biggest challenge for us now. The current programme provides for a site start early in July with completion at the end of October. However, these dates are wholly dependent upon receipt of planning permission and we are aware that the Planning Department at Argyll & Bute Council are experiencing delays due to the effects of the current pandemic. We have little control over this phase of the project but will be pursuing a quick turnaround in the approval process.

On The Water Again

Tiree Maritime Trust

Tiree Maritime Trust look forward to being able to offer opportunities for sailing and rowing this season once covid regulations allow.

Activities will take place on Loch Bhassapol from later this month.

Existing members are encouraged to renew Tiree Maritime Trust membership and can use PayPal to make payments. Membership renewal invitations will be emailed out shortly. This years membership price is £40 for the year with a suggested voluntary extra £20 for those that can afford to contribute a bit more.

For families the trust offers a special rate where for the price of 2 adults the whole family can take part. Membership helps us to cover essential running costs and overheads. Membership to the Maritime Trust can give members access to sailing dinghies and Gille-Brìghde, the rowing skiff as well as safety equipment required for activities and covers costs of insurance. New members and beginners are encouraged to contact info@tireemaritimetrust.org.uk for more info on how to become a member.

Membership also supports efforts to encourage the preservation of the traditional boats of Tiree. Tiree Maritime Trust are pleased to have received funding from Live Argyll to help with ongoing maintenance of the lug sail boats this year. If anybody is interested in learning about and helping with this work we would like to invite you to contact us by email at info@tireemartimetrust.org.uk.

Also… if you use Amazon you can support Tiree Maritime Trust every time you shop by adding us as your chosen charity. Visit smile.amazon.co.uk and search for Tiree Maritime Trust to get started. Thanks!

Council Welcomes Fuel Poverty Funding

Argyll and Bute Council has received an additional £2.3 million from the Scottish Government’s Energy Efficient Scotland: Area Based Scheme Programme to help reduce fuel poverty in the area.

The grant will be used by Argyll Community Housing Association (ACHA), in partnership with Argyll and Bute Council and SSE Energy Solutions to install external wall insulation to mixed tenure blocks of flats across Oban, Bute and Cowal. Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Councillor Robin Currie, said: “This is fantastic news for the area. This funding will have a long-lasting impact on many, many people’s lives, reducing fuel poverty and carbon emissions, and allowing residents to live more comfortably.

“Over 300 homes in the Oban area have already benefitted from insulation as a result of the Scottish Government’s last round of funding. Again, this was a partnership with ACHA and resulted in improvements to 138 ACHA homes and 164 privately owned properties. “Proper insulation is a great way to reduce carbon emissions, save money on heating bills and do your bit for the environment. We are 100% committed to creating a climate friendly Argyll and Bute and positive steps like this are enabling us to do that.”

Welcoming the news, Alastair MacGregor, Chief Executive of Argyll Community Housing Association, said: “We are delighted to receive the news that £2.3 million in grant from the Scottish Government will come through the Council to continue our work in energy efficiency through external wall insulation. “This grant will go alongside £3 million of ACHA resources to improve the homes of around 500 tenants and owners in Oban, Bute, Dunoon and the Cowal villages. ACHA appreciate the ongoing partnership working of the Scottish Government and Argyll and Bute Council in tackling fuel poverty head on.”

Scarinish Pier Summer Access

The congestion at the Pier area during ferry times is expected to increase this summer, it is already difficult for lorries, tankers , fuel customers and pedestrians etc to move about safely at these times.

As there is no signage informing people which way to go when driving from the ferry they tend to turn left into this dead end road causing serious problems.

A collective agreement between the Businesses and Argyll Estates will ensure that this area be blocked off at these busy times. This will come into effect from Monday May 3rd through till October.

Cones will be placed across the road before the Yellow Hare and access will be restricted unless for business purposes ie (Royal Mail) . Obviously pedestrian access will always be available, this only applies to vehicles.

As a result the fuel station will be closed during this time and operate a new timetable which is detailed below. With the volume of freight and commercial vehicles operating at ferry times in this area we feel this is best practice to ensure the safety of pedestrians and vehicles.

FUEL OPENING TIMES:

  • Monday: 9-10.30am / 12-4pm
  • Tuesday: 9am-4pm
  • Wednesday: 9-10.30am / 12-4pm
  • Thursday: 9-10.30am \ 12-4pm
  • Friday: 10.30am-4pm
  • Saturday: AM closed \ 12-2pm
  • Sunday: CLOSED

Calmac Grant

Cùram are pleased to announce that we have received a grant of £2,000 from the Calmac Community Fund.

This will enable us to continue providing services to help those who are isolated and lonely in our community, together with the Meals on wheels service, and the Solar food project.

We are thankful for Calmac, the Tiree Community Development Trust, and all our funders, without whose support we would not be able to continue.

Mòran Taing.

New Chief Executive for Argyll Charity Body

Argyll and Bute Third Sector Interface (TSI) has announced the appointment of its new Chief Executive, Takki Sulaiman.

Peter McDill, Chair of Trustees, said,

“Takki is a local man who demonstrated to the Board a strong understanding of both Argyll and Bute and of the third sector. Since 2015 he has served as a trustee of the Friends of St.Conan’s Kirk in Lochawe, and since 2018 he has been a trustee with the UK wide domestic violence prevention and training charity, SafeLives. Takki has a strong track record in partnership working, most recently in a local authority setting where he successfully steered a new approach to working with the voluntary sector through coproduction – ensuring the expertise, vision and values of the third sector were at the heart of commissioning local services. The board of the TSI is confident that Takki is the right person to lead Argyll and Bute TSI in the next phase of its development.”

Incoming Chief Executive Takki Sulaiman says,

“We moved as a family to Argyll in 2015 but I commuted to work in Aberdeen and then to Greenwich in London. It is a real honour to be given the opportunity to work with such a dynamic network where I live, and now work. I am fully committed to building upon the strong foundation put in place at the TSi over the past three years”

Community Fuel Station Update

Following our last update, Tiree Community Enterprise Ltd (TCE) has been very busy working with our project partners to deliver the petrol station on budget and as quickly as possible.

Both goals have proved to be demanding but good progress has been made and a big thank you goes to each of our contractor, consultant and funders for their efforts and support to date. Despite some difficulties with the ferries, the site investigation work is now complete. This was an important phase of the works as it provided the opportunity for us to fully explore the viability of underground storage tanks which had previously been discounted during the feasibility study. While being desirable from an aesthetic viewpoint, they also offer substantial cost saving and manufacture lead time benefits. The site investigation went well and the preferred option is now to install underground tanks.

The contractor in now moving towards completion of his design and we hope to be in receipt of their drawings, costs and the build programme in about three to four weeks. It is hoped at that time we will be in a position to submit the formal applications to the various statutory authorities.

As alluded to in our last update, timescales are proving to be the most challenging aspect of the project. We have been informed that the Planning Department is experiencing a significant backlog due to COVID restrictions and SEPA are currently experiencing IT problems. We hope to be in a position to report further on this item in our next update.

A question we seem to get asked a lot is “Are we installing electric vehicle charging points?” The answer is yes, but maybe not straight away. We are installing the infrastructure to support the charging points and our contractor is looking for ways to future proof the installation. However, the charging points themselves will only be installed immediately if the budget permits. If it does not, we shall seek further funding to allow them to be installed as soon as possible.

The work of the TCE board is not just confined to the construction. TCE have been looking to the operational phase and is laying the initial ground work with regards to financial planning, property management and environmental issues. Additionally, we have issued proposal invitations to several fuel suppliers. Their responses are expected in just over three weeks’ time.

As previously stated, the TCE board has been keen to promote the use of local contractors and we are pleased to report that Adler and Allen are of a similar view. We understand that appointments for transport and civil engineering works are to be let locally and there may be other possible openings for the local community. If you would like to discuss the potential subcontractor opportunities, please contact Jock Breckney by email Jock.Breckney@adlerandallan. co.uk or alternatively call him on 07770 827 262.

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