Category Archives: Community Announcements

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.

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.

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.

Ranger News

Hiya folks, How are we all doing?

Well Spring is here after the windy few weeks of Feb. The Skylarks are singing and we are starting to see other migrant birds arrive back, including the Lesser Black-backed Gulls that would have overwintered in Portugal and Morocco. It’s great to see the Fulmars back wheeling around Balephetrish as well.

There has been a couple of Otter road casualties in the last few months and I just want to say thanks to folk for reporting and if you see a dead, or even better, a live Otter please keep letting me know.

I attended the Eurasian Otter Conference online over the weekend and there has been a lot of work done identifying individual Otters by their footprints. Like us they have markers in their pads that can be picked up by computer modelling, such as where they put pressure when they are walking that, can help identify them. The folk behind this research are happy for me to send them prints which will help identify the range of different individual Otters around Tiree. Super high-tech stuff and quite exciting. Hopefully update you on this soon.

On the theme of Otters, some of you joined me for the Cùram talk the other day. I’ve had a flurry of requests to repeat the talk and to open it to those off island so I hope to firm down a Zoom date shortly for it to go ahead before the end of March. With the Lockdown continuing for the time being there is a pause on physical Ranger events but when the situation allows I will look at doing the bespoke events such as the Otter walks, rock pooling etc. like I did last year. These were very popular and having small groups ensured Covid rules were followed

. On that note, we have kept the bookings closed for the Croft Camping Sites at the moment for May and June but will allow bookings from July onwards from the end of the week. Obviously, this will all be dependant that travel restrictions are lifted and adhered to if folk live in an area where they still apply but if you have any friends who usually use the sites then get them to keep an eye on www.isleoftiree.com/croft-camping for updates.

And to end on some happy news, I heard at the weekend that two of the three Grey Seal pups, Banjo and French Horn, that were sent to the SSPCA Fishcross Wildlife Hospital have been released back into the wild. A third, Cello, unfortunately died from a sudden illness before release but it’s great to know that all the effort from folk here on Tiree and the Wildlife Hospital has meant that two have made it. They were released on the East coast along with other pups.

Myself and the rest of the Trust staff are still home working so it’s best to get a hold of me by email ranger@tireetrust.org.uk or on 01879 220074. You can also contact me on my own mobile 07506037113 if it is an emergency. So just a short update for now Until next time…

Consultation on future cemetery needs launched

The council is developing new policies on the best way to manage cemeteries throughout the area in the coming years and we would like to hear your views.

It is really important to take steps now to ensure that options are available for people when they need them in the future. Argyll and Bute has 131 Cemeteries spread throughout its communities, however 67 cemeteries are now closed to the sale of spaces. Community volunteers, in a small number of areas, support council services by maintaining local burial grounds. Similar initiatives would be welcomed elsewhere.

According to statute, local authorities are only required to provide one cemetery per area. Councillor Rory Colville, Policy Lead for Roads and Infrastructure Services, said: “This is a sensitive subject, which touches us all. What we want to do is understand priorities and expectations so we can plan for the future. Any changes are likely to take place over a decade. “I would encourage people to look at our proposals and give us their thoughts.”

The consultation is now on the council website: https:// www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/ consultations/consultation-futurecemeteries

Tiree Ranger News

Hiya folks,

How are we all doing? It’s been a steady few weeks sorting things out after the Christmas break.

It was surprising for me to see such a heavy ground frost for almost a week a few weeks back and I’ve been told it doesn’t usually last that long. I’m working away quietly on things that I can hopefully get folk involved in when it is safe to do so.

The Otter walks were really popular last year and I’ve been keeping an eye on my viewing site and the Otters have been very active no matter what the weather. Please keep sending in any signs or sightings of Otters as I’m building up a picture of the different territories on the island. This includes any records of dead ones.

RTA’s are one of the most common causes of Otter deaths in Scotland and I know it may be upsetting if one runs out in front of you but accidents happen and it’s good to be able to get a hold of the Otter for measurements and aging. Likewise keep sending in any cetacean strandings as well. Thank you to all of you who have done so so far.

A wee shout out to parents and teachers:-I know many of you are home schooling at the moment and it’s just to say that if there’s anything I can do to help just drop me an email. I’m chatting to other Ranger services to see what activities that have been offering that can be done from home and I hope to have some of these available next issue.

So just a short update for now. Myself and the rest of the Trust staff are still home working so it’s best to get a hold of me by email ranger@tireetrust.org.u k

Argyll Estates Shorelines on Tiree

Argyll Estates has ownership of an extent of shorelines all around Argyllshire including Tiree, Kintyre, Cowal, Lismore, Mull and other parts of Argyll. This ownership is from the high to the low water mark.

Argyll Estates holds these coasts in trust and welcomes general public use. No restrictions are imposed by Argyll Estates to responsible access. As a result, Argyll has remained a county where restrictions on coastline access is virtually nil unless a neighbouring landowner presents a barrier. This open access is prevalent on Tiree and, together with the beautiful sandy beaches, is one aspect of what makes the Island so special. A license has been granted on a temporary basis for an operator on Tiree to carry out trials on seaweed fertiliser production. The fee is nominal. This has a limit on extraction, is limited to washed up seaweed and the license has specific rules on disturbance to people and nature. This is necessarily an exclusive commercial license but it does not exclude anyone else on Tiree taking washed up seaweed for their own personal use.

Two local watersports businesses also operate commercially from Argyll Estates shorelines with our approval. Both operate responsibly and there is no fee. Should a vehicle park on a beach where there is no safe or appropriate land parking area, if the access route is suitable and no risk is taken to pedestrians or animals, Argyll Estates have no objection to this being exercised responsibly. Vehicles should not ordinarily use beaches and should travel at crawl speed and no further than necessary. This includes for launching of boats and the like. Public safety is always paramount and reckless or dangerous behaviour is always covered by Road Traffic and Careless Driving laws and regulations. Argyll Estates would expect no motorised vehicle to exceed 5-10 mph at most.

Sand and Gravel custom and practice on Argyll Estates shorelines has permitted farmers and crofters (including common graziers) to take a free ‘de minimus’ amount for their own agricultural use. To date, in all areas other than Tiree, this has been respected with no issues brought to our attention. In Tiree it is alleged that large scale extraction, sometimes described as “industrial scale quarrying”, has occurred. No tangible usable evidence for a prosecution has been presented for this but the number of anonymous voices reporting the matter has given weight to the likelihood that removal by a few has exceeded the de minimus and reasonable personal agricultural use rules. Without tangible evidence, no action against alleged infringements can be taken. A good definition of “de minimus” is; “‘too small to be meaningful and of negligible impact’. On Tiree, there remains many individuals who qualify and the vast majority have always, and still do, stoutly respect the unwritten code permitting responsible use that has existed for centuries. As an unwritten oral tradition, as was once more common in Gaelic society, the lack of historic written evidence can be an issue.

However, for the avoidance of doubt, Argyll Estates confirms that the permission exists and it has our approval when responsibly exercised. Argyll Estates recognises the marginal nature of agriculture on Tiree. We also recognise the benefits it provides which greatly outweighing the collection of and amount of aggregate for legitimate use which is “too small to be meaningful and of negligible impact” on our shorelines. The permission does not grant carte blanch removal. Where there is an agricultural requirement for large quantities of aggregates, this should be purchased lawfully. Tiree has a legitimate licensed source which was specifically created following comment in the past that there was not such a source locally so all sand and gravel had to be taken from the beach. Off Island sources are of course also available and if demand increases, economies of scale improve. Nor does the permission allow removal for private use other than directly agricultural. The road and substructure for a new or refurbished property belonging to a friend or relation of a farmer or crofter is not permitted. Nor is large scale extraction for bunds or other structural or landscaping use. Were a resident of Tiree to visit the beach and take a small amount of sand for their private garden use, Argyll Estates, while not expressly granting permission, would be very unlikely to pursue this.

The de minimus allowance is given on trust that it will be used responsibly and should only be used for the crofter or farmers own agricultural use. Sale of sand and gravel taken without permission would be considered as theft and the purchase of illegally taken goods is also a criminal offence; specifically known in Scots law as “reset”.

Sale or gifting of aggregates removed under this de minimus rule is specifically excluded other than where one farmer or crofter assists another with their de minimus sand and gravel collection for no monetary return. In the past few years, and with most again this past year, Argyll Estates has engaged with a variety of individuals and we have specifically contacted the following organisations:

• Argyll & Bute Council

• Tiree Community Council

•Tiree Community Development Trust including the Ranger Service

• Police Scotland

• Crown Estates Scotland

• NatureScot (SNH)

• RSPB

• Contractors operating in Tiree

While most are sympathetic, it is clear to Argyll Estates that without the people of Tiree assisting and speaking up when necessary, the alleged abuse of the permission by a few can and will continue. Understandably, no organisation wished to jump in and take on this matter particularly when there is no firm evidence and all individuals reporting an incident wish to remain anonymous. Most of those in a position to take leadership, while clear and vocal ‘in camera’, in public take a different tack. Positively however, I do see a stronger confidence forming amongst all involved or interested in this matter.

My hope is that with this matter discussed openly and with “guidelines” set out for this previously unwritten matter relying on responsibility and trust, there is now a better basis to proceed without varying or terminating this ancient tradition. If there are any who did not understand the gift we share and did not realise that nature itself dictates that it is not an unrestricted and endless entitlement, I hope that this note has helped to clarify matters.

Tiree is an Island community that needs everyone involved to work constructively, respectfully, openly and honestly together. Without it, more than this valuable tradition may fall apart.

Hugh Nichol, Argyll Estates, 19 January 2021

Tiree Community Council – January Meeting

This month’s meeting was well attended, with over 50 participants.

The meeting was also joined by Argyll and Bute Councillors Mary- Jean Devon and Jim Lynch, in addition to the Factor of Argyll Estates, Hugh Nicol. Mr. Nicol gave feedback on the Estate’s position regarding sand and gravel extraction from Tiree’s beaches and was also invited to the upcoming public meeting of the Planning Sub-Committee. Cllrs Devon and Lynch made contributions on a variety of issues, including local fuel poverty and possible changes to the hospitality industry which could have significant impact upon the island economy. Sand and gravel extraction from Tiree’s beaches was discussed at length. As it stands, Argyll Estate’s position on the issue is that extraction is permitted on a ‘de minimis’ basis; crofters are entitled to extract small amounts of material from the beaches for their own agricultural use. However, this position is based on an unwritten understanding which predates modern machinery and extraction methods. There are fears that over-extraction could be contributing to coastal erosion – an issue with many tangible impacts on local wildlife and the island landscape. Concerns over profiteering were also mentioned by the Factor, who raised the issue of unauthorised sale of these materials for profit. Mr Nicol also agreed, however, with points that were raised regarding the complex nature of land ownership and use on Tiree stemming from ownership, inheritance and lease of different crofts in various arrangements. Therefore, the issue of who is extracting how much and for what purpose is a difficult one. Mr. Nicol agreed to maintain communication with the community and to work towards clarification of the existing understanding, especially the ‘de minimis’ requirement and what this means in practice. It was also stressed that materials can be purchased in bulk from the local quarry or from private businesses – this is recommended for any large-scale projects such as housing foundations, where materials must comply to certain safety regulations. Tiree Community Council welcomes correspondence on this issue from all members of the community going forward.

Concerns were also raised over the pier marshalling area, both in terms of appearance and safety. At present, the marshalling area does not cater well for pedestrians, with few pavements or footpaths. This is a serious safety concern, an issue which was highlighted by Angus John in relation to the bus service. The lack of a bus stop means that people looking for the Ring ‘n’ Ride bus are often left to wander around. Additionally, the pier is part of the school bus route. The pier is not well suited to turn the buses; an issue which is exacerbated by the Summer ferry timetable when the car lanes are full awaiting sailings. This poses a safety concern for pier users as well as to the bus drivers and children on board. Issues surrounding the appearance of the area due to ongoing works have largely been resolved, however the overall appearance of the area leaves a lot to be desired and concerns over the welcome this presents to visitors were also raised. As a result of these discussions a small working group was formed, consisting of Cllrs Dr. John Holliday, Alison Clark and Stewart Carr to advocate for the community’s concerns over the safety and maintenance of this area going forward.

Positive steps were also taken regarding the Community Council’s online presence; the Councillors resolved to produce a new set of policies for how we facilitate discussion online. The Community Council intends to allow commenting on both our Facebook page – which is public and can be viewed by anyone by searching online – and on our own website. The policies we are working towards aim to make these forums a pleasant and open space for members of the public to discuss issues and raise concerns. To achieve this, we are working towards some guidelines of best conduct, which will allow us to moderate these discussions in a clear and fair way should any issues arise. As always, we will continue to welcome correspondence from members of the community via our e-mail addresses, which are publicly available on our website.

Ongoing issues include upcoming meetings with the Boundaries Commission, community consultation on the Marine Protected Area status affecting Tiree and Coll and the possible introduction of more Gaelic into Council proceedings.

Dr John Holliday, Chair: 220 385
doc.holliday@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

Phyl Meyer, Secretary:
phyl@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

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