Fury over for­est plans on Tam O’Shanter site

The Galloway News - - Galloway View - STU­ART GILLE­SPIE

Gill Warnock with the so­lar pan­els on the roof be­hind her in Bal­maclel­lan

Glenkens res­i­dents have hit out at plans to cre­ate a new for­est on a land­scape said to be the in­spi­ra­tion for Tam O’Shanter.

Com­mu­nity coun­cils are un­happy at pro­pos­als to plant Sitka spruce on Wa­ter­side Hill near New Gal­loway.

Scot­tish Wood­lands is work­ing on the plan to cre­ate the for­est, which they say will also fea­ture Scots pine, oak and mixed na­tive broadleave trees.

Dalry Com­mu­nity Coun­cil’s An­drew Bielin­ski said: “Wa­ter­side isn’t a very big hill but it’s a fairly prom­i­nent hill, it is the back­drop to Dalry and pop­u­lat­ing with Sitka spruce is not the ap­pro­pri­ate thing to do.

“We are not anti-tree plant­ing but it is not an ap­pro­pri­ate site for Sitka spruce plant­ing.

“If it was broadleaf trees mixed with graz­ing land that would be better.

“The South­ern Up­land Way goes through it and Forestry and Land Scot­land have done a lot of work open­ing it up.

“There is a stun­ning view from the top but that will be lost.”

The com­mu­nity coun­cil has writ­ten to lo­cal politi­cians call­ing for them to op­pose the pro­posal, with other com­mu­nity coun­cils in the area also against the plans.

Among them are Cor­sock and Kirk­patrick Durham Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, whose chair­man Joe Seed said: “It’s an im­por­tant walk­ing and ex­er­cise site for the vil­lage as well as hav­ing the South­ern Up­land Way go­ing through it.

“In the Dum­fries and Gal­loway forestry strat­egy is marked as an area for ‘pre­ferred’ plant­ing of hard­woods not soft­woods and in all the for­est strate­gies the main ob­jec­tives are to cre­ate plan­ta­tions that the lo­cal com­mu­nity are happy and en­gaged with. That’s not hap­pen­ing.”

A re­gional coun­cil walk­ing guide to the area claims that in the 18th cen­tury, farmer Adam For­rester was rid­ing home from the inn when he dis­cov­ered some witches at a church. They then chased him over Wa­ter­side Hill, but be­fore reach­ing the sum­mit For­rester drew a cir­cle around them with his sword.

They were un­able to break through the cir­cle and even­tu­ally gave up. The story is thought to be that of the real Tam O’Shanter that fea­tures in the poem by Robert Burns.

Dalry Com­mu­nity Coun­cil is cur­rently seek­ing an ex­ten­sion to the con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod, due to end on July 16, so that they can hold a public meet­ing on July 20.

Mr Bielin­ski claimed they had not been prop­erly con­sulted and that Scot­tish Wood­lands were due to at­tend a com­mu­nity coun­cil meet­ing but can­celled at short no­tice.

How­ever, Scot­tish Wood­lands’ as­sis­tant re­gional man­ager, Ali­son Wal­lace, said the com­mu­nity coun­cil was one of a num­ber of con­sul­tees sent the ini­tial pro­posal at the start of last year and she would be happy to at­tend one of its meet­ings.

A public meet­ing was held at the CatS­trand in New Gal­loway while other peo­ple had dis­cussed the scheme at Scot­tish Wood­lands’ of­fice, re­sult­ing in re­fine­ments be­ing made.

Mrs Wal­lace said: “The cur­rent de­sign keeps the full top of Wa­ter­side hill free from plant­ing and pre­serves the views even when the trees reach ma­jor­ity.

“The South­ern Up­land Way has been pro­tected with large buf­fer zones and much of it is lined by broadleave­s up the side of Wa­ter­side Hill and where the scheme links in with the oak woods in the Gar­roch Glen.

“It is im­por­tant for us all to re­alise that schemes like this are needed as a cen­tral part of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s legally bind­ing cli­mate change tar­gets passed by Par­lia­ment last Septem­ber.

“This scheme has been pro­posed fol­low­ing all the best prac­tise guid­ance and would pro­duce qual­ity cer­ti­fied tim­ber while sus­tain­ing long terms jobs in this and many other ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

“I be­lieve this scheme now ac­com­mo­dates the recre­ational and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues raised by the orig­i­nal draft and thank the lo­cal peo­ple who have helped in that de­sign process.”

She also de­nied claims it would be en­tirely Sitka spruce with Scots pine, oak and broadleave­s also planned.

Cash gen­er­a­tors

Forestry plan con­cerns An­drew Bielin­ski of Dalry Com­mu­nity Coun­cil

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