Minute of Meeting of Skye and Lochalsh Local Access Forum held in the Council Chamber, Tigh Na Sgire, Park Lane, Portree, on Monday 4 December 2007 at 7.00 pm.

 

Present

 

Commander W L T Peppe, Minginish Community Council

Mr R Watson Laing, Glendale

Mr Brian Linnington, Mountaineering Council of Scotland

Mr Willie Fraser, National Trust for Scotland

Mrs Audrey Sinclair, Member, The Highland Council

 

Also in attendance

 

Mr Alaisdair H Mackenzie, Area Solicitor, The Highland Council (Clerk)

Mr Geoff Robson, Head of Environment, The Highland Council

Mr Donald Kennedy, Access Officer, The Highland Council

Ms Sarah Kay, Countryside Ranger, The Highland Council

 

Business

 

1.              Apologies for Absence


Mr David Glover, Mr John White, Mr Stewart Sandison, Mr Peter Elford, Mrs Isabelle Campbell, Mr Jim Towers, Mr I Renwick.

 

2.              Confirmation of Minutes 

The Minutes of the Meeting of the Local Access Forum held on 17 September 2007, copies of which had been circulated, were approved.

 

2.1   Matters Arising

Item 7 – Pupils and Path Competition

Sarah Kay advised the Forum that the competition would run from February to May 2008.  A minimum of three judges would be required, preferably from locations throughout Skye and Lochalsh.

 

The Forum agreed that the Action Note, which would be circulated following the meeting, would call for volunteers to be judges who should intimate their interest to Sarah Kay.

Action by:  ALL

 

3.              Draft Core Path Plan – Skye and Lochalsh

There had been circulated Report No. SLLAF-04-07  by the Access Officer updating Forum Members on progress with the statutory consultation process which would lead to the submission of the final draft plan to Scottish Ministers for approval.  

 

Two of the responses received to date suggested inclusion of additional core paths near Flashadder and near Duirinish.  

 

The Head of Environment advised the Forum that he had received a letter from the Scottish Government Rural Directorate suggesting that instead of the Council’s proposals to have a number of Core Path Plans throughout the Highlands, there should be one Plan for the whole Highlands.

 

Following a question from the Chairman, the Head of Environment advised that after approval the Core Paths would be promulgated/publicised by:-

  • Paths being way marked on the ground;
  • An expectation of them being included in leaflets but not necessarily produced by the local authority, for example commercial organisations or community bodies;
  • The Plan would be on the Council website;
  • The Plan would be used as supplementary Planning guidance;
  • The Plan would be deposited in a variety of outlets, eg. schools, libraries, etc.

 

The Forum agreed:
 
 
(1)   to note the Report;
 
 
(2)   that the Access Officer would investigate the suggested additional

       core paths with a view to taking a decision when all consultations

       had been received;


Action by:  DK

 
(3)   to meantime note the position with regard to promulgation of the

       Core Paths Plan but to look into this again when the process was

       completed;
 
 
(4)   to note the Council’s position that all Core Path Plans in the

       Highlands would not be merged into one document.

Action by:   DK

 

4.              Local Access Issues

There had been circulated Report No. SLLAF-05-07 by the Access Officer detailing local access issues in Skye and Lochalsh and recommending, where appropriate, a course of action.

The Forum agreed to note the Report.

Action by:   DK


 

5.              Access and Common Grazings

There had been circulated the letter of 18 November 2007 by the Chairman to Ross, Skye and Inverness West MSPs.  The Chairman advised that one response had been received from Dave Thompson, MSP.  The Chairman’s opinion was that the Forum had done all that it could do in this regard and that it was up to the National Farmers Union Scotland and the Scottish Crofting Foundation to monitor the situation and report incidents.

 

The Forum noted the letter and agreed that the Chairman would write to the National Farmers Union Scotland and the Scottish Crofting Foundation requesting that they advise their Members to monitor the situation and report incidents.

Action by:  WP 

 

6.              National Access Forum Joint Meeting with Local Access Fora

The above Meeting had taken place in Aberdeen on 31 October 2007 and in connection with this a letter of 4 November 2007 from the Chairman had been circulated.  

The Forum agreed:-

(1) to note the letter;  and

(2) to ask the Chairman and Brian Linnington to agree the terms of a 

     letter to be sent to Mark Wrightham asking that the Forum be given

     ample notice of future meetings of the National Access Forum and

     be invited to propose agenda items.

Action by:  WP/BL

 

7.              Representation on the Forum

There was a discussion based on paragraph 3 of the Chairman’s letter of 4 November 2007 referred to above. 

 

The Head of Environment advised the Forum that he had met with the Director of Planning and Development and the Chairman of the Planning, Environment and Development Committee to discuss how casual vacancies would be handled and the outcome of this meeting had been that unless there was a desperate need to do so it was probably not worth bringing in new Members at this late stage given the Core Path Planning consultation.  The Head of Environment would be taking a Report to the Planning, Environment and Development Committee in March 2008 regarding the structuring of Fora in the Highlands and it would be proposed that the current Fora would continue until the Core Path Plans were approved.

The Forum agreed:

(1) to note the position;  and

(2) to invite the Skye and Lochalsh Access Panel to nominate someone

     to the Forum.

Action by:  GR

 

8.              Forum Involvement in Planning Decisions

Following discussion it was agreed that when the Access Officer identified a problem from his perusal of the weekly Planning List and if it was something that required to be brought to the attention of the Forum, he would email all Forum Members for their view.

Action by:   DK

 

9.              Paths for All Networking Event on 28 November 2007

The Chairman reported that very few ordinary members of Access Fora were present with most attending being representatives of agencies.  He thought that the timing of the event was not the best and that it had been organised in somewhat of a rush.

The Forum noted the position.

 

10.         Any other Competent Business

10.1  Dealing with Access Issues

The Access Officer advised that it was likely that in the future the Forum would require to address an access issue on Raasay.  There then followed a discussion on the procedure to be followed which ranged from the Forum being shown a video/pictures of the site and inviting written submissions or for the whole Forum to view the site and hear the views of all parties to the issue.

The Committee noted that, depending on the access issue, either procedure could be followed, the important point being that natural justice was followed and that all parties were given an opportunity to be heard.

10.2  Funding

The Head of Environment advised the Committee that he had received preliminary advice from the Scottish Government with regard to next year’s funding but no detail.  However, the suggestion was that there would be no additional money for core paths but this would not be confirmed until later on in December.

10.3  Pan-Highland Conference

The Head of Environment reported that the Pan-Highland Conference would be held at the end of March beginning of April 2008 and Members were invited to advise Geoff Robson (Geoff.Robson@highland.gov.uk) of agenda items.

Action by:  ALL

It was agreed that the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman would represent Skye and Lochalsh Local Access Forum at the Conference.

Action by GR 

 

11.         Date of next Meeting

The Forum agreed that the next Meeting would be at 7.00 pm on 11 February 2008 in Kyleakin Community Hall.  

Action by:  AHM


The Meeting closed at 9.30 pm.