Caithness Chair encourages people to take part in Flow Country World Heritage Site consultation

image for webThe Peatlands Partnership is announcing the start of an extensive community consultation over a proposed World Heritage Site for The Flow Country, the vast area of peatlands in Sutherland and Caithness that is now widely recognised as being the best peatland of its type in the world. 

Caithness and Sutherland Highland Councillors are encouraging people to take up the opportunity to come along to a series of drop-in events to find out more about what the World Heritage Site Project is all about and what it might mean for them.

The consultation process will start on Tuesday, May 14th in Wick with the first of a series of thirteen drop in events around the area. 

Chair of the Caithness Committee, Councillor Matthew Reiss hopes as many people as possible come along to the sessions.  He said: “The increasing profile and importance of the unique Flow Country is a good news story for Caithness and Sutherland. It is accessible from the NC 500 which is bringing more tourists and making more people aware of its unique importance. Looking forward I can see new exciting opportunities for businesses and communities opening up across the north. We are looking for people to get involved, put forward their ideas and pass on their comments so we can capture local views and take them on board as plans go forward.”

The drop-in events, which will run from 11am to 7pm, except for Golspie which will be from 1pm to 7pm, are part of a larger community consultation about the whole idea of a World Heritage Site in The Flow Country.

The timetable for the drop-in events, running from 11am to 7pm, is as follows:

14th May

Pulteney Centre, Wick

15th May

Golspie Community Centre (1pm-7pm)

16th May

Timespan, Helmsdale

17th May

Dunbeath Heritage Centre

20th May

Brora Community Centre

21st May

Lybster Community Centre

22nd May

Altnaharra Hotel

23rd May

Youth Centre, Halkirk

24th May

Thurso Library

27th May

Lairg Community Centre

28th May

Strathy Village Hall

29th May

Tongue Village Hall

30th May

Kinbrace Hall

The Partnership will collate all the feedback from these meetings.

Joe Perry, the Peatland Partnership’s World Heritage Site’s Project Coordinator said: “A Flow Country World Heritage Site would not only be an enormous accolade for the area and the many organisations, land managers, crofters and farmers who have maintained this land for generations but it could also bring many positive development opportunities and undoubtedly some challenges too.

The purpose of the consultation is to find out what our local communities think about this idea and to see if we can help meet some of their aspirations through developing a World Heritage Site that meets their needs as well as recognizing the global importance of this vast peatland.”

Joe and Working Group members will be on hand at the drop in sessions to speak to folk and note their comments. Feedback forms will also be available which can be completed there and then or taken home to complete and send in at a later date.

If anyone cannot attend the drop-in events, consultation forms will also be available on The Flow Country website at: http://www.theflowcountry.org.uk/world-heritage-site and on The Highland Council’s online consultation portal at: http://consult.highland.gov.uk/portal/environment/flow_country_whs/flow_country_whs.

Both these can be accessed from Tuesday, 14th May.

David Richardson, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The Flow Country is of international significance and yet it remains one of our best kept secrets and an underutilised asset. Population forecasts for 2016 to 2041 show a 21.1% decline in Caithness and an 11.9% decline in Sutherland, and many of the people remaining will be aging fast. We must do more to retain our young people and attract more young families to move in, and World Heritage Site status can and should play an important role. Not only will it protect what matters to us all environmentally, it will also preserve traditional land-uses and open up a whole range of new, sensitive, compatible and sustainable business opportunities. These, together with the many great businesses already in existence, will be able to market themselves as belonging to The Flow Country World Heritage Site – a powerful brand to conjure with!”

 

 

2 May 2019
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