April 2023 Minutes

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This meeting took place in Lochearnhead Village Hall at 7:30 p.m. on 5th April 2023. It was chaired by DCJ.
Present: David Johnston (DCJ), Andrew Poulter (AP), Ruth McLusky (RM), Carolyn Brooks (CB), Daniel Jarrett (DJT), Angus Cameron (AC), Bob Wells (RJW).
Apologies: Donald MacLaren (DM).
Also Attending: Cllr Gene Maxwell (GM), Stirling Council; David Fettes (DF), Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority (LLTNPA); PC Heather Campbell (HC), Police Scotland; Paul Hicks (PH), minute-taker.

1.          Approval of previous minutes

It was proposed by RM and seconded by CB, that the minutes of the meeting on 22nd February 2023 should be accepted and this was approved unanimously.

2.          Declarations of Interest

There were no declarations of interest.

3.          Police Report (23 Feb to 4 Apr 2023)

During this period, in terms of anti-social behaviour, there were two
incidents requiring police attention. On 6th March, officers were asked
to assist in dealing with two disgruntled employees and escorted them
away from the area. On 16th March, a report of suspicious behaviour
was received concerning four people at a property in Balquhidder, but
it transpired that those at the property were staying there and not
committing any offences. In terms of other incidents, one offence of
fishing without legal right or permission was detected and reported to
the Procurator Fiscal. On 23rd February, officers were asked by a family
member to conduct a welfare check for two residents in Strathyre and
were able to confirm that both parties were safe and well.
In terms of road safety, an incident of "hit-and-run" driving was
reported on 8th March to a police patrol and the offending vehicle was
subsequently traced in Invelochlarig. Enquiries showed that it had
been stolen from another area. It was removed for forensic
examination and enquiries are ongoing. On 23rd February, a report was
received of a vehicle towing a boat and overtaking in a dangerous
manner near Strathyre. The registered number of the vehicle had
been noted by the caller but later proved to be incorrect and the
person reporting declined to proceed further with the complaint. On
the same day, a call was received of an insecure vehicle parked near the Broch Café in Strathyre. It transpired that the owner had
inadvertently left a door open and then gone off for a walk. In March,
there were two reports of deer having struck vehicles in different
incidents near Lochearnhead. In one case, a vehicle received
significant damage and had to be recovered to a garage for repairs; in
the other, a wounded animal had to be despatched at the scene. Also,
during this period, numerous road traffic offences were dealt with by
the police, with some offenders being reported to the Procurator
Fiscal and others receiving fixed penalty notices.

4.          Drummond Wind Farm - Alan Greenwood, SSE Renewables

DCJ welcomed Alan Greenwood, Stakeholder Engagement Manager at
SSE Renewables, with two of his colleagues, to address the meeting
regarding the scoping request made to the Scottish Government for
the development of a wind farm at Drummond, near Lochearnhead.
Mr Greenwood explained that this project was still in its very early
stages with early assessment work taking place over the next two
months to establish the potential for an on-shore wind farm. He said
that the company already operated wind farms and hydro schemes in
Scotland and was looking to expand its existing two gigawatts capacity
by another gigawatt. Together with his colleagues, he then gave
further details about the proposal to build fourteen turbines with a
height of approximately 180 metres to the blade tip.
The project had begun with desktop assessments and early indications
were that this would be a favourable site. The intention is to hold a
public exhibition on in the near future at which the basic outline of the
plans will be presented to local residents, with a view to seeking early
feedback about the proposals. Further data will then be gathered over
the summer and winter, with various teams of experts in fields such as
ecology, hydrology and ornithology, making surveys to prepare a
comprehensive picture of the potential, environmental impact.
Thereafter, a detailed design will be developed, taking account of the
various constraints identified. A second public exhibition will then be
held at which a more refined report will be presented.
DCJ responded that it was evident that a wide consultation was taking
place, then invited members to ask any questions that they had. He
himself began with an observation that noise was often perceived to
be a potential problem with such developments. One of the team
responded that this was indeed a recognised problem and they had a
dedicated team to manage it, adding that a decibel limit was normally set as part of the conditions of the planning permission. A preliminary
survey would be made to record background noise at present for
comparison purposes later. The latest models of turbine are capable of
being synchronised to prevent undue vibrations from “competing”
turbines. AC asked what limitations might apply to avoid disruption to
natural landscapes within the National Park. DF responded that such
matters would be addressed by the Park's planning authorities. GM
asked about access to the site and Mr Greenwood replied that this
would probably be located at Glenbeich, from the A85 between
Lochearnhead and St Fillans, but other options would be examined.
The question of communicating with local residents was discussed and
Mr Greenwood said that the two public exhibitions would form an
important part of their information strategy. In addition, all residents
will receive a letter about the project and there will be adverts and
features in the local press. The initial consultation will take place on
Wednesday 19th April and will consist of a general introduction to the
project, explaining the advantages of developing this type of power
generation and the particular suitability of the intended site. GM then
asked about the possibility of specific benefits being available to the
local community. Mr Greenwood confirmed that such benefits would
indeed be available, but the company did not wish to convey that it
was simply seeking to avoid any problems by spending money. For
example, he hoped that it might be possible to provide local work
opportunities during the construction phase. There was some detailed
discussion of how the site itself might be screened in various ways and
the team explained that considerable effort is given to examining
sightlines and views from various local landmarks before the final
design of the site is drawn up. In conclusion, the team emphasised
that the project would take many years yet to complete, with
numerous consultations and assessments required along the way.

5.        Presentation of verified accounts

AP circulated copies of the accounts for the previous twelve months
and explained that they had not yet been submitted to an
independent auditor, but that this would take place very soon. He
commented that community councils appear to receive slightly less
money than it spends each year, but that BLS community council still
had sufficient funds available to service its needs. DJT asked about
differing costs listed for bookings at some venues and AP explained
that invoices were not necessarily submitted at regular intervals. He mentioned that the Zoom subscription had been continued as it was
useful to have this facility available occasionally. Members agreed
unanimously to accept the statement of accounts.

6.          Matters arising from previous meeting

a) Collapsed wall beside A84 trunk road in Strathyre. RM reported that,
on 7th March 2023, a notification was received from Cllr Earl that
information about this damage had been passed by BEAR Scotland to
Sustrans, for their information and attention. RM added that Cllr Earl
had subsequently sent a further query regarding progress.

7.        Parking signs in passing places and alcohol bye-law signs

This matter had been discussed previously (as reported at item 8 in
the minutes of the meeting of 11th January 2023 and item 6 in the
minutes of the meeting of 22nd February 2023). RM reported that
further notification had been received on 10th March to say that those
signs previously identified as missing would be installed by contractors
that had been retained to re-surface a number of passing places along
the Stroneslaney Road. A meeting with the community council had
been scheduled on 28th April to review the Timber Transport
Management Plan and officers would be ready on that occasion to
discuss the installation of any additional signs required.

8.        MacGregor's Landing

This matter had been discussed previously (as reported at item 9 in
the minutes of the meeting of 11th January 2023 and item 7 in the
minutes of the meeting of 22nd February 2023). AP stated that there
are still advertisements for plots that have been auctioned previously,
implying either that they are not selling at auction or that purchasers
are backing out once they have seen the actual plots. DCJ mentioned
that one owner had been erecting a fence around his particular plot.
CB asked how the meeting with the National Park (LLTNPA) had gone.
DCJ said that the enforcement notice to re-instate land that had been
dug out was still being prepared. There had been a debate about the
meaning of “routes” and “paths” in connection with a potential case
of illegal selling, but Trading Standards Scotland had rejected any new
interpretation of their existing position. AP added that LLTNPA is
monitoring every sale to warn new owners of the restrictions applying
to this land. A review as to whether or not the land in question should
be included within the camping bye-law area is due soon.

9.          Forestry Work and Timber Transport

a) Possible funding for improvement of C33 road, Balquhidder . On 6th
March 2023, Stephen Bly had responded, on behalf of the Stirling
Council Network Team, to an earlier query by the community council
about this matter. He stated that Stirling Council would not be making
an application for funding from the Strategic Timber Transport Fund
(STTF) for the coming financial year. However, there was a proposal to
apply for a Preparatory Project Grant (PPG) to undertake design work
in 2023/24, with the aim of undertaking a full application in 2024/25
for a STTF grant. This would involve asking an external consultant to
undertake "investigation and design" works, once the PPG was in
place. It would include a full survey, specification and costs for any
work and discussions with landowners along the route. It would also
ensure that Stirling Council was ready to make a full STTF bid in 2024,
(assuming that STTF funding is continued). Whilst Stirling Council had
considered an earlier bid, Monachyle and Blaircriech are still in the
process of developing long-term forest plans. This means that
significant levels of harvesting are still a couple of years away and
would make a bid less appealing at present. In the mean me, Stirling
Council continues to invest in the C33 road, with resurfacing works
currently underway in the area.
CB asked when the current upgrading work was due to be finished,
pointing out that there are still ramps in place, patches left unfilled
and steep drops at edges of the tarmac in various locations. She was
concerned about the dangers of leaving a road in this condition, citing
an earlier accident when a sheep float had overturned after putting a
wheel off the road at a steep drop from a new surface. DCJ responded
that there would be opportunity to ask about this at the meeting on
28th April. (See item 7 above.) He added that some work on the
Stroneslaney Road still hadn't been completed, whilst other work was
also outstanding. GM said that he would council officers ask for a
briefing on the C33 road.

10.      Land at The Munro, Strathyre

On 17th February 2023, following a query from a local resident, AP had
contacted Stirling Council about the ongoing presence of "Private
Parking" signs around what had formerly been The Munro public
house. He had referred to the previous correspondence with Stirling
Council (as reported at item 14G in the community council minutes of
16th February 2022) in which it had been established that this property belongs to Stirling Council and may be used by members of
the public in Strathyre to park vehicles. On 22nd March, a reply was
received, clarifying that, although the land in question is indeed
owned by Stirling Council, it had not been designated as a car park, so
the erection of a sign to that effect would not be appropriate.
However, the individual who had erected a "Private Parking" sign will
be engaged by the Infrastructure Delivery Service legal officer and
asked to remove it. GM offered to check that this had been done.

11.      Correspondence

a) Stirling Council Libraries - tablet lending service. Stirling Council Library Service now offers free loans of a digital tablet, including free,
unlimited data access, for periods up to three weeks at a me. This
offer is available to anyone holding a library ticket from all its standard
branches and also from the Mobile Library van.

b) Garden waste permits. From 8th March 2023, Stirling Council residents
have been able to apply for their 2023/24 annual permit for garden
waste recycling. The price remains the same as last year (£35),
representing an average cost of £1.35 for each of the twenty-six uplifts
provided over the year. The new permits come into effect on 17th April.
More than twenty thousand permits were purchased last year and
reminder letters have been sent to all residents from today with
details of how to register and pay for the permit.

c) Local Development Plan - pre-engagement survey. RM explained to
members that Stirling Council had apparently sent this to the BLS
community council in error as its Local Development Plan does not
cover the area within the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. DCJ
confirmed that this would not concern the BLS community council.

12.    Planning Matters

a) 2023/0059/DET. Shepherds Co!age, Auchtubh, Balquhidder, FK19
8NZ. DCJ explained that this was a request for a change of use in
respect of a small cabin built previously to provide accommodation for
family members. The proposal was to allow the cabin to be rented out
generally as holiday accommodation. Two complaints from neighbouring residents had been submitted, but proper procedure had been followed and he saw no cause for concern to the wider community. Following discussion, members agreed not to make any formal comment on the application.

13.        Matters from Ward Councillors and National Park

a) Stirling Council budget. GM reported that the budget negotiations
had been difficult with significant, potential shortfalls in funding.
Much of the budget is subject to government restraints with, for
example, half of the funding having to go to schools. Some allowances
had been made by government to extend the period over which some
funding for schools would be made and some contingency funds that
had not been spent were returned. The Scottish Government had also
taken over funding for the Systema music project, but the economic
situation (with inflation affecting staff wages and building materials in
particular) meant that there would have to be an increase in council
tax, the privatisation of services such as the water bailiffs and
significant borrowing of money to balance the overall budget.

b) Waste and Recycling. There are ongoing discussions about charging
for use of the Polmaise waste management centre at Fallin. Residents
from Clackmannanshire are allegedly making inappropriate use of the
facility (which is currently free). The council is also looking at the use
of modern incinerators to avoid putting waste material into landfill.

c) Snow-clearing and gritting. Following numerous complaints about
imbalance in how this service is applied, Stirling Council will, in future,
make a point of asking communities about what is required.

14.      Community council elections

Detailed instructions and a timetable of events had been circulated to
all existing community council members regarding the forthcoming
election for new community councils. The present community council
will be dissolved at midnight on Friday 14th April 2023. Nominations
for new members may be submitted at any time from 3rd April until 4p.m. on Monday 17th April at the latest. Thereafter, if at least six new
members, but no more than nine, are nominated, no ballot will be
required and Stirling Council will proceed to set a date (on or after 24th
April) for an inaugural meeting at which new officers will be elected. If
a ballot is required, voting papers will be issued and a formal election
will take place. GM added that, following complaints about the length
of this process, an abbreviated timetable is now being prepared. For
this year only, the inaugural meetings for each new community council
will take the place of an annual general meeting. AP asked about
arrangements for publicity. In addition to the circulation of posters by
Stirling Council, members agreed arrangements to publicise the
election themselves in local groups on social media.

13.      Any other competent business

a) Larch Tree Disease. DCJ had received a letter from Nik Cox of Forestry
& Land Scotland wanting to talk about Larch disease (Phytophthora
Ramorum). He had sent a positive reply, but explained that the
vagaries of the election process might delay a formal invitation to
address the community council.

b) Balquhidder Place Plan. CB asked about the recent questionnaire that
had been circulated regarding the delivery plan for the Balquhidder
place plan. (For further background, see item 20A of the minutes of
11th January 2023.) She had received a complaint about the poor
quality of the questionnaire and was concerned that little about it had
been discussed by the community council, although the document
had been issued jointly by the BLS trust and community council. DCJ
responded that, as the only member of both the trust and the
community council, he had taken on most of the work in relation to
the questionnaire, but pointed out that few people had shown any
interest in taking responsibility for some of the points outlined in the
delivery plan. The questionnaire had been, in part, an attempt to
highlight the likelihood of the delivery plan not being fully
implemented and to gauge the interest of local residents in seeing
these points taken forward.

c) Community Council minutes. RJW asked whether it would be possible
to publish the minutes of community council meetings any earlier. DCJ
responded that this question had been discussed previously by
members, but there had been reluctance to publish them in full
before they had been properly approved at a subsequent meeting. A
compromise had been sought by allowing a draft copy of the minutes
to be published locally in The Villagers magazine.

d) Planning applications. AP commented that several National Park
planning applications still appeared to be “current” after gaps of up to
four years. GM confirmed this and said that some applications are still
live from many years ago but there is no way of removing them. He
suggested asking LLTNPA (or government ministers) to provide some
means of removing them after a given length of me.

There was no further business and, at 9:15 p.m., DCJ declared the
meeting to be closed. The next meeting is scheduled to take place at
Strathyre Village Hall on a date to be announced by Stirling Council.
This will be the inaugural meeting of the new Community Council at
which fresh office bearers will be nominated and elected.