Category Archives: Economic Development

Statement from the estate Factor about use of Tiree beaches

Following discussion of the issue of multiple reports of quantities of material described as “industrial” in some cases being removed from Tiree beaches, and also complaints about potentially dangerous/damaging driving on beaches – it was suggested by TCC at our January 2021 meeting that it would be helpful for everyone to have a clearer sense of what is and is not considered acceptable. There is a general recognition of a need to strike a balance between supporting responsible use for the benefit of traditional industry, tourism and amenity purposes, and potential risks of long-term damage or dangers to the island and people.

The Argyll Estate’s Factor, Hugh Nicol, has subsequently issued the following statement:

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 Nicol

Factor, Argyll Estates, 19 January 2021

Downloadable version: Argyll Estates Shorelines on Tiree

Scottish Government looking for ideas of how to overcome the challenges of COVID-19

The First Minister announced a website set up by Scottish Government seeking input on a “framework for decision making” in response to COVID-19. Individual members of the public and community groups and organisations can submit ideas.

This includes proposed changes and options about:

  • staying at home
  • visiting other households
  • resuming care and support for those most affected by the current restrictions
  • businesses that have been subject to restrictions or closure
  • allowing pupils to return to school

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon emphasised the need for transparency when she launched the framework and invited the people of Scotland to engage in this conversation to help us take the next steps to navigate to a new normal.

Our first public meeting of the Community Council since this situation began was held on May 6th, and the deadline is on May 11th so there is little time left for TCC to develop a full response to this on behalf of the community – but we are looking at doing what we can. However we’d encourage anyone with thoughts to submit these as an individual:

The site can be found here: https://www.ideas.gov.scot/covid-19-a-framework-for-decision-making

Tiree Transition and Future working group

Tonight the Community Council agreed there is a need to set up a working group that takes a longer term view about the future of the island, in particular issues relating to the changing climate and sea levels, and the impacts that scientists are warning  we should now expect to face.

Tiree, as a particular low-lying island, is likely to be among the most deeply affected parts of Scotland. Recently published estimates for the range of possible change in sea level we could see within the century make for sobering reading, especially when the effects of coastline erosion in light of increasingly stormy weather is taken into account.

Transition away from fossil fuels is likely to need to be greatly accelerated, and it will be vital to our island’s future that our infrastructure is prepared for that, and that local businesses are supported.

If you are interested in taking part in this group and beginning a discussion about these issues and what we might be asking be done in preparation – please get in touch with TCC member Phyl Meyer by e-mail at phyl@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

Image of a green landscape - caption "consultation"

Transient Visitor Levy consultation – a Tourist Tax for Tiree?

A consultation is currently open on the subject of giving Councils the power to implement a “Transient Visitor Levy” – i.e. a nominal charge/tax to be paid by visitors to an area for the purposes of tourism, etc, which could then be used to supplement finances to pay for local services and/or development of amenities. The measure is, among other things, intended as a possible way to address the fact that short term holiday lets result in additional load to civic services such as rubbish collection, water, sewerage etc while often not directly (or proportionately) contributing towards the funding of those services, but can also be used as a way to fund other development and improvements.

The TCC briefly discussed it at our meeting last night but there was insufficient time for a detailed analysis, although points that were made included the suggestion that provided such a scheme were implemented in a way which was not overly burdensome administratively to those operating holiday lets it could be of particular benefit to island communities such as Tiree by raising very useful additional funds.

The consultation closes on December 2nd – which means we will not be able to discuss it further at a future meeting before the deadline – therefore we are inviting members of the community to either submit their own responses in an individual capacity, or to e-mail our new Secretary with your views, and we will aim to submit a consolidated response on behalf of the Community Council that covers the input we receive.

The consultation can be found here:
https://consult.gov.scot/local-government-and-communities/visitor-levy/

Front cover of the Isle of Tiree Sustainable Design Guidance document

Time for an update? – Tiree’s sustainable design planning guidance

At our meeting last night there was discussion about the planning guidance available to local residents seeking to develop their homes or construct new buildings. The meeting agreed it would be helpful to draw to the community’s attention the existing guidance, to which planning decisions must have reference, which was published in 2007.

The document was held to be an excellent and most helpful piece of planning guidance that should be the envy of many other communities, but there was general agreement that there would be benefit in exploring the possibility of it being given an update (the previous consultation on it now being 12 years old) and that in particular it would be useful to develop more detail around the ways in which design of buildings could evolve in future.

Councillors and members of the public suggested that residents keen to explore use of new materials and construction methods might find it useful for the guidance to explore further how a balance could be struck between innovation and having regard for the distinctive look and feel of Tiree.

The TCC agreed to reach out to the Council Planning department to see what options might be available to explore this. The existing guidance can be found on the Argyll and Bute Council website here:

https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/sites/default/files/planning-and-environment/isle%20of%20tiree%20sustainable%20design%20guidance.pdf

Scottish Land Commission logo

Public Meeting – Scottish Land Commission – community land buyouts

Members of the community may be interested to attend this meeting, discussing a subject very relevant to the future community-led development of Tiree. The event is free to attend and open to any member of the public:

Public Meeting: An Talla, Crossapol, Tiree – Monday 25 November 2019, 7pm

Come along and find out how your community can benefit from:

  • transforming vacant and derelict land
  • community ownership
  • community engagement in decisions relating to land
  • modernising land ownership.

This is a free event, open to all. Tea & coffee will be provided.

For more information please contact us on: info@landcommission.gov.scot or 01463 423 300

Public Meeting – Tiree – 25 November 2019

Charrette Outcomes Public Meeting: Wed 22 March 7.30 @An Talla

Most of you will remember the Island Futures Charrette workshops that took place last year, facilitated by Ironside Farrar Ltd. A variety of public meetings and workshops were carried out and attended by the community who were encouraged to input into the process.
The results from the Charrette were presented to The Trust in the form of a Socio-Economic Baseline Study and a Strategy Report.  In October of 2016, Tiree Trust held a public meeting to present the key information collated from the reports. Unfortunately, this meeting wasn’t well attended and it was felt that we should re arrange the meeting in order to give the community another chance to learn about the key results from the Charrette process and what the ‘next steps’ would be in relation to the recommendations.

The second public meeting will be taking place on Wednesday the 22nd of March at 7:30pm in An Talla and we would urge as many people as possible to come along.

You can find out more at http://www.tireetrust.org.uk/charrette-outcomes-public-meeting/

Socio-Economic Study Results

Tiree Community Development Trust recently presented the final Socio Economic Study and Strategy Report, which were the two main outputs from the work carried out by Ironside Farrar Ltd, the consultancy firm employed to deliver the Charrette for the Trust. You can see the two documents below:

Socio Economic Study http://www.tireetrust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Tiree-Socio-Economic-Baseline-Study-EKOS-FINAL-2.pdf

Strategy Report http://www.tireetrust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/8622-Tiree-Strategy-Report-FINAL-2.pdf

SNH consultation on proposed marine Special Protection Areas for seabirds

EDIT – 11/10/16

Tiree Community Council made the following submission:

‘Tiree Community Council (TCC) considered the proposed Special Protection Area for Tiree and Coll at its public meeting on 7th September. We acknowledge that we do not possess relevant expertise in maritime ecology; our job is to represent the views and interests of our constituents on the electoral roll of the island. The matter was an agenda item, which was advertised in advance. The pSPA was also flagged prominently on the TCC website and comments were solicited. At the public meeting a member of the public commended the report as balanced. As a member of the pressure group No Tiree Array he had already provided a detailed submission to the consultation process. As Convenor I reported that I had held a meeting with two island fishermen, who were very concerned about the proposed SPA. They pointed out that fishing was one of the three pillars of the Tiree economy, and, significantly, encouraged young families to stay on the island. They pointed out that the bird population figures behind the proposals were at least ten years old and may not accurately describe the present situation. These fishermen had told me that, while the present local static gear fishery was not thought to impact significantly on the two bird species concerned, experience in other marine protected areas was towards tighter regulations as time went on. One of the fishermen made limited use of a set net for bait, and this catch was worth £15,000 a year to him. The other fishermen said he had made plans to buy equipment to start limited dredging and the proposed tightening of this form of fishing would load significant pressure onto his already fragile business. They were strongly against the proposals, and in particular, the inclusion of the south coast of the island. There have been no other comments to TCC about the pSPA.’

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Tiree Community Council are looking for feedback on the following SNH consultation.

http://www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/protected-areas/proposed-marine-spas/

(Special Protection Areas) SPA are particularly relevant for creel (static gear) fishermen, but also important for overall marine conservation and preservation of marine habitats.

Please leave feedback in the comments section on the website!

Deadline for the consultation is 21 September. If you would prefer to submit a response directly to SNH you can do so at the following link.

http://www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/protected-areas/proposed-marine-spas/

Croft House Grant Scheme to stay in Tiree

The Scottish Government confirmed this week that there are no plans to change the current location of the Croft House Grants Scheme office.

Following a query by the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee (RACE), the Scottish Government gave the following reply.

The Committee requested confirmation from the Scottish Government that the croft
house grant arrangements would continue to be administered from the Isle of Tiree.

The Scottish Government confirms that there are no plans to move the administration of the croft house grant arrangements from Tiree.

The full text of the communication is attached here 20160309_Croft_House_Grant_Scheme