This is the 6th Annual Report of BCCG and we continue our work in four main areas consistent with our Constitution and Objectives.
Perth and Kinross Council are now working on the Local Development Plan Review (2018-2023) (LDP2) which has to be consistent with TAYPLAN, the overall strategy for the wider area. We continue to be generally supportive of TAYPLAN and the present Local Development Plan , and we continue to monitor any proposals for alterations and in particular the Housing in the Countryside Policy (HICP). As we mentioned in our last Annual Report, the HICP has not been rigorously applied in the past and developments must be monitored.
P&K adopted in June 2015 a Landscape Supplementary Guidance to incorporate the review in which we participated and we reported on last year . The Sidlaw Hills, which includes our BCCG area, is one of the eleven areas within Perth and Kinross identified as Special Landscape Areas. It is worth stating here the objectives for the Sidlaws which are incorporated into the Guidance
• Seek to manage and expand woodland cover with native and other appropriate species in glens thus strengthening the woodland network which already exists.
• Ensure high design quality of new development in this landscape
• Ensure long-term maintenance of policy woodlands and designed landscapes, whether inventory listed or otherwise, which make a strong contribution to this area
• Preserve distinctive character of small villages along the Braes of the Carse
• Ensure particular care in siting and design of potentially intrusive structures such as masts and wind turbines
With the addition of improving and preserving our wildlife and their habitats, these objectives are very much what BCCG is all about.
The proposed windfarm required close attention early in the year but by September I was able to write to all members with the positive news that all the work over the past two years and more has paid off. The so called “Community wind Farm” ownership scheme advocated by a trust based in Coupar Angus was not deemed viable , Banks have had to take down their wind monitoring mast, and are thought unlikely to proceed with the project. Both groups may return to the matter at some future date, so the present battle may have been won but the war may not have ended.
Other development applications
We continue to examine planning applications in our area by co operating with Inchture Community Council and viewing the P&K web site. We bring applications to the attention of members and where we see that our overall objectives or the policies of P&K are under threat , we may submit an objection. From time to time we also submit a letter of support to a planning application. It is not always practical for us to circulate our membership before taking a view on an application, we rely on the members of our committee to get local views, and then our response is made by our Secretary on behalf of the committee. It is therefore important that members keep us informed of their opinions but our policy is still not to comment on minor local applications unless they have wider potential impact on our area. We are but one voice in the planning process , but our experience in the past year, is that our submissions are regarded with some considerable weight and are duly considered by those responsible for the final decisions.
We have been co-operating with the Tay Landscape Partnership in the past year. They have identified some 15 sites within our area which have been prioritised for improvement and management plans drawn up.
Our original Bird box programme has been extended into the priority areas and ringing and fledgling records maintained. A further 42 birdboxes and 21 bat boxes have been installed by Barry Caudwell but due to the weather conditions this year fledgling performance has not been good . The project however is not for short term results and we are all at the mercy of the weather.
We have recently agreed with TLP to start another project to encourage landowners and farmers to re-plant hedges and tree lines around field edges. This will be similar to the project we ran successfully in 2012 and 2013 . We shall shortly publicise the details of this initiative with the hope of starting to plant this year and lining up sites for further planting next year. It is also hoped to incorporate further fruit trees into our planting programme to continue the work of re-establishing the orchards of the Carse and the wider area.
Members and all interested in the environment are encouraged to follow the progress of TLP on www.taylp.org
We continue to explore ways to encourage good design in the built environment and identify community led projects to improve our natural environment. We recently decided at committee level to start a programme of identifying key targets for improvement for each of the villages and their environs in the BCCG area. The village representatives on our committee will take this forward over the next twelve months.
As a group we also need to establish a more secure funding basis and ensure our web site is up to date and of use to our members.
I retire as Chairman at the end of the AGM and hand over to Graham Nicholson for the next two years. I would like to thank our membership and the committee for their support and dedication and look forward to continuing to support the BCCG.
Malcolm McSwan, Chairman