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Minutes October 2014

Minutes of Meeting of the Dunnet & Canisbay Community Council

Held in Mey Village Hall

On Wednesday 22nd October 2014

Those Present:   John Green, Chairman

                           Christopher Hobson, Treasurer

                           Bill Mowat

                           Eric Green

                           Barbara Hiddleston, Secretary

                           Willie MacKay, Highland Councillor

                           Matthew Reiss, Highland Councillor

There were 15 members of the public in attendance

Apologies:     Apologies were received from Ann Shearer

MEYGEN

The Chairman welcomed Ed Rowlands, Dan Pearson and Guy Newson of Meygen Ltd. the development company and project sponsor for the tidal stream project.

Dan Pearson then proceeded to give a presentation on the update of the MeyGen project. He began by apologising for lack of public meetings as the company prides itself on communication with the public, but they had been busy getting everything together.

Simply put, the project was gathering momentum and the advanced state of funding was in place.  They had secured a lease from the Crown Estate who owns the 3.5m square of fast flowing water between the island of Stroma and the north easterly tip of the Scottish mainland.

It was their intention to set in place 61 turbines which would deliver 398 MW renewable energy plant which would generate the equivalent electricity to power 40,000 Scottish homes by the early 2020’s.

The power harvested would be sent from each turbine 1.5 k to the shore at Ness of Quoys by cable individually laid on the seabed to three buildings where it would be processed for sending down the line by cable.

He pointed out that MeyGen Ltd was ‘at and in the future’ of producing electricity by this method, and it was a demonstration project, and they were learning as they went on.

In the meantime they were starting with 4 turbines and one building. He then proceeded to explain the contracting and funders structure, gave the detailed design and execution phases, and the project milestones. This phase 1A of the project which had begun in July this year, would be completed by February 2017, with the first cable installation in the July Neap tide next year (2015), the first turbine installation in March 2016 and the last in October of that year (2014). There would be a year of testing such things as the effects on the turbines and on wildlife. Preparation for the next phase would be for a maximum of 10 turbines when the new system of transmission comes into use. 

The company had been given planning permission for 3 buildings.  The dimensions of the latest design was 40m x 18m x 5m.clad in steel and would be sustainable for 25 years. This replaced an earlier more elaborate style which was designed to make a feature out of it.

A lively discussion then ensued and several issues were raised and answered. It began with the debate on the proposed design of the onshore building.  Dan Pearson made assurances that much thought had been given to this.  Whilst the Highland Planning Committee had granted permission in principle, its design was still under consideration. MeyGen Ltd. welcomed the support of the Community Council and any input from the public.

It was envisaged that ground works and buildings would be tendered locally to give employment to the area. Whilst three turbines themselves were being constructed in Austria and the other in Nigg, it was the also envisaged eventually have them built in Scotland.

MayGen Ltd. was very interested in liaising with Thurso College to create Apprenticeships on the maintenance turbines and on High Voltage Connection, but emphasised that these courses should multidisciplinary and include working on land wind turbines.   They were already working with Thurso Chamber of Commerce.

Dan Pearson again emphasised that the project is still in in an experimental stage, and we can only wait and see the results, and watch the opportunities grow.

He ended his presentation by announcing there would be an exhibition held locally sometime in November, and would welcome any ideas on how best to present it to the public.

The Chairman thanked MeyGen Ltd. for their presentation, who then left the meeting along with most of the public, leaving two in attendance.

Business Meeting

1.         Minutes of Previous Meeting:

1.1.      Due to the unquorate attendance at the last meeting held on 24h September 2014 the Minutes of the meeting held on 27th August 2014 could not be approved.  Bill Mowat proposed they be accepted and John Green seconded.  The proceedings of the last meeting held on 24th September were noted.

2.         Matters Arising.

2.1.      Item 2.3. Proposed tidying up outside the Canisbay Doctor’s Surgery area. See Chairman’s report.

2.2.      Item 2.1.2. Proposed Tarmacking of this area. Councillor MacKay was waiting for a response.  

2.3.      Item 2.4. Access improvement work at Dunnet Head and Dunnet Bay. Thanks to Councillor MacKay, this had been widely reported in the local press, and work was due to begin in the Spring.

2.4.      Item 2.4.2. Caravan Site Entrance at Dunnet Bay.  This was in hand.

2.5.      Item 2.5. Canisbay Church Gate. John Green reported that Christine Shearer had obtained a quote for ‘a like for like’ gate for £800. As it is a listed building and the procedure unclear, Barbara Hiddleston agreed to liaise with her to find out the next step.                                Action Barbara

2.6.      Item 2.6.Sign for Dwarwick Pier. Chris Hobson reported that the sign had been duly erected.

2.6.1    Item 2.8.Dunnet Children’s Playpark. Chris Hobson also reported that the Playpark was being used since its improvements.

2.6.2    A response was being waited for a quote for further improvements.

 3.        Chairman’s Report.

3.1.      Issues were raised under other headings.

3.2.1    A short discussion took place on the MeyGen Ltd. presentation, which it was all agreed was very very instructive and clarifying.

3.2.2.   But there did not appear to be a Highland Council master plan for similar tidal stream projects.  Councillor MacKay agreed to take this issue forward.                Action Councillor MacKay

4.         Treasurer’s Report.

4.1.      Chris Hobson informed the committee that they had received a cheque for £1,150 from the Village Officer’s Fund through the Association of Community Councillors. It was noted that it was £29 short of the full bill for work carried out on the Canisbay Doctors’ Surgery Area.                Action Chris

4.2.      As from the 15th October 2014 the balance stood at £3,286.00

5.         Planning.

5.1       Natural Retreats Report:   Change of location of the turning circle at John O’Groats.

            As there appeared to be complete lack of action, it was agreed that Natural Retreats be invited to our Community Council Meeting to give an update.                                            Action Barbara

5.2.      Planning Lists. These were noted.

6.         Stroupster Wind Farm Community Benefit.

6.1.1    At the recent meeting with Foundation Scotland when discussions took place regarding the timeline of action and a CARES application was agreed. This Government Scheme provides funding for a consultancy to establish what projects the community would like to invest from the projected Stroupster Community Fund.

6.1.2.  John Green proposed that we sign the document to enable Foundation Scotland to apply for a grant on our behalf.  This was unanimously agreed, duly signed and the document will be sent back to them.                                                                                                                           Action John

6.1.3    Eric Green put forward the idea that we should consider an approach to an experienced community council like Tannach to find out more information on the issue of community benefit. John Green agreed to make contact.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Action John

6.2.      Due to lack of time, the Memo of Understanding was not discussed so It was proposed to have a separate meeting to discuss this and the logistics of the meeting to be held to inform the public of the community benefit.                                                                                                Action.Barbara

6.3.      Further additions were made to the list of the clubs and societies in the benefit area.  (Attached). As these would all be required to be contacted to invite them to the public meeting, it was agreed the Secretary would investigate this matter.                                                                        Action Barbara

7.         Berriedale Braes.

7.1.      John Green had circulated the reply from the Chief Constable on this matter, which explained that the local garage had taken charge of the incident.

7.2.      Concern was expressed regarding the slippage on the south brae of the Berriedale Braes, which

            Councillor MacKay agreed to pursue.                                                     Action Councillor MacKay

8.         Proposed Art Piece for John O’Groats. John Green reported that he had been in touch with the organisers, who assured him the local artists were aware of the competition.  It would appear that it had attracted international interest. .The first stage of selection will be held on the 24th November in Inverness.

9.         AOB.

9.1.      Wick High School.  Disquiet was expressed at the delay in the building of the new Wick High School where the children of Canisbay Primary School would eventually attend.  Councillor MacKay was unable to allay worries, but said this issue was being questioned on a regular basis by Councillor Bill Fernie.

9.2.1    Deloitte Ride Across Britain Race 2014.  Concern was expressed at the behaviour of the Deloitte RAB cyclist who had attended this meeting in John 0’Groats.  Their lack of using the toilet facilities provided was particularly noticed as was the organisation of parking their bike taking up the whole car park, and being stopped by the organisers which was illegal, both actions prevented, the local people from accessing the area.

9.2.2    It was suggested that a tactful letter of complaint should be written to them, pointing out that they are very welcome to visit Caithness but should improve their behaviour.                   Action Barbara

9.3.1    Seater Road damage.  It was pointed out that trucks from Gills Harbour were taking a shortcut through Seater Road, damaging the surface.

9.3.2.   As Jonathon Gunn of TECs had carried out a recent survey of this road, Councillor MacKay suggested contacting him at Jonathon.Gunn@highland.gov.uk. Chris agreed to take this further.                                                                                                                                           Action Chris

9.4.      Railways.  Annoyance was expressed regarding the lack of use of trains for transportation of goods to Caithness.  Councillor MacKay informed those present that this issue had been heavily debated at Highland Council level to no avail.  It would seem it was more economical and efficient for companies to use the roads.

9.5.      Caithness District Partnership.  The Secretary gave Chris Hobson a posert advertising the Caithness District Partnership open meeting  to be held on the 31st October 2014 in The Chamber, Wick Town Hall 10-12 am, which he hoped to attend.

10.       Date of Next Meeting.

            The next meeting will be held on the Wednesday 26th November 2014 in John O’Groats Hall, at 7.30 p.m.

 

 

Draft List of Societies, Clubs, Associations and Committees: Those in italics have recently been added

Britannia Hall, Dunnet

Mey Village Hall,

Canisbay Village Hall, Canisbay;

John O’Groats Village Hall.

Mey Gardening Club

Pentland Rifle Club

John O’Groats Football Club

Dunnet Forest Trust

W.R.I.

St. John’s Loch Association

Dunnet Christmas Lights

John O’Groats Christmas Lights

P.T.A. Canisbay School

Mothers & Toddlers Group, Canisbay

Children’s Play Group Crossroads School

Children’s Play Park Committee, Dunnet

Dwarwick Pier Association

Brough Bay Pier Association

Freswick Hall Committee

Auckengill Hall Committee

Pentand Football Club

Wednesday’s over 50’s Club

Canisbay Youth Club

John o’Groat Junior Football Club

Any local School Clubs to get the 14-18 age Group feedback

Crofter’s Commission Grazing Bodies

Gills Harbour Ltd.,

John’OGroats business promotion groups.

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