Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council 24 January 2022 by Zoom
Eric Green (Chair)
Barry Butler (Treasurer)
Mark Gibson (Secretary)
Highland Councillor: Jill Tilt
Ward Manager: MacKenzie Sutherland
Apologies: Bill Mowat (IT Issues
1) Minutes of previous Meeting
These were agreed. Proposed: Beatrice Farmer; Seconded: Barry Butler.
2) Chairs Report
Councillor Green noted that he had been in touch with the Caithness Voluntary Group in relation to the proposal to revamp the Local Plan. A full proposal for this will be back on the table for the February meeting.
He noted that all other items that he wished to comment on were on the agenda.
3) Treasurers Report
Councillor Butler noted that the process of changing bank accounts could be progressed. He asked which signatories should be placed on the account.
Councillor Green proposed that all the Community Councillors could be signatories. This made it easier to find someone available to countersign payments and also made it easier in the event of any change of office bearers. This was agreed with the caveat that Councillors would need to take along ID to the branch for verification and also had the option to opt out if they wanted.
Councillor Butler noted that the account currently stood at £1987.8
4) Secretaries Report
4a Proposed meeting Dates 2022
A list of dates was proposed for agreement. These were agreed as follows:
21 February. 28 March. 25 April. 23 May. 27 June. 25 July. August no meeting. 26 September. 24 October. 28 November. December no meeting.
4b Locations of Meetings, timings and return to in person public meetings
There was a discussion over the return to face to face meetings. It was noted that virtual meetings were very difficult given connectivity issues within the area, quality and the opportunity for public access. Equally it was acknowledged that for some, virtual meetings enabled them to attend when otherwise they might not be able.
Councillor Gibson suggested a hybrid approach if possible with face to face meetings alongside the opportunity to join by video conference.
Councillor Green noted that Canisbay Hall had some facilities which would enable this. Mackenzie Sutherland noted that a risk assessment would need to be done and Covid mitigations made.
It was agreed to trial a hybrid system on 21 February at Canisbay Hall. Councillor Gunn agreed to book the hall for the meeting.
Councillor James proposed that a high quality webcam be purchased to facilitate this hybrid meeting style. This was agreed.
4c Queens’ Platinum Jubilee Beacon
The community council has been approached by the Help for Heroes Charity in regard to the lighting of a beacon for the Queens’ Platinum Jubilee. It was agreed that John o’Groats or Duncansby Head might be a suitable location for this and further information would be sought from Help For Heroes.
4d Social Media Refresh
It was noted that the social media page is ore or less inactive. Generally posts require the permission of all the community councillors and this meant that spontaneous comments were difficult. It was agreed that as a way forward the Facebook Page would be used to advertise future meetings and also note items that the Community Council had discussed on agendas.
4e Orca Watch 2022
It was noted that Orca Watch were planning an in person event in 2022 and were keen to work with the community to make it of benefit for all. Suggestions were given such as giving talks locally on the animals and working with local people to minimise friction points etc.
It was agreed that the dialogue with Orca Watch was constructive and good model. The Community Council would continue to liaise with the group in their plans.
4f Other Correspondence not captured in the Agenda
Highland Councillor Jill Tilt provided a very useful written update on issues raised with her at the previous meeting. She was thanked for this and for attending the meetings with the community council since her election.
5) Renewable Energy
5a Slickly Update
Statkraft submitted a planning appeal in September 2021. A reporter was appointed and visited the site in November 2021. The inquiry will possibly take place in the Spring of 2022.
5b Offshore Wind Auctions
It was noted that two of these offshore wind sites were in proximity to the Community council coastal visibility area. It was agreed to keep a watching brief on these developments.
5c Hollandmey: Stocktake of Community Council Position
There was an open discussion on the Hollandmey windfarm proposals. It was noted that there had been some opposition to the proposals and it was important to discuss this and consider the Community councils approach. Councillor Gibson had shared details of that representation and that the council had been asked to review and reconsider its neutral stance. A number of Community Councillors declared an interest in that they lived near enough to the proposed site to be potentially affected by it.
Councillor James noted that he lived close to the site but had no objection to it. He noted that he had been impressed by the quality of the information sought by organisation as part of the studies and consultation. He had not heard from anyone in his immediate area who opposed this.
Councillor Farmer also noted that she had received no representations from anyone against the proposals and the ones she had spoken to had expressed no concerns.
Councillor Gunn and Councillor Butler noted that they were neutral on the proposal.
Councillor Green added that if the information and research had been done properly then he could see little impact and that developers had produced some useful factual information. He noted that no-one had come to him to raise an objection.
Councillor Green noted he could not see sufficient opposition in Dunnet and Canisbay to justify a change in the current neutral stance.
It was agreed to maintain the current stance.
6) Transport and Infrastructure
6a Airport Update
Councillor Whittaker gave an update on the airport situation and proposals that could lead to what has been described as a “downgrade”. It was noted with satisfaction that the proposals for Air Traffic Control had been paused. The issue would be kept under scrutiny.
It was reiterated that Wick John O,Groats Airport would be an ideal place to run smaller greener aircraft on shorter flights, both for business and tourism, to meet local need. What was needed was ambition.
Councillor Green noted that there was not a insignificant population to drawn upon within the catchment area of the airport for such flights.
There was a lively discussion the state of the roads. Numerous areas where work was needed for safety were highlighted including the main A99 in John o’Groats, the road from Upper Gills, the road in Canisbay from the School to the Kirk and various areas where white lining had faded to nothing or not been done at all. The road junction from the Gills ferry was pointed out as a potential hazard.
Councillor Green asked why white lining had not been carried out when its cost must be insignificant. The Community Council was informed that Contractors often were unwilling to travel to Caithness to carry out small white lining jobs.
Councillor Green noted that the £45 million pounds needed to make the Caithness Roads safe and drivable sounded like a large amount but in the context of overall Scottish Government was a drop in the ocean.
Councillor Green noted that it should not be difficult to expect a relationship between BEAR Scotland who maintained the Trunk Roads and Highland Council in order to carry out essential white lining. He noted that some parts of the road network was dangerous and as someone who travel many miles around Scotland he added that he felt that Caithness roads were in the worst condition. He looked to Councillor Jill Tilt to support and represent the view of the community Council to make sure the roads are repaired and maintained.
Councillor Tilt noted that currently every road in Caithness was being surveyed and that a priority list would be drawn up for repair.
6c Dunnet Head Visitor Management
Councillor Farmer noted that she had attended a Dunnet Head Visitor Management meeting on behalf of the Community Council.
Numerous issues had bee raised at the meeting including littering, barbecues and overnight parking. There was also another issue raised by the RSPB in terms of drones being used on the Head which were disturbing nesting birds at key times in the breeding season.
Councillor James pointed out that some activities such as overnight camping were not prohibited and this included in vehicles if not more than a certain distance off road.
Councillor Farmer said that some had been further than than and that there was a danger on the Head with open fires and Barbecues. Proposals being looked at included signage advising people of good etiquette and of the rules. There would be extra litter bins provided. Some further actions were constrained by a need to understand who had grazing or peat rights in the area. This was being investigated. There was also a proposal to reduce the speed limit through Brough.
Councillor Green noted that the Community Council was willing to assist. He also noted that this should be a process to persuade people to behave in the right way.
Councillor James agreed in that rights come with obligations and responsibilities.
The next meeting of the group is scheduled for the end of February.
8) Any Other Business
Councillor Whittaker noted that she had completed the Scottish Government Aviation consultation but as there was not time to discuss with the rest of the Community Council she had submitted her thoughts as a private individual.
9) Date of Next Meeting
21 February 2022 at 7.30pm. Canisbay Hall and Zoom (hybrid)