Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council 25 April 2022 at Canisbay Hall
Eric Green (Chair)
Mark Gibson (Secretary)
Apologies: Andrew Skene
1) Minutes of previous Meeting
These were agreed. Proposed: Henry Gunn: Seconded: Carole Whittaker
2) Chairs Report
Councillor Green welcomed everyone to the meeting. He noted that the agenda covered items that he wished to raise.
3) Treasurers Report
The account balance stands at £1646.43. There was no further update on the transfer of the account to a new bank.
4) Secretaries Report
Councillor Gibson noted that Councillor Mowat had asked the Council to keep an eye on the potential benefits from the recent offshore wind developments. There were two areas within the sight of Dunnet and Canisbay area. One off the North coast and one around the Skerries.
It was noted that the planning application at Castletown Mill had been approved but with some caveats regarding access. The Community council noted that access remained a worry and that the best solution would be to extend the thirty mile per hour limit at Castletown. However it was noted that this matter was in the remit of the Castletown Community Council.
5) Sand Extraction
Councillor Green began by outlining the timeline of this issue:
A Community councillor had become aware of major sand extraction from a local beach and had alerted the relevant authorities but also informed the Community Council. The first issue for the Local Authority (Highland Council) was to determine if the extraction was legal. Colin Howells at Highland council was responsible for enforcement. The opinion was that the extraction was not permitted and therefore it was necessary to determine what kind of enforcement action was necessary.
Powers of enforcement are granted by the Scottish Parliament and Highland Council enforce the law. A first offence if successfully prosecuted can result in a fine of up to £500. The maximum fine for a second offence is £10,000.
It was determined by the enforcement authorities that in this instance a written warning from Highland Council followed up by an in person visit. If there is a future occurrence which is successfully prosecuted then the action taken now would mean an escalation to a second offence and the higher fine.
It was noted that this is the first time that Highland council had used these powers.
It was also noted that returning the sand to where it had been brought could carry with it a number of risks of contamination from the ground on which it was currently laying.
Councillor Green noted that Councillor James had strong views on this matter, which he had expressed in writing. However Councillor Green noted that it was important to resolve the issue and deter future occurrences without resorting to publicly humiliating people. There had to be some sensitivity to local views.
Councillor Green noted that the issue had only finally been resolved and the Highland Council Action completed a few days before the current meeting had been scheduled. He therefore thought it better to save the discussion for the this forum.
Councillor Gibson agreed with Councillor Green and added that he was surprised and gratified at the speed at which Highland Council had reacted on this, given it was the first time they had been forced to act on such issues, and that he was content with outcome.
Councillor Whittaker noted that the Community Council had no powers in this area and could only pass on information to the relevant authorities to deal with. The Community Council had therefore done what it could on the matter.
Councillor Gunn agreed, noting that the matter was up to the local authority to deal with. Extraction on such a large scale as this it was inevitable that the authorities would act.
Councillor Green noted that he felt the community council had made a real difference in the area and on two recent occasions had called upon and received help from Highland council to resolve an issue with a landowner. The first about access rights and this most recent about sand extraction. However it was important in a small community to operate by consensus and to protect community interests without getting into entrenched positions.
6) Transport and Infrastructure
It was noted by councillors that the roads were no better and in fact were getting worse. Some potholes had been filled in but there were significant areas of poor road surface.
7) Community Plan
Councillors had no further comments to make on the proposals for the Community Plan shared at the previous meeting. It was therefore agreed to ask CVG to come back to the Council talk about taking forward the consultation. Action Eric Green.
8) Any Other Business
Councillor Farmer noted that Dunnet Forest were looking at placing access restrictions for large vehicles at the entrance to the Dunnet forest car park.
Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting is Monday 23 May at 7.30pm at Canisbay Hall. Preceding the meeting will be the Annual General Meeting.