Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Gordons Saw Mill in the Brave New World of Nairn South

The sawmill is part of Nairn, as iconic as the bandstand or the Courthouse if you give it some thought, it is part of the Community having been at its present site for 150 years. There’s 90 jobs up there dependent on the continuing success of Gordons and with this in mind representatives from the sawmill gave a presentation to the River Community Council and members of the public last night in the Community Centre.

Gordons is a success story and they have every intention of continuing to be so in a very competitive industry. They are continually making investment and want to carry on doing so with expansion into the 5.1 hectares allocated to them in the local plan. This would enable them to expand the work force with 10 extra jobs but more importantly safeguard the existing 90 jobs at Balblair Road. Jobs are a rare commodity in Nairn and those at the sawmill are essential to the continued well-being of Nairn. The expansion would give them access to the potential of wood being delivered by the railway or at least allow for better access to the 50 lorry movements per day that presently have to negotiate the presently less than ideal access to the sawmill.

Gordons wish for a buffer zone of woodland to be established between their planned expansion area and the proposed housing for Nairn South that we are beginning to hear so much about. In fact there is already an application received for housing on the field just across from Firhall. River Community Council and others will shortly be making representations on that application, this observer wonders where the infrastructure is to support that proposed development, where will the sewerage go, will Cawdor Road be able to cope with the traffic? Gordons feel that future development must integrate with their business and to build too many houses too close to an industrial area would be a bad move. Quite right in this observer’s opinion, the sawmill was there first, let the proposed housing reflect that.

We’ve heard quite a bit recently about how we can’t have planning meetings in the Courthouse because there is no webcasting facility (imagine that with a £60 million IT contract! But perhaps the Caley could help out by offering their next door wi-fi access – but that is another story) but it is a great pity that the presentation by Gordons isn’t also on video online for Nairnites to browse. Then you would see how much this business has invested for the future and don’t forget the local estates of Darnaway, Lethen and Cawdor also work closely with Gordons. Gordons take in wood on a ratio of 40% from private woodland and 60% from the state sector and the wood comes from a 75-100 mile radius. In an ever-changing unpredictable world they are a sustainable rock of the local economy and deserve our support.

Whatever happens in Nairn South, and let’s not forget that some think that the rush to designate so much land for development between Nairn in Inverness is simply to follow the tragedy of the Irish model of development, a sustainable future for Gordons Sawmill must be at the top of the community’s agenda and that of the planners too.

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