Monday, February 29, 2016

Gas work on the High Street should be finished this week

Michael Boylan of the Association of Nairn Businesses  tells the Gurn that SGN should have finished all their work in the town centre by the end of this week. 

He continued: "Resurfacing work then requires to be complete as follows taking 7-10 days (weather dependant) for the High Street, Leopold Street, Gordon Street and the High Street to the Post Office."

Michael hopes the work will not take place over Easter he said: "No set dates for resurfacing works as they still need to be contracted and are weather dependant, however, I have stressed the importance of the Easter period to our High St retailers."

Cromarty picture on Nairn and Forres OS map cover - how it happened explained.

On Saturday we linked to the Inside Moray article which detailed outrage being expressed that a picture of Cromarty, complete with oil rig, had appeared on the cover of the latest print of the Nairn and Forres OS map. That article can be read here. 

OS have explained to the Gurn on twitter how it happened. 

And as Cromarty appears in the top left hand corner of the Nairn and Forres map that's how it go the winning picture. Perhaps the map should be called Nairn, Forres and Cromarty then?

Port of Ardersier for sale

283 Hectares (700 Acres), of which 138 Hectares (340 Acres) is developable. 
Strategic development opportunity with planning permission 
Adopted Local Development Plan allocation for range of uses 
Residential, marina, Port and renewable opportunities 
1km long deep water harbour 
Remediated site 

Strategic Development Opportunity with Planning Permission and Adopted Local Development Plan Allocation for a variety of land uses including Residential / Marina, Industrial and Renewable / Port related.

283 Hectares (700 Acres), of which 138 Hectares (340 Acres) is developable.

In its former use as the McDermott Fabrication Yard the site employed 4,500 people prior to its closure in the early 2000's. Since then the site has been cleared and remediated."

More information here

Nairnshire farmers defiant in the face of honesty box raids.

The remnants of the Blackpark tattie box
Some readers may have see the thread on the popular Nairn Rocks facebook page which detailed the vandalism and theft from the honesty box at Blackpark on Granny Barbour's road. Messages of support flowed in on that page, many saw it as an attack on the very fabric of Nairnshire life. Sadly it was only one of four similar raids in the county recently.

 Here was one of the comments on social media:

"I love these opportunities for fresh produce that cuts out middle men, rewards farmers and usually gives customer value and quality."

It was a bit of a blow then but John and Deirdre MacKintosh have vowed to continue their service and have already reinstated the box at Blackpark. Their son John at Foynesfield also had his box raided, he too will be continuing. He told an Aberdeen based daily newspaper:

"I would say that 99.9% of people in Nairnshire are decent and honest but there's always 0.1% of baddies kicking about as well."

It really does make sense to buy local produce from source, it keeps money moving around the local community and it is good for the environment too. It is a pity there aren't more facilities like the ones provided by the MacKintoshes. They're carrying on folks, let's support them!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

"Map designers lose their way to Moray and Nairn"

Silly mappers in the frame for a fundamental mistake - more on Inside Moray here. 

Electronic message signs for the beaches?

Two planning applications have been received by Highland Council for electronic message signs for Nairn beaches from SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency). Presumably they will give details of climatic and other conditions on the beach for bathers and others heading down to Nairn's seafront. 

One will be sited just down from the Bailey Bridge on the Tarry Dyke footpath and another on the Links. You can see the applications here and here respectively. 

The one on the Tarry Dyke will be powered by a wee wind mill and solar panel on a structure that will be a little more than twice the size of the information board. The one on the links will be powered by an underground cable.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A pie in Nairn

I was searching the High street for my mother in law : this hadn’t happened before, and since I thought I knew her movements, I was mystified when I couldn’t find her. She usually comes to a group I run, but hadn’t shown up. We often go for a cup of tea and a bacon roll afterwards.I phoned when the group finished, and didn’t get an answer. I drove to her house, where I could hear her dogs barking frantically. Then again, they always bark frantically. 

Her neighbour said she had left 10 minutes before, walking towards the shops. I knew she had been at her regular hospital appointment the week before, because I had run her up there after the group. What I didn’t know was that she had left me a note stuck to her front door, but I never got that far because I spoke with her neighbour.. So I drove round and parked, and then checked her usual haunts : the Library, the butcher’s, the two second-hand shops, the tearoom, the deli, the veg shop and the Coop. No sign - so I repeated the search, this time stopping for a minute at my favourite second hand shop and acquiring a very nice spring green fleece.

 I tried to phone again, and then decided I might as well head back home to Inverness. However, I thought, ‘I am running tonight at 7, and I am hungry now’ - trying for mindful eating. I bought a wonderful hot steak pie from the Bakers, and headed back towards the car, in the cold spring sunshine. And because it was sunny, I decided to eat said pie outside the car, to avoid lots of flaky pastry crumbs. 

I had the first bite, and it was heavenly, particularly since it was a rare treat. Then a young seagull walked towards me (the spotty ones who look a bit grubby). A meek little plea for food, and I broke an edge of pastry off and threw it towards the bird. Suddenly, out of nowhere and coming from behind me, about a dozen mature gulls appeared, knocked the lovely pie out of my hand, leaving me with only the last corner of pastry. The pie described an elegant arc in the air, landed splat on the tarmac, and was greedily devoured by a flapping, shrieking, tumbling fuss of gulls, some of whom might have had a burnt mouth, since the pie was very hot. And I berated them : they were bad boys and girls for ruining my lunch (had anyone been listening they would have ended themselves laughing). I even stamped my foot!

I still had the last corner held up in my left hand, when yet another adult gull swooped from behind, snatched the remnant, grazing it’s serrated beak along my finger and drawing blood (I didn’t know their beaks were serrated, till then). So I got in the car and drove home. I did consider buying another pie, but decided the Universe had prevented me from having the first, so who was I to deny my destiny.

 Note to self : don’t feed gulls, especailly not in Nairn! My mother in law was fine all along, of course.      

Kate MacLean 25/02/16

Nairn Community and Arts Centre Programme for March

Nairn community and Arts Centre website is here 

Appeal for information following break-in at Nairn Academy

As part of ongoing enquiries, Police Scotland is appealing for witnesses following a report of a break-in to Nairn Academy which was believed to have occurred between 17:00 hours on Friday 19 February and 08:30 hours on Monday 22 February 2016.

Entry was forced to secure areas of the school; however enquiries continue to establish whether any property has been stolen.

Police are interested in speaking to anyone who witnessed any potential suspect within the school grounds over the weekend or acting suspiciously within the vicinity of Duncan Drive.

If anyone has any information about the incident they are encouraged to contact Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at No personal details are taken information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cinema Nairn - films for younger audiences - what are your views

Cinema Nairn's Kate told us:

"At the recent Cinema Nairn AGM we discussed all the feedback we have received on FB and the Gurn. A common theme was films for younger audiences. We have tried it a number of times before but with very low attendance, however we would like to try again with your help.

Can you please give us your thoughts about the following?
Term-time or during the holidays?
Weekday or Weekend
Start time - straight after school or later?
Target age group?
Film suggestions? (The final decision will depend on the availability of license and length of film).

We have to break even financially (costs include film licences and venue hire), therefore we will need your support to help us get as many people through the doors as possible. If we decide to go ahead, please spread the word and then come along on the day - and bring a friend or two!

Please comment here on this page or by messaging Cinema Nairn by the end of March. We'll update you with our progress.
Thank you in advance!"

Fishertown LED gurns

Readers are wanting to have a gurn about the new LED lights in the Fishertown:

"Just wondering if either you have seen, or if other people have commented about the new (past couple of days) LED upgrades to the Victorian style street lights in the Fishertown. To me they appear on the green/blue/cold end of the white spectrum & make Fishertown look like a morgue, dismal, unwelcoming & unfriendly to come home to in an evening. H.C. having spent a fortune on Victorian style lights in keeping with the cosy ambience of the conservation area, have now undone it all!! Do residents of Fishertown have a say in this as we have to live with it every night. Does H.C. realise that lighting colour can affect moods?"

And from another gurnite: "For over a week now a van with lift/hoist has been going around the fishertown changing all the lightbulbs in the street lights, apparently in an effort to cut electricity consumption, old (working) bulbs are just being binned. The new bulbs give off a very bright white light compared to the yellow light of the old bulbs that was more in keeping with the expensive fake Victorian lights that we have. I would have thought a more cost effective measure would have been to replace the old bulbs as and when they failed?"

Monday, February 22, 2016

Nairn 1 Turriff 2 Pictures Donald Matheson and Kenny MacLeod

Donald Matheson

Individual images here. 

Kenny MacLeod

Individual images here.

Nairn Flightpath laser-pen risk - MSP John Finnie calls for urgent action

A press release from John Finnie MSP:

"The Nairn area’s position under the flightpath for Inverness Airport puts it at risk from laser-pen attacks on aircraft, local MSP John Finnie has warned.

The Highlands and Islands MSP has called on the Scottish Government to tighten the law on lasers, after the area’s search-and-rescue helicopter was targeted [1] and a London to New York flight was aborted in laser attacks.

He has written to the Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson MSP, and to the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, requesting an urgent review of the law on the sale and possession of laser pens. He also called for improved technology to enable police to identify culprits and protect aircraft.

Mr Finnie said:

“The danger posed by laser pen attacks on aircraft is not a new one, but they do seem to be increasingly frequent and more powerful lasers are more easily available than ever before.

“Just a fortnight before the widely-reported incident on Sunday that forced a Virgin Atlantic flight to turn back, the Coastguard helicopter operating from Inverness Airport was targeted while conducting a search.

“Good fortune and expert flying skills prevented what could have been a major disaster.

“Aircraft using Inverness Airport circle low over Nairn, making this one of the areas most at risk if the worst were to happen. We must not wait for a catastrophic loss of life before taking action on this dangerous crime.

“I’ve asked the Justice Secretary and the Lord Advocate to undertake an urgent review of the law. The law must reflect the seriousness of this crime and its horrific potential consequences and it must address the wide availability of powerful lasers.

“I’m also calling for a multi-agency effort to improve our technical ability to locate the source of laser-pen attacks.”

A former Northern Constabulary police officer, John Finnie is the Scottish
John Finnie MSP
Greens national spokesperson on justice. He has been a Highlands and Islands MSP since 2011 and is the lead Green Party candidate in the forthcoming Scottish election.

1. Laser pen shone at rescue helicopter during search for missing man, STV, 2 February 2016: "

Friday, February 19, 2016

Flats plan for the Vic

Another potential change on the High Street economic landscape on the way as a planning application to turn the ground floor of the former Victoria Hotel on the High Street/Church Street Corner into a retail unit and the upstairs area into flats has appeared on the Highland Council e-planning site. Gurnites can browse the application here. 

The Vic pictured in 2008
Part of the supporting statement says:

"As regards to the interior of the existing building, as mentioned above, this is heavily dated / dilapidated and requires significant refurbishment to be fit for reoccupation. From the research our client has undertaken, we understand that refitting and reopening the property as a Hotel is no longer a viable business option, with limited hoteliers in the market for this size and type of property. The building has a number of physical constraints and has only ever been able to offer 5no. bedrooms. Successful hotels in the area offer substantially more bedrooms and other services such as spas / swimming pools to be viable business options e.g The golf view hotel and the Newton Hotel.

Fewer dentists at Nairn hospital but no reduction in provision say NHS Highland

One of our readers suggested to us today that there had been a reduction in dental provision at the hospital. We decided to ask NHS Highland for details. The response was very prompt in coming. A NHS Highland spokesperson told us:

"There has been a reduction in dentists due to staff leaving but no reduction in provision as patients will be seen by the remaining two and two visiting dentists from Inverness, supported by a dental therapist. NHS Highland will monitor waiting times for treatment and plan the workforce accordingly."

Another very good rallying performance from Peter Beaton

Another very good performance from Peter Peter Beaton. The Gurn understands he has had a change of car which he collected at 8pm on the day before the McErlan Masters rally which took place in Kirkistown, North Armagh on Saturday 14th of this month and he never really got to test it just a wee spin in a yard. So it was straight out of the frying pan into the fire. He did really well learning a new car and coming third overall. Attached a picture of him and his Irish navigator Kenny Foggo.

To read more about the rally Peter competed in click read more tab

Leading Nairn businesswoman blasts Transport Scotland over Rosebank Church flats objection

In a comment published on the Highland Council's e-planning file for the application to turn the former Rosebank Church into 9 flats Sheena Baker has a go at Transport Scotland.  She says:

"I think that Transport Scotland need to visit Nairn. Even the supporting pictures clearly show the yellow lines on the trunk rd. They have objected from a desk position not feet on the ground.

Personally I am fully supportive of the applicants objective to bring this building back into a lived in building. Whether 9 flats is the optimum number I leave to the planners but these will be small town centre flats that will bring life to this corner of the town centre. The recently completed new flats opposite park in the old bus stop and town centre car parks. If the flats have working occupants the chances are they will be using their car in daytime hours thus not stopping people using the car parks when shopping.

A lot of money has been spent so far and before it deteriorates again the planners must work with Mr Sheridan to on this application.

Any small negatives are far outweighed by the positives in letting this progress. The planned A96 by-pass will happen in the mid term and the present town centre road situation will reduce drastically. Passing this application can only be a win win situation for the town centre and the look of the place."

Lonliness and isolation on the increase in Nairn

Befrienders Highland Ltd (BHL) has today announced that loneliness and isolation are sadly on the increase in the Nairn area. In the past 12 months BHL coordinators have had over a 60% increase in the numbers of people who are referred for 1-1 supported volunteer befriending because of the loneliness created as a result of their mental illness or for those affected by dementia. They have been battling to recruit and train enough people to match with those referred and are urgently needing the help of local communities if this situation is to be resolved. 

Befrienders Highland has been providing 1-1 supported volunteer befriending services across the Nairn area, to people who are lonely and isolated as a consequence of mental ill health or those affected by dementia, for many years. These powerful friendships, offered through face to face social meetings (Inverness and Nairn) or by phone, letter and email across the wider Highlands, have been a lifeline for over 650 people who have benefited from the regular weekly social contact. Coordinator Alan Duncan, states that “we have a team of amazing volunteers whose friendship successfully helps to increase people’s self-confidence and helps them to once again feel valued members of their local communities and to feel they once again belong and have something worthwhile to offer. Over the years we have seen incredible transformations in people simply because of the power of friendship offered by our volunteers. The effects of friendship can never be underestimated”. 

Pictured is Alan Chaplin, Befrienders Highland volunteer, celebrating his
“Volunteer of the Year Award 2015”, won in the Highland Third Sector Awards, with David Stallard BHL Director.

Coordinator Sally Mackintosh says “we have a wonderful team of trained and experienced volunteers who give up an hour or so of their time once a week for engaging in social activity with someone who values their friendship. However, in order to meet this enormous increase in referrals we urgently need to recruit and train new volunteers. We need people aged 25+ to offer an hour a week. We will provide training and ongoing support and just need people to be a friend to someone and enjoy their company by meeting up or on the phone”. For further information please contact: 01463 235675 and speak to Alan or Sally or email:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Lochloy sewers - will a developer come to the rescue or will it be down to residents to sort it?

There was a little discussion, last week on Wednesday night at River Community Council’s regular meeting in the URC hall, about the ongoing situation with Scottish Water and the sewers in the newer estates along Lochloy Road: the sewers up there have not been “vested” by the water authority yet. 

Speaking globally about the problems in the newer eastern suburb of the town the Chair John Hume said:

“I think planning permission was started in 2000 or 1999, there are no roads adopted, there are no sewers vested and there are no ground maintenance agreements in place or very few.”

John then continued: “In terms of Scottish Water which is what we are talking about tonight. They wrote back in response to an e-mail, they wrote back on the 9th of February to say that:”

“The SUDS, the surface water drains, etc, are not suitable for Scottish Water vesting, but the local developer and Scottish Water are in discussions with the roads department and it may be that they will adopt. If this is not the way ahead then the residents themselves would need to collectively undertake the work and apply for vesting.”

They then went on to say “subject to the roads being adopted and the developer making good the defects on the trunk sewers through the site (which appears to be all they have committed to ), Scottish Water would then vest the trunk sewers (conveying flow through the development from other developments). Given that this un-locks the next phase of their development it is hard to see why they would not agree to complete these remedial works.”

And point three. “This may leave some lateral foul sewers in the previous development in questionable ownership? Something that will need to be clarified with Scottish Water’s Customer Connections team . This again may fall to the residents to address but will depend on what the issues are. If the issues are small enough and SW were happy and had the necessary permissions to maintain and replace the foul sewer laterals within the development we would support their vesting.”

After John Hume had read the content of Scottish Water's e-mail there then followed some debate with Lochloy residents who were pursuing individually various lines of correspondence, FOI requests and complaints with Scottish Water and also to some extent Highland Council. 

John Hume indicated that there would be more discussion at the next meeting of the Community Council.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The best beaches in Britain - Nairn comes in at No 21!

It's the TripAdvisor 2016 Travellers Choice Awards and Nairn Beach is in the top 25 UK beaches. More here. Thanks to Dave Devine for spotting that one for us.

Riverside Litter Pick 28th Feb

West/Suburban Community Councillor and Nairn River Enterprise member Andrew Randerson is organising a litter pick of the riverside on Sunday 28th of February. 

There is a facebook page for the event here. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

A wee blether with Patrick Harvie - video

Off-piste again today, the Gurn was invited to the launch of the Scottish Green Party's Highlands and Islands Holyrood campaign in Inverness. We went along and decided to ask a Nairn related question.

Here's a video. Note if you are a party leader and anywhere near Nairn we're willing to give you the same opportunity - or maybe you are a candidate and would like to tell us how it would benefit Nairn if you were successful at the Holyrood elections - all welcome. 

A couple of images taken here too and Gurnites might remember the time the Scottish Greens launched a policy document in Nairn at about the same time of the year in 2014 - that video here.  That was interesting in that it related to local democracy issues. 

Nairn Academy according to P&J "Council bosses play down Nairn Academy worries, saying teaching problems are region-wide"

More here on the P&J website.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A little snow overnight in Nairn - video

We woke up this morning to a covering of snow, some parts of the town had a little more than others. A slight thaw set in during the day but it was still very cold and there were several showers of hailstones. Take care it looks like things could be frosty again overnight. 

Also a few pictures on the Gurn flickr pages here. 

Rosemary and Sally the snow-woman.

Snow persons were being built all over town today with the ample covering of white stuff providing enough material. We understand that there are several very good examples on the Links. Former Community Council leading light Rosemary Young pictured here with her young team of assistants. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Rosemary Young bows out of Community Council affairs

Former Chair of Nairn West Community Council Rosemary Young has been kind enough to give us a copy of her address to the first meeting of the New West/Suburban CC she helped to bring about in her last term of office:

"I had three aspirations when I started as Chair of Nairn West

1 To make sure NW was always covered by a Community Council and not become defunked again

2 To work towards a single CC
Rosemary Young

3 To deliver a message to this town that tourism was important, real and here and therefore the town should be well presented for all as well as visitors

I achieved 1, sort of 2 (yet to come) and failed on the third.

I have worked in this sphere now for 22 years actually trying to promote tourism in Nairn or really to try and deliver to our visitors a well presented town.

It has been a chapter of ruinous buildings and litter and dog poo and seagull poo, gutters with trees growing out of them, which is constantly on the agenda at CC.

I am absolutely fatigued with the amount of money spent by public sector on Charrettes, Forums, Consultations, Workshops, Strategy documents etc. etc. If we took the amount of money spent on those and spent it on the town itself we could have a town second to none.

The tourists are here but time and time again they are presented with the aforementioned and the fact that the most centrally positioned Social Buildings a true gateway to the town still remains a derelict building despite the good efforts of many in this town which have been constantly thwarted is a travesty! Tourism brings wealth to this town lets try and understand that. It seems that the good work of the flower group are the only people who understand this."

This observer would imagine there are many other gurnites who would rather see the money spent on charrettes, plans, workshops, consultants etc simply spent on what needs doing now but reinventing the wheel has been a feature of Nairn Civic Life for many years. Could we finally be managing to get somewhere however with the economic initiatives that are coming along under Sheena Baker and NEI and, despite a recent and at time fractious AGM, Alastair Noble of NICE is fairly bullish that things are at last possible.

Up until now Rosemary the other usual suspects have been forced to put their energies into defending Nairn from inappropriate intervention from those who wish to tell Nairn what they think is the way we should proceed. Imagine how we might get on if the planners and others actually started to do what the community wanted - imagine how the talent and creativity in Nairn could be utilised for the common good? A new age of localism and community empowerment dawns or more of the same? Will the banners and the t-shirts have to come out again in the future?

18th September 2013 - the day the demo Rosemary Young organised sent the Glenurquhart Road planners away to think again. 

More pictures of that day here and a video here. 

Highland Council response to ship to ship oil transfer consultation –“feeble and fence sitting”?

Gurn think tank members have had time to digest the Highland Council’s input to the Cromarty Firth Port Authority’s application for ship to ship oil transfers to be allowed at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth. Their verdict:

“Feeble and fence-sitting. The letter is equivocal: it does not indicate either support or opposition. It just raises what are minor consequential operational points about contingency arrangements such as the need to comply with ballast dumping rules, tug availability, and the possibility that Council staff might be called out if there were a spillage. All of which misses the main point (are the transfers acceptable or not?), or - worse - assumes that the decision will be to consent and all the Council is worried about is how far they might be called on to clean up any mess. It leaves the door open for the Port Authority simply to say, "yes we'll give assurances about no ballast-dumping, and we'll promise to have tugs on standby.”

The matter will be discussed further at Highland Council’s PDI committee on Wednesday 17th. Item 15 on the agenda here. By clicking on item 15 of that page you can download a copy of notes for the meeting which include’s the Highland Council’s letter. The Council may forward further comments to the application consultation which closed on the 8th of this month. 

Nairn Community Councils respond to proposed ship to ship oil transfers at mouth of Cromarty Firth

Below is a text from Nairn West/Suburban's Community Council's objection to the Cromarty Firth Port Authority's application for ship to ship oil transfers at the mouth of the Moray Firth. Nairn River CC have also made a similar submission

"This recent licence application has generated local publicity and prompted concern among residents of Nairn (as well as, evidently, other communities around the Moray Firth).

We are not aware of any public notification or invitation to comment, and we note that this application was apparently submitted over the festive holiday period. We note from the details on the CFPA website that the "consultation period" has been extended to 8 February.

This message is therefore to register the strong objection of Nairn West & Suburban Community Council, on behalf of local residents, to the application. We would urge that the application be refused.

The short notice and imminent deadline is a constraint on production of a submission setting our our concerns in detail. But the key reasons for objection include the following:

Nairn is located directly opposite the area of the Moray Firth where the transfers are proposed;
A detailed technical study by Cromarty Community Council's expert advisers (which we have seen) indicates clearly that there are significant and quantifiable risks, and that the proposed precautions and contingency arrangements appera to be deficient;
the study also suggests that the existing transfer arrangements are adequate and that the case for new or additional offshore transfers has not been demonstrated;

the fact that a similar proposal for the Firth of Forth was refused (withdrawn) in the face of objections not only from individuals and communiteis but also the local authorities, reinforces local misgivings;
The Moray Firth is an environmentally sensitive area which already qualifies for special protection;

Nairn is a tourist town with extensive and highly-rated beaches, and a harbour which is the base for local leisure-sailing, dinghy-training for youngsters, and a destination for visiting recreational boats. Any threat or risk to them from pollution resulting from ship-to-ship transfers, or ballast-dumping, will have a direct and damaging impact on the local environment, and on the local ecology and marine life (dolphins are an iconic attraction for tourists, and the area is also important for bird life with a designated RSPB reserve and other protected sites and SSSIs),
Similarly any threat to that environment and those facilities will have a detrimental impact on the local tourism-based economy;
the significance of the Firth and the nearby Moray and Black Isle coastline (Fort George, Chanonry Point, the Sutors etc) which include designated Special Landscape Areas seems to have been ignored. The natural landscape is a key element of Nairn's appeal to visitors; 

there is a specific concern about a direct threat to Nairn. Turbulent and stormy weather in recent years has led to severe coastal damage around the Moray Firth (including our own harbour and sea-front) has frequently been driven by gale-force winds from the north-west and north. Such storms are likely to pose difficulties for shipping in the Firth. Morever, wind and storms from that direction mean that any failures, spills or other discharges from shipping in the proposed oil-transfer zone will be driven directly south-eastwards across the Firth and on to the coast and beaches along the southern side (Ardersier - Nairn- Culbin - Findhorn)."

Tom nan Clach windmill planning refusal – tilting at an appeal?

Considering the recent high profile treatment in the local media of the decision of Highland Council to reject to reject the application for 13 turbines at Tom nan Clach discussion was rather muted at Cawdor Community Council last Monday night.

Infinergy’s Fiona Milligan told the meeting in the Community Centre:

“Since the planning meeting last month, obviously we are very disappointed that it didn’t go the way we would have liked it to have gone but that is the way it works unfortunately. We still have to decide what we want to do and we have three months to make a decision about whether we appeal the decision made by the South Planning committee.  So I’ll probably know by the next meeting what’s going to happen there.

In the meantime we’re cracking on and discharging conditions to get on with building what we have consent for. Now, there’s not a huge amount of impact on this area, especially in Cawdor itself. The construction traffic and the traffic management plan that is going to be designed for Tom nan Clach, will take all the traffic down the A9 and then back up so none of it will be coming through the A96 or Cawdor itself and going over the moor to the site, it will all be coming up from the south. So there is not a huge amount of impact from that perspective. If you are a regular user of the road over the Dava then there may be times where the 9007 will have traffic lights on it, a stop go system whilst the road improvement works are being undertaken but hopefully that won’t cause too much disruption and we will be advertising and doing newsletters round to everyone to keep you posted as to what we are up to.”

The Inverness Courier recently posted an article on line on how Highland Council might have a hefty bill to pick up if an appeal does emerge – More here. 

8 Years ago today Nairn residents marched to try and save Harbour Street Post Office

Led by pipers the march organised by Nairn River Community Council left the Courthouse and headed down to the Harbour Street Post Office where protesters formed a symbolic line as customers of the business. The community's pleas to Westminster government fell on deaf ears.

Today many residents of the lower part of the town prefer to travel on a bus to Tradespark or even Forres to do their post office business rather than suffer the often lengthy queues at the Cawdor Street Post Office.

Individual images here.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Nairn "The enthusiasm, the experience and the talent that is here..." A wee blether with Gemma Hill of the Nairn Economic Initiative

Today we had a chance to have a wee blether with Gemma Hill of the Nairn Economic Initiative.

Gemma will be circulating a draft document in the coming weeks, for consultation with the other groups in Nairn, inviting them to contribute, and agree on, collective long term aims and goals over the next 5-10 years, forming a collaborative "Nairn Vision". Each group will also be asked to add in their initiatives along side those of the NEI so all projects can benefit from being linked back to the overarching agreed Vision. Gemma expressed how much she was looking forward to working with all involved on achieving this for Nairn. Please contact her via for any questions or input.

Nairn Community Councils to form joint working group to monitor Highland Council's care and management of the Common Good Fund

Last night at their regular monthly meeting, Nairn River Community Council enthusiastically agreed to a request from their colleagues on Nairn West/Suburban to chose three members to work with the same number from NWSCC to review and report on the Highland Council's care and management of the Common Good fund. This initiative for a joint working group was initially proposed by West/Suburban's Bill Young. 

It was another long meeting at Nairn River CC last night with many important topics discussed. If time permits we shall give you more outlines of some of the issues debated. Very interesting stuff and our friends from the Leopold Street Thunderer had a reporter present too, we would anticipate they will deliver the usually high quality articles and analysis of some of the debate last night and we would urge you to reserve a copy of next week's edition of that much esteemed journal. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Been to Inverness again today and...

...feel that I am actually beginning to like the place at last. Anyone know a good therapist?

On a more serious note, was waiting just after five to cross the A96 at the fire station side of the pedestrian crossing at the Leopold Street junction and the lights on the A96 were at red to let traffic out of Leopold Street. A situation where you might have been tempted to cross to the middle of the road before the green man shows. A lorry driver that had stopped decided to move off through a red light. Also waiting to cross were other pedestrians including a mother holding a baby. The bypass can't come soon enough. Take care out there when crossing the A96 because some drivers obviously aren't in the slightest bit worried about pedestrians!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Cromarty Firth proposed ship-to-ship oil transfers - Environment Secretary Richard Lochead releases statement but John Finnie MSP still critical

Below is a press statement from Richard Lochead in relation to the proposed ship to ship oil transfers at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth and further down the article John Finnie MSP's criticism of what Richard Lochead has to say. Also below a link to a P&J article that highlights that the RSPB and the National Trust have also objected to the proposal 

Sun Dancer, Bar and Restaurant - Liquor Licence Application

The details of an application for the Sun Dancer, Bar and Restaurant have been published on the Highland Council's Licensing Board pages. The application states:

"Hours applied for
On Sales: Monday- Sunday: 11.00-01.00 hrs; Off Sales: Monday-Sunday: 11.00-22.00 hrs"

Monday, February 08, 2016

Grass cutting changes on the way?

Below is a press release from Highland Council. Obviously savings are to be made so will Nairn suffer? Many in the town argue that standards should be high to promote our tourism image. What will our new area committee make of this? They might get a bit of a budget for grass cutting but will it be enough? 

"New standards have been set out for grass-cutting across the Council area to meet statutory requirements and achieve savings.

There is no statutory requirement that amenity grass must be cut, however, the Council has various duties to maintain public safety, deliver education in accordance to national standards, deliver a burial service, maintain roads and paths in a safe condition and support national play initiatives. To discharge these duties requires varying minimum standards of grass cutting to be delivered.

Results from panel and Community Council surveys during 2015 show that maintenance of burial grounds, sports pitches and play areas are a very high priority for local communities and the new arrangements will allow for prioritisation of these areas.

Grass cutting has been categorised into three groups as: Statutory with no scope for change of standard; Statutory with a reduction of standard or transferral possible; and Non-statutory where grass cutting could be reduced, ceased or transferred.

The amendment of specifications for grass cutting enables a financial saving to be secured.

Some parks, gardens and recreational spaces, banks, paths and urban verges, which have previously been regularly cut during the growing season, will be reviewed and some categories can be changed to Conservation grass.

It is intended that an allocation of the grass-cutting budget will be put to local area committees for prioritisation and local decisions in future years. There will be opportunities to also consider the transferral of some grass-cutting to community groups.

Chair of Community Services, Cllr Allan Henderson said: “This proposal allows for prioritisation of the grass cutting service across a range of areas. In this way, we will ensure our statutory requirements will be met whilst meeting minimum standards that enable some substantial savings to be made in the context of a reducing budget and a reducing workforce. This policy should also mean we have a more attractive environment for our wildlife across the Highlands.” "

Nairn River Community Council Agenda for Wednesday night

Nairn River CC will meet in the URC hall at 7.30 pm on Weds 10th of February. Agenda is available below. Click to enlarge image. 

The Flood Risk management documents that NRCC will discuss are available for here and here. 

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Transport Scotland oppose Rosebank Church plan for 9 flats

A Transport Scotland document published on the Highland Council e-planning file for the application to turn the Rosebank Church building into 9 flats states as reason(s) for refusal:

"The development would result in an increase in the demand for parking, and would lead to indiscriminate parking on the trunk road which would increase interference with the safety and free flow of traffic."

Below that on the document a note also states:

"The developer should demonstrate that there is sufficient parking available to ensure that no vehicles park on the trunk road to the detriment of road safety."

The Highland Council's Planning Transport Team have also raised a number of issues they wish to see resolved. 

For an application to turn the building into 9 flats that was received by the Highland Council in July 2010 Transport Scotland made no objection and for an application to turn the church into a day care facility  that was received in August 2014 Transport Scotland also did not object. 

To see the full history of planning applications in recent years for the Rosebank Chuch view this page on the Highland Council e-planning site. 

Breedon Agregates Highland League Cup - Nairn 2 Keith 1 Pictures Donald Matheson and Kenny MacLeod

County into the next round away to Clach on Saturday 27th after a very good game of soccer played out yesterday at Station Park. It was good to see football again after the recent cold spell. Saints had a good game too with a 6-2 win over Burghead at the Showfield. This observer got a few images of the first half there and will post sometime later if time permits. Also a few minutes of the County game on the Gurn Youtube pages here

Donald's Pictures

Kenny's pictures


Saturday, February 06, 2016

Very sad to hear that Gurn contributor Hamish Dunbar has passed away

We’re sorry to hear from Murd that his brother Hamish has passed away. Regular readers will know that Hamish contributed some interesting articles about his memories of Nairn in recent years. Hamish was 93 years old and his memories went quite a way back too, here for example you can read Hamish’s recollections of the opening of the Harbour Basin and here Nairn shopping in the 20s and 30s. 

Hamish was a mechanic before the war and joined the navy shortly after the outbreak of the conflict. He rose to the rank of Petty Officer. He served on HMS Tumult in the Mediterranean in 1944 and some of the action he witnessed is detailed in this page here. After the war he settled in Surrey where he joined the fire brigade finishing his career as Chief Officer. Thanks for your contributions to the Gurn Hamish they were very much appreciated by many of our readers.

His brother Murd told us:

"Another chapter in life has come to an end Hamish Dunbar has sadly passed on
aged 93. Over the years he was A very good source of information for the Gurn with his knowledge of Nairn back in the early years before going off to war. A time for our family to reflect on his life and achievements." 

The picture above shows a young Hamish  home on leave during the Second World War and visiting his father Duncan at 15 John Street.

Friday, February 05, 2016

After-school orienteering taster event at Nairn Links on Thur 11th Feb (1530-1645)

Morovian orienteering club tell the Gurn:

There will be an after-school orienteering taster event at Nairn Links on Thur
11th Feb (1530-1645) with 2 short easy courses (1Km and 1.6 Km). Although this is primarily for the Nairn area schools, pupils and parents from other schools are welcome. The courses have been designed by 10-year-old Eva Wiseman of Millbank Primary.

This is being organized by the Scottish Orienteering Development Officer in association with Active Schools - it's not a Moravian activity. It will be based from the wee cafe by the crazy golf. £1 a head to take part and the map's then yours to keep

Nairn Academy to move to 4 and a half day week?

The Nairn Academy website states: 

"The school newsletter is due to be published on the school website tomorrow (Wednesday). Following discussion at a Parent Council meeting tonight, the decision was to provide a paper copy per pupil as well as a copy on line. All pupils will therefore receive a copy of the newsletter on Thursday during registration and will be asked to ensure this gets home.

The newsletter will include key information on the plan to move to a 4 1/2 day week as of June 2016 along with several other Highland secondary schools. A brief outline of our curriculum plan will be provided with further details on the website. Parents are also invited to a ‘Question and Answer’ session planned for MONDAY 8 FEBRUARY at 6.30pm in the school."

Bold text inserted by Gurn editor.

Another document accessible on the Nairn Academy site entitled "Curriculum structure/format of the school day (for June 2016) "states:

"There has been discussion across all Secondary schools about school day structures to accommodate all curricular requirements. Currently there are variations on 30, 31, 32 and 33 periods/week. Some school models currently operate an asymmetric week and some have 4½ day week. HC were also considering a 4½ day week for all Secondary schools to enable more efficient timetabling across schools potentially to maximise timetable options. This is still the intended plan once transport issues are addressed in the new contract. Several schools already operate the 4½ day week model i.e. Grantown, Alness, Dingwall and Inverness High. Important to note – the school day/teaching time remains the same across the week i.e. there is no reduction in teaching/class contact time in a 4 ½ day week."

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Last day to sign local woman's ship to ship oil transfer petition

Carol Shaw tells the Gurn that today is the last day that her online petition can be signed. Copies of the petition will be going to the consultation addresses for objections to the proposal from the Cromarty Firth Port Authority's for ship to ship transfers at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth.  Another copy will be going to Richard Lochead MSP. 

The petition has now nearly reached 3,000 signatures and is available here. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A96 dual carriageway and Nairn bypass going to be good for cyclists and walkers? Drop-in sessions Thurs 4th and Friday 5th February in Nairn.

Regular readers will recall speculation on the Gurn about how cyclists might benefit from the construction of a bypass. Tomorrow there is an opportunity to pop over to the Community Centre to see the latest bypass tweaks from Transport Scotland. Their press release states:

"Proposed Changes to A96 Dualling Scheme On Display- Improved route for cyclists and walkers"
and "In addition, they will be able to see developing proposals for non-motorised users which includes over 18 miles off—carriageway shared-use facilities which will improve safety for cyclists, equestrians and walkers while also helping connect local communities along the route." Full article here.

You can pop over and see the latest details on the bypass tomorrow and on Friday  in the Community and Arts Centre:

"Thursday 4 and Friday 5 February 2016 – 12 noon – 7 pm – Nairn Community and Arts Centre, King Street, Nairn IV12 4BQ‬ "
And it looks like there is a level of cyclist satisfaction emerging with the proposals in Inverness today already.

Highland Council to make response to ship-to-ship oil transfers proposal

One of our regular readers pointed to a part of the Cromarty and District Community Council objection to the proposed ship to ship oil transfers at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth which states:

"A similar proposal for Ship to Ship transfer of oil in the Firth of Forth was withdrawn amongst objections from the Local Authority of major spills being possible of the entire tanker capacity - in this case a maximum of 180,000 tonnes." A copy of the full Cromarty and District CC objection here.  

Our correspondent then wondered if Highland Council had yet made a submission to the Cromarty Firth Port Authority's proposal. We asked Glenurquhart Road if they had already done so or would be making a submission soon. Their reply was very prompt. 

A Highland Council spokesperson said: “Highland Council will submit a response on 8th Feb. The topic will be included in the Planning Development and Infrastructure Committee agenda of 17th Feb."

Given the considerable disquiet surrounding this application for ship to ship oil transfers this observer would think it impossible that Highland Council would not reflect the concerns of the community and seek the  rejection this proposal. It isn't clear however who will be deciding the content of the response (which will be submitted on the final day of the consultation) and how that then lines up for the Planning Development and Infrastructure Committee meeting. Presumably the submission will be in the public domain at the earliest opportunity?

Anyone wishing to make representations on the application has until the 8th Febuary and can find details on how to do so on this Cromarty and District Community Council page. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Cromarty Community Council produce 35 page objection to proposed ship-to-ship oil transfers

The objection states:  "A similar proposal for Ship to Ship transfer of oil in the Firth of Forth was withdrawn amongst objections from the Local Authority of major spills being possible of the entire tanker capacity - in this case a maximum of 180,000 tonnes.

The application has not demonstrated it contains measures to protect one of the most environmentally sensitive sites in the UK as required by regulation. The Inner Moray Firth has a major concentration of bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus. The bottlenose dolphin population is the only known resident population in the North Sea - one of only 2 within the UK both of which are considered to be of importance at European level. It is also the most northerly population and the Moray Firth SAC is the only area in Scotland which is designated for bottlenose dolphins. The anchorage sites are within an area that is highly used by the dolphin population and no consideration of this has been given by the applicant. Should this application be allowed to go ahead, it is considered there is potential to impact on the integrity of the dolphin population, both through operational transfer activities and in the event of oil spill. This will create economic hardship to people and businesses of the town of Cromarty and the wider Black Isle which benefits significantly from growing levels of ecotourism associated with the bottlenose dolphin population. Ecotourism is considered a sustainable and beneficial use of the natural resources of the Cromarty Firth, ship to ship oil transfers bring no benefits except to the Cromarty Firth Port Authority. The Scottish Government initiative “Awakening the Giant” seems not to be considered in this regard."

The full objection and the pages of supporting data can be read here.

The final page states:
"The report was prepared Report prepared in line with concerns from the residents of Cromarty and District by:

Duncan Bowers, Cromarty resident. (Tech IOSH, NEBOSH Dip)
Safety Practitioner (Retired). Licence application experience including Wadenzee licence project under European legislation. North Caspian project licences under The Tehran Convention Framework with trans-border oil spill response planning. Shipbuilding engineering background + 35 years international oil and gas industry experience.


Dr Greg Fullarton, MCIEEM, MSB, C.Biol – Cromarty resident, with BSc. and Ph.D. in marine biology, 20+ years post qualification experience including undertaking HRA’s."

Monday, February 01, 2016

Town centre A96 potholes again causing concern

Some drivers are taking evasive action to avoid the growing number of pot holes on the stretch between the town bridge and Grants Garage. Not good really to have to consider doing that on such a busy stretch of road.  BEAR staff must travel this route most days. Surely they are aware? Not a pleasant experience too for pedestrians as bits of road fly up to the pavement as the disintegration continues but, unfortunately nothing new.

We've reported it on the online form BEAR provide here. 

River rising - video 1st February 2016

The overnight snow melt and the continuing rainfall had a quick effect on the River Nairn this afternoon. At 16.39 a flood warning was issued by SEPA for Nairnside (Cawdor) - details on the SEPA site here. 

This observer also took a stroll down the harbour as the light started to go last night.


Riverside Play Park renewal - It's a bit wild out this evening but there is an important meeting on tonight

The Highland Council Facebook page states:

Riverside (Nairn) play park renewal 
A public meeting is being held to form a group which will develop a Big Lottery Application to renew the amenity area. The speaker is Kate MacLennan, Highland Council who has previously supported successful lottery funded groups. All Welcome and Refreshments provided. Come along to the Nairn Community and Arts Centre, Conference Room (1st Floor) on Monday 1st February, 7.30pm