Saturday, March 16, 2019

Statement from one of the Nairn Academy Climate Strike Activists; "We need the government to declare a state of climate emergency and aim to get people talking about this crisis."

Dayne told the Gurn:

"Others and myself decided that not enough action was being taken by global and UK politicians on climate change, so we decided to strike to address the issue that will impact all of us, for the 15th, the future and our future.

Not enough action has been taken, Myself and many students of Nairn Academy are sick of people with high authority not addressing this as an emergency.

We need the government to declare a state of climate emergency and aim to get people talking about this crisis.

I will continue to take action on making this public and helping in any way that I can.

If we do not take this seriously we will cause unnecessary suffering to people around the world from the effects of climate change including ourselves. 

People around me always tell me to stand up for something that I believe in, so I did that.
My name is Dayne Inglis, 16, 5th year Nairn Academy."

Gurn Comment: Here at the Gurn we support the youth who want nothing more than a decent future on a planet that supports life. We are well on our way to making our home uninhabitable. There is no Planet B we have to do everything we can to make sure that the youth of today have a future.

Get involved folks. There are things we can do as individuals, groups, communities etc but we also have to insist on massive, systematic, structural changes - good on the youth of Nairn for leading the way. Let's do it before it is too late.  "NIMBI - Now I must become Involved"

Friday, March 15, 2019

Nairn Academy pupils Climate Strike Action protest

(click on image for full size)

On a miserable, wet, and windy morning there was an excellent turn out of Nairn Academy pupils adding their voices to the Global Climate Strike Action's demonstration which took place opposite the Courthouse.
 Support too from local MP

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Trees and planning applications - another potential felling?

Regular readers will have been following the Sequoia matter with an application from Albyn housing for an area next to the hospital. Meanwhile just the other side of QueensPark on Mill Road another application has entered the pages of the Highland Council e-planning site and this one would mean the felling of some other mature trees if it is approved by planners. The application for three houses can be seen here. 

Here at the Gurn we had an interesting conversation with one of the regular river walkers about the wildlife in this area and the potential impact of any felling. There's no doubt there are a few creatures about along the riverside that find their way into neighbouring areas. One would imagine as in the Albyn application mentioned above the Highland Council forestry officer will be asked for his views so the impact of any felling  be considered as part of the process.  

There's no doubt that Nairn's natural environment is one of the pleasures of living here and trees, especially mature ones, make us feel good as we move around the town and we can sort of develop a relationship with them. Alongside this of course are the liberties of a free society such as the right to apply for planning permission, fell trees and build houses if successful with an application and thus debate can ensue on the e-planning pages for officials and eventually councillors to consider. 

We can't help wondering at the Gurn if it is time to decide what wooded areas we wish to protect for the future and where we should be creating a lot more wooded areas. Time for an holistic approach across the town? For example, as far as we can remember there was a concept that the Sandown Lands would be landscaped in advance  and as the houses got built in five year increments residents would be moving into areas where trees and shrubs had been growing for several years. Good ideas seem to end up on the shelf though until the wheel gets reinvented a few years later. Time for a few tablets of stone? 

Site for three houses at Mill Road? 

Moving forward on Nairn Links, Highland Council Press Release

Issued on behalf of Team Hamish, NICE, Highland Council, Nairn BID

Positive discussions were held on Friday (8 March) between Team Hamish, the Council, NICE and Nairn BID, on progressing delivery of projects for the Nairn Links. Extensive engagement has taken place in the town over the last 18 months run by both Team Hamish and the Links Development Plan Consultation by the Council. This has given a clear vision of what people in Nairn would like to see improved within the Links. 

Based on the feedback from the community, work is now ongoing in order to identify the scope of key projects that can be progressed together in the short term. A project team is being formed of key stakeholders, including Team Hamish and Council representatives. It is planned to come back to the community to seek views on the detailed options in the coming months and will be considered at a future meeting of the Nairnshire committee. 

The Nairn Links are an important and well-loved place within Nairn. These are exciting times to be able to take forward a new vision for the Nairn Links. 

Team Hamish, NICE, Highland Council, Nairn BID

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Group of pupils planning Climate Strike Action at Nairn Academy on Friday

Many Gurnites will perhaps have seen media coverage of "Climate Rebellion" strikes at schools across the UK as young people demand stronger action to basically stop us all making this planet uninhabitable. On Friday depending on the interest among pupils there may be a similar action at Nairn Academy

One of the organisers told the Gurn: " I have been coordinating the school strike for Nairn Academy pupils on the Friday, march 15th. 

The strike is in effort for our voices to be heard about climate change as politicians have been avoiding this crisis for too long!

Hopefully by striking along with hundreds of thousands of other school pupils across the UK we will bring awareness to this issue."

Below is a poster that the campaigners have created to advertise the event and a meeting at the Academy. 

Cinema Nairn Film this Friday. Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri (15) (Friday March 15th 7.30pm)

2018 Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA multi award winning film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (15) continues Cinema Nairn’s regular film season after their very successful film festival. In this story of anger, revenge, violence and kindness, film writer/director Martin McDonagh treads a fine line between pathos and dark comedy. One of her best ever performances sees Frances McDormand star as a grieving mother who starts a campaign to challenge the local police chiefs to make more effort to find her daughter’s killer, while Sam Rockwell also won an Oscar for his portrayal of Officer Dixon.
An intense but darkly humorous powerhouse of a film with more questions than answers.

Highland Council to consult on Nairn Common Good Asset List (copy now published).

The Highland Council is today (12 March 2019) launching a 12 week consultation giving the community until 5 June 2019 to comment on the proposed contents of the Common Good Fund Asset Register.

Section 102 Community Empowerment (Scotland) 2015 states that before establishing a Common Good Asset Register the Council must first conduct a public consultation on a list of property (buildings, land, artwork, regalia and funds) it is proposing to include.

The Council is keen to involve the community in this process to ensure that all Highland Common Good property is identified and included. Community Councils and community bodies will be notified and invited to make representations. However, the list will be widely publicised and available for public representations to be made. The Council must investigate and respond to any representations received. Local authorities must also have in place a process for regular review of the Asset Register once published.

The property lists for the Common Good Funds of Cromarty, Dingwall, Dornoch, Fortrose and Rosemarkie, Invergordon, Inverness, Nairn and Tain; and guidance are available at:

Please submit written responses either by email to:

...or by post to:
Sara Murdoch, The Highland Council HQ, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness, IV3 5NX.

All consultation representations, responses and any final decision will be published on the Council website.

Gurn note: you can download the asset list for Nairn from the Link above but there is a PDF document you can view here online if you simply wish to browse. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Big turn-out for planting of first Community Orchard in Forres

A huge turn-out in Forres yesterday as the first community orchard was planted at a site on the Grantown Road. More images here. 

Here in Nairn we have the Green Hive Community Orchard in Viewfield and there's a lot of trees planted by Nairn Allotments Orchard Group now too over the past few years. With hundreds grafted and grown on and planted and more on the way. 

The two groups in Nairn and other enthusiasts would like to see more orchards established in Nairnshire in the future and if you and your neighbours would like to see something like this happen near you then please contact NAS Orchard group or the Green Hive.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Sequoia threatened by Albyn Housing planning application - Highland Council Forestry Officer says " I am not in a position to support the layout as it stands"

The tree under threat from Albyn Housing plans

The Highland Council's South Highland Forestry Officer is one of the consultees on the Albyn Housing planning application that include the felling of a 27m Sequoia on land (as stated in the planning application)  "50M North Of The Hermitage St Olaf Manor Cawdor Road Nairn."  

He quotes the following in his report:

"Policy 51 (Trees and Development) of the Highland wide Local Development Plan states that ‘The Council will support development which promotes significant protection to existing hedges, trees and woodlands on and around development sites. The acceptable developable area of a site is influenced by tree impact, and adequate separation distances will be required between established trees and any new development."  

He then goes on to outline a number of concerns in 12 numbered paragraphs.  On the Sequoia itself he states: "I am very concerned by the proposal to remove this significant tree without sufficient rationale."  

He concludes: "I am concerned by the overall impact of the proposals on this site and the low level of replacement planting.  I am not in a position to support the layout as it stands."

You can read the Forestery Officer's report in full here on the Highland Council e-planning site and also browse all the other submissions and documents related to this application. 

Nairn River Community Council are calling for Albyn housing to alter the plans so the Sequoia stays to be enjoyed byfuture generations. See a previous Gurn article about their comments and what other objectors have to say here. 

Liz proposes Nuclear Free Highlands motion for SNP group but it is defeated as Tom Heggie and other Highland Cllrs vote for Tory pro nuclear amendment

Here at the Gurn we are inclined to believe that the majority of people in our community would have grave doubts about more nuclear power stations in the Highlands, thus this observer was quite shocked to see on social media this afternoon the following comment by SNP Highland Councillor Emma Knox:

"Absolutely gutted. The Highland Council just voted 46 votes to 15 to explore the development of new nuclear power sources in the Highlands rather than join the group of Nuclear Free Local Authorities."

The amendment proposed by the Conservative group on the Council won the day. Emma Knox published a list of how members voted. This observer found it hard to read and asked her how Nairn members voted. Here is her reply: 
Emma Knox later told us that Tom didn't participate in the debate (which you can now see added to this article in the Highland Council embedded video below). : 

There was quick reaction from the Green side of Scottish politics:

Speaking after Highland Council voted today to explore the development of new nuclear power sources in the Highlands, Highland and Islands Green MSP John Finnie said:

“Only this highly dysfunctional administration would consider a return to nuclear power.

“The Highlands and Islands is rich in wind, wave, tidal, solar power potential yet the unenlightened turn their back on that renewable wealth and seek a return to nuclear power, adding to the disastrous legacy we’ve already bequeathed on future generations."

The nuclear debate that took place in the Glenurquhart Road chamber earlier today. 

Snowdrop planting 2019 - along the Riverside Sat March 16th from 10 am and Sunday March 17th from 10.30 - Can you help - families welcome

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Planning: developer contributions going to help finance High Life Dance Studio and cafe at Swimming Pool

Here at the Gurn we have been browsing through the details of a planning application on the Highland Council e-planning pages.  "We came across the following on a document entitled Development Plans Response":

"High Life Highland have committed to providing a new dance studio and sea facing cafĂ© area in Nairn. All new housing developments within the Nairn Academy School catchment area are required to provide contributions towards this facility." 

And sure enough it says on that document "Community Facilities Nairn Leisure Centre. Expansion to provide dance studio and sea facing cafĂ© area. £1,022". And as it is for ten houses the total is £10,220.

Now a dance studio fair enough but surely this will compete with other cafes in Nairn? Time to give developer contribution cash to all the cafes in Nairn to help out all round?  Here at the Gurn we think that the Highlife cafe venture should stand or fall on its own ability to generate revenue. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Overwhelming support for a Single Community Council in Nairn according to Social Media poll.

The poll was posted in the popular Nairn Facebook pages Nairn our town our views and Nairn Rocks. The results speak for themselves. 

Friday, March 01, 2019

Living better with a long term condition - Illustrated talk on Old Nairn - Weds 6th of March 2-4 pm Nairn Dunbar Golf Club

Green MSP offers solidarity and support to HIAL air traffic controllers

Responding to reports that HIAL air traffic controllers have voted for strike action, Scottish Greens Transport spokesperson and Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie said:

“The Scottish Ministers own HIAL and have a responsibility to ensure this situation is resolved urgently, with a fair settlement for staff. It’s perhaps no surprise that the Transport Secretary refused to say he had confidence in HIAL’s management the last time I asked him. I continue to offer solidarity and support to Prospect and its members.”

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Ashers on the move in Inverness

Ali Asher, joint MD Ashers Bakery, told the Gurn:

"Ashers are at an advanced stage of negotiations with BrewDog to take over our current Church St premises. It’s clearly a very good site for that type of operation now. We have also identified a location round the corner on Union Street which we plan to relocate to at the same time. We hope the necessary consents & assistance from the authorities & our local tradesmen will facilitate this being a smooth transition.

In addition to the investment in this new shop & cafĂ© we’re also shortly undertaking a complete refurbishment of our Bus Station cafĂ© at Farraline Park. There’s a renewed confidence & vibrancy in the city centre which we’re investing into & have done for 50 years this year. We look forward to welcoming many loyal & new customers to both these shops & wish BrewDog all the best."

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Car parking charges latest – Tom Heggie: “There are no proposals on the table for us as councillors to consider so we can't pass anything on to yourselves.”

At the Nairn West and Suburban CC meeting in the Community and Arts Centre on Monday night, Dick Youngson, the NWSCC chair, asked the three Highland Councillors present if there was any new information on parking charges. He got the following response from Tom Heggie. 

“As was reported at Nairn River (Community Council) while we were there, the new Chief Executive in conjunction with Councillors has taken a view that there has to be a wider consultation and there will be an independent consultant. There is a change fund that will be used for this. 

We don't have any time zone on that at them moment as far as I'm aware but that will include, just looking at the wider issues around infrastructure, localism and so on. As was pointed out to me, at different times and places, the budget leader made a statement and he has made it throughout the whole of Highland, that a year ago there was insufficient consultation. So there is now, not just where car parking charges have yet to be introduced but also where they have already been introduced and just looking at a pattern for the whole of Highland. So we await that particular process. There are no proposals on the table for us as councillors to consider so we can't pass anything on to yourselves.”

Junior World Childcare receive Green Flag award

Junior World Childcare Centre, run by Care and Learning Alliance, have been working hard over the last year to develop the Eco-Schools Scotland Project and are delighted to announce we have received the Green Flag Award.

The Green Flag is a visible indication of commitment to learning for sustainability and an internationally recognised accreditation for excellence in sustainable development education. This is an amazing achievement. With Elena Reid, Childcare Practitioner leading the way, children of all ages, families and many local voluntary organisations have helped us gain this award. There have been a wide range of learning experiences over the year, including litter picks, gardening projects, recycling and upcycling, as well as visitors from Highland Council, Green Hive and Eco Nairn.

We would like to take this opportunity to express a big ‘Thank You’ to everyone involved, especially those who have worked hard on the Eco Committee. Our most recent projects have included the collection of crisp packets for recycling, the continued development of our garden areas and discussion about the use of plastic to upcycle and develop outdoor reading huts.

Jayne Macintosh (Manager) said, “I believe that children of all ages attending the setting are developing responsible citizenship through the different opportunities to engage with the environment and learn what part they can play in helping to actively protect it. Maintaining the Green Flag will be an ongoing project and we excitedly look forward to continuing our Eco-Schools project.”

CALA's Chief Executive Jaci Douglas added, "this is such great news for Junior World and thanks to all the children, staff and other supporters who have helped realise this fantastic achievement."

Monday, February 25, 2019

Stushie deepens as Nairn West and Suburban Community Council unanimously back their River CC colleagues against Highland Council shut-down order - ("...appears to be a continuation of the campaign of hostility and criticism levelled at both CCs....")

Unanimous support tonight in the Community and Arts Centre by NWSCC for their NRCC colleagues as the stushie surrounding Highland Council's order to Nairn River Community Council to go into "abeyance", i.e. to shut down until some time dictated by Glenurquhart Road in the future. 

Chair of Nairn West and Suburban, Dick Youngson read out the following statement followed by three motions that were unanimously passed. Several River CC members including Chair Tommy Hogg were sitting on the public benches as Dick spoke. He began:
  • I would like to start by expressing my serious concern and disappointment over the sudden and arbitrary "decision" by the Ward Manager to shut down River CC with neither advance notice nor discussion of available options (such as interim elections or quorate continuation till November);
  • I note that there is already well founded doubt (expressed in River CC's response) as to whether the Ward Manager had a proper and legitimate basis for her actions;
  • I would also point out that the same prospect could face NW&SCC for different reasons - not perhaps over membership numbers, but for example on grounds of admin/accounting issues;
  • I put on record my anxiety that this appears to be a continuation of the campaign of hostility and criticism levelled at both CCs by elected Councillors and officials in recent months which appears designed to prevent, rather than assist, the CCs to play their role as representatives of the community;
  • And I have to say that this is completely at odds with the tone and messages emerging from recent meetings, one with the HC CEO and another on the Common Good, which have sought to build a new atmosphere of collaboration and support;
  • I say that silencing or closing CCs - instead of offering constructive guidance and advice to enable them to function more effectively - sends entirely the wrong message to the people of Nairn (they must wonder what on Earth is going on) about the Council's approach to dialogue on local issues
This action, if implemented, would leave almost half of the town's population unrepresented, disenfranchised, and with no mechanism for raising and discussing policy proposals, planning applications, or other subjects of local interest;
  • I must warn that devoting time at CC meetings to procedural arguments, debates over the wording of minutes, and internal wrangling, is an unwelcome diversion from sensible consideration of the many important matters which are of concern to local people - whether that is parking policy, budgetary and cutting services, planning and development issues, common good management, or other current problems.
  • For all these reasons, I and colleagues in the Nairn West and Suburban CC believe it is a priority to take a clear stand and put our views publicly and formally on record.
I would like then to propose the following motions
  1. Nairn West and Suburban CC firmly support Nairn River CC being enabled to continue fulfilling its essential role
  2. Nairn West and Suburban CC will continue to work with Highland Council and all other interested groups to explore how best Community Empowerment can be used to deliver a prosperous and inclusive new future for Nairnshire and all its people.
  3. Nairn West and Suburban CC asks for an urgent review of the decision to put Nairn River CC into abeyance
Ccllr Linda Bisset asked for working with Highland Councillors too to be included in the motions, presumably this will be included in item 2. Lots more at the NSWCC meeting tonight which if time permits we will post later this week. 

C'mon Nairn Ladies FC! New Highlands and Islands Women's League formed!

Nairn River Community Council shut-down stushie - office bearers seek clarification of rules from Highland Council

The Gurn has obtained a copy of a letter signed by NRCC office bearers that has been sent to Highland Council. Please click on images below to enlarge. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

River CC shut down stushie and resignation of former secretary - debate on social media

The shut down order from Highland Council to Nairn River Community Council has opened a series of debates both on popular Nairn social media pages "Nairn Rocks" and "Nairn our town our views". Also on the Nairn our town page is a copy of the resignation letter from former NRCC secretary Simon Noble. 

Interestingly, calls are emerging once again for a single Community Council to represent the whole town, 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Nairn River Community Council told it has to shut down by Highland Council

The Gurn understands that Nairn River CC have been told by a local council official that they must go into "abeyance" following the resignation of former Secretary, Simon Noble, on Wednesday night. This raises a technical constitutional issue leading to the instruction for the shut down due to minimum numbers rule ( 50% of max membership must be elected not co-opted) . Our correspondent fails to understand why Highland Council are not allowing interim elections in the meantime to as there have been problems elsewhere in the Highlands keeping Community Councils going and new rules are proposed for later this year that would allow co-opted members to be counted. 

A source close to River CC tells us that there is a school of thought among members that this instruction must be seen in the light of what have been perceived as attacks in the press on the town's community councils by local Highland Council members in recent weeks. 

Our correspondent tells us that they believe Highland Council has other options (including interim elections) and that this shut down move is "extreme" at a time when the CCs and Highland Council seemed to be moving towards a new agreement on how to remedy the "toxic" relationship between Glenurquhart Road and the town.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Hospital bus stop on Cawdor Road now much closer to being fully on the authorities wish list?

We had the pleasure of a blether with Murd and Kirsty yesterday as they popped in to visit Mrs Gurnmeister  in Raigmore (she's doing very well now readers and could be home soon - feck, time to start tidying up). 

Anyway Murd (already responsible for the erection of one bus stop over at WhinnieKnowe due to his indefatigable efforts) tells us that a bus stop on the Cawdor Road is now more a possibility. This observer will never forget the night at a River CC meeting when he had a bit of craic with Michael Green. Michael had just succeeded in obtaining a bus stop for a group of bairns waiting for a bus up in the Nairnshire Hinterland. "That's us one all on bus stops Michael," said Murd during a vein of priceless banter between the two of them. 

So it might take a bit of time yet but Murd tells us he hears from a Nairnshire Community Partnership direction that although Highland Council are interested in the proposition of a bus shelter being erected and placed at the Nairn & County hospital there is no funding in the 2019/20 budget but that that the Partnership Chair, Chief Inspector Brian MacKay, has asked that inclusion in the 2020/21 budget is considered.
Murd's photoshop design for a bus stop on the Cawdor Road outside Nairn Hospital

Additional meeting of Nairn River Community Council this evening 20th February 2019 in the Community and Arts Centre at 7.00 pm

Details of Agenda here.   The minutes of the last meeting held on the 23rd January available here. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Save the Sequoia - pleas to retain tree as part of proposed development - "This Wellingtonia tree is an exceptional green asset. It is capable of surviving long into the future. To destroy it would be a short-sighted and cynical act of extreme environmental vandalism."

The planning application reads: " Erection of ten houses with associated garden and parking areas  Land 50M North Of The Hermitage St Olaf Manor Cawdor Road Nairn."

Nairn River Community Council are not against the development but want the Sequoia retained. They state in their submission:

"As a Community Council we tend to lean towards supporting this application, but we cannot do so if it means the Giant Sequoia is to be removed, especially where we can see that a very small re-design to the layout would avoid any need for it to be removed. We also consider that the site is in danger of over-development with ten proposed houses and it is this over-development that is forcing the removal of these long-established trees that have high landscape value. If a redesign of the layout allowed for the retention of the Giant Sequoia, it could be argued that our objection would be superseded."

There are two comments on the behalf of the Friends and Families of current residents of The Manor Care Home which read:
"On behalf of the Friends and Relatives of current residents of The Manor, we also want to object to the loss of visual amenity and the likely loss of wildlife. Many of the residents gain a great deal from being able to look at the beauty of the trees on the site and often watch the wildlife which is present on the site. Much of this will be lost and will therefore impact on these vulnerable adults' opportunity to enjoy the natural environment of the site."

"I am writing on behalf of the Friends and Families of current residents of The Manor Care Home. We feel very strongly about the likely impact on the very vulnerable adults who already live on the site, specifically as the result of increased traffic flow on the site. All vehicles will have to drive alongside the current buildings. Many of the residents use this area for walking and often are not fully aware of traffic around them. There will also be an impact on the privacy of the residents whose rooms overlook the road. We strongly request further consideration is given to taking traffic to the Fit Homes round the back of the site instead."

Other comments read:

"I object to the proposed removal of trees from this site which are listed as High Quality (Cat A) or good/Moderate Quality (Cat B) in the Arboricultural Assessment. The proposals envisage that 40 of the 116 trees on the site (that is 35% of the total), plus untagged trees, will all be removed. The species include Scots Pine, Wych Elm and others, all of which taken together constitute a significant environmental and "green" asset.

In particular I object in the strongest possible terms to the proposed removal of the Cat A Wellingtonia (Giant Sequoia) . This healthy and impressive specimen is uniquely valuable. It is part of the area's environmental heritage, and a major feature.

A previous nearby planning proposal in 2005 (Rhuallan) was refused on the grounds that the removal of another Giant Sequoia there was unacceptable. This is therefore a directly relevant precedent, and the same considerations apply. Any development-planning consent for this site should enable, and require, the retention of the Wellingtonia and other good-quality mature trees. 

The removal of this "veteran" tree and other mature trees in the area would also be directly contrary to Section 147 of Scottish Planning Policy 3 as reflected in the Highland Council's own Supplementary Guidance on Trees Woodlands And Development adopted in January 2013.

In these days of increasing awareness of the importance of long-term, sustainable strategies for the protection of the natural environment for future generations, the local planning authority has a particular responsibility to set an example of good stewardship. 

This Wellingtonia tree is an exceptional green asset. It is capable of surviving long into the future. To destroy it is not only inconsistent with current government and Council policy. It would be a short-sighted and cynical act of extreme environmental vandalism.

I object to the proposed removal of trees from this site which are listed as High Quality (Cat A) or good/Moderate Quality (Cat B) in the Arboricultural Assessment. The proposals envisage that 40 of the 116 trees on the site (that is 35% of the total), plus untagged trees, will all be removed. The species include Scots Pine, Wych Elm and others, all of which taken together constitute a significant environmental and "green" asset.

In particular I object in the strongest possible terms to the proposed removal of the Cat A Wellingtonia (Giant Sequoia) . This healthy and impressive specimen is uniquely valuable. It is part of the area's environmental heritage, and a major feature.

A previous nearby planning proposal in 2005 (Rhuallan) was refused on the grounds that the removal of another Giant Sequoia there was unacceptable. This is therefore a directly relevant precedent, and the same considerations apply. Any development-planning consent for this site should enable, and require, the retention of the Wellingtonia and other good-quality mature trees. 

In these days of increasing awareness of the importance of long-term, sustainable strategies for the protection of the natural environment for future generations, the local planning authority has a particular responsibility to set an example of good stewardship.

This Wellingtonia tree is an exceptional green asset. It is capable of surviving long into the future. To destroy it would be a short-sighted and cynical act of extreme environmental vandalism." 

"I have examined the plans and I know the site well. I wish to object strongly to this development at this location for reasons I have spelt out below. 

Under the Scottish Government Planning Policy & principle 194 the planning system should "Protect and enhance ancient semi-natural woodland as an important and irreplaceable resource, together with other native or long-established woods, hedgerows and INDIVIDUAL trees with high nature conservation or landscape value.

The 'Scottish Natural Heritage' website 'Nature.Scot' - a site that provides professional advice for planning and development, states "......even single trees - chiefly veteran trees - may also have biodiversity value and add to landscape character and quality. These should also be protected from adverse impacts caused by development.

"The application includes the removal of a Giant Sequoia along with many other types of trees. The Giant Sequoia and the Sycamore are both graded in the Arboricultural Impact Assessment( provided by the applicant) as BS Category A. The large Wellingtonia (Giant Sequoia T2152) is a very impressive and prominent tree on the site and is one of few examples in the Town. 

If the Giant Sequoia has to be removed to allow this deveopment to go ahead it means that the site is being over-developed. A very small re-design to the layout of these houses would avoid any need for it to be removed.

An application at Rhuallan which is located not far to the South of this site reference number 05/00073/FUL that also required the removalof a Giant Sequoia, that application was refused. The Sequoia in Rhuallan then was 25m and this one under threat today is 27m.

On the 12th of June 2018 at the SPAC meeting in the Council Chamber Highland COuncil Principal Planning Officr Ken McCorquodale stated, while presenting the case on planning references (17/05059/LBC and 17/05060/FUL) for housing in Inverness, that "mature trees.... from well within the property are important to retain as they add much character and value to the area". Following that precedent then presumably the same principles apply to trees in Nairn, particularly since at this site the mature trees, includes this 'landmark' Giant Sequoia. Any inconsistency of planning decisions on this topic begs the question of whether planners consider Nairns' natural environment and heritage to be of lesser importance than that of Inverness. 

This tree is a fantastic addition to the area and we must remember that this is "about what type of sky-line we bequeath to future generations in this town."

"As a resident of the area covered by Nairn River Community Council I wish to fully support their comments on this application.

Yes build on the site but in such a way as to preserve the magnificent Sequoia for future generations."

"I object in the strongest possible terms to the removal of so many trees to facilitate this development, particularly the Giant Sequoia and the other class A trees. We are privileged to have such specimens in our town, and they must be retained. There are few enough such wonderful examples in this area.

The Cawdor Road area has lost many wonderful trees over the last period, we cannot be expected to tolerate more losses to the Heritage that we leave to our future generations."

We would urge any readers that agree with these comments to also submit their thoughts to this application on the Highland Council e-planning pages here 

Gordons Saw Mill also object to the development given that it is so close to their premises and would lead to noise complaints. There is also an objection from the Highland Council's Environmental Health Department.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Nairn Film Festival underway with big Friday night turn out for Nae Pasaran

Nae Pasaran was an incredibly moving film seen by a full house in the Community and Arts Centre tonight. Details of this remarkable film here.

We had a wee blether with SĂ©amus McArdle about the Festival and what else is on this weekend. More details on the Cinema Nairn site here. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Parking Charges policy continues to devastate Angus towns since introduction of meters in November last year - a look into Nairn's future demise if Highland Council does the same here?

A look into the future at what Nairn will look like if our Highland Councillors allow parking meters in Nairn? "

"The small market towns of Angus are crying out for help from our Councillors to bring some vibrancy back to our town centres but Angus Council genuinely don’t understand the people and businesses requirements therefore Angus continues its downwards spiral."

Monday, February 11, 2019

Contractor appointed for £809,000 Nairn Courthouse revamp

One of our regular readers points us in the direction of a Highland Council press release. Our correspondent wonders if this expenditure is necessary in the current climate of cutbacks and the threat of parking charges in Nairn to raise money. There is no money we are told but perhaps this was coming down the tracks for a while and we imagine all or most of it is necessary - if anyone knows where to find the relevant Highland Council reports that led to this work please let us know and we will link to them. We regret that we are rather busy with other things at the moment and Gurn activity is on slow-burn so please if anyone has further information. Anyway here is the the Highland Council press release:

"The contract for refurbishment works including the removal and replacement of the existing viewing tower at Nairn Courthouse has been awarded by The Highland Council to Laing Traditional Masonry Group (LTM Group).

The £809,000 project at the Category B listed Court House involves the renovation of the two-stage steeple, which is in poor condition, as well as internal and external works required. 

The Service Point and the Council offices will remain operational throughout the 48 week programme, which is anticipated to commence later this month.

The works will be project-managed by the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Service. The project has been progressed with assistance from LDN Architects, Fairhurst Engineers, McLeod & Aitken and Safehands Health & Safety Consultants Ltd.

Cllr Tom Heggie, Nairnshire Committee Chair said: “As part of the Council’s ongoing inspection regime, Nairn Members are delighted that this contract has been awarded. This demonstrates a significant investment by the Council in an iconic building in the heart on Nairn town centre. In contractors Laing Traditional Masonry we are also pleased that our treasured building will be well cared for, based on their excellent work already demonstrated at Inverness Town House.”

Work to erect scaffolding at Nairn Courthouse is anticipated to start on Sunday 17 February 2019."

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Nairn BID again writes to Cllr Tom Heggie on parking charges - still no promised consultation and decisions due to be made in next couple of weeks

Parking changes in Nairn - could you be affected? You have until 15th Feb to comment on consultation

This isn't the parking meter threat issue, this is simply one of the regular reviews of how the streets are managed. There are apparently some changes proposed. One of our regular readers informs us: "Acre Street is to be no parking at all, even for residents!"

We thought we'd better have a look at the proposals that are contained in a document with a series of maps for Nairn. Here's a snapshot of one of them.

"Any objection you may have to this proposal must be submitted by 15th February 2019, in writing to the Legal Manager, Council Offices, Glenurquhart Road Inverness IV3 5NX"

2018 Further rollout of Decriminalised Parking Enforcement - Statutory Consultees information
The following locations link to map based Traffic Regulation Orders detailing on-street waiting and loading restrictions to be delivered by The Highland Council (Prohibition and Restriction of Waiting and Loading and Parking Places) (Decriminalised Parking Enforcement and Consolidation) Variation Three Order 2018."

The sad loss of Alan Barron

Yesterday James Barron announced on the Nairn Social media site "Nairn Rocks":

 "It is with tremendous sadness that I have to announce that Alan Barron, beloved father, grandfather and brother died peacefully in the small hours of this morning(Tuesday 5th of February) at Nairn town and county hospital. He will be greatly missed, not only by his family, but by Nairn in general."

Tributes are being made on Nairn Rocks here. 

One of our regular readers David told the Gurn: "It is with great sadness that we all learned today of the passing of Alan Barron, he will be a great loss to the community of Nairn.

Could you feature a mention on the Gurn in memory of one of the most loveable, knowledgeable and sociable Nairnites of the last few decades? He was a remarkable man, full of vigour, an encyclopedic knowledge of Nairn and its history and yet not boring or academic, full of life and a wonderful sense of humour. I will always remember his affectionate giggle and the way his face lit up when a new fact or subject came to his notice.

He will be greatly missed, there are few now of his ilk and character, a shame, as we need them now more than ever."

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Fantastic craic on Nairn High Street today with Chinese New Year Celebrations

Fantastic craic on the High Street this morning with a Chinese Lion Dance performance by Glasgow's Hong Lok Dragon and Lion Dance to celebrate Chinese New Year.  More images here. 

Monday, February 04, 2019

Quite a lot going on in the Nairn twittersphere these days folks, we'll post anything interesting we see here via the Gurn twitter page

If there's not much being posted here it's worth having a look at the Gurn twitter account. Quite a lot happens in the Nairn twittersphere these days and you can scroll down the wee twitter boxie on the right hand side as far as you like to see what the latest craic is. You don't have to have an account to look at tweets either. 

Friday, February 01, 2019

Cinema Nairn - 10th anniversary Film Festival 15th -17th February 2019

Another housebreaking in the Lochloy area

Green Budget Deal: John Finnie MSP Secures funding package for Highland

The Scottish Greens this morning (31 Jan) confirmed agreement has been reached with Scottish Ministers on a significant package of immediate budget changes and bold long-terms reforms to boost the funding of local council services such as schools and social care.

Ahead of tonight's Stage 1 vote on the Budget, Scottish Government Ministers are promising that in return for Green support they will amend their spending plans. Compared with the plans set out in the SNP’s budget in December, local councils will have access to a package worth over £200million to spend as they see fit.

Today’s deal will mean Highland Council will have a funding package worth up to an extra £8.6 million as a direct result of the Green deal.

When combined with existing local revenue powers, this will close the £237m gap in council funding, identified by the local government body COSLA.

Ministers have also agreed to a timescale for replacing the broken, unfair Council Tax system. This will be developed by a cross-party process starting before the summer, and legislation will be published before the end of this session of parliament. They have also committed to giving councils greater fundraising powers including the ability to charge a visitor levy, as is commonplace in other European cities and regions.

Council bosses had described the SNP Government's proposed budget for 2019-20 as bad news, putting at risk the delivery of essential services. Green MSPs have pressed hard for a fairer funding settlement along with a commitment to scrap the Tories' unfair and outdated Council Tax.

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie said:

"The public rely on local services such as schools and social care, and local facilities such as sports centres and libraries. Today's Green budget deal means that Highland Council now has an additional £8.6 million to protect these services and the jobs of front line workers.

"It's welcome that after consistent Green pressure the SNP Government has seen sense and committed to immediate action and longer-term reform.

"Scottish Greens will always be firm but constructive in these situations. Scrapping the Tories' Council Tax is a historic victory. All parties now have an opportunity to help bring about a fairer system of funding essential local services.

"On top of recent reforms to Income Tax, today's deal shows yet again Scottish Greens are leading the change, making Scotland the fairer country we know we can be."

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

NW&SCC monthly meeting - Car Parking charges feature - Tom Heggie only Highland Councillor to turn up - Andrew Randerson steps down from CC

One of our regular readers was at last night's Nairn West and Suburban Community Council meeting at the Centre and was kind enough to submit the following report:

Nairn West and Suburban Community Council meeting was notable, yet again, for its absence of Highland Council councillors with only Cllr Heggy putting in an appearance and no apologies being recorded from the other three.

Unsurprisingly the vexed issue of charging for car parking in Nairn came up again.

Cllr Heggy stated that there is going to be consultation about car parking in every area of Highland including those with parking charges already like Inverness and Fort William. The chairman for the evening pointed out, as has others have done before him including Gurn Nurn, that parking charges have been shown to be deeply damaging to high street businesses elsewhere in Scotland and Nairn is likely to be similarly affected. And all for such a small amount of income for the council compared to its overall budget.

Bill Young said that under a recent change in the law Highland Council has to legally consult with community councils over any change of use of Common Good assets and made powerful case that using Common Good land to raise money for Highland Council was wrong. He also pointed out that there is still no Common Good asset register so it is impossible to reliably determine precisely which car parking in Nairn is involved.

Cllr Heggy said that, if parking charges are imposed in Nairn, then any nett income from parking on Common Good land would be retained by the Common Good.

Sadly no one then asked why, given that this was the case and that pretty much the whole town was opposed to parking charges, the introduction of charges for parking on Common Good land was still being considered.

The meeting also heard an update from Janis MacLean, Nairn BID manager. A Food and Drink Festival is being planned for 12th-14th April. A planning workshop will take place on 18th February. Total BID income is estimated at £100,000 per year and, among other things, they are investigating ways to improve the look of the high street.

The issue of car parking around Tradespark shops and dangers with buses stopped there too was briefly raised and will, no doubt, come back to later meetings.

And finally Andrew Randerson announced that this was his last meeting as he is stepping down from community council to concentrate on other ways to help the community.

Monday, January 28, 2019

East Beach to Kingsteps all abilities path restoration. NICE and Nairn Access Panel Restore Popular Local Route.

Work will be undertaken in February to restore the all abilities path from the East Beach car park to Kingsteps. 

The path, on Common Good land, leads to the edge of the Culbin nature reserve and was made all abilities around fifteen years ago in association with the Nairn Access Panel. Since then it has become encroached upon and very worn due to its popularity. It can no longer provide access for wheelchairs, buggies, or those unable to negotiate the narrow and bumpy conditions, and water pools
in the hollows. 

Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise has now worked with the Access Panel to obtain grant funding of £18,500 for the project from the Landfill Communities Fund, RSPB, Nairn Access Panel, and Nairn Ward Discretionary Fund to restore the path, and a very experienced contractor Highland Conservation Ltd. has been appointed. 

For health and safety reasons this will clearly cause some inconvenience to regular users as the construction work is undertaken, but diversions to alternative routes will be clearly marked from the car park when necessary, and there will be no problem with access to the beach or dunes. 

While following national policy to encourage outdoor access for all with the health benefits it brings, it will be really rewarding to see locals and visitors of all abilities enjoying once more the wonderful landscapes, birdlife and photographic opportunities which this route provides.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Albyn Housing development plan threat to Giant Sequoia tree in Nairn

Giant Sequoia under threat from proposed Albyn Housing development on land opposite Manor Care Centre.

Readers can browse the application here on the highland Council's e-planning site. The reason the Sequoia has to go according to the Arboricultural Impact Assessment is:

“The removal of 40 individually tagged trees to allow the development has a moderate overall effect on the landscape. 31 of the trees recommended trees for removal are of either category C or U. However, the development also requires the removal of 2 category A trees. The large Wellington (T2152) is a very prominent tree on site, but unit 9 and 10 as well as the disabled car parking spaces are well within the RPA of this tree and therefore it would be unrealistic to try and retain this tree. “

During discussions at the River Community Council meeting last night in the Community and Arts Centre concern was raised about the felling of the Sequoia and other nearby trees. The CC have submitted an “extension of time request” to enable them to perhaps submit and objection. They are not against development of the site per se but just wish to see the Sequoia retained – well that is the impression that this observer got from listening to their deliberations.

Here at the Gurn we are minded to support such a submission should the community council be so minded. We would like to draw readers attention to an application that would have meant the removal of a Sequoia just along the road at Rhuallan back in 2005. That application was refused. The Sequoia in Rhuallan then was 25m and this one under threat today is 27m. Here's what we had to say about the danger to that exceptional tree:

"With the pressure on Nairn for housing space it is inevitable that this type of situation will arise but it is by today’s actions that our society will be judged. This is not to say no more houses, never, that would be a stupid attitude but this is about what type of sky-line we bequeath to future generations in this town..

This blogmeister is no tree expert but is aware that Sequoias first came to the UK in the 1860’s and outside of their natural environment in the American Pacific North West the Scottish climate is as close to their homeland as you can get: thus the potential for a lot more growth exists in the specimen at Rhuallan. Imagine the gratitude of citizens a hundred years from now gazing up at the Sequoia and praising the wisdom of their forbears.

It may be that two houses can be built in this plot without felling the mature trees, no doubt the council can seek the views of their experts on that one but the views of the public should be heard too. If you don’t think that mature trees should be felled please go and look at the plans and raise an objection to the application if you feel so inclined. Please pass this information on to any friends or colleagues who would feel inclined to involve themselves in the debate about what kind of environment we leave for future generations in Nairn. If you care, it is worth getting involved, this time anyway.” 

What we said then is just as relevant today about this application just along the road. Hopefully a compromise can be reached to allow building on this site but with retaining this wonderful tree, keeping the Nairn skyline and environment looking good – it isn't just about us, it is about future generations. Development yes but keep the Sequoia!

Anger at Highland Councillor's comments on Community Councils

An article appeared on the front page of this week's Leopold Street Thunderer “Local Councillor calls for wider membership of Community groups”. The Gurn understand that some in the local community councils have seen these comments as an attack on the local volunteers that take up the role. One former Community Councillor Graham Vine took particular exception to what Conservative Councillor Peter Saggers had to say in the local paper and went along to last night's River CC meeting.

Peter Saggers had stated to the Nairnshire: “The last time there was a contested election in Nairnshire was, I believe, 2006."

Graham held up newspaper cuttings  which proved that this was not the case and expressed his concerns on the comments.

Here at the Gurn we had read the Nairnshire article and had thought that perhaps Peter Saggers was correct as there hadn't been an election recently but that maybe 2006 was a bit far back, although time does seem to move very fast these days so perhaps that date was correct. After a wee blether with Graham last night we searched the Gurn for evidence of contested elections and perhaps readers may be interested in an article we published in November 2009: 

“One of the stars of West Community Council lost his seat earlier today as the count was held in the Courthouse. Graham received 136 votes. Another prominent member of the West came in 5th with 195 votes, enough to see him elected but this observer had thought Brian Stewart's recent prominence on planning issues might have seen him climb a little higher but the people have spoken.

However the women of the moment is the lady who kicked ass over the Regal and got results. Reports are coming in from the West End of Kalashnikovs being fired in celebration to honour Rosemary Young for topping the poll with 354 votes, she was nearly 100 votes ahead of the nearest contestant. There was a 49.84% turnout in the West area.

Meanwhile in Suburban Dick Youngson topped the poll with a massive 630 votes in a 35.11% turnout. In River all safely home with 0 votes apiece.”

We also have an article from the River CC election of that time too:

"River CC election - Tommy Hogg tops poll - 28% turnout

Tommy Hogg chats with Nairnshire Reporter John Dolan prior to the results

The results were announced by the Returning Officer Louise Clark at the Courthouse this evening. A healthy 28% of the electorate in the River Community Council area returned their ballot papers and the following were elected:

Carol Clark 621 votes
Thomas Hogg 681 votes
Bill Murdoch 579 votes
Jeanne Tolmie 679 votes
Stephanie Whittaker 588 votes

Provost Liz MacDonald congratulated all reelected and newly elected councillors and wished them well for their term of office. A good result for democracy and an indication that many Nairnites show a keen interest in community council affairs, it bodes well for the future and a possible single Community Council for Nairn within the next two years.

Louise Clark prepares to announce the result , Jean Tolmie to her right "

OK folks there might not always be elections to the community councils but when there is the support for the candidates can be as impressive and even surpass the turnouts for Highland Council elections. Here at the Gurn we would contend that the standing of the unpaid Community Councillors is just as high in the Community as that of their £16K basic Highland Council counterparts. Let's consider the 34 year contribution made by the late Jeanne Tolmie to Nairn River Community Council and the town's well-being for example.

It would be wonderful if more people would stand for community councils as Cllr Saggers wishes but with their funding being cut and with the authorities expecting them to participate in so many “consultations” and attend meetings during the day, it is hardly an alluring prospect for many citizens. The Community Councils remain somewhere where people in the town can go with their problems and seek help however, or at least seek a platform to bring issues to a wider audience.

Perhaps if Highland Council would in fact listen more to what Community Councils have to say? After all let's just take parking charges and who is reflecting the will of the community here – the Community Councils or Peter Saggers and his two Independent colleagues?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Dismay at River CC meeting as no Highland Councillors turn up to answer parking charges questions

As concern and rumours mount in Nairn over when/if parking meters arrive in the town there was considerable upset expressed at the River Community Council meeting in the Centre tonight. 

Community Councillors expressed their concerns that no numbers or proposals had emerged yet in spite of the CC seeking information and the situation was made even worse with no Highland Council representatives present to enlighten them. 

Worries were expressed from the public benches that our Highland Councillors may have given permission for Highland Council to put the meters on Nairn Common Good Land but, again, with no one present to respond to questions the situation was far from ideal. Anger too that there was still no sign of the promised consultation on parking charges matters. 

Indecent behaviour incident on West Beach Nairn, Tuesday Jan 22 around 3.30 pm close to Golf View Hotel - police looking for man with "long curly red hair"

Queen's Park Community project

Nairn River Community Council meeting 23rd January 2019 - Agenda

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Lesley Riddoch at The Little Theatre for the showing of her film "NATION Norway - The Twin Nation" Here's the whole event on video

Last night Saturday 19th of January and Lesley Riddoch was in the Little Theatre and did a Q&A session after a showing of the third in a series of films she has made comparing Scotland and Nordic nations.

Yes Nairn showed the first two in the afternoon and Lesley was there also for an impromptu session too. You can see Nation Iceland here and Nation Faroe Islands here.

The event in the evening was sold out and the afternoon session of films and drop-in cafe with a foodbank collection was also very well attended and 30 bags of food and toiletries were collected which will be taken to Gateway Highland. 

Regular readers that pay attention to local government matters may wish to hear Lesley's thoughts on how Scotland fares here in comparison with its Nordic neighbours, you can go straight to that about four minutes into her Q&A session video which is the third one below. 

New Bridge spans heading through Nairn in Cawdor direction

Soon to be sitting a bit further along the River Nairn from the existing White Bridge at Cawdor.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Funny Face (U) Matinee Monday 21st January 2pm Nairn Community and Arts Centre Tickets at the door.

Funny Face (U) Matinee
Monday 21st January 2pm
Nairn Community and Arts Centre
Tickets at the door.

On Monday 21st January, Cinema Nairn kicks off its tenth anniversary year with a matinee screening of favourite musical ‘Funny Face’ starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. Featuring Gershwin hits such as Funny Face and S’Wonderful, this movie is guaranteed to warm up a cold January afternoon, with the usual tea, bakes and chat afterwards. Other highlights of the season include Oscar winners Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, The Silent Child in a double bill with The Miracle Worker, and Katherine Hepburn with Henry and Jane Fonda in the 1981 On Golden Pond. 

Two outstanding foreign films in the programme Cold War (2018) from Poland which tells of a fated love affair between a musician and his gifted pupil, and Sherpa, originally conceived to explore the Sherpas’ spiritual feelings about Everest but taking a tragic sidestep when avalanche struck during filming.

There are two very contrasting WW2 films: Alone in Berlin, a sombre but moving story of a grieving German father’s fight against the Nazi regime, and comedy Their Finest, with Gemma Atherton and Bill Nighy as Ministry of Information hacks.

A couple of old favourites, Basil Rathbone’s Hound of the Baskervilles, and Margaret Rutherford’s return as Miss Marple complete the matinee programme.

And of course don’t forget the Tenth Anniversary Film Festival – a weekend of eight Scottish themed films from 15th to 17th February complete with pizza and Prosecco launch!

For more details pick up a brochure or visit