Districts – week 32

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Dalmally

Portsonachan Squirrel Regeneration Project

The Portsonachan Squirrel Regeneration Project are continuing their work to preserve the red squirrel population.

Some of the local volunteers of the group have installed new replacement squirrel feeders. These feeders will be used along South Loch Awe-side replacing existing feeders which have been damaged by the elements, thus providing a total of 19 feeding stations being watched and sustained by the volunteer group.

The purchase of the new feeders was made possible by the group’s main sponsor, Tilhill Forestry, and Egger Forestry. Also sponsoring the project this year is Ardanaiseig Hotel, which enables the group to have a continuous supply of food for the future, supplementing the natural diet available locally.

Spokesperson Carol Russell said: ‘We have already seen a steady spread of red squirrels from the initial hotspots, with some areas reporting four or five youngsters and hopefully we will see a second litter later this year.’

Further information on the project can be found on the Portsonachan Squirrel Regeneration Project Facebook page or by contacting Carol Russell at Carolr2@btinternet.com.

Garelochhead

Hotel planned for Portincaple

A planned hotel and housing development for a lochside beauty spot at Portincaple, outside Garelochhead, would ‘double the size of the community overnight’, community figures have said.

The proposed development was made public in an application for a ‘screening opinion’ lodged with Argyll and Bute Council and concern is mounting among residents about the effect it could have on neighbouring woodland.

Members of the Portincaple Residents’ Association have already met MSP Jackie Baillie to air their concerns.

The council insists that it is premature to assume the authority is backing the plans, but the residents’ concerns remain.

Hilary Wharton from the PRA said: ‘We are concerned about the disruption to the woodland and wildlife, but also the community in general.

‘The council defines the area as a minor settlement according to its planning policy, which says that it is against any more than five housing units.

‘So we are shocked, as this goes against anything in the local development plan. There are 54 houses in Portincaple so this doubles the size of the community overnight.’

Ms Baillie said: ‘I have met with representatives of the Portincaple Residents’ Association and understand their concerns about the scale of the development.

‘I am happy to provide any assistance that I can in relation to the forthcoming planning application.’

Oban

Oban High exclusions revealed

Oban High School had the highest amount of exclusions in Argyll and Bute last year, figures have revealed.

A freedom of information request to Argyll and Bute Council revealed 48 temporary or permanent exclusions took place at the school.

Physical assault with no weapon against a pupil was the most common exclusion offence at Oban High in 2018/19, responsible for 25 per cent of removals.

There were 10 pupils excluded for verbal abuse of staff, while six were removed for general or persistent disobedience.

Seven further exclusions were awarded for undefined offences listed as ‘other’.

A total of 649 exclusions have taken place across the 10 secondary schools in Argyll and Bute since the start of the 2015/16 academic year.