News from the districts – April 30, 2021

A year-round Campbeltown-Ardrossan ferry service has been backed by Argyll and Bute Council.

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Isle of Mull

A community forest on Mull could soon be a link in a chain of rewilding ‘stepping stones’ to tackle Scotland’s nature and climate crises.

Charity SCOTLAND: The Big Picture is talking to Ardura Community Forest about becoming part of a new rewilding network.

The Northwoods Rewilding Network will allow more of Scotland’s many smaller landholdings of 50 to 1,000 acres to play a bigger role in restoring and connecting habitats.

The plan is that the project will complement Scotland’s major landscape-scale rewilding sites by filling in the gaps in  smaller areas.

Northwoods hopes to expand to at least 10,000 acres within two years and so far has engaged 12 initial land partners include farms, crofts, small estates and a community woodland covering 3,500 acres between them.

‘Despite their beauty and drama, many of Scotland’s landscapes have been in ecological decline for a very long time, with many species extinct and others once prolific now teetering on the edge. Northwoods will help to turn this around,’ said Northwoods’ project manager James Nairne.

As well as making way for ecological change, Northwoods will develop sustainable nature-based business models, focusing on opportunities for communities.

‘We want to see vibrant, prosperous communities within nature-rich landscapes, as increasingly enjoyed across Europe,’ said Peter Cairns, SCOTLAND: The Big Picture’s executive director.

Argyll and Bute

Fitness fanatics in the area will be able to swim or use their gym on a pre-booked basis at any of Live Argyll’s facilities after leisure services across Argyll and Bute reopened from Monday April 26.

Fitness classes will, however, remain outdoors for the time being, with the intention to move indoors from May 17, while swimming lessons will resume from May 3.

Libraries in the area also reopened on Monday, with a click and collect procedure in operation in most cases.

The leisure trust continues to await guidance from the Scottish Government on when event and community venues can reopen, along with indoor school lets and soft play facilities.

Outdoor sports pitches are already open for full contact sports for younger people, and adults will be able to use them from Monday, May 17.

Libraries in Rothesay, Dunoon, Helensburgh, Lochgilphead, Campbeltown and Oban will operate a click and collect service from Monday, April 26.

However, archive and local study sections will remain on hold due to current national restrictions.

Kintyre

Calls for a full-time ferry link between Campbeltown and the Ayrshire coast have been unanimously backed by Argyll and Bute Council.

Councillors agreed to support a petition submitted to the Scottish Parliament by South Kintyre councillor Donald Kelly and fellow Argyll First councillor Dougie Philand representing Mid Argyll, calling for a year-round freight and passenger ferry service from Campbeltown to Ardrossan.

The petition is in response to regular A83 road closures caused by landslips at the Rest and be Thankful and the suggested 10-year timescale for a permanent solution, although councillors Kelly and Philand say it should not be considered as an alternative or compromise to a permanent solution to the issues at the Rest.

Councillor Kelly said: ‘The next stage of the process will be when we are called to give evidence to the committee.

‘The capacity of CalMac to provide suitable vessels within its existing fleet seems to be a problem. With this in mind, we have spoken to reliable and credible ferry consultants who have informed us that there are currently vessels outwith CalMac which could be procured and meet the requirements of the service.

‘Whilst appreciating that a full evaluation of any service would require to be carried out, we would hope that this will be looked at favourably.’