Heart 200 is a new touring route of approximately 200 miles around Perth, Stirling, The Trossachs and Highland Perthshire, and modelled on the North Coast 500. It is due to launch at the end of May, and although it has been long in the planning, there has been little or no attempt to inform the residents and businesses that it will affect. Nor has there been an assessment of the capability of the local road network or other infrastructure to cope with the planned extra traffic.
From the map below, you can see that it goes through Fearnan.
You don’t need to spend long driving on the roads around Loch Tay to realise that the local road infrastructure is struggling to cope. Local residents share a network of single track and fairly elderly A and B roads with wood lorries, construction vehicles, touring coaches, mobile homes, and other tourist traffic. Even on the A-roads, an increasing number of vehicles are so big that they no longer fit on one side of the road and spill over the white line, creating problems for on-coming traffic and further erosion of the road edges and verges. On our single-track roads, the problems are magnified.
Add to this flooding and drainage concerns, inadequately maintained and signed passing-places, potholes and winter gritting problems and you have a number of road safety issues.
But it is not just the road infrastructure that is the problem. People who live on the North Coast 500 route say that it has changed their whole way of life and decreased amenity value to residents and for those visitors who come to enjoy a tranquil rural setting. They have experienced increases in traffic hold ups, road wear/damage, noise, pollution, rubbish, and wild camping with its associated problems of rubbish and dumping of human waste. The route has also had a detrimental effect on some businesses, particularly self-catering and other businesses reliant on a peaceful rural environment and quiet roads, like farmers.
In other words there is a significant social cost that is currently being ignored by the operators and the Council. PKC are providing a grant of £45,000 this project – a significant sum of public money to be invested without the Council appearing to have taken on board any of the lessons that might have been learned from NC500. Nor has any preparatory work been undertaken to make the roads fit for purpose or to put in place the kind of infrastructure required to support a busy driving route (fit for purpose roads, toilets, rubbish bins, signage etc).
The process through which this scheme is being brought to the market lacks integrity and Fearnan Village Association believes that the launch of this project should be delayed until the operators and Council have:
- Conducted a proper consultation with the people directly affected by this proposal and established how residents’ and business owners’ concerns can be mitigated;
- Established how carbon emissions, rubbish, and disruption to residents and rural businesses will be managed by the operators;
- Conducted a review of the state of the roads that will carry the extra traffic, made them fit for purpose, and identified the roads (such as Fearnan to Coshieville) that are not suitable and need to be excluded from the route, with proper signage to this effect;
- Established a comprehensive system of monitoring the economic and social impacts of this project.
Further information about Heart 200 and details of who to write to in order to express your views will be provided off-line to Fearnan residents.
Aberfeldy Square Planning Appplication
The Glenlyon and Loch Tay Community Council would like to draw your attention to the plans to redesign Aberfeldy Square that have now been submitted for planning approval.
The Planning Application No. is 19/00657/FLL and the description reads: “The proposal focuses on the re-design of the square, so it’s purpose as a car park is converted to a space which works for the local community. The removal of parking from one side of the square, will help create a flexible space, which will provide a platform for additional events, which will add to the portfolio of events in Aberfeldy. The space will be paved in Scottish natural stone and serviced by new power point infrastructure.”
The CC’s main objection is the reduction of parking spaces from 19 ordinary spaces + 2 disabled spaces, to 6 ordinary + 1 disabled. This will make parking more difficult in the rest of the town. The CC’s objection to the proposal is now on the PKC Planning Comments Page and they would like to draw your attention to the ways to object to/ comment on this Planning Application:
- On-line by clicking ‘Viewing and Commenting on Planning Applications’ then following the links.
- By email or a letter attached to an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- By post to Planning and Development, Pullar House, Kinnoull Street, Perth PH1 5GD
Please include the Planning Application number 19/00657/FLL , your name and postal address and clearly state if it is an Objection or Comment.
Closing date for Objections/Comments is MAY 24th.
Our third item in this ‘campaign issue’ is about the threat to our native bluebells. Ros Grant has been looking into the threat posed by the invasive Spanish Bluebells and has provided this article for the Blog.
At this time of the year the bluebells are spectacular, especially in the woods along the Fearnan to Kenmore road. But are they under threat from the non-native invader, the Spanish bluebell Hyacinthoides hispanica?
Introduced to the UK in the 1600s as a garden plant, the Spanish bluebell has gradually spread throughout the UK, particularly in Victorian times, cross-pollinating with our native bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, and changing the native’s characteristics to an intermediate hybrid form. From a distance the two plants may look similar, particularly as the hybrid bluebell is now very common, but also variable, for example in colour (pink and white). So, what’s the difference between our dainty native bluebell and the Spanish one?
Dr Trevor Dines, Botanical Specialist with Plantlife, a British conservation charity working nationally and internationally to save threatened wild flowers, plants and fungi, published a blog comparing the two plants. This is an extract, but you can read the full blog at https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/blog/whats-the-difference-between-spanish-bluebells-and-english-bluebells
Native bluebells (on the right)
- have narrow leaves, usually about 1cm or 1.5cm (about half an inch) wide
- have deep blue (sometimes white, rarely pink), narrow, tube-like flowers, with the very tips curled right back
- have flowers mostly on one side of the stem only, and distinctly drooping, or nodding, at the top
- have a distinct sweet, fruity scent
- inside the flowers, the anthers with the pollen are usually cream.
Spanish bluebells (on the left)
- have broad leaves often 3cm (over an inch) wide
- have paler blue (quite often pink and white), conical or bell-shaped flowers that have spread-out tips
- have flowers all around the upright stem
- have almost no scent or an unpleasant onion scent
- inside the flowers, the anthers with the pollen usually blue (although this may vary a little).
A Plantlife survey found that one in six broadleaved woodlands across the UK contained a Spanish bluebell or a hybrid between the two.
So, does it matter if we lose our native bluebell? Isn’t it just one more example of the loss of a British species and further degradation in biodiversity? As a non-native invasive species, the Spanish bluebell can be identified and removed either by digging up the bulbs early in the season or by picking the flower heads before they are pollinated and, later on by removing the seed heads. Avoid putting the bulbs and seeds in compost, otherwise they will return.
Scottish Natural Heritage say that the law in Scotland makes it an offence to plant or cause Spanish bluebells to grow in the wild. However, a householder is legally entitled to plant non-native species in a garden, providing they are responsible and do not allow the non-native species to escape. Unfortunately, bees, insects and butterflies don’t stick to gardens and spread is inevitable if the Spanish bluebell continues to grow in gardens. Pollinating insects can fly for several miles and will therefore have an impact on the whole of Fearnan village and the surrounding landscape.
Organisations such as Plantlife and the Woodland Trust encourage consumers to buy the native H. non-scripta bulbs, which are now licensed and obtainable from a reliable source, such as Plantlife, as it is a better option and of value to our native flora. Scottish Natural Heritage promote a Bulb Collection Code https://www.nature.scot/sites/default/files/2017-06/scottishbulbcollflyer.pdf
There is growing concern about the spread of non-native invasive species including the potential threat to the UK’s native bluebell by the Spanish bluebell and its hybrids. A joint project with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Natural History Museum is underway. Early results show that the native bluebell may have a genetic advantage over the Spanish, but until all the results are published it’s too early to be sure.
Peter McPhail, Scottish Natural Heritage. Personal correspondence: 8 April 2019
Alistair Whyte, Head of Plantlife Scotland. Personal correspondence: 7 May 2019
It’s Bracken Bashing Time of Year
Bracken Bashing has resumed in the area around Ann’s Seat to keep it clear of ferns. Although it is early in the season, there is some evidence that the growth of bracken in the immediate area around the seat is reducing as a result of the efforts made in previous years.
If you feel like a little light exercise (!) the tools are in the bin close to the seat, and your contribution will be much appreciated.
The FVA’s Pop-Up Coffee Shop will be back in action on 21st May at 10.30 in the Hall. Join us for freshly made coffee and some delicious home baking – and a chance to chat with friends and neighbours.
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