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Rhu and Shandon Community Council

Torr Farm

April 2022

Background information: The management plan is being proposed following the felling of over 100 trees at this ancient woodland during 2021. This was unauthorised and unlicensed and in breach of the SF Felling Regulations (Scotland) 2019. Scottish Forestry initially advised they would take enforcement action but are instead working with the landowner to develop a management plan.

The management plan details felling of 685 trees, (a total of 480 cubic metres).

An invitation has been received  by Rhu and Shandon Community Council from the part owner of Torr Farm to attend a public meeting  followed by a walk to discuss the proposed and currently draft management plan for the property, led by Mike Strachan of Scottish Forestry. 

After the meeting people will have the opportunity to submit written comments based on factual information to both the  owner and Scottish Forestry up to 14 days after this.

 The Management Plan with ancilliary documents have been provided by the owner. Apologies for the quality of these images. Also provided were a couple of documents showing the location of the farm.

   
 

 

Comments may be submitted to secretary@rhuandshandoncommunity.org

 


Background

On 22nd April 2022, when chainsaws were heard on Torr Farm, both A&B C and SF were contacted as it was feared that more unauthorised felling was taking place. It turned out the chainsaws were Scottish Power maintaining the power lines by cutting back overhanging branches.  The men on the ground, who do this every three years, were surprised to see the veteran beech trees had been felled and indicated they would not have felled the whole tree just the branches that might interfere with the power lines. They also do not appear to be diseased and Mike Strachan did not consider them as such when he saw them, he just swore in fury to see these c. 100 year old plus trees had been felled. An information request has been made to Scottish Power to determine if they did or did not fell the ancient beech trees. Information has been provided by the landowner from Scottish Power which confirms that Scottish Power  did remove a tree in November 2020.

A formal complaint was made to Scottish Forestry on 23 March 22 about the unlicensed felling at Torr by Audrey Baird (Help Trees Help Us and a  co-petitioner with Fiona Baker to the Scottish Parliament seeking full legal protection for ancient woodlands. This is the timeline of events   The essence of the complaint is that Scottish Forestry stated in writing they would be pursuing enforcement action –  but it seems after a wee chat between Mike Strachan of SF and the landowner Anne Ferguson SF decided not to pursue enforcement and this of course goes to the heart of our petition (which is a private effort and nothing to do with the CC)  that ancient woodlands do not have adequate protection and when the law is broken it is not enforced.

 https://www.parliament.scot/get-involved/petitions/view-petitions/pe1812-protect-scotlands-remaining-ancient-native-and-semi-native-woodlands-and-woodland-floors 

The Parliament’s Citizen Participations and Petitions Committee Is currently writing to all Local Authorities and Scottish Forestry requesting information on the implementation and success of TPOS, how effective they are, and how they are enforced and also how SF enforce the existing legislation (essentially gathering the statistics). The Committee are  also arranging visits to see the many problems threatening  ancient woodlands on the ground.  This petition has now been running for about two years, Audrey /baird and Fiona Baker have given evidence to the committee and so have Mairi MacAllan MSP, (Minister for forestry), Scottish Forestry (twice), CONFOR, Nature Scot, RSPB, and The Woodlands Trust.  Jackie Baillie has also represented us at the Committee and is fully appraised of the petition and issues involved.

It was  confirmed by Planning that the TPO for Torr will be discussed by A&B C in June 2022.

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