CGDT AGM Chairman’s Report for 2014-5: A Busy Year

On Sunday 13th the Colintraive and Glendaruel Development Trust held its 6th AGM. The minutes are being drafted at the moment, and we have published the year’s accounts on the CGDT website, here. You’ll also find all the pertinent documents for our various projects, including things like the forest masterplan, our planning application for wind turbines and the original CADISPA report from 2007.

If you want an alternative view of proceedings, please visit blipfoto where one of our more well known residents has a photoblog under the name Feorlean.

As the trust’s chair I was privileged to deliver the following report:

First I want to begin with some thanks, beginning with Eamon King [our Forest Development Officer] who has persisted with the Stronafian Forest project, and created something really special with access, signage and a volunteer programme, among all the other tasks he so readily and professionally accomplishes. His presentation on Stronafian for the Community Woodlands Association Annual Conference was inspiring and inspired.

Stewart Miller and Charlie Collins have kicked off the Cowal Way project with great vigour, lots of humour and great professionalism, putting in place really substantial infrastructure, both physical and virtual, and for that I know the board is very grateful.

Both these projects are running on rails, and that is also due to the work and tenacity of Margaret Shields who has been superb across the board since she joined us earlier last year. Marg’s good sense, wide management experience and people skills have progressed our agenda more than I can say. Thank you all!

The board should also thank Sara MacLean, who completed the Greener ColGlen project to great plaudits from the funder and the community. Thank you Sara for delivering two highly successful and well-run projects for the Development Trust – we’re delighted that the Growers Group have taken over the polytunnels and are going from strength to strength – I know because I follow them on Facebook! We are delighted you have found a position in Kilfinan – just the right place for us to poach you back!

After the AGM Eamon and Charlie / Stewart will fill you in on their progress, so for my report I’ll concentrate on the other things the Trust has been working on.

Local Community Broadband is moving forward – we are now in the second stage of three, which will be implemented in the coming month or so and which will give commercial companies the opportunity to tender to supply broadband to the community (excepting those areas which will be covered by BTs NGBroadband). The Development Trust will be leading this project which will cover unconnected areas in ColGlen, North Bute and Tighnabruaich and Kilfinan. There’ll be public meetings when we know more of the detail.

As for the Clachan of Glendaruel and the hotel. We are awaiting approval for Development Funding to take this project forward. What we have in view is a community consultation, design and business planning stage to encapsulate what it is the clachan needs. Part of this will be to assess the Hotel’s suitability as a community and visitor hub – and the community’s views will be sought and inform the final recommendation of the consultants we’ll be commissioning to do the work. The opportunity here is not only to provide facilities we have missed since the hotel closed, but a visitor centre for the Cowal Way and Stronafian Forest …

Our renewables projects also deserve a mention here as well. The hydro project we were considering for the burns near Duiletter has been put on indefinite hold as the economic case did not stack up.  

And as you will have gathered we recently submitted a planning application for two turbines on the Forest. The application will go to committee shortly. We’re hopeful that the council will see that this project is one which will enable the trust and the community to take some significant strides forward over the next twenty years, strides which will make ColGlen more self-sustaining, more resilient to change and a better place to live with better services.

Of course the wind turbines will not deliver all of these outcomes by themselves, but if consented, and if built, our community will be significantly better off. I say ‘if’ because of course, planning consent notwithstanding, over the last week or so the UK government has dealt what many consider to be a mortal blow to new community windfarm projects like ours. We will look again at the figures if consent is given, and move forward only if this project looks viable at a level which will deliver significant long-term benefit to Colintraive and Glendaruel.

We have other projects which we hope to bring forward this year. Re-engaging with the idea of a pontoon or jetty is on the cards, particularly given the manifest success of the facility in Strachur.  We’ll be looking at the archaeology of Glendaruel, in particular as it relates to new finds in the forest. The ideas of crofting and woodlots have not vanished either, and are on the agenda, as are coordinated projects with Kilfinan Forest and Bute. We’ll report back when each becomes more solid, but in the meantime, you’ll find updated minutes on the hall boards every month, as well as all our publications and documents on our websites. We’re hoping to publish a quarterly report as well for general consumption in the community. Possibly this autumn / winter.

If it has crossed your mind in the last year to ask, what do they think they are doing? Or why haven’t they done that? Or just who do they think they are? Then perhaps you should consider using that desire for answers in a more structured way, and join the board. We have vacancies and we appreciate new questions – and ideas of course. The commitment is a meeting most months, with the possibility of more involvement if you wish.

Lastly, I want to pay tribute to all of the board who have worked tirelessly at their various responsibilities over the year – I’m not going to make special mention of anyone, except perhaps Jim who has been tireless – tireless – working with Stewart and Charlie on the Cowal Way. And Sandra obviously, who has delivered HR, Health and Safety and diligence to the paperwork side of board meetings. And Michael for his services to the publication of the newsletter *next year* as well as the Cowal Way. And John for his expertise in the automotive and high finance fields in particular. And Colin for pursuing the trust finances with proper and due diligence. And of course Alex without whom we wouldn’t have a clue what the council were up to … or why. 

With that done, and a hefty nod of appreciation to Bill Carlow who remains co-opted to the trust for renewables matters and whose acute sense of business has been highly valued, I’d finally like to thank you all for coming to the AGM and invite a few, but only a few, questions before we move on.

Thanks.

CGDT AGM: Chairman’s Report

For those of you who weren’t able to make the CGDT AGM, there’ll be a full report on the CGDT website in due course, but for now, below is the text of my report to the membership yesterday in Colintraive:

This year has been an extremely busy one for the trust, so I don’t intend to dwell on detail so much as outline where things now are across the full width of our activity. Sara and Eamon will be making presentations on Greener ColGlen and the forest respectively later.

First I’ll talk about our projects, then our interactions at policy level and finally the work we have done this year on governance and administration of the trust.

But before I do that I’d just like to pay tribute to Rhona Sutherland who retired this last Christmas. Rhona made a huge and indelible contribution to the trust’s development and therefore to this community. As a mark of the value on which we placed her work, the board will be naming a viewpoint in the Forest for Rhona as recognition that without her work we wouldn’t have been able to make the acquisition as well as to mark her enduring contribution across the board.

And I should also say, that Nikki Brown and Mark Chambers also left us. We’re  delighted to report that Nikki has moved onto a more senior full-time post at Kilfinan – and we wish her all the best in her new position – and of course we wish Mark the best of luck too.

We’d also like to welcome Eamon King, Margaret Shields to their first AGM – both of whom have become, or I am sure will become key to our ongoing success as a trust. 

So, this first full year of work on the forest has yielded some great progress. We now have a master plan and consequently we are now much clearer on access to the forest, and how we’ll improve this for the community and public at large. We have viable wind and hydro projects which we are pursuing. The archaeology group have developed some really key relationships with the wider academic archaeology community as well as completed some excellent survey work. We have progressed the crofting part of the project, and some intriguing and possibly ground-breaking developments have resulted. Our relationship with tenant and forest management has been consolidated, particularly in the last few weeks.

For Greener Colglen the growing project is really taking shape. We are delighted to see the polytunnels erected and the fit out of both nearly complete. This despite some difficulties with the supplier. The composting project is taking shape and the rhododendron project will be progressed over the next six months. These three elements of the project will now have three / four new personnel working on them part-time. Sara has been running the project in an exemplary fashion which we have particularly appreciated over the last year – so thank you Sara for your continuing efforts.

Still in development, with applications and paperwork being processed are the projects around the Glendaruel Hotel building, the Cowal Way, Local Community Broadband as well as a footbridge in Colintraive and other sundry initiatives. We’ve also been able to support applications and initiatives in the community, for example providing expertise for the Glendaruel Village Hall application.

While all this work on the ground and in the community has been progressing, we have continued to ensure our profile as a community has been maintained in community development circles.

As chair I have been a member of a panel on a Scottish Government Policy initiative on Community Benefit as well as reporting to the Cross Partyy Group on Scottish Power, Renewables and Energy, Environment at Holyrood. As a Board we have been most concerned at the effects of Government advice on State Aid and the de minimise regulations and therefore have applied pressure on government and the civil service to adjust their advice to benefit community organisations like ours. Margaret in particular has pursued this issue. Progress is happening, albeit at an incremental level. This year also, the Land Reform Review Group has been consulting and we have made our views known, particularly with regard to the Community Right to Buy legislation which we feel could be improved markedly. Furthermore we have interacted at regional and national level with government and agencies around climate change – in the continuing Are You Ready project – as well as around crofting, community woodlands and the Forestry Commission. Sara as project officer is also member of the Steering Group of Scottish Communities Climate Action Network which may lead into participation as a case study for research into Community-led sustainability projects.

You might ask why this work is important – well, it means that when we make applications for funding, when we approach difficulties as a community like school closures, when we have to interact with various governmental and non-governmental agencies, we have a track record, a reputation – for getting things done – for inputting at the highest levels. Given the ways the Scottish Government is presently seeking to empower communities this is highly important work for our community. Indeed, we have repeatedly benefitted from this, not least in our purchase of the forest, but also the second phase of our Climate Challenge Fund projects. We are particularly delighted to be working on a close basis with the Community Council to whom we make a report at every meeting.

In all this activity we are now employing, on full-time or part-time basis, 7 people and we have a board of 6. Given our expanding role as an employer we have this year instituted a full suite of governance and employment paperwork – much of it produced by director Sandra Wilson on a voluntary basis. This provides us with a secure basis for moving forward – and all of these documents, like everything else, are available on our website. As part of this we’re putting together a register of interest, for members of the local community to let us know what skills they have which they would be willing to contribute either voluntarily or as a contractor. There are forms available today to sign up, and when we have contracts or volunteer schemes we need to fill, this list will be our first point of contact.

We have also had to be innovative in our use of project funds to spread the employment benefit across as many positions as possible. Over the last 6 months Colin Boyd our treasurer has worked with Margaret, and also Bill Carlow, to bring about a thorough-going review of our financial systems – work which has ensured our financial position is now more that ever thoroughly documented to the highest standards. But it is in the field of finance that one of our major tasks has arisen. The Development Trust has to find core funding in order to continue delivering the benefits we’ve been so successful at securing these last 5 years.

Renewables, wind, biomass and hydro, Community Broadband, Crofts, Woodlots and other initiatives are all aimed at eventually putting together an income for the trust which will employ more than our present 7 and create real economic benefit in the local community – attracting people to live here and therefore ensuring our services are maintained. This has to be our focus. As a community we are very good at delivering individual projects – for example the play park, the shinty clubhouse, the summer activity school – but these have depended in part on Windfarm funding, and this funding will eventually cease. We need to be prepared for that, and this year, I would argue we have made significant strides in ensuring we will have sufficient levels of income within the next three years.

Of course Governance, Administration, Consultations, Employment, Staff welfare, Recruitment, Board Meetings and all the other sundry tasks associated with running a successful Development Trust take time, much of which, as you may have gathered, is contributed on a voluntary basis by the directors. There has been much negative chat this year about the trust and its standing within the community – consequently it has been difficult at times for us to maintain focus and deliver on the mandate the community gave us at our inaugural meeting. We have persisted and will continue to do so trusting that the majority of the community recognise the effort and thought which we apply to our work as an organisation. On behalf of the members of the trust I want to thank all of the directors and our staff this year for their efforts, their frankness and above all their tireless enthusiasm without which I am sure we wouldn’t have got so far, thank you.

CGDT recruiting 3 posts for our fabulous Greener ColGlen Project

Sara has done a great job reconfiguring the project requirements for  Greener GolGlen  and we’re able to recruit for three people which is a great result.

Exciting opportunities to work on this Climate Challenge Funded project.   Suit either self-employed or PAYE candidates for immediate start.

 To support the development and delivery of the activities and outcomes of the Project….

  • PROJECT SUPPORT OFFICER – Part-time, 16 hours p/w – £756 pcm (gross salary), until 31st March 2015.  Download Job Description here…Greener ColGlen Support Officer 

And to help set up the Community Growing and Composting at the Polytunnels….

  • SITE DEVELOPMENT WORKER – 35 hours p/w – £10hr, for 6 weeks.  Download Job description here… Site Development Worker
  • SITE ASSISTANT (ideal student summer holiday job) 30 hours p/w – £6.50hr, for 4 weeks.  Download Job Description here… Site Assistant

Alternatively, for job descriptions please email info@cgdt.org or phone 01700 841 358 during office hours.

Then please send your up-to-date CV and covering letter to Greener ColGlen JOBS @ CGDT, The Village Hall, Colintraive PA22 3AS.  Or by email to info@cgdt.org

The image above is the newly installed Polytunnel by the ColGlen shinty pitch.

Community Windturbines for Colintraive & Glendaruel take a small step forward with CGDT

Last night at the presentation by CGDT’s consultants Locogen Ltd. in the Colintraive Village Hall,  those assembled moved that we  progress to the next stage of the process which will hopefully result in the construction of three wind turbines for the community on Stronafian Forest.

Over the next couple of weeks Locogen will finalise and submit a planning application for a Meteorological Mast on site in the forest to test the wind speeds available. The mast will provide the community a clear indication as to whether the development will be economically worthwhile. Alongside this the environmental and landscape impact surveys will continue, and the Development Trust board will report progress on the project in full at the AGM on the 20th July which of course the entire commuinty is invited to.

In the meantime, the trust will be publishing the presentation on the CGDT website shortly, along with an opportunity to ask questions both of the board and the consultants. We’re also happy to make presentations to any group in the community who want to know more.

As readers may remember, the development of a wind turbine was a key element of the Stronafian Forest Plan developed by the CGDT consultant Munro Gauld, and will provide for the longterm sustainability of our community. In his research for this project, CGDT director Bill Carlow has calculated that a single turbine will offset all electricity use in ColGlen entirely – that is reduce our carbon footprint to 0 tonnes for all household electricity.

Bill went further, and to offset all our energy use, including transport, business use and construction, we only require three turbines (our ideal solution for this project). In other words, for this community we can, in one fell swoop, cancel out all the carbon we emit as well as provide for an income which will ensure we are sustainable longterm.

Community Broadband in Colintraive & Glendaruel takes a step closer with decision to move to Phase 2

On Thursday night a meeting of over 50 residents of Colintraive and Glendaruel agreed to take the next step towards improving the parlous broadband provision in ColGlen. With Community Broadband Scotland’s help (ably represented by Campbell Cameron on the night) those present tasked the Development Trust to take the community into the feasibility phase of the process which began with a scoping study carried out over the last three months.

The Scoping study, available here, shows what we already knew – very few people achieve more than a .5MB connection on the present service. There is an appetite for a better level of connectivity and a frustration with the present service.

The meeting discussed what is happening at a national level, how we are placed in that, and when BT might get around to upgrading our service themselves. Once the feasibility study is in place the community can then make an informed decision as to whether we should move forward with our own project or await BT’s own provision sometime in 2016.

 

 

Important community meetings for CGDT: on broadband and renewables

windoposterTwo dates for your diary if you are resident in Colintraive and Glendaruel:

  • There’s a meeting on Local Broadband provision this Thursday, 15th May at 6pm in Colintraive Village Hall
  • There’s a presentation by our wind turbine consultants Locogen Ltd on 28th May at 7pm, in Colintraive Village Hall.

The Development Trust will also be making their monthly report at the Community Council meeting on 19th May at 7.30pm in Colintraive Village Hall.

Are Your Ready Workshop Presentation: What does a climate ready community look like in 2050?

The following assumes that increasingly climate change will force communities, particularly rural ones, towards self-sustainability as far as possible …  Continue reading Are Your Ready Workshop Presentation: What does a climate ready community look like in 2050?

Glen of the Red River Community Calendar is open for events in ColGlen

faviconDeveloped with the Children of Kilmodan – who are now using the website for blogging their news – Glen of the Red River now has a user-submitting calendar for community events. Whether its for a quiz evening, whist drive or working group meeting, this is the place to let everyone know. For example last night Community Council meeting was published on the calendar. The more people use it the more useful it becomes.

And the kids will be thrilled with any comments on their posts!

Presentation for the Cross Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: Community Benefit from the Inside

CSDS_at_Holyrood{This presentation was given by me (right) alongside these images}

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This is mid-Glendaruel from the community owned forest – or rather one of our harvested coups. Gives you an idea of how glorious the place is. And here it is on the map.

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Colintraive and Glendaruel is a community of 350 people. We measure 28 miles Continue reading Presentation for the Cross Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: Community Benefit from the Inside