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Community councillors support for proposed woodland for Thurso area


By Gordon Calder

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Norma Keeling hopes the proposed Thurso woodland would create benefits for the community in a similar way to Dunnet Forest, pictured here. Picture: DGS
Norma Keeling hopes the proposed Thurso woodland would create benefits for the community in a similar way to Dunnet Forest, pictured here. Picture: DGS

A PLAN to create a small woodland in the Thurso area has been unanimously supported by the town's community council.

Members gave their backing to the proposal from Norma Keeling, who has links to Caithness and wants to invest £30,000 in the project.

She has "strong family and emotional links" to the far north and spent most of her childhood summers in Thurso. Mrs Keeling said she is aware of the lack of woodland in the area.

She is passionate about helping the environment by planting more trees and says the community would benefit from such an initiative.

In an email to the community council, she stated: "I am interested in purchasing a suitable area of land within easy access of Thurso to plant a wood. I would need to work in partnership with a local organisation to look after the woodland and perhaps create similar benefits for the community in Thurso as in Dunnet.

"I would need to remain very much in the background, as I do not live locally, but I would plan to come up for a few days each year and visit."

Mrs Keeling added: "I would particularly like the woodland to be within walking distance of Thurso, and have an outlook over the stunning sea views, perhaps forming part of a longer walk, such as behind Scrabster, up the river or by the castle (of course taking care not to block anyone else’s views). I could only afford a few acres at agricultural land value, but would consider investing up to £30,000, and would wish to retain the ownership of the land."

The plan delighted the community councillors. Treasurer Elizabeth Husband said the project would be "a welcome facility" for the area.

Gill Arrowsmith described the proposal as "an absolutely fantastic idea" and said it would be great for the town.

Other members endorsed the proposal at last week's virtual meeting and felt it would have community, educational and mental health benefits.

Later, the community councillors hit out at the amount of information required from planners for an information panel.

They heard that the group behind the Northern Pilgrims' Way wanted permission to erect the panel at the Caithness Horizons building in Thurso but had to fill in a detailed and lengthy application form, and supply a drawing and other information to the local authority planning department. The group wants to re-establish the medieval pilgrimage route between Tain and Kirkwall.

Community councillors were unimpressed with the need for so much "red tape" for such a small panel that measures 60 by 90 centimetres.

Ian Wright said it was "ridiculous", while Elspeth Husband, who raised the issue, said there is a need for common sense in such matters.


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