Movement on whale carcass welcomed by Wick's community council but Highland Council slammed for inaction
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The dilemma of a rotting whale carcass, lying for almost six months on the north side of Wick Bay, may finally be resolved on Sunday after Highland Council made a U-turn on a previous decision and finally agreed to remove the marine mammal.
The issue was discussed at a meeting of the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council (RBWCC) on Monday evening with the chairperson, Joanna Coghill, saying that the responses from the local authority's environmental department on the matter were "unacceptable and poor".
"This situation was brought to their [Highland Council's] attention in February and we are now in July," said Mrs Coghill.
"Community council members' and residents' complaints have been ignored and not acted upon, we have all agreed. Cllr Raymond Bremner has also brought this up a number of times and advised us to lodge a formal complaint to Donna Manson [chief executive] at Highland Council, which we are going to do."
RBWCC member Alastair Ferrier had previously said that the dead whale "represents a biohazard" and was worried that children venturing too close to it could pick up diseases. The body of the minke whale has been slowly deteriorating since coming ashore on rocks on the north side of the bay, just below the popular North Head footpath.
Mr Ferrier had raised the issue with Highland Council but was told in May that the local authority would not be removing the carcass. Factors included "cost-effectiveness of disposal" and "health and safety issues for personnel" dealing with the it. The community councillor slammed the "poor response" from the environment health service and argued that if there is a perceived risk to personnel then the same risk must apply to members of the public, especially children, who could potentially come into contact with it.
After the community council meeting on Monday evening, Mr Ferrier told the Groat: "I can now confirm a team has been appointed by Highland Council and the whale carcass shall be removed this Sunday the tenth of July. Highland Council will be closing off the footpath around the area.
"It is good the council have now decided to remove this, however, it would have been better if Highland Council had chosen to remove it early on when the carcass first came ashore. This was an inevitable action and it's a shame it took a lot of interventions from the residents and community council over a four-month period before the carcass was removed. This is not the standard we should expect from Highland Council on this occasion."
Prior to this week's decision to remove the whale, Mr Ferrier had received an email from the environmental health service on May 9 stating: "Having considered the relevant guidance from Marine Scotland on the matter, it was concluded that the council would not remove the carcass on this occasion."