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The truths they don't want you to read....

Monday, May 05, 2008

Peat cutting

Calum Steallag blacksmithWith Calum 'Steallag' MacLeod getting big coverage in the Guardian and the Gazette for his vast increased production of tarasgeirs (peat irons) there is just one very small sound of caution.

The Stornoway Trust Chairman, Iain MacIver, was interviewed

There are concerns, however, about the environmental impact of the trend. Iain MacIver, chairman of the Stornoway Trust, one of Lewis's largest landowners, said that since the cessation of peat-cutting most of the peatlands had won protection under wildlife legislation. And most peat banks available outside the traditionally cut areas were already heavily depleted. "There's nowhere left, unless we start getting into the designated zones".

This is actually a potentially very serious and dangerous position into which the community is being driven.

The banks on the designated peatlands cannot be re-opened without permission from .... well, from just who? Presumably, any attempt to re-open these banks will have to pass the test of environmental purity that SNH, RSPB the John Muir Trust and umpteen other unelected and far distant organisations will apply. And what are these tests? No doubt they will be 'developed' as the applications are submitted.

But the report by Richard Lindsay (University of East London) which was initially used by RSPB to justify their stance on the LWP application called for a complete and total ban on all economic activity on the designated land. I read that report carefully and there were to be no new peat roads; old peat roads were to be unmaintained and allowed to degrade; no moorburn; and, no peat cutting. Each and every one of these activities was inimicable (in the view of the self-proclaimed expert) to the preservation of the moor in it's current state, and eventual return to the original 'pure' state.

Although the report used to be on the web, it seems to have disappeared around the time it was systematically demolished by Boreas Ecology, but this report has formed the basis of the entire approach adopted by the RSPB, and I expect the unelected and unaccountable will try to use this 'justification' to prevent even the most basic economic activity on the moor.

Remember, the locals don't know how to protect the moorland; but all the do-gooders do.


Anonymous said...

I think you will find MacIver is being very economical with the truth.

Stornoway Trust get money from SNH for being in the Lewis Peatland scheme etc, which allows cutting, burning etc.

He is telling porkies - as are you Angus.

Our grazings are covered by the same scheme and designations and we can cut, and are actually encouraged to burn, if done properly. Grazing too is encouraged. But who actually grazes the moor these days?

As you will see SNH pay over £100k annually into the local economy and we can still cut peat.

So come on guys - at least tell the truth rather than slandering a group who put in a £100k into the economy.

Anonymous said...

Angus. Surely you can remember who permission has to be sought from - you signed up to it. Old age is getting to you.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Development Services Committee 2/2/2000

Present: Mr Donald Maclean (Chairman), Mr Archibald K Campbell
(Vice-Chairman), Mr Donald M Mackay, Mr Malcolm J Macleod, Mr Donald
Macdonald, Mr Roderick Morrison, Mr James L Macarthur, Mr Alexander A
Macdonald, Mrs Mary Bremner, Mr Roderick Murray, Mr Ronald J Mackinnon,
Mr Norman L Macdonald, Mr Donald Manford, Mr Donald J Macsween

Item 19

Proposed Nature Conservation Designations: Lewis Peatlands DS61.0119*

The Acting Chief Executive submitted a Report concerning proposals to
designate the Lewis Peatlands as a Special Protection Area (SPA),
Ramsar Site and Special Area of Conservation. It was indicated in the
Report that the proposed designations reflected the fact that the Lewis
Peatlands formed one of the oldest and near natural landscapes in
Europe and also provided a unique habitat for a diverse range of
breeding birds of international importance. It was indicated that SNH
were consulting with a wide range of organisations, including Grazings
Committees, on the introduction of a Lewis Peatlands Management Scheme,
which would be a voluntary Scheme, in which Common Grazings Committees,
owner/occupiers, landlords, agricultural tenants or sub-tenants who
agreed to manage their land in ways which would maintain the special
habitat and wildlife interest of the Lewis Peatlands, could

The Report gave background information on the proposed nature
conservation site designations and intimated that the proposed
SPA/Ramsar Designated Area would cover 36% of Lewis, whilst the SAC
would cover 17%, the latter being wholly within the former. It was
emphasised in the Report that the proposed designations did not mean
that there would be a blanket prohibition on development activity, as
development would be considered in its wider socio-economic context,
although, any proposals for wind farms, afforestation and other
infrastructure projects would be likely to be more closely scrutinised
to assess their impact on the designated sites. It was stated in the
Report that SNH had requested the Comhairle to provide details of any
extant planning permissions and analogous consents which could affect
the proposed designated areas.

It was recommended in the Report that:

(1) the Comhairle broadly welcome the proposed Lewis Peatlands nature
conservation designations, noting particularly the emphasis on
management agreement incentives, consultation and local involvement
opportunities and the positive approach to future development

(2) the comments set out in paragraphs 6.1 to 6.9 of the Report by the
Acting Chief Executive be used to form the basis of a response by the
Comhairle to Scottish Natural Heritage on the proposed Lewis Peatlands
nature conservation designations; and

(3) Scottish Natural Heritage be advised by the Acting Director of
Environmental Services of any extant planning permissions and analogous
consents which may affect the proposed Lewis Peatlands nature
conservation designations.

It was agreed to recommend that:

(1) it be delegated to the Acting Chief Executive, in consultation with
the Chairman, to respond to Scottish Natural Heritage on the proposed
Lewis Peatlands nature conservation designations, on the basis detailed
in the Acting Chief Executive's Report, and subject to any response
taking account of the views expressed at a meeting arranged by the
Scottish Crofters Union for 25 February 2000, to discuss the Lewis
Peatlands, with the response also taking account of the proposal that
the Lewis Peatland Scheme be extended to include areas not originally
included in the proposed site designations; and

(2) the Acting Director of Environmental Services be authorised to
advise SNH of any extant planning permissions and analogous consents
which may affect the proposed Lewis Peatlands NatureConservation

It was further agreed to recommend that the Acting Chief Executive, in
consultation with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, be authorised to
place an advertisement in the local press and make appropriate
arrangements, in consultation with the Scottish Crofters Union, for a
meeting scheduled to be held on 25 February 2000, at which the Lewis
Peatlands Scheme would be discussed.

The Committee unanimously agreed that, in accordance with the
provisions of paragraph 17 of the Scheme of Administration, the
Committee determine the above recommendation, relating to the press
advertisement and arrangements for the meeting on 25 February 2000, on
behalf of the Comhairle, under delegated powers, in light of the need
to have the matter dealt with prior to the next meeting of the
Comhairle, on the basis that the recommendation was not contentious and
did not breach a major policy position of the Comhairle.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar 22/2/2000

PRESENT: Mr Alexander A Macdonald (Chairman), Mr Roderick J Murray
(Vice-Chairman), Mr Donald I Nicholson, Mrs Katie M Mackenzie, Mr
Norman M Macleod, Mr Malcolm J Macleod, Mr Donald J Macsween, Mr Iain
Morrison, Mr Finlay Morrison, Mr Roderick Morrison, Mr Donald M Mackay,
Mr Norman A Macdonald, Mrs Morag Munro, Mr Angus M Graham, Mr Archibald
K Campbell, Mr Ian M Macleod, Mr Donald Maclean, Mr George Lonie, Mr
James L McArthur, Mr Angus Nicolson, Mrs Mary Bremner, Mr Norman L
Macdonald, Mr Ronald J Mackinnon, Mr Alasdair G Macrae, Mr David
Blaney, Mr Angus Campbell, Mr Donald Manford, Mr Philip R McLean


The Minutes and Reports of Committees were submitted as follows which
were, unless otherwise indicated, noted with regard to delegated
functions and approved with regard to referred functions, except where
they had already been dealt with by the Comhairle:

Development Services (6) Minute of Meeting of 2 February 2000;

Donald MacLeod said...

Brilliant! Angus Nicolson looks a prize chump - thanks for this, Anonymous.

I bet Nicolson thought no-one would check!

Angus said...

The second comment was previously carried on the blog and not that long ago, so it is not exactly a secret!!!

I was not commenting on the original decision, but on how subsequent events will pan out.

I cannot open the pages at Knockan Crag, but confess to being totally unaware that the Trust got money from SNH. I'll have a look at the details of that....

Anonymous said...

Now who looks like a "prize chump" Mr Macleod?

Sometimes it's best to just sit back and watch rather than jump in and attack. It would give you so much more credibility or maybe not

Anonymous said...


Lewis Peatlands Management Scheme:
The Lewis Peatlands Management Scheme was launched in January 2000 as a means of underpinning the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area (SPA) and candidate Special Area for Conservation (cSAC) without SSSI notification. The agreements include general conditions for land and water management which require the entrant to discuss any proposed changes to the management of the site with SNH. The scheme is now closed for new applicants and will be reviewed and relaunched before the first agreements expire on 31 March 2005.

Management options and payments
Applicants sign up to a 5-year Peatland Management Scheme (PMS) agreement which covers acceptable levels and practices for:

Management of sheep and cattle;
Management of grazings;
Peat cutting;
Use of vehicles
General land and water management (Lewis only)
The basic annual payment is calculated according to the following scale, subject to a minimum payment of £200 and a maximum of £4000.
First 50 hectares £10 per hectare
Next 100 hectares £5 per hectare
Next 500 hectares £1 per hectare
And thereafter £0.25 per hectare

Landlords receive 50% of the basic payment if involved in active management of land.

Common Grazings Committees receive an additional payment to cover increased administrative costs, (£10 per active grazier).

There is currently no specific provision for capital payments but it is envisaged that payments for peatland restoration works, such as drain blocking, vehicle track restoration and restoration of cut over peatbanks, could be introduced in the future.

Anonymous said...

100K - Whoo hoo!

Anonymous said...

In view of the recent spate of arson (not muirburn) in Lochs in looks like the locals do not know how to look after the moor.

Huge burns of late have put life and property in danger.

Anonymous said...

I have always found it incredulous that burning is done in March April when the birds are nesting and breeding - whether you come from the RSPB view or sporting/game intrest groups.