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Board Meetings

Board Meeting February 2010

Minutes of Meeting of Directors of Assynt Foundation held in the Glencanisp office
on Thursday 11th February 2010


Meeting began 7.00pm.
Present: Don Campbell, Patricia Robertson, Stephen Smith, Jackie Yates, Fergus Stewart, Alastair MacAskill, Helen Steven, Agnes Dickson, Mandy Haggith, Davy Robb.

In Attendance: Mark Lazzeri (DM), Adam Pellant (PO).

1. Apologies: Tony Usher.
2. Minutes of 10th December 2009: Proposed Fergus, seconded Pat. All approved.
3. Matters arising:
3.1 Ledmore Forest: Mark has been in touch with both FCS and SWT. No further word from either on this yet though. Mark still hopes an agreement may be reached that will protect this land for Community benefit.
3.2 Living Landscapes Project: Meeting on 18th February, involving Scottish Wildlife Trust and other potential partners in this proposed project. Action: Mark to forward information from Mark Foxwell of SWT.
3.3 Log Building: Fergus will forward design ideas once the board has agreed its plans for progressing this.
3.4 Sub-groups: Draft list to be sent round for discussion. Action: Don.
3.5 New Directors: Documents have been sent to new directors. Training for new directors is to be arranged.
4. Redevelopment:
4.1 General works: Internal works are going very well. Workers on the ground are doing a great job. Some problems have been encountered with detail and specification of some goods and fittings proposed by the contractor. These issues are being resolved and in some cases will result in cost savings or higher specification. For example flat plate rather than evacuated tube solar panels had been proposed by the contractor. In the absence of a clerk of works, Mark is having to do much extra work to ensure goods match our intended specification and quality. The board agreed that we should stick to the specification that was agreed wherever possible.
4.2 Woodchip boiler: Boilerhouse foundations are now being done, with some ground elevation being utilised to aid loading the hopper. The boiler is to arrive later this month.
4.3 Woodchip supply chain: The board have requested and await a written proposal from a local person interested in forming a woodchip supply chain, with the intention of harvesting the timber on the hill behind the Lodge and converting it to woodchip to be sold to the Foundation and perhaps others. The original development included a proposal to build a 12m x 18m woodchip store with an additional handling area of about 400m2, (all to be rented to the supply chain company). The cost of creating this facility was very high and was dropped when essential cost savings had to be made to allow the project to proceed. Members of the Board have had a verbal proposal from the individual concerned, with a view to re-instating the store and handling area to the project. A store of the proposed size would have the capacity for enough woodchip to provide some 2 years' worth of supply. A storage capacity for around 6 months supply is generally regarded as sufficient. Whilst the works are currently within expected cost parameters it is not obvious where funding would come from to reinstate the original large store if this were desired. There are also concerns about the impact (visually and from noise, traffic and disturbance) of any industrial activities near the lodge. The current plan is for a simple much smaller building, possibly to be located to the south of the Glencanisp path opposite the deer larder. There is a provisional sum , that should be adequate for this building including groundworks, in the Bill of Quantities.
Several potential woodchip suppliers have been contacted and some have responded with interest. It is important that all quotes to supply woodchip should be made on equivalent terms. Pellets could also be bought in if required at an equivalent of below £50 / tonne of delivered woodchip. Whilst at less than maximum efficiency our boiler can burn wood pellets.
The board noted the need to make a decision on woodchip supply based on commercial factors, but also noted that supporting a local business enterprise should be given some weight in the decision process.
There is thought to be less than five years' woodchip supply (given our estimated usage rate) harvestable at Glencanisp. The Foundation must comply with health and safety requirements for any timber work at Glencanisp. Estate staff have the required certificates to harvest this wood, and could convert it to firewood, which will be required by the Lodge's new logburning stoves and open fire. Sourcing our woodchip from elsewhere and using our own timber for logs may be the most cost effective solution to our heating needs.
Looking to the future, willow plantation and coppicing was discussed as a possible source of local woodchip. Around 10-15 hectares is thought to be sufficient to supply the lodge boiler continuously. Assynt Renewables is currently investigating options for willow being used as a locally-grown fuel source in Assynt.
A first quantity of woodchip is expected to be wanted in March or early April.
5. Estate Plan: The review process of the Estate Plan is underway. 110 of the 150 year 1 and 2 actions have been tackled. Many important actions have also been carried out that weren't listed. These will need to be recorded. Action: Adam and others to list them; Mandy to add to plan document.
A meeting has been held with some key partners/agencies including SNH and FCS. Some future priorities have been suggested from that meeting. Input from the community is sought A public open day is to be held on 23rd February in Lochinver Village Hall.
6. Affordable Housing:
6.1 The Glen Canisp site is to be removed from the Local Plan after 2 objections on landscape grounds were examined by the Scottish Government. This is a disappointment, but it is hoped that housing can still go ahead on the site.
There is to be a meeting with Rural Design on 18th February.
6.2 Ledbeg House: Pat visited Ledbeg with Iain and Huey today. They have offered to give an estimate for required works. Funding can then be sought for the works.
7. Stalking and Land Management: Stephen presented report from recent Stalking and Shooting Sub-group meeting.
7.1 Cull targets are 80 hinds + 20 calves on Drumrunie, 103 hinds + 30 calves on Glencanisp. At time of sub-group meeting 78+24 and 91+33 had been culled respectively.
7.2 Horsebox has now been traded in part-exchange for a general purpose trailer.
7.3 New estate rifles are required, one radio needs repairing, and wooden rowing boat needs repairing.
7.4 The purchase of a mini-digger was suggested, for path repair and other uses.
7.5 South Loch Assynt Woodland Regeneration Project: The board agreed to purchase a new quad bike as part of this project funded by the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund. Agreed to invite expressions of interest in being part of a stock club of pigs, as part of this project. Grants may be available for setting up a stock club. Action: Mark to arrange quad bike purchase.
7.6 Bothy: Work is urgently needed to make the bothy habitable. Works to include plasterboard in end bedroom, and minor roof repair.
8. Staff Report:
8.1 Walled Garden: Plans to construct raised beds from stone may be reconsidered.
8.2 Future agenda procedure: Suggestions for standardised agenda procedure have been received from Company Secretary. Board agreed that in future Declaration of interests (interests relevant to agenda items) will be a standard agenda item taken at the beginning of meetings. Suggestion of an annual work plan also discussed. Action: Adam to recirculate relevant documents to board.
9. AOCB
9.1 A Community Interest Company is to be established by Mandy Haggith and others, called Top Left Corner, This company wishes to donate any profits it makes to AF and one other charity, and wishes to asset-lock itself to AF. Assuming no liability for AF, the board would be pleased to accept TLC's offer to asset-lock itself to AF, but the board requested further information on this arrangement in advance of a decision.
Mandy also requested that at the next board meeting or a separate meeting, the board discusses plans for arts development, including future arts use of Glencanisp Lodge. Action: Mandy to circulate further information.
Meeting closed 10.00pm.
Next meeting 11th March.