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Cycle path plan to connect Nairn, Cawdor and Tornagrain communities

By Donald Wilson

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Winds of Change treasurer Meg Robertson and chairman Gordon Robertson.Picture: Gary Anthony
Winds of Change treasurer Meg Robertson and chairman Gordon Robertson.Picture: Gary Anthony

Cawdor Winds of Change Trustees are looking to invest in an ambitious project to create an all-abilities cycle path from Tornagrain to Nairn.

Chairman of the Trustees, former Cawdor Estate factor Gordon Robertson, has revealed that the route is being thoroughly prepared and costed and once this is done a formal application for part of the funding will be submitted to Winds of Change Grant Aid.

"These funds will be important in releasing further National Access Funding Grants to create this new long distance access route," he said.

At the April meeting of Cawdor and West Nairnshire Community Council Mr Robertson told members the project would link the new community near Croy to Cawdor then along the River Nairn to the seaside.

"The applicants will be working closely with a number of landowners and the Scottish Charity, 'Paths For All' , which was founded in 1996, and is a partnership of 30 national organisations which want to 'Get Scotland Walking – everyone, everyday, everywhere.'"

Mr Robertson also revealed that the Winds of Change Trust, which receives revenue from the Tom Nan Clach wind farm on Cawdor Estate at Dava Moor may be in line from further windfalls from renewables projects which may proceed on the moor.

"There are plans to extend the Tom Nan Clach wind farm and there are other wind energy projects which, if they go ahead, would possibly take the income to the trust to over £100,000 a year.

"But even with the Trust's current income, with the support of landowners and if we can access funding from other agencies, the cycle path is achieveable and will be a very exciting project which will bring considerable benefits to the wider community and people of all ages."

Fred Olsen Renewables' plans for 17 turbines with blades up to 185m on Lethen Estate on the Dava Moor has attracted strong opposition from local communities who have said it will destroy the setting of Lochindorb Castle.

The planning committee of Cairngorm National Park has objected to the Lethen plan because of concerns at the visual impact it will have on Lochindorb Castle.

Scottish ministers have also recently refused plans for 39 turbines on the doorstep of the national park at Glenshero by Laggan.

Licensing of large scale renewable projects are controlled by the Scottish Government and not local authorities.

"But we are in a position to proceed with our current revenue from Tom Nan Clach and this would have great benefits to many people within and outwith the Trust's geographical spread," Mr Robertson said.

Tom Nan Clach has 13 turbines. Another seven are planned, which would guarantee increased income to the trust.

Wind farm trust funds are part of a government scheme to support communities where wind farms are built, with operators having to pay £5000 per year for 25 years for every one megawatt generated.

In its first year Winds of Change has supported numerous small projects including upgrading the village playgrounds at Cawdor and Clephanton, special education support within Cawdor Primary, the provision of shrubs within the village and more.

However Mr Robertson said the Trustees are keen to encourage more applications from members of the community.

The Tornagrain to Nairn footpath project would be the first major project and would hopefully inspire others to come forward with creative, practical and environmentally friendly projects .

"The Trustees are keen to work with eligible community councils and local residents who have imaginative ideas for the future. The last thing that anyone wants is to just sit and watch the funds grow in a bank account year by year.

"We need applications for projects that will have a positive impact in our communities," he said.

Better broadband reception, efficient heating and insulation systems, affordable community housing, car parks, public toilets are just some of the ideas being explored.

"The door is open for realistic and beneficial applications for funding. There are huge opportunities for communities to work together to achieve common goals and a greater community cohesion and we look forward to new applications in the near future."

Anti-wind farm campaigner Pat Wells of Strathdearn Against Windfarms has said she fears wind farm developments of the Dava Moor including Tom Nan Clach will turn an area of great scenic beauty into an industrial landscape.

Cawdor Estate says it is important to invest in sustainability initiatives and the estate already harnesses hydro power for its houses and the national grid.

Part of its strategy is to include charging points for electric vehicles throughout the estate.

Winds of Change Trust currently has £90,000 in the bank with a further payment of £62,000 due in August.

Trustees are investigating ways of safely investing the capital to ensure the fund does not devalue.

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