Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council
29 November 2021
Eric Green (Chair)
Barry Butler (Treasurer)
Mark Gibson (Secretary)
Highland Councillor Jill Tilt
Apologies: Robert James
1) Minutes of previous Meeting
These were agreed.
2) Treasurers Report
Councillor Butler reported that the account stood at £2088.
3) Transport Issues
Councillor Whittaker gave an update in terms of Wick John o’Groats Airport.
HIAL are aware that current ATC (air traffic control) systems are out of date.
• They propose to replace them with ATMS (Air Traffic Management System). • A key component of this is AFIS (Aerodrome Flight Information System). • HIAL maintain that the changes, bringing in digital connectivity, will improve safety.
They also address perceived difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff. (Resilience enabling services to operate at key times during day; e.g. lunchtimes, or when staff are absent.)
The move to AFIS at Wick John O’Groats Airport will bring it into line with the other, smaller airports of Barra, Campbeltown, Islay and Tiree and, by implication, Benbecula where the transition to AFIS started.
It was strongly contended by the community council that this could amount to a downgrade of the airport. Councillor Green noted hat it was quite clearly a downgrade to put Wick in the same category as smaller airports even though there was a larger population. It appeared that no expansion was planned.
Councillor Green added that if this proposals continued then awareness had to be raised of the possible implications. The plans lacked imagination.
Jill Tilt noted that Raymond Bremner had been dealing with airport issues and that she would need to speak to him about the matter.
Councillor Green stated that it seemed that Highland Council was more interested in Inverness and it had to push harder for Wick. He asked Highland Councillors to express in the strongest terms that this was a potential downgrade for Wick and that Highland Council had to stand up for all airports in its area.
4) Roads and Infrastructure
Jill Tilt noted that some of the roads were in a terrible state and that she would be visiting some areas in Dunnet and Canisbay to see them for herself. She did note that some works would be completed this year.
Councillor Farmer stated that there had been requests to make the speed limit through Dunnet 30mph in line with Castletown. It was currently 40mph. Highland Councillor Jill Tilt noted that the process could take a long time. Councillor Green asked Jill to formally progress.
Councillor Green also noted that the newly laid road surface at the Reiss junction of the A99 was very slick when wet. He noted that it was outside the community council area but the road led to John o’Groats.
Councillor Farmer agreed to accompany HC Councillor Tilt on her visit to the roads in the Dunnet area.
Councillor Green raised the proposed car parking charges at Duncansby Head. He noted that he did not believe that Highland council owned the land up there. He referred to evidence prepared by Councillor Mowat on the history of the car park and land at Duncansby.
Councillor Green noted that to allow overnight parking at Duncansby would undermine local businesses, including the campsites at John O’Groats as well as possibly cause problems for the local grazers. He also noted that if car parking charges were introduced he doubted that the community would see a single penny from them. This did not seem fair or reasonable.
Jill Tilt agreed agreed to check on this.
Councillor Gunn noted that the Windfarm Fund had asked about the possibility of a community newsletter highlighting grants etc. and work done.
Councillor Green replied that costs of printing and getting physical newsletters out was not cheap to do. When it was done a few years ago it cost over £5k. He noted that there might be alternatives and that he would speak to Thurso College about electronic newsletters.
6) Local Plan
Councillor Green apologised for not progressing this but he had been very busy with the day job. He suggested combining the communications issue with the local plan, asking the local community what the priorities should be.
7) Any Other Business
Councillor Mowat noted that there had been a tidal stream announcement from HM Treasury concerning a £20m subsidy per year for fifteen years.
Councillor Farmer noted that there was a damaged tourist sign at Dunnet.
8) Future Meetings
It was agreed to move back to in person public meeting as soon as possible in the New Year. However the January meeting would be scheduled as a Zoom meeting.
Next Meeting Monday 24 January at 7.30pm