A scientist with plans for a research centre at the historic site of Glenhead, Glentrool, has lashed out at the Forestry Commission for refusing to support his venture.
And now Graham Ennis has been told that the building – which locals have fought to preserve – will instead be sold off on the open market.
Brighton-based Mr Ennis runs the EarthArk Project, an environmental scheme hoping to establish a special research centre for green food, permaculture, green energy, and environmental issues for the public benefit. For this non-profit group, Mr Ennis has searched all over Scotland for a suitable location over the past 18 months.
Having come across Glenhead, a remote building on the site of at least two historic battles near Loch Trool and which has been abandoned and in the care of the Forestry Commission for many years, he was overjoyed to learn the FC had been seeking groups to lease it from them.
However, when he contacted the Forestry Commission to express his delight and intentions, he was bluntly shot down by chiefs who said they had failed to find a suitable project willing to take on respon- sibility for the remote building, which is two kilometres from the main road, and had decided to sell it off.
Mr Ennis said: “The site is perfect. We could, if the Forestry Commission was reasonable, be on site in about a year from now. However, district officers responsible for Glenhead said no.”
Mr Ennis added that he felt it was clear from the off that no officer was taking his intentions seriously.
He said: “They did not contact me, ask any questions, or in any way assist with my entirely proper inquiry. I eventually received a reply that was abrupt, cursory and offhand, and which made it clear they had not given my inquiry any significant thought or due process whatsoever.
“I have been told by others locally that the terms of the lease offered were so unrealistic that no-one had been able to commit. But here I am, willing to talk to them and give them a use for this important building.”
A Forestry Commission spokesman said: “We have actively promoted Glenhead to the community groups in the area and they did not wish to take anything forward. We feel that we have exhuasted this process fully now and have therefore decided to work towards an open market sale next year. We have informed the community of this.
“As part of the sale process, community groups will have the first opportunity to purchase the property under the National Forest Land Scheme.”