Forest sale plan fear for Carty residents

Residents of Carty Port have sought backing in ensuring the sale of local woodland won’t affect an agreement to protect their homes and lives.

The Carty Port Community Company has voiced concerns over the potential sale of woodland near their homes between Newton Stewart and Wigtown.

Their fears stem from a two-year battle to agree speed and frequency limits for HGV movements of timber extraction vehicles removing logs from the woodland.

After speed, vibration and noise complaints led the group to fight a lengthy battle with current owners, the Forestry Commission, the body agreed a timber extraction plan covering the harvesting works in the area but now, with the woodland going on the open market, residents fear there is no gurantee that the plan will be adhered to.

Speaking at a meeting of Cree Valley Community Council on Monday, the group’s spokesperson, Shona Todd, said : “A new owner may show no concern for local residents and may not find it financially viable to comply with the agreed plan.

“What is the point in making a plan if it is not going to be enforced?

“This is ffecting our lives and livelihoods and we need closure. It was the Forestry Commission who planted these conifers in the wrong place and surely it its their responsibility to recitfy the problem.”

She asked for the backing of the council to pressure the Forestry Commission into ensuring the sale must include the agreement.

Chairman Tom Greenaway –also a nearby resident – said he wasn’t sure there was much more that could be done, but elected member Alistair Geddes said: “It was a labrynthine process getting this agreement in place and these residents deserve assurances.

“We’re talking about contacting a government agency here – it should be the simplest thing to request.”

He suggested contacting MSP Dr Aileen McLeod who is also the minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.

Member David Inglis suggested inviting the Forestry Commission to a meeting to discuss the plans.

The council agreed to do write to the Forestry Commission in support of the plight.

A Forestry Commission Scotland spokesman said afterwards: “We have worked hard with the council, stakeholders and the community on the timber extraction plan.

“Although the plan can’t be made a condition of the sale, we would hope that any new prospective owner would view this piece of work as a valuable asset in helping them extract timber from the site.

“We will highlight the benefits of this plan to all those interested in buying Moss of Cree.”

He added concerns are with a public road outwith the jurisdiction of the Commission.

The forest, comprising spruce, birch, larch and pine, is on the market with John Clegg & Co in Ayr for the total price of £495,000 with lots starting at £25,000.

The sales pitch calls the plot: “An extensive commercial forest awaiting felling and restructuring, in a very scenic part of South West Scotland, close to timber markets.”