Members of the public had an opportunity to voice their concerns surrounding the Ballyoukan Forest timber extraction routes at a public meeting held in Fishers Hotel on Tuesday the 26th of July.
Pitlochry and Moulin Community Council facilitated the meeting, at which Willie Mahoney from Perth and Kinross Council Roads Management Team, Cameron Maxwell and Neil McFarlane from Scottish Forestry, and Neil White and Charles Bushby from Scottish Woodlands faced questions from the public.
Fergus McCallum from Pitlochry and Moulin Community Council said, “It was good to see the community asking challenging and deep questions. It’s fairly clear that there are many things still to be resolved, and we hope to work with Scottish Woodlands and others over the next few months to find the best possible option for the community.”
Ballyoukan Forest is a managed forest area and had a timber felling licence granted for ten years in 2014. The Ballyoukan plantation is reaching maturity, with an increasing urgency to begin forest management activities due to the scale of the site and current conditions. There are an estimated 120,000 tonnes of timber to be harvested in the next ten years, resulting in an estimated 4,800 loads of timber entering the public road network – equating to approximately 10,000 lorry movements.
The current route to the public road network is unsuitable for timber transport due to several sensitivities, thus alternative accesses are being considered by all parties involved. From a previous meeting, several questions were formulated by members of the public and these questions were put to the panel.
Charles Bushby from Scottish Woodland said, “We are now in the consultation phase, and when we prepare forest plans, one of our chief remits is to carry out the consultation. We will be ongoing with this for the next few months.” When asked how long it would take for a proposal to come to fruition, he responded, “in excess of a year, at least.”
Cameron Maxwell from the Scottish Government Regulatory body said, “We approve whether or not [forest management] can fell the trees. They then have to fell the trees, and safely haul the trees.
“We would expect the [forestry] agent to engage closely with neighbours and anyone the lorries are passing, the local community, as well as other quasi-government bodies.”
When asked his opinion on the meeting’s outcome, resident Jason Young responded, “A bit pointless. They never really answered any of the questions that were put forward with reasonable answers.”
Meanwhile, resident Adam Jones expressed concern about one of the proposed routes from Ballyoukan Hill to General Wade’s Military Road at East Haugh. “It’s the whole of Pitlochry you’ve got to think about. This isn’t the only forest extraction that’s coming up. There’s plenty more coming up in the future. So we’ve got to have a long-term plan to keep our children safe.”
Speeding lorries in the Moulin and Ballyoukan area were also a major concern for lorries already using authorised timber routes, and the public was encouraged to report any incidents to the police and Scottish Woodlands.
Scottish Woodlands can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phoning 0131 451 5154.
Their Residential Customer Care department can be contacted at email@example.com, or by calling 0800 783 1374.
Scottish Forestry can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phoning 0300 067 6005.