The attractive loch-side beaches and surrounding scenic landscapes have drawn visitors to the shores of Loch Earn and St Fillans for many years, particularly on weekends when the weather is good. Unfortunately, not all visitors are responsible when out in the countryside, with large amounts of litter frequently left behind.
Organised by the St Fillans Gardening Group and Community Council, many residents were out last week to collect litter from the shoreline, laybys and paths before a new influx of visitors to the area. A fantastic effort was made to get the area much cleaner for both locals and visitors to enjoy. We absolutely love the area in which we live and welcome visitors from far and wide, but ask that when visiting that you love it like you live here too.
As schools start back to a normal routine there has been an amazing increase of activities within the school grounds. Community Greenspace has been able to facilitate this by loaning out tools to school groups. So if your local school is out and about within their school grounds but need more hand tools, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and the appropriate Community Greenspace ranger will get back in touch.
Perth & Kinross Council will be undertaking improvement works to The Knock from mid-January* until April 2021. This exciting project will make The Knock more accessible through upgrades to some of the main paths, infrastructure, signage and landscaping at both car parks and on the hill. In addition there will be tree works to reopen key viewpoints and crown lift along pathways. Detailed work proposals are available below.
Covid-19 restrictions are regularly changing in response to the virus and, at present, the Rangers are not able to lead volunteer groups on site. However, works on our path networks still needs to be carried out. The Perth & Kinross Council Community Greenspace tool loan scheme in Highland Perthshire is in full swing. The scheme aims to provide the means to carry out small path tasks.
It’s not just our regular volunteer groups that can benefit from this scheme! Also making use of our tools has been the Outdoor Education group at Breadalbane Community Campus, which aims to give every child an experience on a hills, river, snow and opportunities to complete the John Muir Award.
Tools can be loaned out to groups that wish to carry out site management works or other great projects. Our Rangers are putting Covid-19 measures in place providing guidelines for groups and putting in extra sterilising measurers into place. If you or your group would like use of any tools, please contact your local ranger for more information.
Path groups in Highland Perthshire have always been encouraged to audit their paths. Every group does it differently but each method works!
During lockdown people were encouraged to take daily exercise once a day and that message should not be lost as we come out of lockdown. During these daily walks the Pitlochry Path group sent the Community Greenspace Ranger photos of access, signage, and vegetation issues. This has enabled remote decisions to be made on what further action was required and how the issue could be resolved.
One such example is that of a snapped fingerpost on the Clunie path and Strathtay Way (also part of the Rob Roy Way). During Phase 1 a household volunteer from the Pitlochry Path group was able to replace the fingerpost. This was achievable by having a small stock of replacement posts available for path groups, and by the volunteer using their own tools. A hand made Rob Roy Way logo was created as the original had disappeared. As lockdown and travel restrictions have eased this route has now been properly way-marked.
If you want further information on Path Auditing or volunteering for a local path group please contact email@example.com .
In response to Covid-19, PKC has set up a temporary Fly-tipping Fund of £20,000 to support communities affected by fly-tipping on private land in Perth and Kinross. The Fund welcomes applications from landowners, communities and individuals across Perth and Kinross who wish to carry out mini-projects to clear the fly-tipping and implement preventative actions at each site to resolve the localised problem long-term.
Rural locations, particularly such as those in Highland Perthshire, have always had issues with fly-tipping, often in beauty spots. However, during lockdown and as restrictions lift, there has been a notable increase in fly-tipping. This is totally unacceptable as within a week of Recycling Centres being open, people have been able to take any materials for recycling, and commercial-type vehicles including trailers have re-gained access. However, there are still new reports of fly-tipping.
Fly-tipping creates a burden for landowners who need to access their fields to feed livestock daily or to harvest crops. The burden is also felt by wildlife who can become entangled in the rubbish and by people living in the rural communities; all suffering the blight of fly-tipping during walks along country lanes, past laybys, through woodlands or whilst commuting. In Highland Perthshire, one person has reported five separate fly-tipping locations over a very short period of time. Unfortunately, a lot happens on rural remote roads, down embankments and on private land which makes it difficult to clear or at a cost. The temporary Fund not only helps to deliver a positive, quick solution but also demonstrates that fly-tipping is not acceptable.
Landowners, communities or individuals can apply to the Fund for the disposal of the fly-tipping and to finance preventative actions which will help to stop the fly-tipping at that location in the future. Preventative actions could include physical barriers (such as fencing), traffic prohibiting measures (such as posts or boulders), a local campaign, signage and/or CCTV. The Waste Services Team can provide advice to landowners on preventative actions and will also work with landowners to recover any relevant evidence to support further enforcement.
It is anticipated that each application will be in the region of £500 to £1,000 but there is not a minimum limit for funding requests and although the maximum funding award will be £3,000, in exceptional circumstances, a larger award may be made. The application process aims to take a maximum of 3 weeks so that there is quick access for those affected. To access the application form and guidance, please visit www.pkc.gov.uk/flytippingfund.
Meanwhile, to help prevent new cases of fly-tipping, householders are reminded that everyone has a legal Duty of Care to ensure that their unwanted items are only removed from their property by a licensed waste operator (the list can be found online at https://www2.sepa.org.uk/wastecarriers/) who can legally carry and correctly dispose of waste. If items are in good condition, they can be passed on for reuse (www.pkc.gov.uk/wheretodonate) or unwanted items can either be collected from outside their home via a special uplift (www.pkc.gov.uk/specialuplifts) or taken to a Recycling Centre (www.pkc.gov.uk/recyclingcentres). Householders with a commercial-type vehicle or a trailer, wishing to access a PKC Recycling Centre are encouraged to check their recycling permit is up-to-date and review the new social distancing requirements at www.pkc.gov.uk/recyclingpermits
In normal circumstances the PKC Greenspace Rangers are fortunate enough to work closely with many different volunteer and community groups; including leading conservation tasks, helping achieve John Muir Awards, undertaking path maintenance and helping raise funds for larger projects. During the current pandemic and social distancing the rangers have not been able to do many of the projects and tasks that we had planned. So what have the rangers been getting up to?
Some of the normal duties are still possible to continue, such as responding to dangerous trees and access issues, but for the most part we have been working from home. We have used this as an opportunity to catch up on some of the less-exciting paperwork that comes with the job such as writing and updating risk assessments! Other things we have been able to do from home include working on site management plans and keeping in touch with our many wonderful volunteer groups (if you haven’t seen our recent paths group newsletter – check it out here!).
Some new duties have also popped up as a result. At the start of lockdown we put signs up around may of our greenspaces with outdoor access guidance. More recently we have been given the opportunity to help other departments with critical services; delivering food parcels to those needing additional support at this time, and delivering leaflets reaching out to as many people as possible about the different support available to anyone that may need it. If you are resident in Perth & Kinross and require additional support please visit this web-page https://www.pkc.gov.uk/coronavirus/communitysupport.
Saturday (25th) was the first task of the year for the Crieff Paths Group, who were delighted to be joined by a few new members. Armed with a full arsenal of spades, rakes, drainage rods and more, we tackled several of the drainage ditches and culverts along one of Crieff’s most popular paths; Lady Mary’s Walk.
Months (& years!) of leaf litter build-up and vegetation growth had filled in ditches and blocked off culverts. These require occasional maintenance so that water can run off freely without damaging or flooding the path.
Lady Mary’s Walk runs alongside the River Earn and the old dismantled railway. Some of the old railway drainage run offs are still in place, of which one had been overflowing and had started to affect the path. We managed to clear this out and could see immediately that the water was flowing correctly into the ditch and through the culvert into the Earn.
There is still some work to be done along Lady Mary’s Walk, and other paths in the Crieff area will require attention. The group plan to meet on the last Saturday of each month (usually 10.30-12.30) and hope to meet on Wed 19th Feb in addition to this.
If you would be keen to join in with the Crieff Paths Group on future projects, or would like to find out more, please contact the Strathearn Greenspace Ranger, Calum, on firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Crieff Community Trust on email@example.com (or check out their facebook page).
REMINDER: We also have a Paths Group Networking and Training Event in Pitlochry on the 27th Feb – book now to ensure your place!
Perth & Kinross Council and Pitlochry Path Group are hosting our third annual path group gathering at the The Atholl Palace Hotel on Thursday 27th February 2020. This is an excellent opportunity to meet our team and share ideas with other path groups from across Perth and Kinross.
The event will be a chance to see and discuss some of the projects which have been completed by Pitlochry Path Group, an opportunity to pick up skills during our tool training session and a chance to find out about the support available to your group from Perth & Kinross Council.
This event is open to local path groups, bloom groups and any other interested group. Should you wish to come along please sign up via the form below and feel free to forward this invite to any other interested groups
Event programme – TBC
Refreshments and lunch provided
BOOKING ESSENTIAL – Please fill out the below form to secure a place
On 5th December a group of 20 volunteers – both members of the pubic and council employees – gathered to plant 88 trees up at Viewlands Park in Perth. We were lucky with the weather as a window of relatively rain-free opportunity was open to us for the hour and a half we were there. It’s surprising how quickly you can plant that many whips with a good few hands to the task, and makes you think what a difference can be made while having fun out in the fresh air. Now we just have to hope that they will thrive in time and give all the good things: beautiful foliage, cleaner air, habitat for fellow creatures, and extra carbon sink in these times of climate uncertainty.
By the end, a steaming cuppa and a biccy were welcome rewards!