Proposed Biodiversity Challenged by Councillors

By Jane Cruickshank / September 26, 2020

OUR councillors voted by the narrowest of margins on Tuesday to pursue a biodiversity project – but only if community groups are happy with the proposals.

The recording of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee chaired by Cllr Wendy Agnew is now available online.

The local authority is undertaking a Greenspace Project, looking for more diverse ways to use its cut grass areas. The community orchard planted at the Cowie Bridge last November is one example.

Councillors were asked to comment on a report showing areas that could be turned over to wildflower planting.

Locations in Stonehaven include the Slug Road, the Bervie Braes, Cowie Mill and Forest Drive. Mown grass would be replaced by spring flowering cowslips, fritillary, lady’s smock, selfheal and bugle. Knapweed, devil’s bit scabious and lady’s bedstraw would provide summer colour.

Pop Up Labyrinth

A more dramatic flourish is intended for outside the leisure centre, where bulbs would be planted in a maze-style design, with an accessible pathway allowing everyone to explore and reach a tree to be planted as a centre point.

And the Black Hill could be transformed with wildflower colour circling the War Memorial, with an emphasis on poppies. A start was made last year when seed was sown after the wreath laying service.

Mearns Representative Sums Up Concerns

Cllr George Carr spoke a length on the paper saying consultation and communication were needed before going forward. He had concerns landscape services do not have the staff to maintain these areas – which could become ‘a mess of weeds’.

Mr Carr described an amenity area at Bervie beach as an ‘eyesore’ attracting rubbish and fouling. He said Dundee City Council now have ‘a major problem with rabbits in their parks.’

And the member for Mearns said he attended a biodiversity seminar which recommended looking first to road-side verges, where wildflowers could be encouraged by removing cut grass.

Feedback from landscape services, he said, indicated the most cost effective way to maintain grass areas was to mow them. And Mr Carr said he had ‘loud and clear’ feedback from his constituents.

”They are wanting their weeds sprayed and they are wanting their grass cut.”

Each Area on its Own Merits

Landscape Services head Ian Welsh said many people had enjoyed the effect of uncut grass during lockdown. He conceded the first cuts looked messy as they did not have the correct machinery. But he had received many positive comments – he felt opinion in the community was about ‘fifty fifty’.

Cllr Sarah Dickinson thanked the service for Stonehaven’s community orchard, which she felt had been welcomed. And she pointed to other aspects of the project emerging from community engagement – the poppy sowing at the War Memorial and the proposed pop up labyrinth.

Mrs Dickinson said she felt the proposals needed to be considered ‘page by page’ – she has concerns about the proposals for the Bervie Breas where the barriers would attract weed seeds. She said wildflower areas needed to be tended and kept tidy.

”What is absolutely critical,” she said, ”is that we do engage with our communities.”

And by the narrowest of margins – by six votes to five – it was agreed the work of the project should go forward, with a further report to be made to committee.