Honoured at AGM

ON a quite atrocious winter night, it was very pleasing to find 21 local angling club members attending their AGM on Sunday at the Heugh Hotel.

The meeting itself went quite seamlessly, with a PowerPoint presentation illustrating the activities of the year. These included competitions and outings to other venues, community involvement (charity duck races, beach clean etc) and the big effort made this year in the aftermath of the tempestuous spate of 1 November 2009, to remove timber debris dams and improve as many Cowie and Carron pools as possible for fly, worm and spinner fishing. John Rench once again proved top man in the various competitions, with Willie Munro taking the honours in the junior events. A mention in orders should also be given to young Jemma Critten, whose gritty determination and casting prowess saw her earn a runner-up spot. Chris Horridge and Alan Yorkston were elected onto the committee to replace Gordon Kellas and Ally McWillie, both of whom had served the club diligently over many years. Around this point in the proceedings, outgoing President Norrie Hart mysteriously left the meeting and returned a minute later with a stunning inscribed crystal ornament which Hon President Richard Holman-Baird presented to your correspondent to mark retiral as club secretary after 25 years in harness. Blow me down with a feather.. it is not often I am stuck for words, but this was one of those occasions! (Picture P29).

And more was to follow in the form of a gift of three days and nights of accommodation and salmon fishing on the River Carron.....no, not the Stoney, Falkirk or Bonar Bridge streams of the same name, but the lovely west coast version which tumbles to the tide at the sea loch which takes its name. At the election of office bearers after the main meeting, Martin Webster was appointed president, Allan Annat vice president, Doug Smith secretary and Fred Welsh treasurer. So the angling club remains in fine spirit and in good hands!

AMONGST the numerous PowerPoint topics, plans by Barratt Housing and the Drum Property Group to turn arable fields at Toucks and Feathers into a vast development which would add 40% to the town’s current size, attracted particular dismayed interest.

This astonishing proposal would (in their agent’s own words) “reinvigorate” and “create a sustainable future” for Stonehaven.. in the form of 1,500 houses, school, supermarket (again!) hotel and a business park, plus associated engineering works including roads, cycle ways and a new bridge linking with Stonehaven by spanning the Carron and A90 to join Mill of Forest Road. Just what this dull and dying community needs, then? Aye, right... my own impression was that Steenhive was doing just fine as things stand!!

Of natural concern to the angling club (and anyone whose homes adjoin the lower Carron) is exactly where all the water which once percolated away through the arable ground but would inevitably now speed-drain from this development, is actually to go, since the whole proposed area lies firmly within the Carron’s catchment and it simply ain’t going to drain anywhere else! Isn’t it reassuring, therefore, to learn from their Glasgow-based consulting engineers that “flooding issues will not restrict the scale of proposed development on the site”?

The same expert report goes on to say, “Consideration has been given to the possibility of providing flood alleviation measures to assist in addressing the flooding issues experienced in the centre of Stonehaven from the Carron Water. However, the Carron Water flows through only a very limited portion of the site at a location adjacent to the Network Rail Viaduct, and consequently it will not be practical to incorporate flood alleviation measures within the development site. While surface water run-off from the development will be restricted to pre-development levels (or less), the site area accounts for less than 2% of the catchment of the Carron Water, (including the Toucks Burn), and consequently there is very little scope for incorporating measures which could be deemed to assist in flood alleviation for Stonehaven. Any measure would of course require approval from both Aberdeenshire Council or SEPA”.

What codswallop. I really don’t think that the good folk of Stonehaven would even expect Barratts to benevolently provide a flood alleviation scheme for the current and completely separate flooding problems on this watershed... what this report neatly sidesteps is the potential impact of its own Sustainable Urban Drainage System on the EXISTING river situation. To claim that surface water run-off from such a vast new urban sprawl would be “restricted to pre-development levels (or less)” is surely at best disingenuous if not heartily dishonest!

As a final word on this matter meantime, I should point out for the benefit of those residents who may not have twigged it, that the development planned for “Mill of Forest” and the one advertised for “Land south of Mansefield Cottage, Kirktown of Fetteresso, Stonehaven” are in fact one and the same, and objections should be couched accordingly.

“Tight Lines”