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Raddery Woods bid 'a project with the people of the Black Isle at its heart'


By Neil MacPhail

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Rebecca and Brendan Rawlinson at their beloved Raddery woods. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Rebecca and Brendan Rawlinson at their beloved Raddery woods. Picture: James Mackenzie.

A BLACK Isle couple have got “amazing” local support for their plan to buy a local wood for community use.

Brendan and Rebecca Rawlinson have made an offer to Highland Council which has put 20-acre Raddery Woods near Rosemarkie on the market.

Part of the Rawlinsons’ thinking is the current concern in some quarters over big business buying up woodland for “silly money” simply to use it to offset their carbon footprint.

Highland Council has invited offers, and states that it “does not bind itself to accept the highest or any offer”.

The wood was part of the former council-run Black Isle Education Centre’s campus, but the rambling school building is not included in the sale.

The Rawlinsons love the wood so much they want it to become a multi-use area involving the local community. They call it “a project with the people of the Black Isle at its heart...”

They put their ideas online in public forums and were stunned by the positive response. Mr Rawlinson, a woodland manager, said: “We launched our project on Facebook and a few WhatsApp groups and the response was amazing, with about 70 messages of support within hours.”

Rebecca and Brendan Rawlinson at their beloved Raddery woods. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Rebecca and Brendan Rawlinson at their beloved Raddery woods. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Mrs Rawlinson, an engineer working as schools liaison programme lead for A96 Inverness to Nairn dualling, is excited at the wood’s potential for becoming an outdoor classroom.

The couple say they “want people to feel free to use what is really an amazing piece of woodland”.

It is well used and loved by Raddery people who have used it recreationally for generations. It has remained unmanaged for years.

The couple’s vision is “providing a truly multi-functional woodland space offering benefits to all”.

Among their many ideas for the space is developing a detailed forest management plan to help preserve the woodland while planning for its use for generations to come. Other aims include an outdoor classroom open to schools and and outdoor groups encompassing all age groups.

They will look into setting up an area/trail for outdoor play and designating an area as a woodland croft to allow potential access to additional funding.

They will explore establishing a social enterprise/community interest company to help them manage the project on an ongoing basis.

The closing date for offers has passed and Highland Council said: “All expressions of interest for the woods, including those for community use, will be considered at the same time. Wider community benefit will be one of the considerations.”


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