STV News broke the story last week that popular, 40-year old Blaikiewell Horse Sanctuary could fall victim to the AWPR if suitable new premises are not organised. This is a unique place which has rescued horses and other animals for decades, offered riding lessons and stabling – all due to the dedication of volunteers and founder, Mavis Petrie. Suzanne Kelly talks to Mavis about the area, the animals and the AWPR.
The AWPR will inevitably cut a swathe through our constantly-dwindling greenbelt land. Urban sprawl, increased pollution in green areas and loss of local green recreation areas are inevitable consequences.
There will be very real costs to wildlife, rural animals, and those who live there.
Incredibly, hundreds of people who will be impacted by the AWPR still have not taken the steps they need to take to ensure they will be compensated.
One of the great frustrations for Mavis Petrie and those at Blaikiewell Horse Sanctuary is that they have been writing letters to the AWPR administrators – but are not getting any correspondence back. It seems the STV coverage may help; elected officials have also come forward to offer assistance.
Animal charities in our area get no funding from central government, despite performing an essential role; unlike other European/western nations they must rely solely on donations from the public or grants from local authorities. With animal abandonments increasing dramatically due to the economic situation which also means spiralling prices, it is hard to simply keep going.
Blaikiewell’s is going to lose space. The AWPR will be cutting through land it owns, and there will be a highway and a roundabout where retired, injured, abandoned animals currently have a home.
While waiting briefly for Mavis, I talk to Joyce. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer; the sanctuary was able to take their horse during that difficult time:-
“There are very few places like this. I had been nursing my husband; it was such a comfort to us to know our horse would be well looked after. Blaikiewell’s is priceless; everyone mucks in and helps.”
Mavis takes me on a tour of the sanctuary.
“I was always interested in animals, and I wanted a horse when I was young.” Mavis explains.
“I went to an animal auction in the 1970s. There was a little 8 month-old foal. The auctioneer said ‘come on; if nothing else it will fill up your deep freeze.” Mavis was appalled and bought the foal, which she named Bracken. Soon she bought another, Willow, to keep Bracken company and things grew from there.
“Others arrived; I couldn’t turn them away. We started the riding school to try and raise money. Then the riding school horses got old and retired here, and other horses kept coming. We set up as a charity in 1997.
“There is no help from the government; the SSPCA don’t have facilities for horses, and other charities are sending animals to me. With losing 20 acres, I’ll have to cut down on taking animals in. This week they’ve (AWPR administration) started talking to my brother about money.”
Mavis is grateful to STV for the coverage, which she believes has helped to get things started.
We go to different enclosures and meet horses Jaffa, Rum, Charlie and more; they all come to greet her.
One field she points out is flooded in part; this apparently happened when test drilling for the road happened. It has cut down on land she can use, but there has been no compensation.
Finding another suitable ground nearby will be a problem; Maryculter land is not exactly cheap.
There are adjacent fields, but the asking price is apparently higher than the sanctuary can afford; well over £400,000 would be needed. There would be a lot more needed to bring new fields up to the standard of the existing ones with shelters, fencing and tree shelter belts.
It seems those who are in the path of the AWPR are being told to take 90% valuation settlements for their land and homes, and once accepting this offer, they can apparently negotiate for more money. This seems like a rather unfair method of compensation; the more land you are to lose, the more money you will lose as well. It is hoped that someone in a position of power who can look into this situation will do so directly.
Alex works at the sanctuary and riding school; she gives lessons and takes people riding.
There are many ways people can help Blaikiewell – donations of money, animal feed and so on are always welcome. William Nichol (Aberdeen) Ltd. donated a much-needed one-year supply of diesel. The website gives many more details; please visit here http://www.blaikiewell.com/
Our countryside and its animals are part of our heritage and our culture. Once they are gone, they cannot be recovered. Blaikiewell and all of our area animal refuges need our support; if you can help at all, then please get in touch with Blaikiewell.
Are you effected by the AWPR but haven’t taken action yet? If so, it is highly recommended that you get in touch with your councillors, seek legal advice and/or visit a Citizen’s Advice Bureau immediately. Aberdeen Voice has further information.
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