Feb 172015

Last week BrewDog invited its shareholders – over 14,000 of us – for a day at the Ellon Brewery, DogTap & bottleshop. The hundred or so who attended enjoyed a great day out. Shareholder Suzanne Kelly reports.


Beer Chandelier

BrewDog opened up the newly-expanded Ellon brewery to shareholders on 7 February; it was to tour the brewery, see the new  DogTap & bottleshop, taste beers and have fun.

The day’s main event was to help create a new beer – Bounty Hunter. This will be a chocolaty, coconutty stout (lactose, coconut chip and chocolate). We were invited to take part in the ‘mashing in’ (mixing the grains into the heated water, the early stage of the brewing process) and to help design the stout’s label.

You can’t say that shareholders aren’t appreciated by the company. A full programme of events saw us meet at BrewDog Aberdeen for coffee before taking a coach to the Ellon brewery (we all chipped in £5 each for the round trip).

On the way I sat with Chris who tells me he’s been with the company for 6 months. In the course of talking we discussed how the spent grains are sent to local farmers for their animals; he seemed very up on the company’s sustainability credentials (something I care about as well).

On arrival we were welcomed by Becky. We waited in the bar for a second busload of attendees. The inimitable artwork associated with BrewDog adorns the walls; the chandelier is made of BrewDog bottles. The artwork you’ll see at the brewery and many of the bars is mainly down to Fisher, a BrewDog employee who was general manager at the Aberdeen bar, worked at the Edinburgh bar & Leeds bar, and led beer tasting sessions as well as creating this art. More on the art later.

A blackboard explains the basics of brewing. Nearby is a poster advertising a chocolate and beer evening on Friday 13 February. If you don’t think chocolate and beer belong together, you might want to think again.

We were shown through to the newly-extended brewery where we talked and enjoyed a few beers. I spoke with friends Andrew and Michael (his brother-in-law had got him interested in the company) and Simon from Southampton, himself a brewer (his outfit is Rusty Prop ). Then we got down to the brewing.

Master brewers James and Bowman got the cacao nibs, grains and coconut chips together, and pretty soon the scents of malt, roasted grain, chocolate and coconut seemed everywhere. (The beer will be called ‘Bounty Hunter’ – no doubt the chocolate bar’s taste will be evoked by the finished stout in due time).

Art & Craft Beer 

I went to the main bar to seek vegetarian fare. I ran into Fisher, and we got talking about art. He’s more than happy to talk about the opportunities BrewDog has created for him. Over the entrance is a painted mural of two dogs facing each other; I note their gums seem to be in fluorescent paint. Across from them is neon lettering proclaiming ‘without us, we are nothing’. When the rest of the bar is dark, the neon shows up the florescent paint in the murals.

We discuss all things paint and design. He shows me a remarkably striking Welsh red dragon he’s done for the  Cardiff bar which opened late 2014; I adore it, and will be making my way to the new Welsh location when next I can. The pie is taking a long time to come – I’m expecting someone will just be reheating some pre-made pie.

Fisher had recommended the flavour; sweet potato and feta.

shareholders_pour_over_pie_chaBrewDog’s pies come fresh from Pieminister.

The pie eventually comes: it’s well worth the wait, and must have been freshly made; I feel guilty for trying to hurry it along and for my assumption it was just going to be a case of reheating something in a microwave.

Apologies. It’s also in biodegradable packaging with biodegradable cutlery.

The reason for my haste was that I didn’t want to miss a thing going on in the brewery. I arrive back at my table just in time for the business end of today’s events: Martin and James are about to give an overview of their company’s – our company’s – performance.

Share And Share I Like 

“The truth is that unless you drink in their pubs or buy a lot from their website then it it [sic] probably wouldn’t count as a good ‘investment’.”

“Their success is entirely due to hipster popularity. Once all the “cool dudes” stop being interested in beer, BrewDog will slip back into obscurity.” – forum comments from http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=4665869

“If BrewDog continue to brew excellent beer whilst growing as they have done, then you should make your money back and more, but that is missing the point. If you believe in what BrewDog are doing, and believe that they are genuinely in it for the love of beer and not simply financial gain then you should invest. If you think the numbers don’t add up and it’s not a ‘good investment’ then you shouldn’t.

“The decision is up to you, and BrewDog have been extremely open and honest about what they are offering, and what they’re not.” http://www.eatingisntcheating.co.uk/2011/07/is-brewdogs-share-offer-taking-us-for.html

From market stall to first small share offering to the present, there has been absolutely no slip in BrewDog’s passion or in their attention to detail.

In 2011 the company raised £2 million with a second release of shares, Equity for Punks II; they also raised £4.25m in Equity for Punks III in 2013. They then spent £6.5 million on the Ellon brewery. Their profit margins continue to escalate to dizzying levels – yet compared to the big boys like Diageo (who you may remember tried to cheat the BrewDog team out of an award), they are still comparably small.

We wondered what James Watt and Martin Dickie would tell us today. We are getting very used to hearing good news from them, and today we got more. The good news includes:

• BrewDog is a Living Wage Employer (more info here http://www.livingwage.org.uk/employers )
• BrewDog is now in 52 countries, with a Barcelona bar opening next week opens Tuesday 10th for Equity Punk launch, open to general public Wednesday 11th
• BrewDog Brighton will open in June of this year all being well, and Southampton soon.
• Idlewild will play the AGM again this year on 6 June (Martin and James promise that there will not be the long lines of people queuing for beer they had last time – over 4,000 people attended, and getting a beer was a long process it must be admitted)
• There will be a shareholder beer club featuring limited edition craft beer
• More canned beers will be produced (including personal favourite Jackhammer) – enabling export without losing quality

What do they want? To keep making great craft beer and to ‘be the best employer ever’. The shareholders are with them on both points, and any staff member I’ve ever spoken with seems to think BrewDog already is top dog in terms of employment.

Brewdog_Beatnik_event_by_Sam_BMartin’s mentioned that American giant Coors cut production by 600,000 barrels in 2013/14 – this is about the amount the entire craft brewing sector gained.

The brewery here in Ellon has greatly grown, it aims to produce some 172,000 HL of beer this coming year – still making it a small player compared to the likes of the American brewers.

What makes a company too big?

There’s big and there’s too Big

Some of BrewDog’s detractors claim the company is now ‘too big’. Should the company start acting like a monopoly seeking to control production, distribution – and making political donations – I’ll consider it too big. But that seems to be how at least one multinational drinks company is carrying on. News broke this week of the behaviour of brewing multinationals in Canadian politics, and if I were a shareholder, I’d be selling up. As the Globe & Mail put it:

“The Beer Store’s corporate owners have funnelled more than $1.1-million to Ontario politicians in the past decade, as they successfully held on to their lucrative private monopoly.

“The company – owned by foreign brewing giants Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, Molson Coors Brewing Co. and Sapporo Breweries Ltd. – enjoys a government-protected stranglehold on beer retail, codified in a secret deal with the province.” – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/beer-stores

I wonder whether BrewDog detractors will put as much energy into complaining about brewery giants and their retail arms donating hundreds and thousands of Canadian dollars to politicians.  No doubt those who think the Watt Dickie company is ‘too big’ will be quick to jump on this important story.

In the early share offering days, some internet investment gurus warned that this was nothing more than ‘a beer club’ – some had less kind things to say. Other pundits were all in favour of their style and their business model. I ask one of the staff about the share value. She advises that when people were first allowed to trade/sell shares in October 2014, the price wound up being £125.

It also seems that many people were willing to part with one or two shares, but few if any people completely divested. Everyone here today seems to have a shared vision based on a passion for beer.

A Matter of Taste

It’s time to taste some beer. We start with India Pale Weizen , made in collaboration with one of the world’s oldest breweries, Weihenstephan. It’s a delicious wheat concoction with the bitter elements of Jackhammer. The hops are Simcoe and Centennial. My table is happy. We’ve also been joined by two more craft beer lovers, and we are all literally comparing notes.

Brewdog_Beatnik_event_by_Sam_B (1)Next we get to taste how the beer we’ve come together to brew is progressing: we drink the wort (the wort is what you get from mashing in- so just the dark sugary liquid you get from the malts- this is before adding hops/other ingredients). It’s delicious – my table asks for more.

This wort is hinting at a very great beer to come in a few weeks’ time.

The third tasting comes a bit late for my table; we’d already enjoyed a pint (or so) of Bourbon Baby, a dark, oaty chocolaty strong drink aged in bourbon casks. It’s another success.

Finally we taste a new version of BrewDog’s Paradox Paradox Compass Box – the staff member talking us through this whimsically suggests it should be drunk by a fire place while sitting in a wing chair, with a fluffy cat nearby. I wonder whether she’s been looking through my flat’s window of a winter night?

Too soon it’s time to go back; the traffic is awful. The heartier shareholders head to the BrewDog bar.

I am heading home for that comfy chair by the fire, my cats, and a final small drink of the night; a ‘Dog B’. I think to myself, ‘the boys have done it again’ – then I realise, having seen their wives and beautiful babies at the today, maybe they’re not ‘boys’ any more. I think instead – well done to James, Martin, their growing families and to all of us who’re on this successful, wild, delicious ride. Same again please.

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Mar 062014

With thanks to Jennifer Kelly, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Inaugural North East Conference Gives Platform for 200 Local Businesses To Improve Their Customers’ Journey

Marischal RegOnline v2_crVisitScotland Chairman, Mike Cantlay, will be one of three keynote speakers at a tourism conference in the north east for 200 delegates on 26th March 2014. Tourism businesses from across Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire will attend the inaugural Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Conference which will be held at the Thistle Altens Aberdeen hotel.

The event will inspire businesses to improve their customer’s journey through a series of keynote speeches and interactive workshops on topics as diverse as Finance for Growth, Small Business Marketing with Google Analytics and Digital Marketing with Social Media.

Mike Cantlay’s fellow keynote speakers will be Robert Gordon, head of European Golf Tour tickets and Susan Crawford, Director of the Institute of Innovation, Design and Sustainability at Robert Gordon University.

Commenting on his presence at the event, Mike Cantlay says,

“As Scotland prepares to welcome the world this year, with a range of global events including the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, The Ryder Cup and Homecoming. The North East is playing host to a wide variety of Homecoming events as well as the Scottish Open taking place at Royal Aberdeen this year, therefore I would encourage tourism businesses across the North East to sign up for this event.”

“As well as hearing from some digital experts, this event offers a great opportunity for businesses to learn how they can improve their customers’ journey and in turn benefit from this exceptional year for Scottish tourism.”

Bookings are now open for the event which is being organised by the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Partnership. Businesses pay just £30 (ex VAT) to attend the full day conference. However, fifty free places are available to microbusinesses which are below the VAT registration threshold.  Online booking for the conference and individual workshops is available.

In addition to the key note speakers, delegates will have the opportunity to choose two workshops from a menu of eight sessions.  The event will be chaired by Claire Bruce, Chair of Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Partnership.

Claire Bruce who says,

“There has never been a more opportune time for tourism businesses in the north east to maximise their opportunities. We have unprecedented new development of hotels in the city and a significant increase in regional UK and international flights including from Germany and Scandinavia. Aberdeen is a gateway to Royal Deeside, castle and whisky country as well as to the rich and diverse coastline. However, tourism businesses need to grasp these opportunities and to ensure that their customers are receiving the highest quality of services from the start of their ‘journey’ to the end.”

“Marketing needs to be more focused …and more electronic! Customer service has to be world class and our guests expect to sample the best of our fabulous local produce. We have brought together speakers and workshop hosts who will all help north east businesses to realise their full potential along with a welcome chance to network with others in the tourism industry and learn skills from industry professionals.”

The day will also include opportunities for networking during the breaks and over a hot buffet lunch. Attendees will also have the chance to pick up useful literature and tourism related publications.

Follow the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Conference on Twitter @acsatp2014 for regular updates.

For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Kelly, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR
01224 646491, jkelly@trickerpr.com

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Oct 112013

UTG FlowersThe Friends of Union Terrace Gardens (FOUTG) AGM will be held in the Belmont Cinema on Saturday 12 October. The session starts at 10.30am, although you are well advised to be there from 10am. Mike Shepherd writes.

Apart from the usual formalities, we will have two special sessions.
First of all, we will discuss in open forum the John Halliday proposal for the Denburn and will be canvassing opinion on this. At first glance, this looks like the Millennium Scheme, which would have decked over the road and railway, leaving the Gardens relatively intact.

It has been getting favourable responses from the usual commentators such as Aberdeen Journals.

FOUTG however, has unearthed more details which we will share. The feedback on this will be made public.

Secondly, we will be joined by Barney Crockett, leader of the Aberdeen City Council administration, offering the chance for members to ask Barney questions on the administration’s stance on the Gardens. Barney has gone on public record as saying that whatever happens to the city centre, the park will remain as Victorian gardens.

This AGM marks a transition in the focus of the Friends group. We do hope that our campaigning days are over and we now move forward as a stakeholder in the Gardens’ future, aiming to attract funds for the park and helping to encourage its full use.

Various initiatives in this regard will be announced by chairperson Robin McIntosh at the AGM.

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Apr 262013

On April 23 the Formartine Councillors should have had two site visits to the Menie Estate parking lot – which had been erected in a manner inconsistent with the agreed permission.  The high bunds by the Munro home Leyton Cottage should have also been examined as they were not approved.  The second of the two visits was meant to take place at approximately 9pm, and was meant to show how the lighting affects the area: the Trump organisation did not show and did not turn the lights on – for the first time in residents’ memories.  Suzanne Kelly reports.

The 5.30 meeting was amazingly brief; so brief in fact I virtually missed it. Councillors attended the parking lot, and unfortunately most did not pay sufficient attention to the bund built on Leyton Farm road by the Munro’s residence.

I had written to the councillors involved to point out that the bund, not built per the approved plans, seemed to have slipped off the scope of the retrospective permission request.

These bunds block light, block view, and more importantly are blowing sand and dirt into the Munro property.

The photograph of the sign in this article shows sand built up since sandstorms earlier this month; it is at the entrance to the Munro’s driveway.

Only a few councillors had answered my email about the bunds and assured me they would look at the situation; according to residents who watched the site visit (note – no comments were taken from the public who were only permitted to observe proceedings), only a few of the councillors ventured to the other side of the high, incongruous gate separating the parking from Leyton Farm Road to actually take in the giant scale of the bund.

This bund must not be allowed to simply be described as ‘landscaping’ – a euphemism used all too often in planning applications as an unquestionable remedy for environmental upheaval and environmental damage.

For instance the planned football stadium for Loirston Loch was going to infringe on wildlife territory – two EU protected species and many coastal birds (long in decline) were to be negatively impacted, but at the time remedial screening and ‘landscaping’ was put forward as a remedy by proponents, although the actual value of such landscaping for wildlife is questionable.

Campaigners will work to ensure that there is no successful move to treat the earth bunds as landscaping.  The golf club owners seem very keen on planting fir trees on these sandy bunds. These trees, exposed to wind, salt spray and asked to grow on sandy soil keep dying, as illustrated.  They are replaced once nearly dead, an incredible waste of living trees.

The council may simply seek to consider the bund problem solved by forcing Trump to stop planting trees on them. This will not at all solve the problem of the lack of light, view or sand/dirt blowing into the Munro property, and is no solution..

Despite many requests to the Aberdeenshire council planning and media relations offices, there is still no satisfactory explanation of crucial questions.

I had been written to by Gordon Lyon who assured me weekly site visits had been carried out at the time to ensure compliance with the approved plans.  If this level of overseeing did take place, why then were parking and bunds erected which were non-compliant?

This question needs addressing.

Lyon also assured me that the temporary bunds were taken down – I had clearly described the bund by the Munro family home when I wrote.  It seems a porous parking lot surface was specified in the approved plan, which called for the layout to be sympathetic to the existing landscape.  In the event, a huge, rectangular, non-porous parking area was created.

These anomalies need to be addressed.

The temporary marquee is massive, and has metal sides with windows.  It is my understanding this structure can stay up for 28 days before it must be removed.  It went up approximately 6 days before this meeting took place.  Residents will monitor the situation.

A large party is scheduled for the marquee over this coming weekend; it seems that residents and wildlife will have to get used to such gatherings. Normal legislation permits noise up until 11pm at night, after which sound levels are to be kept low.  We will see how this is respected.

However, the most sensational part of the evening was a  non-event.

The ‘twilight’ visit was tentatively scheduled for 9pm.  I had been with the residents from 5.30 until this start time; we arrived from a resident’s home at 8:50pm. We knew the meeting might start late, as councillors first had to attend a meeting at Blackdog concerning controversial wind farm plans.

We waited.  No lights came on.  The full moon – which would have made determining the lighting’s effect and light spill very difficult anyway – was the only light.

Residents and supporters present commented that the lights had virtually always come on once it got dark. But not this evening.

At approximately 09:50 the first cars arrived  in the parking area.  Councillors assembled.  The lot remained dark.

One window in the clubhouse had light shining from it; I volunteered to walk down and see if anyone was in, but there was no answer at the locked door.

The councillors and onlookers waited.  Ms Malone, who had attended the 5.30 meeting never showed up.  Security, usually an all-pervading presence at the estate and  who are known to jump out in front of people at night were likewise nowhere to be seen.

Suffice it to say that even councillors sympathetic to the Trump organisation were not best pleased, and approximately 15 minutes later they announced they would be leaving, unable to see the effects of the lights.  The lights stand on extremely high posts, one of which is near the Munro cottage.

With no lights on, it was clear that nocturnal wildlife is in the area.  Bats, protected by EU environmental regulations were very much in evidence, as was an owl or two.  It was  brought up in discussion with residents that two modern buildings which replaced traditional steading buildings near the top of Leyton Farm road used to have bats roosting.

The new structures, again erected apparently without planning permission, are of a metal construction, and are not conducive to bats roosting.  How wildlife which may have roosted in the old buildings was dealt with when the new buildings were erected should be looked into by environmental council officers.

The steadings should likewise be scrutinised, and if planning permission was needed (as an expert in traditional buildings tells me is the case), then action should be taken.

Councillors were not making comments to the observers, but it was plain to see that no one was happy to have wasted their time.  Whether or not this disregard for a scheduled planning assessment visit will go against the Trump organisation in future will be watched closely.

For now, the bunds remain at the Munro property, light spill remains unmeasured.  But for the Trump organisation, everything is just fine.

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Feb 212013

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

This year’s Friends of Duthie Park AGM will be held within the sunken area of the Winter Gardens on Tuesday 5th March at 7 pm.

Included in the event will be an update on the restoration work being undertaken in the park which is scheduled for completion shortly.

Members and non members are welcome to attend.

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Dec 202012

By Bob Smith.

It’s bin alleged a cooncillor wifie
At a meeting hid a wee doze
Fin voting on a nicht club licence
The cooncil war in the throes

Did the craitur hae forty winks?
Did she hear the pros an cons?
Fit wye wis she alood tae vote, 
Fin they hid a show o hauns?

She claims she’d teen medication
Iss made her a wee bit fuzzy
A’m sure there’s ither cooncillors
Faa’s brains are afen muzzy

They tak decisions aboot oor toon
Iss maks ye fair hae a think
Foo mony micht feel drowsy
Cos they’ve hid a denner time drink?

Nithing wrang wi haen an aperitif
As lang’s ye dinna bicum a bam
Jist mak sure fin ye hae a tipple
Glenfiddich is yer faavrit dram

“Glenfiddich!!” A hear The Donald roar
“A plague on aa sic drinkers
Fusky fae Wm Grant’s distilleries
Is only fit fer bliddy minkers”

A’m nae suggestin the puir wumman
Wis jist a bittie warse fer weer
The story aboot her maybe dozin
Hisna made things affa clear

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012

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Sep 172012

With thanks to Jonathan Russell. 

Aberdeen Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament will be running a Song and Poetry Night on Friday 21st September at 7.30 at the Quaker Meeting House to mark the International Day of Peace.

Special activities will be taking place across the world. To inaugurate the day the Peace Bell is rung at the United Nations. The 21st September is the opening day of regular sessions of the United Nations.

The idea of an International Day of Peace came from one man James Gilley who hounded world leaders to make it happen.

It was put forward at the United Nations in 1981 by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica (the only country in the world not to have a standing army)

The day is dedicated to Peace and the Absence of War.

Jeremy Gilley along with the film star Jude Law have organised a concert this year at the Wembley Arena to be headlined by Elton John.

If you want to be part of the celebration in Aberdeen please come along to the Quaker Meeting House at 7.30pm on 21st September. Those performing include Kirsty Potts, Dave Davies and Hilda Meers- you can bring along your own peace related songs/music or poetry if you so wish.

For further information contact Sally e-mail Sally @hjke.org




Jun 282012

With thanks to Kenneth Watt. 

The Aberdeen City Youth Council’s 2012 annual general meeting was key to the body’s future, with an external audit announced and three new office-bearers elected.

Councillor Ross Grant announced his commitment to undertaking the audit, which will examine the workings and effectiveness of the representative body and propose changes for the group to undertake.

Kris Chapman was successfully elected as Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, alongside Aberdeen College Student President Lani Baird who is the ACYC’s new Equality and Diversity Officer, and Justin Rheiner who now holds the office of Recruitment Officer.

After the meeting, Rebecca Lindsay was co-opted by the office-bearer team as the organisation’s new secretary.

At the AGM, around 30 members also signed up to new committees, including the Education sub-committee which aims to directly scrutinise the work of Aberdeen City Council’s Education, Culture and Sport committee. Youth Councillors Kenneth Watt, Barry Black and Rebecca Lindsay are to meet with ECS convener Jenny Laing next week on ways to make this relationship work well.

Speaking about the external audit, Councillor Grant said,

“I am very honoured to be able to assist the Aberdeen City Youth Council in their upcoming audit of their operations. The Youth Council has been increasingly pro-active and hard working on a great number of issues including increased participation in the Community Planning Process, Student Issues and other areas where young people have a very important role to play.’

‘This Audit will allow the Youth Council to look at what it is doing well and what needs to be improved to continue its effective role in representing young people in Aberdeen City and beyond. I very much look forward to working with the Youth Council.”

As the new recruitment officer, Justin Rhiener said,

“The future of the group is in new members and it is my role to increase the number of youth councillors. In the next few weeks, I’ll be working with the team to get leaflets out to schools for the next academic year and looking at a campaign launch in September which is going to be revealed next week.”

Chair Ashleigh O’Connor-Hanlon (pictured) spoke about the AGM, “I’m very pleased with the three new office-bearers and am looking forward to seeing the skills they bring to the organisation benefit the young people of Aberdeen. The next few months will see the group being examined thoroughly and I’m honoured to have Cllr Grant on board to lead this process.”

Mar 192012

A proposal to build a road through woodland in Ellon has come under fire from a group set up to support the management of the area. The intended purpose of  road is to provide access for the development of 250 new homes. Those opposed to the plan believe the road is unnecessary, destructive, and in contravention of a Blench Charter. Friends of McDonald Park founder member Lynn Gilbert brings Voice readers the story.

The plan is being opposed by Friends of McDonald Park, a group set up by Aberdeenshire Council in 1990 when the Council bought the superiority of the Park from the charity Barnardos.
The aim of the group is to support the management of McDonald Park for the benefit of the community. We have done this by planting bulbs, trees and a hedge as well as regularly clearing litter from the ground and from the Modley Burn.

The Park was given to the Burgh of Ellon in 1928 by Sir James McDonald and is governed by a Blench Charter.

The terms of the Charter state that the Park should be used for recreational purposes only, that nothing should be done which is detrimental to the Park and that its area is not to be reduced in any way.

In 1996, we successfully opposed a plan by Aberdeenshire Council to use part of Caroline’s Well Wood, the east section of McDonald Park, as a bus park for Ellon Academy. On that occasion we raised the terms of the Blench Charter and an alternative solution was found without destroying any of the Park.

In 2010, builders Barratt East Scotland and Scotia Homes were given Council permission to construct 250 houses in Ellon’s Castle Meadows but it was only when marks appeared on trees in the east section of the Park, that it became apparent that the plan was to construct a road through it, from the development site to Golf Road. I made enquiries on behalf of the Friends and was told that the road had been approved by councillors.

In August 2011, the Friends were informed in a Council Estates Department letter that an S75 Legal Agreement for the application had still to be signed, and were asked for their views on the proposed access. The same letter stated that legal advice given to the Council was that:

“vehicular access must facilitate/improve public access to the park and cannot be granted purely to allow development”.

The Friends voiced total opposition to a road through the Park, stating that it would be in contravention of the Blench Charter since it would not improve public access to the Park, but was solely for the development. It would also involve the felling of a large number of mature trees in an area inhabited by red squirrels, bats and spring/early summer migrating birds.

It would seem that councillors were not satisfied with the legal opinion offered and they sought further advice several times from Sir Steven Stuart QC. This was given in a privately-heard report presented at a Formartine Area Committee (FAC) meeting on 6 December last year. It suggested that temporary construction access could possibly be granted, subject to a number of safeguards and agreements being in place.

  The Friends and many others have lodged objections to the planning application

On 17 January, a report to the FAC, again heard in private, proposed a temporary five year construction access which would become a pedestrian and cycle path once the five years had elapsed. This temporary access would be a tarred road with lighting and other services and which would involve the felling of at least 99 mature trees.

It would take a fifteen metre slice of the woodland at the Golf Road end, this increasing to nearer thirty metres at the top, a significant area of the Park.

It seems that when councillors first approved this access, they were not aware that they themselves were in fact Trustees of McDonald Park. It was in this capacity that councillors had to consider the application at their 28 February meeting, and as Trustees they rejected it.

This application is to be considered at a Planning meeting on Tues 20 March.

The Friends and many others have lodged objections to the planning application, and I have asked to speak at the meeting should it be heard there. Quite apart from the effect of this road on the woodland, a precious asset to Ellon, there is another matter to be considered.

Construction traffic using Golf Road would access the Park at the rear of Ellon Academy, an area used by a large number of Academy pupils and mothers with buggies walking into Ellon. There are two other access roads to the development, but some residents along these routes would rather see part of McDonald Park destroyed than have traffic pass their homes.

Interestingly, the site of this proposed access is given as ‘Castle Meadows’ on the planning application, when in fact it is McDonald Park. This makes it easy to overlook the reality of the situation.

Further info: Save McDonald’s Park Caroline’s Well Wood Ellon : Facebook Page
Image credit: Ian Jukes 

Jan 062012

With thanks to Dave Watt.

There have been twenty-three acknowledged serious nuclear accidents to befall the worlds U.S. and Soviet nuclear forces.

There have been 16 crashes involving British nuclear submarines since 1998.

Despite this there appears to be a certain amount of complacency as regards the nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch on the Clyde.

The ex-Armed Forces Minister Dr John Reid said in letters to MPs:

“It is planned that potassium iodate tablets would be distributed before any release of radioactive material had occurred at a time determined by monitoring the condition of the reactor”.

“We will always get advanced warning if something was to go wrong” – Andy Moore MoD

“There has never been an accident involving a nuclear powered submarine reactor which has led to, or come anywhere near leading to, any release of radioactive contamination to the environment” – Dr John Reid, ex-Armed Forces Minister

Aberdeen CND presents :

A Nuclear Incident on the Clyde – 2nd Jan 2012 

MONDAY 9th January-  7.30 p.m. 

Belmont Picture House, Belmont St, Aberdeen

  Image credit © Rhouck | Dreamstime.com