Last of the Westland Whigs

In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Improving the environment

Alistair Livingston: Letter to the Editor of the Galloway News

Sent : 26 November 2008. published 4 December 2008

Improving the Environment on Blackpark Road ?

Dear Sir,
as a regular user of the footpath from Blackpark Road to Threave Estate, I have recently noticed diggers and bulldozers at work next to Castle Douglas Waste Water Treatment Works. I wondered what was going on so asked at the Council Planning Office. I now know that the work is the beginning of a £5 million upgrade of Castle Douglas Waste Water Treatment Works, first announced in the Galloway News back in March this year.

Reading through the planning application, it seems that SEPA had concerns about flooding which held up planning approval for several months. Castle Douglas Golf Club also objected to the loss of part of their course for the duration of the upgrade, but this objection was dismissed. Part of the playing field at the bottom of Douglas Terrace will also be permanently lost.

Whilst welcoming this major investment in Castle Douglas by Scottish Water, having looked at their plans, I wonder if the opportunity for some environmental improvements has been missed? For example a hedge along the Blackpark Road fence line would hide the sewage works and enhance the appeal of the footpath to Threave Estate. Since the path gives access to Threave castle, some signs within the town pointing 'To the castle' and starting from the Tourist Information Centre on Market Hill would also be useful.

In these uncertain economic times, with Woolworth's now likely to close, Castle Douglas may not be able to rely on its shops alone to attract visitors. The town will need to broaden its marketing strategy to include its unique natural and cultural heritage. This combined heritage extends from Carlingwark Loch to Threave Castle, from Lovers Walk to Lamb Island, linking over two thousand years of human history with the countryside and its wildlife.

The footpath from Blackpark Road physically connects Castle Douglas with Threave Estate and Threave Castle, but it does so via the 'bottom end' of the town. If Scottish Water included the cost of short section of hedge within the upgrade budget, it would make a real difference to the environment of Blackpark Road and encourage more people to make use of the footpath.

Alistair Livingston

Covering Note – letter to Galloway News “Improving the Environment on Blackpark Road?”

Preparation works on a £5 million upgrade of Castle Douglas Waste Water Treatment Works have just started. I looked at the plans today (Wednesday 26 November) which showed some hedge planting – but not along the Blackpark Road fence line.

This seems a missed opportunity to improve the environment along Blackpark Road, which would make access to the Blackpark Road/ Threave Estate footpath more 'user friendly'.

Firstly, if CD Community Council / CD Food Town Initiative/ local councillors/ DG Council approached Scottish Water now, they might be prevailed upon to include some hedge planting and similar environmental enhancements along Blackpark Road as small but highly visible part of the upgrade works.

Secondly, to encourage greater use of the Blackpark Road/ Threave Estate footpath, some signs within the town – e.g. Market Hill, King Street, Lochside Park - pointing “To the Castle” would be helpful. As would a fold-out map/leaflet showing how the Blackpark Road footpath links Threave Estate and its walks (and castle) with the town, Lochside Park and the walk around Carlingwark Loch.

Four years ago I wrote a booklet of walks around Castle Douglas and Threave, but it needs to be update to include the Blackpark Road path which was only a proposal in 2004. I will do so, but right now I am trying to edit my post-graduate thesis on the Galloway Levellers.

Finally – my main point is that Castle Douglas cannot just rely on promoting its shops to attract visitors. The town also needs to promote its other attractions and is perfectly situated to do so, with Carlingwark Loch within the town only a short walk from a medieval castle and the Threave Estate / Dee marshes nature reserve.

The infrastructure – bird hides, river, castle, landscape, loch and town – is already in place. Historic Scotland promote and publicise Threave Castle, the National Trust for Scotland do likewise for Threave House, Gardens and Estate as does the Food Town Initiative for the town...

The physical connections – a network of footpaths and walks - are also already in place. All that is needed is to help visitors and residents 'see' the bigger picture, to see Castle Douglas as being part of a wider landscape, a landscape rich in a diversity of wildlife and of history.

A carefully designed map and leaflet would achieve this objective.

Alistair Livingston

26 November 2008