Philorth group may be disbanded

Banff and Buchan councillors have decided on the future of the Waters of Philorth Management Group after being told by corporate services that it was recommended that they consent to its dissolution.

The group, which was established by the area committee with a remit to prepare a management plan for the reserve, including monitoring, revising and updating it in an advisory capacity to Aberdeenshire Council, consisted of members of elected councillors from Fraserburgh and district and one member from Scottish Natural Heritage and the Fraserburgh Feuars Managers, respectively.

Their management plan was last updated and approved by the area committee in March, 2007.

The report outlined the reasons for why the group should be disbanded, saying that the head of legal and governance at Aberdeenshire Council had received a letter from the feuars’ solicitors, Brown and McRae, on January 14, 2013, intimating that the feaurs would be withdrawing their representation from the group with immediate effect and wished for the group to be dissolved.

The feaurs, however, would be happy to liaise directly with Aberdeenshire Council “from time to time in the future should any issues concerning the reserve require to be addressed,” the report said. Scottish Natural Heritage had intimated to the Council that, whilst the group provided input into the reserve at its formation, and whilst they wished to continue to support the management of the reserve, they felt support could be better delivered as and when issues arise, as opposed to regular meetings.

The report goes on to say that it is believed the group has not met for around two years. Councillor Charles Buchan had voiced his proposal that councillors defer making a decision on the group’s dissolution until councillors had the opportunity to discuss the reasons why the feaurs had left the group. He was seconded by Councillor Hamish Partridge.

Councillor Ian Tait, however, lodged the amendment that they agree to dissolve the Philorph Management Group but hold an informal meeting with interested parties with the hope that a voluntary group take on the capacity of the management group.

“Common sense has to prevail. The Feaurs and SNH can’t support it any more. The proper way is to dissolve the group and move forward,” said Councillor Tait.

Councillor Buchan responded: “I think this is far too important to be neglected. There’s too many issues that have to be investigated,” he said, in reference to the reasons why the feaurs had withdrawn their support.

Councillor Buchan’s motion was successful, five votes to four. Councillor Michael Roy chose not to vote.