New bid to protect woodland launched

The management plan aims to improve public access to the woodland.

A project launched today aims to secure the long-term future of Castle Woods in Helensburgh as a sustainable community woodland.

The site is currently on the market after plans to fell woods for housing led to objections from hundreds of residents.

Now the Helensburgh Community Woodlands Group (HCWG) aims to reverse years of decline and improve pubic access, with a draft plan being published before a public meeting next week.

HCWG Convener David Adams said: “This management plan represents an important step forward in our campaign to Save Castle Woods.

“While we will continue to oppose plans to fell the wood for housing development (and have gathered over 300 objections since August), we now want to show how Castle Woods can be properly managed and enhanced for the benefit of local people and the local environment for many years ahead.”

The plan aims to:

  • Create better quality footpaths and build boardwalks
  • Open up new, signposted access points
  • Demarcate the boundary with quality timber fences
  • Ensure effective ground water management, including the creation of a new pond
  • Encourage suitable wildlife habitats
  • Remove invasive laurel bushes, fell some non-native trees and replant with native species.

It would provide a more direct woodland link from Duchess Woods to the heart of West Helensburgh at West King Street.

Mr Adams said Castle Woods was designated as an Open Space Protection Area, covered by a Tree Preservation Order and officially recognised as key environmental feature of the town.

The management plan aims to create new footpaths through the woodland.

The northern part is also a noted local nature conservation site.

The group would seek funding from bodies such as the Forestry Commission, SNH, the MoD, National Lottery and Argyll and Bute Council; it will seek either to lease the land on a long-term basis or to buy it outright.

The management plan is being published in draft form in advance of an open community meeting to be held on Friday November 16 from 7 pm to 9 pm at Lomond School Sports Hall on Rhu Road Higher, immediately next to Castle Woods.

The meeting will mean local residents can have their say on the plan before it is finalised for presentation to Helensburgh Community Council and Argyll and Bute Council.

Flyers are being distributed throughout the local area.

Castle Woods, with Ardencaple Quadrant in the foreground.

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