Public support for plan to protect woodland

Campaigners say there was an enthusiastic response from local people to their plan to protect Castle Woods Helensburgh,

A public meeting held at Lomond School Sports Hall earlier this month heard about Helensburgh Community Woodland Group’s (HCWG)proposals.

The plan was introduced to the 50 or so people present (who included local councillors and residents from across Helensburgh) by David Robertson, a qualified forester.

He stressed the environmental importance of local woodlands and explained how the draft management plan would enable local people to be in involved in protecting Castle Woods.

Aspects of the draft plan that were particularly well received included:

  • Retention of Castle Woods as a natural woodland linking the built-up area of West Helensburgh to the countryside beyond
  • Better quality footpaths and boardwalks
  • Improved access and signage
  • Preventing flooding on to neighbouring land
  • Encouraging suitable wildlife habitats
  • Planting new native trees.

Important concerns were raised during the meeting over the continued ownership of Castle Woods by a firm of local developers (Osborne Interiors) and the neglect it had suffered for many years.

David Adams, HCWG convenor, said that now Osbornes has placed Castle Woods on the market, HCWG has written twice to the company seeking to negotiate a purchase price. No response had yet been received.

Improvements recommended by member of the public to the plan included:

  • Avoiding ‘over-management’ of the woods and keeping them as natural as possible
  • Ensuring different users – walkers, cyclists, horse-riders and disabled buggies – can all make use of Castle Woods, while reconciling potential conflicts between them
  • Enhancing wildlife habitats, especially to protect movement of species from the open countryside
  • Encouraging better use of the woods as an educational resource, especially in conjunction with local schools
  • Possibly introducing some form of adventure type play area
  • Seeing how Castle Woods could provide as an important natural link between the seafront, Duchess Woods and the countryside beyond, so helping to create an attractive circular tourist walk around Helensburgh

HCWG will now analyse and reflect on the feedback before finalising the document for submission to Helensburgh Community Council and Argyll and Bute Council.