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By Hugh Boag
A new bid is being made to create a timber slipway on the west coast of Arran – a year after planners rejected a similar proposal.
A private forestry firm is looking at sites to transport timber from the island by sea, with a site at Imachar the preferred location.
Stirling-based RDS Forestry Ltd has already had talks with council officials, as well as forestry and community groups, and are currently undertaking a marine assessment of the site.
Owner Robin Dixon said: ‘RDS Forestry have been looking to find a solution to sustainable timber harvesting and haulage from properties on the west side of Arran. The aim is to reduce the pressure on the local public road network by limiting timber lorry movements, and believe that an alternative pier site would bring long term benefits.
‘We were very disappointed that, after around four years of meetings, surveys, negotiations and more meetings, the Forestry Commission proposed slipway at Machrie was refused planning permission by North Ayrshire Council in November 2017.
‘Our proposal for a slipway at Imachar has been discussed with North Ayrshire Council, Ayrshire Timber Transport Group, which includes Arran in its catchment area, and a group from the Arran Community Council. We hope to provide more detailed plans and drawings shortly,’ he added.
It is believed the shore at Imachar has been chosen as a new road could be extended along the shore from the existing main road and there are natural inlets to store the wood for shipment. The new slipway would be used to ship timber felled in the west of the island by the Forestry Commission, from Dougarie Estate and the RDS own section of forest at Wee Machrie.
The proposal for the £300,000 slipway at Machrie was thrown out by planning officials last November.
Forest Enterprise Scotland wanted to create a timber stacking yard and slipway on a site to the north of Dunedin at Machrie. The plan was to use the slipway to ship 3,000 tonnes of trees a month to the mainland, which are to be felled on the west side of the island, to avoid the need to transfer all of the wood over the String Road to Brodick.
However the proposal met stiff opposition from residents and businesses in the area claiming the semi-industrial development would spoil the tranquility of the area and harm the environment and tourism. There was also concern that dozens of timber lorries would have to cross the main road to get from the stacking yard to the slipway when the barges were being loaded.
Planning permission is expected to be sought from North Ayrshire Council for the Imachar site in the new year.
The natural inlets on the shore at Imachar where a timber slipway could be built. 01_B47imachar01