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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 16th February 2002
Issue No 270

A 10 Year Plan for Ben Nevis is Launched

A new 10 year plan providing an environmental and visitor management strategy for Ben Nevis and its surrounding area was launched recently in the Highlands.

However, the plan was branded as "draconian", by local protesters, who said it was a pre-emptive move towards a single Highland national park, and that control of the area could soon be in the hands of unelected bureaucrats. The Nevis strategy was devised jointly by Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and Lochaber Enterprise, along with financial backing from the European Regional Development Fund. The vision was developed by the Nevis Working Party, following a number of consultations in 1999 with the local community, land managers and wider interest groups. The result is a framework action plan which aims to safeguard and manage the local environment and maximise the number of visitors to the area. The detailed strategy covers a large number of issues, from car parking to reviewing planning policy. Rhona Brankin, Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development, who launched the Nevis Strategy in Fort William said it was significant that both local and national organisations have come together to develop a plan which is vital for the future of the area. She said: "Denying local stakeholders access to the management of their own areas is tantamount to ignoring the valuable expertise that these groups have to offer. "The level of understanding that local people have of local concerns and issues needs to be tapped into if areas such as Nevis are to grow and prosper in a sustainable way. "The Nevis area, like so many parts of Scotland, is both unique and significant to our natural heritage and it is of vital importance that a plan is put in place that safeguards the environment of the area for future generations, not just our own. "The Nevis Strategy will go a long way towards achieving this and I wholeheartedly welcome its publication and look forward to witnessing the improvements to the area that its implementation will bring about." Fort William councillor Neil Clark, chairman of the Nevis Working Party, said he was looking forward with confidence to the benefits that partnership working will bring over the next 10 years. He said: "A total of 13 different organisations and agencies are members of the Working Party, which was formed two years ago. "Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis are cherished by the people of Lochaber and all who visit us. "The conservation and environmental management of the Nevis area is essential to safeguard the area for the future." He also stressed that a sustainable balance was needed between the area's outstanding natural heritage and landscape qualities on one hand, and tourism and recreation activities and pressures on the other. Representatives from Highland of Scotland Tourist Board and the John Muir Trust also attended the meeting to welcome the strategy. However, local author and naturalist Niall McKillop rejected the plan, suggesting it was a pre-emptive move towards a national park which would eventually cover the whole Highland Region. He said: "There is no need whatsoever to 'manage' this area of the Highlands. "The plan is in danger of being taken over by un-elected bureaucrats, for example the conservation groups involved with it. "They have a larger agenda than simply the conservation of Ben Nevis, and ultimately are looking for more power and control."

Spy Camera for Wildlife

Big Brother contestant Elizabeth Woodcock switched on the latest fly on the wall technology - a camera focused on a wildlife colony. The spy camera on the Isle of May, of the coast of North Berwick, will enable wildlife lovers to follow the activities of birds and seals from the mainland. The technology is identical to that used in the reality TV Channel 4 show and Miss Woodcock did not think the comparisons ended there. After turning on the camera at the Scottish Seabird Centre, she joked: "You can see a baby seal being pecked by a seabird - it's a bit like being inside the Big Brother house really. "But it's not invasive - you can see the wildlife without disturbing it." The 27 year old from Edinburgh, who is a "keen environmentalist", said the puffins were her favourite creatures on the island and added: "This is an important educational resource for kids. They can see the whole cycle of life here, from birth to death, it's fascinating." The camera is solar powered, waterproof and capable of rotating nearly 360 degrees, with images beamed by microwave technology across the 12 miles separating the island from the shore.

Just the Biscuit

A pair of Highland siblings recently launched an innovative holiday business in Inverness, thanks to a biscuit company. Walkers Shortbread Ltd donated 1,000 to the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust to help Neil and Rona Birnie set up Wilderness Scotland Ltd. The business specialises in Providing guided walking holidays and tailor made packages in the most remote and unspoiled corners of the Highlands. And the young entrepreneurs hope that their unique outdoor activity holidays will attract visitors from all over the world to the Highlands. Mr and Miss Birnie have researched locations in remote areas of the Highlands, and specialist walk leaders with expertise in botany, cultural history and glaciology will lead the trips. The majority of itineraries will be based around traditional Highland lodges, but they offer combined sailing and walking trips around the west coast and islands. Commenting on the venture, Miss Birnie said: "Neil and I have travelled all over the world from Iceland to Tanzania, working in the travel industry and taking past in expeditions. "We want to show visitors that Scotland is one of the best destinations in the world." Mr Birnie added: "Our aim is not only to explore Scotland's spectacular landscapes, but also to ensure that people experience the country's rich culture, abundant wildlife and unique heritage."

Mark of Good Breeding

Pet pooch, Benji, has a real identity crisis. Neither a labrador nor a poodle, the young pup is believed to be one of only three labradoodles in the North. Following his arrival at the home of Westhill couple Russell and Christa Millar, Benji's owners want to help raise awareness of the breed. Coincidentally, the other two dogs live in the Westhill area. Mr and Mrs Millar contacted a local paper after reading an article about Sunny the labradoodle from Fife. The Millars asked for help to raise awareness of the pedigree. Mrs Millar said the breed was in its fifth generation in Britain and was now recognised by the European Kennel Club as a breed. However, she said many people still considered the dogs to be cross breeds despite the fact they can cost between 250 and 450. Following the death of their 16 year old dog, Mrs Millar contacted a breeder in Somerset who had a puppy available but also entered their names on a database for people waiting for labradoodle puppies. However, they were contacted by another breeder in Cumbria who also had a puppy available. "This breeder had a litter of nine puppies of which only Benji was available - they are normally taken up a litter in advance." said Mrs Millar. The breed was started in Australia in 1980. Labradoodles were initially trained as guide dogs for the blind and hearing dogs for the deaf. The official founder of the breed, Wally Cochran, was in search of an intelligent and d friendly dog which did not cast its coat, making them ideal for people with allergies or asthma. As they have inherited the best traits of both breeds, labradoodles are also trainable, placid and eager to please. British breeders intend to set up a labradoodle association in the UK. For further information on the breed log on to the website at:
Labradoodle Website

New Link Road Name

A call has been made to name the southern distributor road in Inverness after Augsburg, the city twinned with the Highland Capital. The move follows the opening of a new ring road in the German city recently, which has been officially called Inverness Avenue. The honour had been planned for some time but the Augsburg authorities were waiting for a major route to open. Inverness Avenue is a dual carriageway ring road built to ease traffic congestion. It passes close to the Holy Spirit Church which is also twinned with St Michael and All Angels Scottish Episcopal Church in Inverness. Father Niki Schonherr of the Holy Spirit said: "The name Inverness Avenue is, of course, because our city has been twinned with the Highland Capital since 1956. The government waited so long to take Inverness as a street name because it should be an important road in the city centre and not the name of a small street in a suburb outside." "Probably Inverness has had an Augsburg Avenue or Place for many years." Len Black, Rector of St Michael and All Angels, called for the courtesy to be reciprocated in Inverness. "I think it would be a nice touch if we named the southern distributor road in honour of our twin city," he stated. "Augsburg Avenue has a nice ring to it." Inverness Provost Bill Smith said: "We have been twinned with Augsburg for a long time and perhaps it is time to consider naming a road after our German counterpart." Work on the southern distributor road, which begins at Inshes roundabout is due to be completed this year, linking the A9 to Essich and Holm junction. Further plans to take the road over the River Ness to join up with the A82 Inverness-Fort William road have still to be determined.

Search for Baton Carrier

Highland heroes are needed to carry the baton for Her Majesty the Queen's Golden Jubilee this summer. The announcement was made recently by Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, that Inverness is to be included on the route for the Commonwealth Baton which will be taking a 5000 mile journey through the British Isles before its arrival at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester on 25th July. Now the search is on for a local hero to carry the baton when it passes through Inverness on Sunday 9th June. Local sports clubs will be asked to put forward names for potential baton carriers as well as contributing to a fun day of music and sport at the Bught to mark the baton's arrival in Inverness. To be eligible for selection as a runner, the nominee must have made a special contribution to their community, helped improve the life of others or achieved a personal goal against the odds. "It's a major achievement for us to get the baton and gives us an opportunity to showcase the most northerly city in Britain," Highland Council events officer Gerry Reynolds declared. Carrying the Commonwealth Baton is not the only way which Inverness is planning to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

Jacobite Past Revealed

A major collection of 19th and 20th century Jacobite material has been donated to the National Trust for Scotland at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre by Charles Bagnall of Wellington New Zealand. The collection comprises magazine and papers of various Jacobite societies and it is important evidence of support for the Jacobite cause of the time, both in Britain and abroad. The papers were collected and published in New Zealand by Mr Bagnall's grandfather, linking the Old and New Worlds in cherishing our common Scottish Heritage. Ross Mackenzie, visitor centre manager at Culloden, said he was very grateful to Mr Bagnall for his generous donation and described the collection as "of national importance". "It is extremely rare material which will attract scholars and researchers to study it here in the Highlands and it demonstrates that Jacobitism did not die out entirely after 1745," he said. With Mr Bagnall's permission, to maximise public access to these documents, the collection has been deposited on loan to the Highland Council Archive, in the expert care of Robert Steward, Highland Council's chief archivist, who will ensure they are properly preserved. "I am delighted to have such significant material entrusted to our care," Mr steward stated. "It is fitting and proper that the collection should be held in the Highlands where the Jacobite cause attracted most support."

Charity Event

The audience was rooted to the spot when hair raising creations appeared at a special fund raising fashion show organised by hair salon Head Gardener. The event was such a success that it will be staged again. Director of the two Head Gardener salons Alison Habberley organised the event in the Royal Highland Hotel which raised 1341 for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Political Roundup

Lack of Scots Presence around the World

A north SNP-MP was jeered in the Commons recently after denouncing the lack of formal Scottish representation in Europe and the world. Labour MPs howled down Moray MP Angus Robertson as he complained that Scotland's sole "embassy" abroad is in Brussels and denounced UK embassies for largely ignoring St Andrews day as an opportunity to boost Scotland's image and attract investment.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
N to NW cloudy with drizzle increasing. S to SE dry with sunny periods. Winds strong SW'ly. Temperature 8c to 10c.
Saturday Night
Cloudy, rain spreading E later. Showery in the W. Winds strong SW'ly becoming NW'ly. Temperature 3c to 7c.
Overcast with rain in W am, bright spells later. E seeing a mix of sunny spells and showers.
Strong NW'ly winds bringing rain to most parts, turning wintry later.

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Glenmoriston Arms Hotel

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This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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