Community Council News Release 11 August 2023
Tiny Scots Community Fights Back
A small village community in rural Perthshire has today asked a campaigning pressure group to "step back and leave it alone", claiming the group is undemocratic, misinformed and completely unrepresentative of the wishes of local folk.
The 200 strong tiny communities of Kenmore and neighbouring Acharn border a major development of the Taymouth Castle Estate on banks of the river Tay. American investors have plans to renovate the failing castle - acclaimed as one of the finest examples of a baronial castle in Scotland - restore the dilapidated golf course, and build 145 exclusive houses in a very prestigious project. Local people are largely in favour of the development which they see as improving the fabric of the area and recreating a vibrant social community, turning holiday let cottages into permanent homes for families who will come to work on the estate. The development is estimated to bring at least 200 jobs into the area and support just as many third party jobs.
But both the developers, Discovery Land Company (DLC), and local people have come under attack by a pressure group called Protect Loch Tay which has set itself against the development claiming that it will ruin the area. The group claims to have many thousands of supporters from around the world but when local people voice their support on Facebook for the project or highlight the benefits it will bring to the local area, their voices are censored.
"Its great that people are showing an interest in our area but unfortunately many of their concerns are based on misinformation, scaremongering and in some cases what seems like malicious conjecture." said Colin Morton of the Kenmore and District Community Council."We have been patient with this group but that patience is now running out. Many of the facts have been ignored. The castle, golf course and grounds, wonderful national as well as local assets, were in dire disrepair and in danger of being lost forever. That trend has now been reversed by the very significant investment being made.
"The development project has started to bring new people into the community, put more kids into the schools and create a new vibrancy in the area. Kenmore village was largely all holiday lets but now we have real residents again, people who will work here and use the bars and restaurants and shops when all the holidaymakers have gone home. The future looks much brighter and more sustainable than before."
The Community Council points out that many positives have resulted from a constructive and collaborative relationship with the estate developers, including improvements to the beach area, sponsorship of the Christmas festivities and Highland Games, and improvements to the general look and upkeep of the buildings and the village square.
Chair of the Community Council, Peter Ely, said: "We have had a very positive working relationship with the developers who have listened to our concerns and wishes. As a result we already have significant improvements to our loch side and our village. The developers are saving our village shop from closure, created new community facilities, and are working with our Community Council to develop more plans for the revitalisation of the area."
"We really don't need anonymous people from all round the world telling us how to manage our wee community. We have a wide range of experience on the Council and through local volunteers, and are perfectly capable of deciding what is best for our area in a democratic, open and inclusive way. All the Community Councils in the wider area are also very supportive, and so is Perth and Kinross Council, and that says a lot."
However, people claim the members-only pressure group's social media is far from open and democratic: "Whenever anyone steps up to defend the development or the Community Council they either get abuse or are booted out the group. I was expelled just for saying that I thought the Community Council had done a great job.” said local resident Joanne Howie. "I know of many others who have had a similar experience. You have to wonder what their motivation is."
Local hospitality businesses are also suffering as media attention has holidaymakers nervous about coming to the area: "We know that businesses have customers trying to cancel bookings because they have been told by this group that we have big problems here. Nothing could be further from the truth" said local business owner Shirley Shearer. "Kenmore is even more beautiful than before and a fun and lively place to visit."
Colin Morton proposed alternative ways for folk to support the Kenmore community: "There will be negatives and positives to come for us and we are largely very optimistic but we need to be left alone to manage this ourselves. If people really want to help our community then come along to clean up the loch side of litter, or volunteer to help at our Christmas festivities, or at our Highland Games. That would be very welcome."
1. Details of the Community Council's meetings with DLC, the Council's position on the the castle development, and their response to the questions put to them by the local community, are available on the Kenmore and District Community Council website: www.kenmore-and-district-cc.org.uk
2. Kenmore & District Community Council is working with: Perth and Kinross Council; Aberfeldy CC; Dull and Weem CC; Glen Lyon and Loch Tay CC; Killin CC; Mid Atholl CC; Loch Tay Association; the Crannog Centre; Kenmore Sports Association; the Upper Tay Paths Group; Taymouth Marina and other local businesses to help steer the investment and ensure that the wider community gains maximum benefit for its people.
3. Protect Loch Tay admitted in their closed Facebook page on Thursday 10 August that they remove members whose comments contradict the “aims and intentions" of the group. New members must pass a vetting process.
Kenmore and District Community Council