Friday, 25 September 2009

AGM and Weardale Meeting

The meetings in Weardale went off very well on 23 Sep 09 and I am very grateful to Mr Michael Stone for allowing us the use of his wonderful Picture Gallery at Weardale Lodge to hold our meetings. Lycetts Insurance Brokers and Smiths Gore generously supported the events and allowed us to maintain the high standards of Heather Trust hospitality. Thanks are also due to the Weardale headkeeper, Nick Walmsley, and his team for the support they provided during the day.

The Board met the night before and the meeting degenerated into a dinner for which we were joined by some guests and this allowed discussion to continue well into the night. The following morning, the AGM was swiftly completed and our numbers were then boosted to 29 for the Weardale Meeting. Sebastian Green, the Weardale Estate Manager, gave examples of the economics of an upland estate, and Lindsay Waddell, the Chairman of the National Gamekeepers Organisation, gave an insight into the role of the modern upland gamekeeper. A feature of the day was the quality of the discussion; this was enhanced by the relatively small group, but I believe that the value of the day is directly related to quality of the discussion. The Weardale meeting was a good one.

Having held the AGM in Morayshire, the Peak District and Co Durham in the last three years, I am open to suggestions or offers for 2010!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Scottish Consultation - Electronic ID

The implementation options in Scotland for EID of sheep and individual recording of sheep and goats arising from EU Regulations that will come into force on 01 January 2010 are open for consultation. See the Consultation document.

The consultation period closes on 02 November 2009.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Heather Trust Meeting with Natural England

The Chairman, Ian Condliffe, Marion Thomson and I met with Martyn Howat (Director Uplands), Mick Rebane, Jon Barrett and Chris Reid from Natural England in their Newcastle office. the aim of the meeting from our point of view was to explaore ways that the Trust might be able to help Natural England achieve its objectives.

Natural England used the opportunity to update us on the progress of the development of their Vision for Uplands in 2060 and to invite our support. We will be pleased to do this and will attend the launch of this vision that is planned for November.

We proposed several areas where we thought we would be able to assist NE using our unique position in the market and our ability to engage with all sides of the various debates. It was a useful discussion and while we were not expecting to come away with any promises, I hope that Natural England will consider our offers to work in partnership with them in key areas. I would like to think that we can help them gain the support of those who actually manage the uplands.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Carbon Conference

Marion Thomson and I had a meeting yesterday with the Southern Upland Partnership (where I am a Director) and the Carbon Crichton Centre to discuss the possibility of holding a conference early next year to discuss carbon issues that affect upland management.

There is a lot of talk about carbon but one of the aims of the conference would be to de-mystify the science and explain to landowners, occupiers and managers what they need to know about carbon management and how thay can take advantage of the opportunities that carbon management is introducing.

The title proposed for the conference is: Carbon in the Uplands: Opportunities and Threats and it is likely to take place at the end of March or in early April; New Lanark is being considered as the venue. The format is likely to include a 1/2 day site visit, followed by a dinner and then a full day's conference the following day.

I will circulate more details as they become available.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


The production of charcoal may come back into fashion under a 21st century of name of Biochar. There are suggestions that biochar, which is produced by pyrolysis (a process of controlled burning in a low-oxygen atmosphere) can be used to enhance soils and also lock up carbon.

See the article published in The Economist for more information.

This may not have a direct application for the uplands but it supports the view that increased carbon storage in peat is a possibility and it might also provide a boost for the carbon trading concept.