SUP Newsletter June 2017

The SUP AGM event takes place in the Yarrow Feus Hall on 28th June 2017. This year we are reviving the practice of inviting speakers to the event, and we have an excellent panel lined up.

Professor Wayne Powell is CEO of SRUC and is currently seeking views on what the priorities should be for Scotland’s Rural College. Prof Powell was previously Chief Science Officer at CGIAR Consortium, an international partnership organisation which focuses on agricultural research for development in areas such as cereals, agroforestry, livestock and climate change. Before that he spent six years as the Director of the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University.

Jim Shanks is an innovative Borders farmer.  Jim manages the family business with his wife Kerry. Over 10 years they have expanded the dairy herd and started making cheese. In 2009 Jim undertook a Nuffield scholarship looking at “Energy in Agriculture”. He has since built a 200 kW AD unit that powers a state-of-the-art, 1500 square meter glasshouse in which he grows tomatoes.

Fergus Tickell is an experienced forester and renewable energy advisor. Fergus is the biomass and community renewables manager at Sgurr Energy and has been involved in both the forestry and renewables sectors for over 20 years. He has a particular interest in the sustainable use of wood from local forests as fuel and the integration of renewables projects with more traditional land uses.

Prof Sarah Skerratt is Director of Rural Policy at SRUC but currently on partial secondment to Audit Scotland, to “rural-proof” their audit work, input to auditing outcomes plus constitutional reform issues e.g. Brexit, Scotland’s new financial powers, and potential Indyref2.

The free event will take place at the Yarrow Feus Hall near the Gordon Arms from 2pm on 28th June and if you would like to attend, you will need to reserve a seat.  Please email to make a booking.  We look forward to seeing you there.


SUP has been encouraging debate on National Parks in South Scotland for some years.  In the meantime, we have helped establish the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere.  There are now groups developing National Park Plans in both the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway. There is a newly constituted group established in D&G to lobby for a Park see  SUP’s report into the potential benefits of such a designation has also been published (see Galloway National Park.pdf)


The project is now almost at the point where it will be putting construction work out to tender. £1.9M has been allocated to the project by the Scottish Government via Community Broadband Scotland.  It has not been a simple development process.  The rules keep changing, the private sector keeps amending its plans and communities have opted in and out, but the project steering group has persevered and it looks like something will now be built.  It wont be quite as fast and broad as we would have liked, but it will still be quite an achievement. More news next time.


Big news for the Biosphere is that SUP is a lead partner in a three year EU project called SHAPE (Sustainable Heritage Areas Promoting Ecotourism) that will focus on mapping and developing natural and cultural tourism opportunities across the Biosphere.  The start up meeting was hosted by SUP / Biosphere in Dumfries where partners from Finland, Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Canada and Scotland came together to start the process of sharing ideas and learning that will be used to engage with tourism businesses across our respective areas.  Through the project we are able to employ our Biosphere Businesses Development Officer, Marie McNulty, for an extra two days/week, bringing her up to full time for the next three years.  As the project progresses there will be opportunities for businesses within the focus area to meet other partners from across the project area to share experiences and learn from each other.


And finally Wild Film Festival Scotland – Did you go…?  Wasn’t it a fantastic weekend of films, talks and discussions?  Covering everything from David Balharry and his very pragmatic and balanced portrayal of why we should be looking at rewilding in Scotland, to John Wallace and his Same Hillside installation where art, science and the environment were brought together for a lecture and discussion with Professor Pete Smith who was Skyped into the lecture from Italy.

And go on, be honest, after listening to Simon King on Saturday evening were you tempted to go and lie on your back in an area of unimproved grassland and squeak like a vole to see if you could tempt a hunting barn owl to come and investigate you?  Did it work?

And on top of all that, a fantastic array of films from both professional and aspiring film makers which all helped make the weekend a tremendous success.

We’re currently completing our evaluation of the weekend and looking at opportunities for funding to see if we can repeat it again, if not next year then perhaps bi-annually in the future.  If you did make it, then thank you so much for supporting us, if you couldn’t make it then keep an eye out and we’ll see if we can do it again!


APARE, the French organisation with whom we have been working for a number of years, is running a series of voluntary summer work camps for young people.  The intercultural camps allow people to learn new rural skills and contribute to local conservation projects.  They take place in Provence in July and August.  If you know of anyone who might be interested, you might want to point them at the website


James Hogg

James Hogg 
(The Ettrick Shepherd)


Opening Times for 2017

From the 4th June until the end of September
Wednesday, Friday & Sunday afternoons Between 2 & 5p.m.

 the former Ettrick  School

For more information or bookings outwith these times Call  01750-62259.


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