SUP Newsletter – Spring 2011

Spring has sprung and here at SUP we’re relishing the better weather and its energising effect.

You’ll see below that we’ve been busy and have some great news regarding the Galloway and South Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere.  We’re keeping busy managing various projects, developing new ones and keeping abreast of matters that influence the economic and social fabric of southern Scotland.  To that end we have recently published work we commissioned regarding the community benefits being granted from wind farm developments, something we are drawn to time and again, see below for more information.

In this edition:

Upland Habitat and Black Grouse Restoration
Red Squirrels in South Scotland
Nith Estuary Nature Based Tourism
Farm Tourism
UNESCO Biosphere
Revitalising the Yarrow and Ettrick Valleys
Community Benefits from Wind Farms
Communities & Schools Carbon Reduction Officer
Destination Dumfries and Galloway
For Your Diary

SUP Annual General Meeting

You will be able to hear more of the above and our other work, and be able to share news, concerns and ideas at our Annual General Meeting which is to be held on 29th June beginning at 2pm at the Buccleuch Arms, Moffat.

The formal business will be followed by a tour of the excellent and highly motivating Moffat CAN project, to be conducted by our board member Chris Ballance, more information can be found at:

We look forward to seeing you there.

Project and Activity Reports

Upland Habitat and Black Grouse Restoration
The survey season is now drawing to a close and seems to be indicating increased leck numbers.  Our Black Grouse officer, Chris, has been up an about from 3am for some weeks now and, nce he’s caught up on some sleep, will be reporting in more detail in our next newsletter.

Red SquirrelRed Squirrels in South Scotland
Our red squirrel work continues apace with Karen (Galashiels) and Stephanie (Dalbeattie) busy trying to gather data on a recent upsurge in the presence of the squirrel pox virus that is carried by grey squirrels and is deadly to our indigenous ‘reds’.  They continue to coordinate the grey squirrel control and monitoring programmes and always want to hear if you are interested in helping this or if you have made a sighting of any squirrels.

More information at:

Nith Estuary Nature Based Tourism
The project is now concentrating on the development and delivery of the ’Wild Seasons’ project and the Wild Autumn events are taking shape.  We continue to develop the nature based tourism web-site for the wider region and hope to launch it in early Summer to coincide with the summer holiday season.

The nature guiding service now has 10 guides ‘signed up’ and raring to promote and interpret the region’s natural offer.  A leaflet is in the process of production and it is planned to launch it by the end of May.

Lastly, we are working alongside Caerlaverock Estates, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the development and promotion of additional routes between the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve and WWTs site.

Further information from Project Officer John Sellers on 01671 401003

Farm Tourism
SUP continues its work in assisting Scottish Natural Heritage to develop the potential of farm / agri tourism in southern Scotland.

Along with a host of organisations we received a presentation of the findings of the consultants looking at the potential of a major project, which was met with wide acclaim and interest.

We continue in our role on the Working Group that is overseeing the development of looks to become an exciting and major new initiative.

Our work alongside Dumfries and Galloway Council in the development of a D&G ‘cluster’ of farm businesses interested in working collaboratively to better develop and promote their individual businesses and to support new entrants continues and we’re planning another get together of the emerging group in early June.

Further information from Project Officer John Sellers on 01671 401003

UNESCO Biosphere
Two significant milestones have been passed on the journey towards achieving Biosphere Reserve status since the turn of the year.

Firstly, the very good news is that the nomination for Galloway and Southern Ayrshire to become a UNESCO Biosphere has now been submitted to UNESCO HQ in Paris.  The formal deadline is the end of August 2011 so we are well ahead of time.  UNESCO will take approximately 6 months from that date to assess our nomination and finalise a decision which we anticipate will be around March/April 2012; so, fingers and everything else well and truly crossed.

Secondly, on the 1st April 2011, under the £290,000 LEADER funded ‘Building Opportunity in the Biosphere’ project, two Biosphere Development Officers began work on helping people and communities on the ground start to build the Biosphere at the grass roots level.  We have been very fortunate to secure the services of Nic Coombey and Ed Forrest, both of whom come to the posts with long and successful track records in the area and here they give a brief account of their respective professional pasts.

Nic CoombeyNic Coombey
Nic has has been working with Solway Heritage for the last 14 years where he assisted in the development and implementation of many natural, buillt and cultural heritage projects.  Conservation, learning and participation have been part of past projects and Nic hopes that the new status Biosphere Reserve will provide opportunities to develop community projects which make good use of our local resources.

Nic can be contacted on: 07557 259681 /

Ed Forrest
Ed Forrest has just completed delivery of the £3.9million Sulwath Connections Landscape Partnership project in Dumfries and Galloway.  Sulwath involved working in partnership with communities, agencies and charitable bodies to implement and interpret a wide range of environmental and cultural heritage projects across the region benefiting wildlife, tourism and communities themselves.  Prior to moving to Dumfries and Galloway he spent fourteen years with the National Trust working in the Lake District where he was involved in developing and implementing a wide range of conservation, recreation and interpretation projects.  He is excited to be involved in developing a new approach to protected area management in SW Scotland and looks forward to getting things off the ground.

Ed can be contacted on: 077177 67936 /

This bottom up approach will continue to raise awareness and understanding of the Biosphere, develop networks of common interest and help communities and other stakeholders work out what being a Biosphere means in practical terms.

Over the next two years Ed and Nic will be working across the Biosphere contacting and working with as many groups and organisations as possible.  They would welcome contact from you about what your organisation, group or business does, what it hopes to do and what the Biosphere might mean for you.  At around 3000 square kilometres and with almost 100,000 people the Biosphere is a very large area to cover but they will be trying to contact you over the next couple of months.

A key task over the next couple of months will be to establish a number of Biosphere Thematic Groups. More information on these will follow and the exact ‘themes’ will be subject to discussion but so far the intention is to begin to establish groups based around the following:

  • Tourism, Food and Crafts
  • Community and Culture
  • Farming, Forestry and Land Based Business
  • Schools & Education
  • Environment and People
  • Research & Monitoring
  • Business and Renewable Energy

Ed and Nic will be trying to work up a timetable and agree dates for initial meetings for these groups over the next few weeks. If you have an interest, ideas or expertise in these areas and would be interested in participating please make yourself known them.

Having set up the Biosphere website ( ) last year to provide basic information about Biospheres, as a point of contact and to provide details of the nomination process, this now needs to earn it’s keep and become a real resource for networking across the Biosphere.  Now that the nomination has been submitted to UNESCO there will be more time to make regular updates and hopefully much more happening on the ground to report.  We want this to be a resource which develops as the Biosphere idea grows and develops. Your thoughts and news would be most welcome; please contact Liz Neill on 01292 673761 or e-mail

Revitalising the Yarrow and Ettrick Valleys
We have employed a part-time worker to identify and raise awareness of opportunities in the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys both now and in the future.

Julie Nock started with us on April 1st and is spending her time meeting the community and associated agencies to gather information on everything to do with the valleys, history, nature, infrastructure, business, etc.

In order to help the valleys communities to live and work sustainably she needs to find out what and who is available as a resource, so one of the first major tasks Julie would like to complete is a skills survey of every valley resident, she says “I am hoping to enlist the help of the church network to distribute a short questionnaire to every household as many people still have poor or no broadband coverage and therefore cannot be emailed”.

The answers will help Julie and her Steering Group to identify skills that can be utilised to develop tourism, create job opportunities, diversify existing business and encourage new start ups.  As a group they will also be looking at the problems faced by the valleys residents, such as affordable housing, a declining population, a lack of services, poor infrastructure, access to job opportunities, etc, with a view to alleviating some of these major issues.

Before taking up the valleys post Julie worked as a freelance marketing and project manager in a diverse range of small business.  Her working life has been spent in management and marketing and she has worked for various organisations on a long term basis including Radio Borders, The Southern Reporter, Ratner and Salisbury Groups.

The valleys post is part time so Julie will continue to work on other projects in the area including the ancient battlefield at Philiphaugh, Selkirk which she is currently developing into a tourist attraction.

Julie can be contacted at:

Estate Office

Tel: 01750 23760 /

Community Benefits from Wind Farms
Below is the press release recently sent to local press across southern Scotland, it should be self explanatory!

Blowing away?
The Southern Uplands Partnership has just released the results of a major study looking at the benefits of the wind farms that are cropping up across the Southern Scotland.  Obviously the energy generated by wind farms benefits everyone, but the report points out that these developments support very few (if any) local jobs and suggests that we are currently ‘selling’ our wind resource too cheaply.

The communities closest to any development are being offered “community benefit” funds by developers on a voluntary basis. The amount on offer varies between £1000 and £2500 for every Megawatt produced.  For many communities this is a considerable amount of money, but the report suggests that it is insignificant in comparison to the profits being made by the developers. It is interesting that future developments on land managed by Forestry Commission Scotland will give local communities £5000 per Megawatt, twice that being offered by most developers at present.

The report goes on to suggest that many communities need help to negotiate the best possible deal with developers.  It also suggests that the resulting funds need to be wisely used. This is a rare opportunity to create a lasting legacy for all those living and working in rural areas. However, resources are often used for short term investments in one or two projects with no clear view of the longer term. There is no guarantee that this funding will continue to be provided and the report suggests that there is a danger that the economy of the South of Scotland as a whole will fail to really benefit from the exploitation of one of its natural resources.

The report points out that communities would benefit much more if they were helped to take a financial stake in the wind farm. There are several examples of this working elsewhere in Scotland such as Gigha, Fintry and the Torrance scheme at Harthill. Such schemes are complex and need support but would offer a much more significant way of putting resources back into rural communities for the long term.

The report concludes that the South of Scotland is being asked to accept the impacts of wind farms for at least the next two decades. Whatever ones views on the pros and cons of wind farms, it is suggested that we should be seeking genuine and lasting benefits from these developments at a local level.

Click here to read the full report.


Other News and Information

Communities & Schools Carbon Reduction Officer

Communities & Schools Carbon Reduction Officer
Reference Number SBO1094
Council/Organisation Scottish Borders Council
Geographical Area Newtown St Boswells
Job Category Planning
Contract Type Temporary
Position Type Full Time
Job Summary

Salary:                        £25,594.84 – £29,253.04 per annum
Hours:                        35 hours per week
Location:                    Council Headquarters, Newtown St Boswells
Contract Duration:      Temporary until 30 June 2013
Interview date:            2 June 2011

You will be responsible for providing support and advice to schools, Parent Councils and local community organisations within the Scottish Borders to develop activity which will reduce carbon emissions from schools, homes and local businesses, and will work with local community interest groups to establish joint carbon reduction projects between schools and local organisations, with Parent Councils acting as a bridge between the two.

You will work with Eco-Schools committees, focussing on the Energy theme within the Eco-Schools programme, supporting ongoing work and facilitating joint working between Eco-committees and Parent Councils where required.

Informal enquiries may be made to Louise Cox, Environmental Strategy Co-ordinator,
Tel: 01835 825060 Ext 5498.

LEADERThe European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development

Destination Dumfries and Galloway

Surprise Yourself

Do you have a ‘Surprising’ idea for VisitScotland’s Dumfries & Galloway autumn/winter marketing campaign?

Does our region have surprising attractions, experiences or hidden gems that we must shout about?

What’s our strongest appeal for autumn and winter tourists?

Do we have ideal locations for autumn/winter?

And what about events?

We need your ideas and recommendations to give to VisitScotland during planning of Dumfries & Galloway’s autumn/winter Surprise Yourself! marketing campaign.

Your suggestions can be content ideas, which could be used in articles and features in direct mail, on the Surprise Yourself! website or in any of our seasonal marketing campaign materials.

Please complete the online form at:

Deadline for your ideas and comments is 20 May 2011



Stirling Management Centre, 2nd June, 2011

An EU funded meeting to inform and update stakeholders and other interested organisations on the progress of the FCS energy forestry trials and the context within which they are being undertaken.

For more details visit:

Future Food Event

The Royal Society of Edinburgh – Professor Tom Devine – Free Public Talk


Tel: 0131 240 2780 or Email:

Dumfries and Galloway Public Talk Programme - Spring 2011

For tickets and further information contact the RSE Events Department Email: For tickets and further information contact the RSE Events Department Email: or register online at

St Brides Centre – aware of the past, rooted in the present, two eyes future fixed’.

‘Nestled in the heart of the Douglas Valley, St. Bride’s is the perfect venue for almost anything you can think of. We offer a variety of spaces and facilities for community groups, private functions, small businesses, corporate events and even the occasional wedding. Whatever your need, St. Bride’s will rise to the occasion, offering a high quality service and, most importantly, the warmest of welcomes!

We consider ourselves fairly unique. St. Bride’s isn’t your average community facility. It’s owned and managed by Douglas St. Bride’s Community Group, a hardy band of eager volunteers who steward the place on behalf of the local community.’

St Brides Community Group have come on a long journey and they would like to share their story with you.  Come along and learn how they made a success of their local community hall, developed a successful community Bio Mass project and how they have battled against the odds to raise the funding required to take St Brides to the next level!


If you have an interest in developing your local community hall or if you are interested in developing a community bio mass project like the one they have at St Brides join us on:

Wednesday 29th June 2011

7pm – refreshments will be served from 6.30pm

Moffat House Hotel

Please register your interest in attending this event with Nicola Hill, Rural D&G LEADER on 01387 850228 or

SRPBA Rural Enterprise Demonstration Day
2 June 2011
The Lodge, Carfraemill, Lauder

SRPBA Rural Enterprise Demonstration Day

Farms and Estates as Holiday Escapes

If you are looking to diversify your rural business, have you considered the opportunities that small scale tourism might provide?

Does your farm or estate lend itself to tourism, and can you provide a warm welcome? The SRPBA Rural Enterprise Small Scale On Farm Tourism demonstration day is your opportunity to learn more about the possibilities that exist.

In the morning session we will discuss the range of opportunities that may be available to you including self catering holiday cottages, farmhouse B&B, holiday lets, wigwam cabins, glamping, camping and caravan pitches. Representatives of the day’s sponsors, Smiths Gore, will provide you with an insight into the planning issues along with an idea on how to access funding. Scottish Borders Council’s Economic Development Section will provide information on how the market for tourist accommodation is progressing and explore opportunities that the many local events may offer.

You will then hear from a number of farmers and land managers who have already diversified into this area and can provide a realistic view of what is involved in providing a tourist experience. Lucy Tile, Farm Stay UK will give delegates the benefit of her experiences running Bairnkine holiday cottages and the Caravan Club site which accommodates 5 touring caravans at any one time. Charles Gulland of Wigwam Holidays will outline the journey from starting a site to delivering a profitable tourist experience, including details of the costs involved.

Finally, we will hear from John Henderson of Chesters Estate near Ancrum who will provide details of the luxury holiday escapes they offer and the hurdles they overcame to turn their project from idea to reality, as well as an insight into the other attractions that Chesters can offer.

There will be a short Question and Answer session at the end of each presentation which will allow delegates time to question individual speakers, as well as a panel Q&A session just before lunch which will include all of the morning’s speakers.

After lunch delegates will visit Carfraemill Caravan Site. Networking opportunities are available throughout the day and information on a wide range of relevant subjects will be available.

With a significant rise in the people taking staycations in the UK, this Demonstration Day is aimed at raising awareness of the prospects of small scale tourism as a business opportunity.

The event is free, and lunch and refreshments will be provided at The Lodge, Carfraemill. Exhibition stand space is available, with discounts for SRPBA members.

Details from or tel: 0131 653 5400.

Click here to download the programme and booking form.

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