Assynt Foundation

Home of Glencanisp Lodge


Welcome to the Glencanisp and Assynt Foundation blog. Here you can read what we have been up to at the Lodge and what we have planned for the future. The minutes of the board meetings are also available to read. If you would like any that are not here please contact us and we can email them out to you.

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Posted on 20 March, 2019 at 5:50


It’s been a busy few months for the Foundation since our last update in December, both in the office and out on the ground. Here is a brief summary of our activities and outputs.


Work has continued right through the winter,a new deer fence has been erected around the area to be planted. Also ongoing is the mechanised ground preparation operation, using 3 tracked excavators, specially adapted for working on the hill. This work will be completed in a couple of weeks and then the tree planting operation itself will commence – approximately xxxx native species will be planted between March and June, creating 160 hectares of new native woodland habitat.


Work has been continuing in the garden at a more steady pace during the winter months, however things are now picking up speed again. The Climate Change Challenge Fund has assisted in the purchase of a wide range of items which will facilitate the growing of fruit and vegetables within the walled garden at Glencanisp Lodge. The large new polytunnel is to be erected within the next few weeks, as will new storage facilities and the completion of the other infrastructure preparation works. Repairs and improvements to the existing wall are to be implemented once the threat of frost has passed, and there will be new bespoke gates erected to maintain the garden secure. In addition a wide range of new tools and equipment have been purchased to further aid the process. The new orchard, to be located outside, but immediately adjacent to the walled garden, is to be planted towards the end of March, weather dependent.

Children from the Lochinver Wildlife Watch visited Glencansip on Friday 15th March to learn about the orchard and to assist marking out where the 45 new fruit trees will be located. Each child now has their own fruit tree spot and hopefully they will be able to help with the planting and future establishment of their trees.


The Foundation was delighted to play its part in the recent Hill to Grill event, led by CALLP and supported by its members. This is the second year that S2 pupils from Ullapool High School have undertaken a 5 day programme designed to show where Wild Venison comes from. This covers an introduction into upland management of deer and their habitats, stalking with cameras, an examination of culled deer and other locally produced food, to the production, packaging and marketing of their own home made venison burgers. Due to the success of the programme, CALL and its partners are considering whether a similar event for adults might be a worthwhile project.


The Foundation, along with all the members of the West Sutherland Deer Management Group, have successfully carried out their agreed deer cull for the 2018/19 season. Targets are set within the Group at the beginning of each season and are based on recent helicopter counts of the overall deer population, and the habitats they live within.

Supervised by our deer management team, a combined total of 61 stags and 58 hinds have been shot/culled


The Lodge reopened for business last weekend, with the annual Gaelic Weekend.25 students,4 tutors (including our own James Graham) plus partners from all over Scotland all enjoyed a great weekend of Gaelic language,music and Assynt hospitality.

The Lodge is already well booked for the season and so we are looking forward to another very busy summer,as the NC500 continues to bring increasing numbers.We are very sorry to be losing Sam and Rachael Hawkins,who are leaving us at the end of April – a huge thank you from all at the Foundation to them both for their efforts and unfailing enthusiasm over the past two years ,and we wish them all the very best in their future ventures.


Some of you may have seen the recent press article relating to this development –while the Foundation have developed a detailed Business Growth Plan , and are currently applying for a working capital loan in order to support it, day to day cashflow has been a continuing struggle. Following discussion with Wildland Limited, they offered the Foundation a temporary loan in order to allow us to continue to operate until we receive working capital. This has been a lifeline for the Foundation and this clear demonstration of support and faith in what we are trying to achieve has been much appreciated by the Board and staff.


Our next AGM will be on March 28th at 6pm in the Hall Community Room; we would like to welcome all Foundation Members to the meeting, when we will be presenting a detailed update on the above activities and more. We look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible!


Assynt Foundation Meeting Minutes December

Posted on 21 January, 2019 at 5:45

Assynt Foundation

Minutes of a meeting of the Board of Directors on 11th December 2018 at The Office, Glencanisp, Lochinver.

Present :- Claire Belshaw, Nigel Goldie, Simon Jeffreys (by Skype audio) & Lewis MacAskill.

In Attendance:- Jane Tulloch, Gordon Robertson (Executive Officer).

Business of the Meeting

1. Mr MacAskill took the Chair and noted that 4 directors were present in person or by electronic means and the meeting was quorate at 6pm.

2. Minutes of the previous meeting and matters arising

These were approved

3. Assynt. Biz

All present had been at the immediately preceding Assynt.Biz meeting and so were aware of its current position. The Board agreed that it was essential for the whole organisation that the Lodge B & B operated profitably so as to make a large net contribution to the Foundation. Professional Hospitality advice had been identified and all welcomed the new budgetry, operational and accounting disciplines that were to be introduced. 

3. Johnston Carmichael

It was noted that the extra information and corrections highlighted by the Board of AB had been relayed back to Johnston and Carmichael.

The latest version had been provided to RBS our bankers as part of our discussions with them noted below.

4. Annual Accounts for FY ended 31 March 2018

Mackenzie Kerr’s audited accounts for FY ended 31 March 2018 were considered by the Board and approved, subject to some very minor corrections to the directors report, and any director was authorised to sign them on behalf of the Board to enable them to be filed at Companies House by the deadline of 31 December.

The Board did consider that discussions for fresh funding would bear fruit and enable AF to have a viable future. The notes sent by Mackenzie Kerr with the accounts were carefully noted.

5. Monthly Management Accounts

These had been circulated previously and were considered by the Board.

6. Banking - RBS

GR reported that RBS had promised an answer on the request for an overdraft extension within 24 hours. This facility will enable AF to implement the Lodge upgrades and Gardener’s Cottage repairs whilst the Working Capital Loan was being finalised. All this work would lead to increased income generation. A sum would also be allocated for repairs to the access road.

Discussions were getting underway with their Social Enterprise arm for a loan.

7. Fishing

SJ would prepare proposals for the better management of the AF Fishings leading to a greater financial return but continued Community access. This would be presented at the AGM.

8. Stalking Lease

It was noted that a Moorland Management for Deer Plan for both estates could yield a grant of c £20,000 pa and this would be discussed next week at a meeting with SNH. It was agreed this should be dealt with before going ahead with the deer stalking lease tender, as the lease would need alteration to dovetail with the habitat management & monitoring requirements.

9. Funding

It was noted as mentioned above that RBS Social Enterprise arm were now involved. Regular updates linked to Johnston Carmichael’s 5 year forward planning Projections will be provided to the Board.

10 AOB

# Training – The Office Administrative Assistant is signed up for a business apprenticeship course via UHI. It was agreed this was a good development for her and us.

# AGM - It was agreed we should aim for a date in March, before the start of the tourist season but long enough away for us to prepare and warm members up to seek new Trustees etc.

#PR - Assynt News It was agreed we must do a piece for the next issue and GR would prepare the first draft for the Board to review.

# Facebook - It was noted that the AF Facebook page had been dormant for some time. SJ agreed to work with Office staff to bring it back into use as it was important for communicating with members, associates and potential donors for fundraising efforts.

There being no other business, the Chair then closed the meeting.

Signed ……………………..

Date ……………………….


Assynt Foundation Meeting Minutes November

Posted on 21 January, 2019 at 5:40

Minutes of a meeting of the Board of Directors of Assynt Foundation on 12th November 2018 at the Arts Studio, Glencanisp

Present: Claire Belshaw, Nigel Goldie, Simon Jeffreys, Lewis MacAskill (Chair).

In Attendance: Gordon Robertson (Executive Officer); Elaine MacAskill (Woodland Adviser) part only.

Apologies: Alex Murray, Jane Tulloch.

Opening the Chair opened the meeting at 3pm, noting the meeting was quorate. It was agreed the Chair could take items outside the order of the Agenda circulated by GR. SJ would be taking the Minute.

1. Declarations of Interest - SJ declared an interest as a member of Assynt Angling Club.

2. Ledbeg Woodland Project.

EM made a verbal report on progress. She reported that the planting plan (shown to the Board) had been agreed with the Woodland Trust and lodged, with the emergency agreement of the Chair in order to remain on schedule. She explained that AF might have got a higher grant if lodging had been delayed for a month or two, but this would have delayed the project and prejudiced the income flow to AF. However, she now expected that income to AF in 2019 would be £80,000 next summer (with £20,000 held back for maintenance in the first year) and between £200-250,000 later in that summer when planting is complete and the Forest Carbon Sale was completed with the help of the Woodland Trust who have considerable experience in this field. In the following 5 years, there would be income of £20,000 a year from the Forestry Commission for maintenance.

The Board unanimously agreed that the Chair had been right to authorise submission, rather than wait.

EM produced a formal agreement between Woodland Trust and AF, which had already been signed on behalf of the Woodland Trust, for the Project, which also gave WT the option to buy the resulting timber, which option was essential to enable VAT recovery for the project. This was approved by the Board and CB was authorised to sign on AF’s behalf, which she did, and the signature was witnessed by SJ.

The Board expressed its thanks to EM for seeing the project through in such a professional and thorough manner.

EM then left the meeting.

3. Whole estate Valuation

GR reported that Galbraiths had promised this by the end of the week. GR did not now expect the value to be around £6/7 million, and more like c£2.7/3 million, given valuation constraints. The Valuation would be based on the RICS Red Book Valuations which would not include the income from the Native Woodland Plantings, Hutting Income or any projects not already in place.

4. Glencanisp B & B

The Chair reported that the value of owning the Hilux vehicle would be evaluated. This vehicle has previously been used by the Keeper. It is important to ensure the economic implications and these will be assessed on how much business use is needed for such a vehicle. It is currently used to take the bins down to the end of the access track and for occasional deliveries and collections.

It was agreed that ABiz needed to be carefully prepared for the planned review meeting with Sam & Rachael.

The Board noted the terms of the 12th March 2018 engagement letter we sent to them for this season. Further Hospitality advice will be sought.

It was also agreed that we would need to take a view on how we wanted to operate the B & B next season, as the current model needed refining. A Biz Board will be actively looking in to the detail.

Action – ABiz board/GR

5. Stalking Lease

GR reported that he would know by close of tomorrow what our deer cull requirements would be as part of our deer management obligations under the DMG. This would enable us to lay down our requirements for a contractor.

The Board agreed that we would want to lease out the stalking/deer management for a fixed fee, with the contractor providing everything required viz Argos/ponies and having freedom to sell the stalking days to individual hunters, under his supervision. This year’s contractor had offered an indicative fee to us a year for a 5-year agreement with annual review. This compared with our previous arrangements where we had made no profit at all on deer stalking when everything was considered, like wages and cost of equipment provision. The Board also agreed that we would only want a single contractor for the entire Glencanisp and Drumrunie estates, given our lack of management resource.

It was agreed that between them GR and SJ would produce a tender specification which would be sent to current interested parties and advertised on the AF website and Assynt News, with a 2-week deadline for responses and that AF would not be bound to accept the highest offer but would be free to accept what the Board considered best met its objectives. There are also opportunities to extend the current Moorland Deer Management Agreement with SNH which fits in well with improving the habitats, encouraging natural generation and opening the way for educational wildlife tours.

6. Fishing

SJ was instructed to submit to the Board for approval a schedule of rates for daily, weekly and season permits for trout fishing on the waters we owned and for daily permits for salmon fishing on the burn and lochs in that system, bearing in mind they were Class 3 on ScotGov’s conservation scale and therefore catch and release only. It was noted we had 3 boats currently we could put out for let, and that any fishing on Loch Druim Suardalain would be subject to other water sports usage.

AF staff will liaise closely with Assynt Angling to ensure that any future changes involved the Community and enabled continued involvement of local participants.

It was agreed that if SJ was satisfied that Ibookfishing would be a satisfactory web-based system for selling permits, we would go ahead with that as the platform for selling permits, to save management time and make permits available 24/7/365.

It was also agreed that SJ would be authorised to act as Chief Fishery Ranger on a voluntary, part-time basis for 2019.

7. Johnston Carmichael

The Board considered the latest version of the JV projections for AF and AB which had been received on 9th November.

Regarding JC’s notes: -

Hydro schemes

GR stated 2 schemes were under consideration. The enablement grant was not repayable if we decided not to go ahead.

Working Capital

The Board noted that JC were putting forward a figure of £350,000 now, as a loan. This was based on the positive plans for the Native Woodland Expansion over the coming years, and the increased turnover of Glencanisp Lodge. Furthermore, the potential for further income from Shepherds Huts and the proposed establishment of a Hutting Community offered the Foundation a sustainable future, for the first time. The substantial increase in the Capital Value of the Foundation’s assets also gave reassurances to any Working Capital Business lenders.

It was also noted that HIE had hinted it might still be willing to fund the conversion of the 3 extra letting rooms for the B & b and that RBS might be willing to increase the overdraft limit to an extent that would enable this to be done as an alternative. Either way, the Board considered that taking this development in time for next season would be a good idea if money was available.

Actions: -

1 GR to follow up with JC to update detailed matters.

2 Whole Board to digest the figures and get comfortable with them ASAP.

3 GR to ensure that JC aware of comments made by HIE and to incorporate agreed changes.

4 Current drafts to be shared with HIE and our bankers to keep them informed.

5 When reports are finalised, they will be shared with HIE, OSCR, our bankers RBS, and BOS and other potential funders.

6. AOB

1 Management Accounts for [month]

These as circulated by Rebecca yesterday with her covering email were carefully considered by the Board. The extra stalking income was noted as a welcome bonus.


The requirement for this was noted and that the FY year accounts were progressing and that the accounts needed to be filed at Companies House by 31st December.


The Chair reported that CALL had yet to circulate the outcome from the all parties meeting recently and that this could be important for the future funding of AF. There was the prospect of funding for croft development and/or a land manager post. There was also the possibility of a venison project at CALL level.

4 Governance

SJ reported that he would finalise drafts for a Code for Directors, a Conflict of Interest Policy and new Articles of Association for ABiz, which HIE had indicated were needed by AF, and circulate them to Board members with cc to HIE with a view to adoption soon.

There being no other business the Chair declared the meeting closed at 5pm.


Signed …………………………………….

Dated ……………………………………


[Draft by S. Jeffreys 13 Nov. 18, 2018]


Assynt Foundation Meeting Minutes- May

Posted on 21 January, 2019 at 5:40

Minute of meeting of directors of Assynt Foundation held in the Art Studio on Monday 14th May 2018 at 4.30pm

This meeting was not open to the public

Present: Lewis Macaskill (Chair), Mandy Haggith, Claire Belshaw, Nigel Goldie,

In attendance: Gordon Robertson (CEO)  

Apologies: Alex Murray

Declarations of interest None

Minute of meeting held on 30th April 2018 approved by all

Matters arising

All matters arising had been dealt with or would come up later in the Agenda. Regular liaison with HIE was being maintained

The Native Woodland Woodland Planting proposals were progressing well and an updated Financial Projection was expected as soon as further site analysis had been completed.

Board members had received the Scott Moncrieff (SM) report commissioned by HIE on 1 May.

Meeting with Johnston Carmichael, Accountants, Inverness

LM, MH and NG had met with JC in Inverness on 10 May. This was a useful opportunity to explore the way forward following the departure of Adam Pellant who had previously undertaken day book-keeping matters.

The Board, in accepting that the assets of the Foundation have nearly doubled in value since acquisition in 2005, are focused on the primary objective of achieving regular annual income in order to achieve long-term sustainability. The Board has a clear vision to develop existing businesses, create efficiencies within the management structure, and to take forward plans for new enterprises that will be income generating. When successful, this will then lead to job creation, greater diversity and sound stewardship.

The Board have identified the need to secure working capital. To achieve this objective, the Foundation needs to present its financial case in a professional manner, backed by clear accounts that demonstrate our current status, the Foundation’s capital worth, and the levels of new income that are expected from future enterprises that will include Native Woodlands, Hydro Development and Tourism.

JC will look closely at the Foundation and its trading arm Assynt Biz to ensure all aspects of the business are compliant. JC will focus on

1. Improving the methods of financial control of the Foundation’s limited and seasonal income and expenditure.

2. Insuring AF fulfils its obligations as a Limited Company with charitable status.

3. Presenting the financial case that will demonstrate that AF can service the proposed working capital loan which will eventually lead to sustainability.

4. Work with existing Estate Office and Lodge staff to streamline procedures, create efficiencies and a new format for providing reports to the AF Board and members.

Meeting with HIE 21 May 2018

LM reported that he had been in regular contact with HIE regarding the Johnston Carmichael review and that HIE were fully supportive.

At the forthcoming monthly meeting, the Board representatives and staff will continue their discussions on where the two organisations can work together to develop the business. The restoration of the vacant Gardener’s Cottage is seen as a priority, as this will enable two rooms in the Lodge, currently being occupied by seasonal staff, to be turned into letting units.

The Board agreed that an updated Whole Estate Valuation should be undertaken. It is hoped that HIE will be able to assist, as this information will assist in security the working capital loan.

General CEO Report

It was reported that the Glencanisp Lodge B&B was effectively full to October. It was confirmed that seasonal staff did pay for their board and lodgings. The Diners were being very well received by visitors and locals and will be promoted further using the website and that of the Northcoast 500.

Walled Garden Restoration Manager. (Funded by the Climate Challenge Fund) Applications close tomorrow and there is a short list of 4 good candidates. The Project is focussed on the production of locally grown food and educating the wider population on the value of an ethical and healthy means of growing food. There will be a close involvement with the Primary School.

Adam Pellant. AP was leaving the AF to take up a part time post as a Development Officer for the Assynt Development Trust. His long and valuable association with AF will be marked at the AGM later in the year.

Data protection – The Company Secretary has given the office a proforma.

West Sutherland Deer Management Group South Sub Group Management Plan – Victor Clements has produced a first draft which is available for viewing on the Group’s website. GR will circulate copies to the Board.

AF Fishing – Permits will be sold at the Estate Office and through the Glencanisp Lodge B&B. Future arrangements which will lead to an increase in revenue to AF will be developed.

The meeting closed at 6 pm.

Dates for future open meetings will be displayed on the website and circulated to members.

Minutes of 12 February 2018

Posted on 6 March, 2018 at 11:20

Minute of meeting of board of Assynt Foundation held on Monday 12th February 2018 at 10.00am in the Art Studio

Present:  Claire Belshaw (VC) Mandy Haggith (VC) Lewis Macaskill, Nigel Goldie, Brendan O' Hanrahan (Chair) arrived about 10.20

In attendance: Gordon Robertson

Claire chaired the meeting until Brendan's arrival.

Apologies: Adam Pellant

Declarations of interest: none

Chairperson role - There was some discussion around the role of chairperson.

Hydro - Gordon reported he would have an update on the revised tenders for the Hydro feasibility studies by the end of this week.

Gordon then left the meeting and there followed a board-only section.

Chairperson role - Brendan agreed to step back from being the Chair. It was hoped that he would agree to remain on the board.  Brendan left at 11.20.

Mandy proposed Lewis to be the new Chair, with the support of Claire and Nigel.  Lewis agreed.

Lodge - Sam and Rachael will be back on 24th Feb and Lewis will meet with them.

HIE - Lewis will speak with Roy Kirk and arrange a meeting with the board.

Meeting closed.

Minutes of December 2017

Posted on 28 February, 2018 at 8:15

Minutes of Assynt Foundation Board Meeting, 20th December 2017

Meeting began 4.30pm.

Present: Brendan O’Hanrahan (by skype), Nigel Goldie, Claire Belshaw (co-chaired, as present in person), Lewis MacAskill.

Attending: Gordon Robertson, Adam Pellant.

1. Apologies: Mandy Haggith.

2. Declarations of interest: none.

3. Minutes of 29th November meeting: not approved at this meeting as only very recently circulated.

4. Finances: 

HIE will meet in mid-January to decide on third year of Exec Officer grant. They may keep the same grant rate as in year 2, which would be better than budgeted.

5. Lodge: GR updated on lease plans.  

6. Glebe: Snow had prevented previous meeting with Liz Howard of HIE and Ronnie MacRae of HSCHT. BOH has contacted Ronnie to reschedule this. SLF Development Grant is expected to be available through Liz.

7. Hutting: GR reported – he has discussed issues with Bernard Planterose. Sewage may be a hurdle. SEPA objections/requirements re sewage could kill a proposal. Power supply, if needed, would also be an issue.

8. Woods: BOH updated – he has sent maps etc to Andrew Campbell of WTS, and will discuss various issues with him tomorrow, including viability of carbon trading income.

9. Hydro: GR reported - We expect to get an initial report on Drumrunie scheme by mid January.

10. AOB:

AGM: Agreed not to send notice out this side of new year.

Accounts: The accounts to the 31st March 2017 were approved by the board.

Meeting closed.

Minutes of November 2017

Posted on 28 February, 2018 at 8:05

Minutes of Assynt Foundation Board Meeting, 29th November 2017

Present: Brendan O’Hanrahan, Nigel Goldie, Claire Belshaw. (Unable to contact Mandy by skype.)

Attending: Gordon Robertson, John Venters, Adam Pellant (from mid- item 4 onwards).

1. Apologies: Lewis MacAskill.

2. Declarations of interest: none.

3. Minutes of 25th October meeting: approved.

4. Matters Arising:

Artist in Residence CALLP Project – Creative Scotland Application was submitted by Nigel on behalf of AF, for £16k towards the project’s costs. An updated Equal Opportunities Policy will be considered in due course.

Glebe – Nigel noted that Assynt Community Association / Development Company has an interest in what happens with the Glebe. (AP arrived.) Agreed to keep them in the loop.

Meeting with HIE and HSCHT representatives set for 7th December.

Noted that any General Meeting to put updated Glebe plans to the members and the wider community would need to happen soon (mid/late January?) if at the same General Meeting which will be required to gain members’ resolution for taking on additional loan.

Drumrunie housing plot - Action: BOH to report back in January.

Person of Significant Control matter – SJ reported that the matter of HIE being formally stated as a ‘person of significant control’ due to their authority required for AF expenditure items above 1k had been raised with HIE, whose lawyers argued that HIE are a kind of body excluded from needing to be mentioned, even if they have significant control. So matter resolved and HIE de-listed in that regard.

Grazing lease – The disappointment of the Ledbeg grazing tenants was noted, following the board’s decision not to grant them a ten year lease for the time being, in place of the current annual 50 week leases.

6. EO Report:

Lodge update – xmas dinner bookings looking good with some B&B bookings as well.  

Woodland creation – Elaine thinks applications for two woodland schemes could be submitted in 2018.

Hutting – ongoing investigation, with good signs of ability to generate substantial annual income from site leasing.

CCF – walled garden development application was submitted.

CALLP wildlife viewing hide – agreed not to progress this project.

7. Governance:

New Directors – Yet to meet up with one possible AB director. Possible other directors yet to progress.

Rotation of directors – BOH and NG need to retire by rotation and cannot be re-elected at next AGM. BOH stated his willingness to be co-opted onto the board after the AGM and to continue as chair if the board wish.

M&As – SJ advised that we don’t need to ask OSCR before changing M&As so long as the Objects of AF aren’t being changed. Action: SJ to give specific recommendations for any M&A changes.

8. AOCB: None.

Date of next meeting: Wednesday 20th December.

Meeting closed.

Minutes of October 2017

Posted on 28 February, 2018 at 8:00

Minutes of Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 4.00pm Wednesday 25th October 2017

1. Present: Brendan O’Hanrahan, Lewis MacAskill, Claire Belshaw, – Quorate.

In attendance: Gordon Robertson, John Venters.

Apologies: Nigel Goldie, Mandy Haggith, Alex Murray, Mandy Haggith.

2. Declarations of Interest


3. Minutes of the meeting held on 20th September 2017

The Minutes of the meeting held on the 20th September were not available or approved at the meeting but were subsequently approved by those attending (via e-mail).

4. Actions and Matters Arising.

The Action Points and Matters Arising were carried over, and are noted at the end of these Minutes.

5. Financial Report.

The circulated reports were noted. 

GR reported on the recent meeting with HIE who continue to support AF as it seeks to develop businesses that will lead to full sustainability without the need for grant aid. GR is working with Elaine MacAskill (CALLP/Woodland Trust) to ‘fast track’ the most deliverable parts of the whole scheme in order to demonstrate expected levels of capital.

6. Glencanisp Lodge Update.

The management of the Lodge continues to receive plaudits and the opportunities for guests and local residents to have dinner at the Lodge has been well received. There have already been 70 bookings for pre- Christmas meals.

The issue of opening the Lodge during the first quarter of 2018 has still not been resolved, but will be based on financial viability.

7. Executive Officer’s Monthly Report

• Hydro Schemes

A written update had been circulated. The current proposals will be considered in greater detail at the forthcoming Land Use Sub Committee meeting. It was noted that the Drumrunie proposal had received approval from Local Energy Scotland for Green Highland Renewables to carry out the Feasibility Study.

• Native Woodland

Elaine MacAskill would shortly be circulating her initial thoughts on the first potential site for planning on the Foundation’s land. This will include draft budgets and be available for the Land Use Sub Committee’s meeting in November.

• Glebe Purchase of Land from COS

Still awaiting a date from HIE and the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust. Their representatives (Liz Howard (HIE) and Ronnie MacRae (HSCHT) are striving to arrange a combined visit.

• Hutting

This proposal appears to have a good prospect of financial backing from Funders, and has the potential to generate a regular annual income for the foundation. Potential siting and scale will be discussed in detail at the Land Use Sub Committee Meeting.

• Stalking Report

JV confirmed that it is proposed to shoot 60 stags next year over Glencanisp and Drumrunie whilst still leaving a few carcasses out on the hill for nature conservation reasons.

BOH and GR had attended Community Land Scotland’s meeting in Ullapool to consider and discuss a wider approach to Deer Management on Community Land. Minutes will be circulated on receipt. CB stressed the importance for AF to have a clear vision with regard to our deer management for the long term future. AF should take the lead and set out a policy demonstrating where AF wants to see the deer population in 100 years’ time, linking this species with the environment, stalking, venison and public interest. All present supported this aim and this will be incorporated into the Deer Management Plan required by SNH

• Sporting Rates

GR confirmed that he had been in contact with the Assessor’s Office and that 100% Mandatory Charitable Relief is expected to be received by AF

• Climate Challenge Fund Application for Walled Garden Restoration

AP had put in a considerable amount of work for this extensive application. The deadline for the submission will be met.


Discussions continue with CALLP staff to assist with and benefit from their established programme. This includes path improvement, training courses, venison marketing potential, appointment of Crofting Officer and more.

• Long Leases 

10 year lease, commencing in November 2017, on track for the Drumrunie grazing tenancy. Details of the land area for the Ledbeg tenancy are to be agreed by the Land Use Sub Committee.

8. Potential House Site. Drumrunie

GR will speak to the Planning Officer and SNH regarding this proposal, before discussions are more publicly launched.

9. Future Event Opportunities at Glencanisp

• North Lights Easter Challenge runing event

All on track. Organisers liaising with Sam and Rachael and will be linking with community members to develop the programme. A suggested programme will be received shortly and circulated for Board approval.

• Classic Car Rally

Sam and Rachael in discussions with the organisers of a Charity Car Rally, commencing and finishing in Dornoch next May during a single day. The aim is for the 60 participants to meet and have lunch in the Pole Barn next May with catering provided by S&R. Opportunities to promote the Lodge, Artists Studio, Kiln and more to high net worth participants.

• Festivals/Music Events

All agreed that AF should aim to develop a future ‘Programme of Events’ throughout the year. To be discussed and actioned at the next AF Board meeting.

• Edie

The Film is being acclaimed as it ‘does the rounds’ of the Film Festivals. It has been to Edinburgh, but will be shown in Berlin, Inverness and Aberdeen within the next month. It is still planned to be launched in the Spring of 2018 and the Producer, Mark Stothert, of Infinity Productions will liaise closely with AF when the Screen Machine comes to Lochinver in order to gain maximum PR and Community benefit.

10. Governance

Simon Jeffreys (Company Secretary) will write to HIE confirming the details of the perceived need for HIE to be the PSC (Person Exercising Significant Control). This relates to the Annual Confirmation Statement that SJ is undertaking of behalf of AF and this matter had been included in previous returns by the past Company Secretary (MacLeod and MacCallum). This is a procedural matter, and GR will contact HIE beforehand to advise them that SJ will be in touch.

11. AOCB

BOH attended the new Land Commissioners ‘Meet and Greet’

Request for details on historic deer numbers and cull records.

12. The date of the next meeting was agreed as Thursday 23rd November 2017

Minutes of September 2017 Meeting

Posted on 14 December, 2017 at 11:10

Minutes of Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, Thursday  20th September 2017

1. Present: Brendan O’Hanrahan, Nigel Goldie (from mid- item 2.1), Claire Belshaw,– Quorate.

In attendance: Simon Jeffreys (Company Secretary), Gordon Robertson, John Venters, Adam Pellant, Boyd Alexander (until item 3), Alex Dickson (from item 2.3 onwards).

Apologies: Alex Murray, Lewis MacAskill, Mandy Haggith.

2.0 CALLP update

Boyd Alexander, CALLP staff, gave an update on CALLP landscape partnership projects. AF projects are Druim Suardalain woodland creation (managed by Woodland Trust Scotland), Glencanisp Nature Trail, the Suilven path (managed by John Muir Trust), and also on the list, an AF-led project proposed to create a wildlife viewing hide overlooking Loch Druim Suardalain, to be discussed.

2.1 Wildlife Hide project – Budget is around 30k, of which 60% would come from HLF. The other 40% match funding would need to be found by AF. [NG arrived. Quorate meeting from then on.] Noted that no direct income could be made from the hide except from donations, given state aid / HLF grant rules. Boyd said that a different project could possibly replace it if it had comparable outcomes (such as increased visitor numbers, educational benefits, ecotourism benefits). Agreed to postpone the Wildlife Hide project for the time being, and to discuss it as an agenda item at the next land use subgroup meeting.

2.2 Nature Trail Gates – BOH raised issue of gates where woodland exclosure fence crosses the Nature Trail, asking Boyd about possibility of improving them as not very walker-friendly/inviting. Noted that WTS may need consulting as part of the woodland creation project. [Alex Dickson arrived.]

2.3 Other woodland potential – There are problems with the proposed woodland creation on Eisg Brachaidh due to existing grazing agreement on the area, which may prevent the project going ahead. As such there may be potential for other woodland creation elsewhere to be added to the package of HLF CALLP projects.

2.4 Community Benefit – BOH asked about general community outcomes, given the shrinking of CALL outwith the CALLP landscape partnership programme from loss of CALL staff post. Boyd mentioned a public meeting in Achiltibuie on 22 November where communication plan would be discussed and feedback would be sought on future vision etc.

2.5 Artist in Residence project – NG reported. We could provide studio day use free of charge for artists in residence, and provide project management time (which NG offered to provide on AF’s behalf), as in-kind contributions to the project. Creative Scotland application is to be made by NG on behalf of AF.  AOC (archaeology organisation) might contribute to project costs for artistic interpretation of the Broch project. Action: Nigel to apply to Creative Scotland.

3. Declarations of Interest: None. (But interest declared later by BOH for item 8.)

4. Minutes of 18th August 2017: proposed CB, seconded BOH; approved.

5. Actions & Matters Arising –

Business Plan Review – GR suggested some particular areas should be focused on as part of the update. Action: GR to produce report concentrating on these areas in due course.

Hydro – Ongoing. Action: GR to send report prior to first subgroup meeting (meeting date TBC).

Arts Bothy – NG had heard back from Bothy Project representative. They have resubmitted or are about to resubmit planning application for arts bothy at Glencanisp. Some talk of possibly changing location. NG will keep us informed.

Glebe – Liz Howard of Scottish Land Fund, and Ronnie MacRae of Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust are to meet soon regarding potential housing development on Glebe. Agreed AF keep in touch with Assynt Community Association about Glebe proposals. (NG reported that ACA are in process of changing their constitution in order to formally become a community development trust.) Agreed to arrange a public meeting, hopefully in early November, regarding the Glebe purchase and plans for it. Action: GR/AP to organise, advertise and produce info on initial proposals.

Walled Garden CCF application – final deadline is late October.


7. Lodge Update – GR reported.

8. Grazing Leases – (BOH declared an interest about the Ledbeg grazing lease as a close friend of the current tenants.) GR made recommendations.

BOH asked that consideration at Ledbeg be given to possible conflict with crofts/woods creation, and suggested input from MH be obtained before a decision on that area.

Agreed to 10 year lease of the ~13 ha currently being leased at Tileathdoire. Action: GR contact the tenants and organise. Agreed to have further discussion about Ledbeg leasing at next board meeting, aiming to reach a decision at that meeting.

9. Land Use Subgroup – Report from subgroup’s last meeting had been circulated by GR. Discussion of group’s terms of reference, given that all AF business is land related in some way. We hope for wood creation report/maps from Elaine relatively soon. She is back in Assynt next week. 

10. EO Report

GR and BOH attended HSCHT meeting.

Hutting – Bernard Planterose is to visit to discuss hut creation.

GR is to meet JMT’s new chief executive officer. GR has met with Robin Vestey who is very supportive.

11. Governance – AB directors reported that AB governance is now in a relatively sound position, with addition of Lewis MacAskill bringing much additional business experience and professionalism. Noted that extra AB directors will be good to have, and that having a different chair from AF soon is very important.

Simon reported that he had filed AF’s annual return stating HIE as being a ‘person with significant control’, as had been stated the previous year through our previous company secretary (on the basis of AF requiring HIE’s permission for any capital spend over 1k). Simon will also register this separately with Companies House, as is required.

Simon also suggested that some changes could be proposed to AF’s and AB’s M&As in future. In AF’s case his suggestions would be to tidy up the technical issue of the space for one ‘appointed director’ on top of the 12 spaces for elected/co-opted director, and possibly to make changes to give more focus to our objectives; in AB’s case he suggests they could be made more specific to AB’s role as a subsidiary company with a single owner. Any changes to AF’s M&As would be by members at an AGM, but changes to AB’s M&As could be made by AF directors, on behalf of AF as sole owner/shareholder of AB.

12. AGM – Agreed to aim for last week of November. Action: AP check with KH and auditor regarding getting annual accounts completed and audited in time for AGM.

13. AOB

Bequests – AD raised issue of bequests. Agreed it was worth putting something on website welcoming bequests alongside general donations. Action: SJ to write some text for this with legally suitable wording. There was also some discussion of gift aid, for which we are not currently registered.

Edie – Screen Machine will be showing Edie in Lochinver. AD will advise AF as soon as he has confirmation.

Meeting closed.


Minutes of August 2017 Meeting

Posted on 21 September, 2017 at 5:15

Minutes of Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 2pm Thursday 18th August 2017

1. Present: Brendan O’Hanrahan, Nigel Goldie, Claire Belshaw, Lewis MacAskill, Mandy Haggith – Quorate.

In attendance: Gordon Robertson, Adam Pellant.

Apologies: Alex Murray, Ken Hamilton.

2. Declarations of Interest: None.

3. Minutes of 20th July 2017: proposed MH seconded LM; approved.

4. Actions & Matters Arising –

4.1 Business Plan

GR will produce a Business Plan review report soon, prior to Business Plan updating process. Action GR.

HIE have requested a 3 year cashflow as an update to the end of the Business Plan period. Action AP/GR.

CALLP etc – Boyd will be invited to September meeting. Action GR.

4.2 Woodland Creation & Land Use Subgroup – GR gave verbal update. A subgroup meeting was held at which Elaine gave info. The CEO of WTS, Becky Speight, has also visited the site with members of the SWT and CALLP teams. They were all enthusiastic about the Foundation's plans for further native woodland planting under the higher-rate grant scheme and may be willing to fund future schemes up front to remove need for loan funding. The Foundation/AB would receive all profits on receipt of grant payments.

We hope for an interim report from Elaine for the next subgroup meeting at 4pm on 25th August.

4.3 Hydro – GR updated. 3 companies looking at Feith an Leothaid scheme. The extra time that these firms have taken for initial appraisals is because of the need for more detailed discussions on grid options. The standard method of paying SSE to upgrade the existing wires would require a payment in excess of £6 million. The aim of all three companies is to try and use the electricity locally through a micro-grid and to utilise government incentives for community benefit. This would dramatically reduce costs and produce a viable scheme. As soon as figures are to hand they will be circulated.

Agreed to ask LES for a timescale for choice and appointment of contractor for producing Feasibility Study exploring smaller grid connected hydro scheme/s. Action GR.

Agreed to establish Hydro subgroup, to contain MH, CB, BOH, LM, and GR & AP as staff.

4.4 Arts Bothy – NG/others to report to board.

5. AOB

5.1 Glebe – GR updated. Still a hold-up with HIE who, as our account manager, need to approve our access to the funds for preparing our Business case for acquisition. Action: GR to stress the need for a response.

5.2 Walled Garden – CCF Development Grant application submitted. Action: GR/AP to complete Expression of Interest for main CCF grant. MH offered to help.

5.3 Gardener’s Cottage – Action: GR to ascertain costs for a full survey with recommendations and costings for remedial work. GR to seek approval from HIE for funding to commission survey work.

5.4 New AB directors – Agreed that new AB directors be sought.

5.5 Meetings – Agreed to continue with monthly meetings for the time being, and to meet on 3rd Wednesday of every month from September onwards.

6. Next Meeting: Wednesday 20th September.