While it has nothing to do with the resumption of quarrying the willingness of Bidwells to actively involve the community in talks over the level of tree thinning needed in certain areas, concern over mountain biking accidents and threats to wildlife.
Some cynics worry that this may all be just empty talk, a smokescreen to divert attention away from the determination of the Drygrange Estate and Patersons to blast further into the rock on the hill.
The Community Council has accepted the inevitable that the “Dark Wids”, which is a commercial plantation and virtually devoid of any other wildlife, can be felled. However, much progress has been made in recent meetings, with Bidwells seemingly prepared to give ground to the community council's viewpoint on a whole host of issues, mostly thanks to the remarkable knowledge of best woodland practice gleaned through hours of study by Marion McAllister.
In fact, concern that the tree-felling would threaten bat and red squirrel habitats has resulted in a promise that a representative of Cambusbarron Community Council, probably Marion, will accompany the "Harvesting Supervisor" when he is selecting which trees will be chopped down. Bidwells has also agreed to protect registered significant trees, the historic curling ponds and walled garden as well as core paths. And they accept the CC view that followed the residents' survey that a strip of land 10 to 15 metres wide be cleared at the back of the properties adjoining the woods.
In addition because of a detailed survey carried out by the Community Council, of the type of tree species found in the wood and their concentration, which showed that there were a lot fewer trees that he thought, the landowner has dropped a plan to thin the main area of the woodland.
What is potentially the most exciting development, however, is the willingness expressed by Bidwells for the community to become involved in replanting areas of the woods and possibly leasing or purchasing areas of Gillies Hill, although not the areas currently earmarked for quarrying. The CC is hoping that the Cambusbarron Community Development Trust will become involved in talks in this regard with Bidwells and the quarry owners. Such moves could be a significant milestone in the campaign to preserve the hill from further destruction.
With gas and electricity costs soaring, community ownership of parts of the woodland could provide opportunities for the development of the introduction of wood burning stoves into homes in the area with fuel from fallen trees becoming available as a community enterprise. A local organisation called Wood For All is currently helping communities take the initiative in managing their local woodland by making introductions to public and private sector owners, preparing maps and reports, and getting professional advice where appropriate.
They've started developments in Brig o' Turk and Bridge of Allan, and have commenced woodfuel production in partnership with Fintry Development Trust.
This is an exciting opportunity that will be fully explored by your CC, and hopefully the CCDT, over the winter months.