Save Bennachie Newsletter No 1 - February 2016

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This is a very brief welcome note to all those who have already registered on the web site. We (the Core Team of Save Bennachie) are simply stunned by the response - the site only went live last week and the stats are amazing – hence this very short but hopefully informative note. sprang up out of almost nowhere following some conversations with the likes of the Oyne Community Association (OCA), an open Gathering in Chapel Hall on the 12 December 2015 and the Baillies of Bennachie! Since then our feet have hardly touched down - we have a constitution, all fully signed up and a mission statement.

Our strategy is to work with all parties associated with Bennachie and the Aberdeenshire area to influence as best we can any decisions with respect to the final routing of the new A96. We will NOT contest the need/stall the implementation but rather to work with all those parties.

The campaign is likely to last for over 2 years until the final recommendation and final route decision is made. There are possible influence points along the way - more of those next Newsletter - but critical to our success is that we will draw upon the wider membership to help with the campaign.

We may well need to raise funds - but that’s something for the future.

Who Are We? is an ever expanding (hopefully!) group of concerned individuals who are working to protect and defend Bennachie and its surrounding areas from any other route which could potentially impact on the Bennachie area.

Save Bennachie is a constituted group (see constitution). Our Core Team comprises,

  • Mark Worsley (Core Team Leader)
  • Bob Smith (Assistant Team Leader)
  • Lynda Bain (Secretary)
  • John Bain (Treasurer)
  • Jolyon Robinson
  • Margaret Garden
  • Sandra Lowson
  • Gary Whittington

We are all volunteers who love Bennachie… and as you can see there are only 8 of us.

Save Bennachie has been constituted to campaign for only one thing; preventing the A 96 from encroaching onto the Bennachie massive. Once that decision is made Save Bennachie will cease to exist.

Clearly the new A96 will have to go somewhere - it is going to happen.

What we do know is that the next stage of the detailed engineering of three possible routes will commence by the placement of an engineering contract for the Eastern Section, Aberdeen to Huntly, will be awarded in May/June 2016.

This engineering and subsequent consultation is planned for two years, with the final recommendation being made by Transport Scotland to the Government in 2018. Once that recommendation is made, it is extremely unlikely that changes would be made. So, we have a little over 2 years to engage with individuals, groups and organisations to gain support and demonstrate to Transport Scotland that siting a dual carriageway in the Bennachie area would be inappropriate. If we are to garner public opinion we must start now!

Both the Scottish Government and Council elections are rapidly coming over the horizon - we need to influence at every level of public body.

What Has Been Done So Far?

We have been working in alliance with the Bailies of Bennachie who have been extremely supportive, as well as representatives of the Oyne Community Association. It is clear from advice that linking like-minded groups together, gains much greater traction. Hence the creation of the Save Bennachie Alliance. We are keen for any reputable club or organization to join this Alliance - and we the Core Group will try and provide the glue and communications across the Alliance to provide the strongest representation of Public and Professional opinion - to the decision makers.

If you are interested in joining please use the Contact Us form on our web site.

Already Save Bennachie and Oyne Community Association have begun to meet with local Councillors and elected representatives. We believe this will be very important going forwards. In the immediate future our strategy is to work positively with both Transport Scotland and their engineering consultants.

We will be submitting supporting comments as part of the Aberdeenshire Council's consultation process to have Bennachie awarded Special Landscape Area status.

We have contacted the North East Scotland Biological Records Centre for details of the notable species of flora and fauna found on Bennachie. Please report sightings through their web site as the more data on the plants and wildlife in the Bennachie area, the stronger our case will be in recognising the importance of Bennachie's unique folklore, history and archaeology.

Whilst it is vital to work with local groups and organisations, from the outset we have always understood that Bennachie is Aberdeenshire's most unique and iconic landscape. Enjoying the peaceful wilderness, folklore and history of the Bennachie Massif has been a rite of passage for countless generations, be it by walking, cycling, riding. Bennachie holds a special place in people's hearts across Aberdeenshire, Scotland and worldwide, with something in the order of 130,000 visitors annually.

That's why we have created this web site, Facebook page and Twitter account. We need your help and support, whether you are in Aberdeenshire, Scotland or further afield, to help us convince the "powers that be" that Bennachie needs protecting.

This is not just for us - but for future generations - it’s iconic outline, it’s unique history, it’s Flora and Fauna – Bennachie needs YOU !

If you have not already done so please can you take a moment to "Follow Us" on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our e-mail newsletter.

For and on behalf of and the Save Bennachie Alliance.

Mark TC Worsley
Core Team Leader

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