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FUKS • FORUM FÜR UMWELT, KULTUR UND SOZIALES E. V.
Ergänzende Beiträge
 
AGENDA 21 IN ARGYLL AND BUTE
PROGRESS REPORT: MARCH 2001

Lolita van der Merwe
Community Planning Manager

 

 

For further information contact: Adrian Shaw, Chief Executive's Unit,
Argyll and Bute Council, Kilmory, Lochgilphead, Argyll, PA31 8RT
Tel: 01546 604454; email: adrian.shaw@argyll-bute.gov.uk

 


INTRODUCTION
Sustainable development is of fundamental importance to Argyll and Bute.
The economy of the area, the health and well being of its people, communities and the quality of the natural environment are closely related. Argyll and Bute Council through its own strategies and in partnership with others is committed to promoting sustainable development. This report describes what sustainable development means for us and describes the initiatives that we are taking to promote sustainable development across the area. Collectively this work represents our commitment to Local Agenda 21.
What does sustainable development mean in Argyll and Bute?
Argyll and Bute is an area of exceptional environmental importance - we have a combination of outstanding landscapes and the richest biodiversity in Britain. It is also an area of sparse human habitation and significant social and economic challenges. Many communities, particularly remote communities are excluded from the prosperity and range of opportunities open to communities in urban Scotland. Transportation and access to opportunities are issues of vital importance across the area. We have the second lowest GDP per head of
any local authority area in Scotland. The challenge we face is to offer communities across Argyll and Bute better opportunities and a more equitable share of Scotland's prosperity while protecting or enhancing our outstanding natural environment.
Sustainable development is therefore a human concept as much as an environmental concept: we are seeking to sustain communities that face a range of challenges. The Council covers an area of nearly 7,000 square kilometres - the second largest land area of any local authority in Scotland and yet is has a population of less than 90,000. The largest urban settlement has a population of a little over 10,000 people - very small by the standards of urban Scotland and over 17% of the population live on islands - there are 26 inhabited islands in Argyll and Bute.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN RURAL COMMUNITIES
The priorities for Argyll and Bute are different to those in many urban authorities - because our
circumstances are different. It is import to understand and respect the differences - a common approach to sustainable development will not necessarily work for a country as diverse as Scotland.
Many of the issues and challenges of sustainable development in urban Scotland do not apply in Argyll and Bute. Air pollution, traffic congestion and contaminated land for example are not major concerns for us. On the other hand the quality of the natural environment is absolutely vital to the economy of the area. Agriculture is directly dependent on a quality environment as are the success of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism. Both the image and the reality that sustain these industries must be that of a quality environment, properly managed. Any failures in environmental management put the economy and well being of communities at risk.

Sustaining communities, particularly remote communities

Underpinning much of the work of the Council is the idea of sustaining remote and rural communities. Remote communities face particular problems. It is more expensive to provide essential services to remote communities, particularly island communities; job opportunities education and training opportunities are extremely limited. Depopulation continues to be an issue and many communities remain too dependant on a narrow economic base.
A bad tourist season or an economic crisis such as ISA or Foot and Mouth Disease can spell disaster for such communities.


The best environment in Britain?

Where Argyll and Bute can take genuine pride is in the richness and diversity of its natural environment. Tourist surveys repeatedly show that the quality of the landscapes and the impression of an unspoilt and beautiful place is the principal attraction for visitors. The creation of Scotland's first National Park in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs will provide the gateway to Argyll and Bute for most visitors. To the west the landscapes unfolds into a series of lochs and peninsulas and islands with unique archaeological and historical heritage.
The full quality of Argyll and Bute's biodiversity is only now being recognised. The number of different
habitats that are included in the biodiversity plan (see below) and their richness of species is unequalled elsewhere in Scotland. This will be given greater prominence through the publication of a Local Biodiversity Action Plan and through the community planning partnership.


PARTNERSHIP WORKING AND PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT
Partnership working and public involvement is fundamental to the concept of sustainable development. Agenda 21- the original forty chapter report - stresses the involvement of stakeholders in the all aspects of sustainable development. There are a number of strategic partnerships that have been developed in Argyll and Bute to take forward sustainable development.

The Community Planning Partnership

The Community Planning Partnership draws together all the major public service providers, the community and voluntary sectors. It is an dynamic partnership, growing and evolving to include new partners. The Community Planning Partnership has identified the following themes as its priorities:
· Promoting health and well being
· Improving opportunities for learning, employment and skills development
· Sustaining and developing Argyll and Bute's communities, culture and environment
Taken together, the themes represent a powerful commitment to sustainable development.
Public involvement is built into the work of the partnership through two routes. First, the Association of Community Councils in Argyll and Bute and the three Argyll and Bute Councils for Voluntary Service are included on the Partnership, representing the community and voluntary sectors. Second, the Partnership has taken on consultants to create the Argyll and Bute Citizens Panel, a sample of 1000 people drawn from all parts of the area. The panel is the focus of questionnaire surveys designed to test public opinion on public services and on issues of importance to communities across the area.
The relationship between the Council and its partners is increasingly strong. This will be one of the foundations for the development of future policies for sustainable development - the Community Planning Partnership will form one of the key mechanisms for delivering sustainable development. See the Appendix for further details.

Other strategic partnerships
Other strategic partnerships that are led or supported by the council include
· Biodiversity Partnership
· Children's Services Partnership
· Community Learning Partnership
· Community Safety Partnership
· New Deal Partnership
· Social Inclusion Partnership
· Proposed Economic Forum
· Access Forum
Collectively these all contribute to different aspects of sustainable development. For example the Community Learning Partnership is concerned to promote education and skills that can help empower communities and offer them a wider range of opportunities; while the social inclusion partnership has implemented a package
of measures including housing, education, training and childcare to reduce exclusion from the workplace. The Community Planning Partnership has an umbrella role in relation to other partnerships and relating existing partnerships more closely to a common theme of sustainable development is an opportunity for the future.


COUNCIL STRATEGIES: CORPORATE STRATEGY, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND STATUTORY PLANNING
The original impetus to develop Agenda 21 within the Council lay in the Corporate Strategy: Towards the New Millennium (1998). The Strategy introduced environmental issues into the corporate thinking of the new council. Alongside commitments to economic development and sustaining strong communities the strategy included as one of its objectives Sustaining and Improving the Quality of the Environment. This objective included a commitment to the development of a Local Agenda 21 Strategy. Subsequent developments suggested that it would be more effective to integrate sustainable development into existing partnerships and strategies rather than to develop a stand alone Local Agenda 21 plan. The Council's Economic Development Strategy 2000-2003 (2000) is based on the principle of sustainable development. It stresses Managing our Environmental Resources alongside Building Strong communities, Developing People and Supporting Businesses as its objectives. This recognises the dependence of the economy on natural resources and the proper management of natural resources as a basis for economic development - is explicitly based on the idea of sustainable development of our resources. Similarly the development of the council's statutory plans - the Structure and Local plans adopt the principle of sustainable development. A range of initiatives relate to these objectives and help put them into effect.


ACTIONS PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN ARGYLL AND BUTE
This section briefly highlights examples of how sustainable development has been incorporated into a range
of policies, partnerships and projects.

Forestry and Timber
The Council is committed to reviewing its Indicative Forestry Strategy to ensure that the growth in forests that is taking place across the area maximises the environmental and economic benefits to Argyll and Bute.
A specific issue of importance is timber transport. Argyll is one of the principal timber producing areas in Scotland and with the output of timber from forests due to double in the next decade we need to ensure
that timber is transported with minimum environmental impact. A timber transport strategy has been developed in partnership with the Forestry Commission and others. The Partnership employs a project manager and is seeking funds from the Highlands and Islands Special Programme and elsewhere to implement the strategy. This will involve the transfer of a greater proportion of timber traffic from roads to sea and rail to minimise traffic on roads.


Argyll and Bute Agricultural Forum

The Council has established an Agriculture Forum to identify interests of importance to agriculture across Argyll and Bute and where appropriate to lobby or promote
agriculture. The real difficulties faced by farmers and crofters at the present time make the role of the forum increasingly important. Poor prices, animal diseases and the remoteness of Argyll and Bute from markets have caused grave problems for farmers. At the same time much of the farming and crofting in Argyll and Bute is traditional and environmentally beneficial; and the quality of produce such as beef and lamb very good. The challenge for agriculture - and for government- is to translate this tradition into better economic prospects for farmers. This is vital not only for farmers but also for the environment as the quality of many habitats depends on their active management by farmers, crofters and other land managers.

Aquaculture

The Council has joined with other authorities in the Highlands and Islands and other partners to establish the Highlands and Islands Aquaculture Forum. The aquaculture industry is essential to sustain some of the most remote communities in Argyll and Bute and has been one for the few sources of new employment for such places in recent years. At the same time it has been beset with difficulties, including fish diseases and
salmon farming in particular has been criticised by environmental groups. Resolving these difficulties to put the industry on sustainable footing is a major challenge which the Forum is tackling.


Energy Strategy and the creation of the Energy Management Agency

Argyll and Bute is rich in renewables. Hydro electric power is well established and wind farms are now coming on line. The Council is encouraging the development of renewables in preferred locations as part of its Structure Plan and through its Energy Strategy. It is also supporting research and development such as the new wave power generator on Islay and biomass (particularly forest waste) to energy projects. The Council has led the development of a new Energy Management Agency, a project supported by the European Save II programme with a remit that includes better energy management and the development of renewables. There is every reason to believe that renewable energy will become an integral part of the economy of Argyll and Bute during this century.

Biodiversity Action Plan
Recent work by Scottish Natural Heritage demonstrates that Argyll and Bute has the richest biodiversity in Scotland. This is because of the range of habitats that exist both on land and in coastal waters. The Firth
of Lorn Marine Special Area of Conservation is regarded as probably the best in Britain. The Argyll islands are rich in wildlife, particularly birdlife. The mainland, with its mosaic of freshwater lochs, rough grazing, mountains, deciduous and coniferous woodland provide an diverse set of habits ideal for a wide range of species. The oak woodlands, for example, contain some of the best sites for mosses, lichens and liverworts
in Europe. The Council leads the Local Biodiversity Partnership which is preparing an Action Plan for species and habitats of importance. The Plan will set out action to protect, enhance and promote this tremendous asset.

Waste management

The Council has achieved one of the highest levels of recycling in Scotland despite the difficulties of waste collection and disposal in a remote areas. Working in partnership with the private sector and the Group for Recycling in Argyll and Bute (GRAB), the Council is developing an ambitious waste management strategy to meet European targets for recycling and reduction in landfill. Argyll and Bute is now among the leaders in Scotland in addressing this issue.

Environment Task Force
The Environment Task Force, led by the Council on behalf of the Employment Agency has been successful in providing training opportunities and carrying out local environmental improvements, with a high proportion of trainees going on into full time employment. This work therefore links many of the social and economic objectives of the Council to environmental issues.

And finally… the European Beaver
The Council is supporting the pilot project by Scottish Natural Heritage to reintroduce the European Beaver into a woodland location in Argyll and Bute. This important reintroduction, which has been the subject of national media attention, offers the opportunity to enrich the biodiversity of the area, to promote eco-tourism and to enhance Argyll and Bute's green image. The reintroduction is due to take place in the spring
of 2002.

CONCLUSION
Sustainable development offers many challenges. The all encompassing nature of the concept requires effort to understand and explain; it requires organisations and individuals to think in the long term and across traditional professional or institutional barriers. It also demands the resolution of many difficult issues. For example, the coastal waters of Argyll and Bute are a marine environment of great importance: it should be possible to manage this marine resource for the benefit of all coastal communities. Fishermen, recreational anglers, watersports, tourism and fishfarming should be able to co-exist and create prosperity for all without putting at risk the natural environment upon which they all depend. This is not yet happening: fishing is in crisis; aquaculture is challenged and criticised by environmentalists; and anglers; wild fish stocks, particularly sea trout and salmon have collapsed in recent years, and the tourist industry is far from prospering.
This is one example of the challenges that are currently facing Argyll and Bute. Sustainable development offers the framework within which solutions can be found and can help us work towards these solutions. To achieve a resolution of such difficulties requires the active commitment of a range of partners organisations, businesses and local communities. The Council is at the centre of this process, as described in the examples above. Though the community planning process, other partnerships and strategies it is committed to the promotion of sustainable development in Argyll and Bute.


APPENDIX
ARGYLL AND BUTE COMMUNITY PLANNING PARTNERSHIP
PROGRESS REPORT: FEBRUARY 2001

BACKGROUND

Community Planning in Argyll and Bute has developed rapidly over the past twelve months. The Argyll and Bute Community Planning Partnership was established in 1999 and has grown to include most local public service providers. The Partnership has been developed on a voluntary basis and has embraced the challenge of Community Planning with enthusiasm and has made progress on a number of fronts. The key to the successful working of the Partnership has been the willingness and commitment of Partners to work together with the community to improve the quality of life for all in Argyll and Bute.
There has been recognition among all Partners of the value of a broad strategic partnership that can help to bring together local providers of public services to work together more closely around a common vision. This is of real benefit to the agencies involved and more importantly will help those providers deliver services
more effectively to communities in Argyll and Bute.

VISION
The Community Planning Partnership will work in partnership with communities to realise their full potential across Argyll and Bute, in a way that enhances the quality of life, creates prosperity and empowers communities, while protecting and improving the area's outstanding natural environment.
This vision will be taken forward through the development of three themes:
· Promoting health and well-being
· Improving opportunities for learning, employment and skills development
· Sustaining and developing Argyll and Bute's communities, culture and environment


PARTNERS

The Partnership has grown over the past twelve months. The list below gives Partners as at January 2001.
· Argyll and Bute Council
· Argyll and the Islands Enterprise
· Argyll and Clyde Health Board
· Argyll Council of Voluntary Service
· Argyll and Bute Association of Community Councils
· Argyll and Bute Careers Partnership
· Argyll, the Isles, Loch Lomond, Stirling and the Trossachs Tourist Board
· Bute Community Links
· Caledonian MacBrayne
· Dumbartonshire, Argyll and Bute District Employment Service
· Forestry Commission
· Forest Enterprise
· Housing Associations
· Islay and Jura Council of Voluntary Service
· Lomond and Argyll Primary Care Trust
· Scottish Enterprise Dumbartonshire
· Scottish Homes
· Scottish Natural Heritage
· Scottish Environment Protection Agency
· Strathclyde Police
· West of Scotland Water

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
The Partnership is establishing a Citizens' Panel of 1 000 volunteers drawn from all parts of Argyll and Bute. The Partnership will be testing its vision and proposals through questionnaires issued to the Panel. There are also a variety of more local initiatives related to Community Planning. These include Community Safety Fora, Social Inclusion Groups and Area Development Groups as well as a range of local initiatives developed for specific purposes such as economic or community development.


ACHIEVEMENTS, MONITORING/EVALUATION
A principal achievement has been the creation of a strong strategic Partnership including most of the public service providers across Argyll and Bute. The Partnership has demonstrated a determination to develop a common vision; to employ a Community Planning Manager and resource the development of a Citizens' Panel. It has identified a consultant to take forward the development of the Panel and to help develop questionnaires to test public opinion on the Partnership's vision and priorities.


KEY ISSUES FOR THE FUTURE
Community planning is still at an early stage. We need to be able to demonstrate that the process can add real value to local governance and the delivery of services in Argyll and Bute. To achieve this we will have
to:
· Demonstrate that our vision has meaning and relevance to communities across Argyll and Bute.
· Build confidence amongst the public and amongst Partners that the Citizens' Panel can provide useful information on the views and opinions of communities and that Partners will react positively to these views.
· Demonstrate that we can identify better ways of delivering services and providing better quality services
to communities across Argyll and Bute.