At the end of 2011, Alfred Stewart Properties Ltd (ASP), in memory of the wishes of the late Alfred Stewart MBE a Dalgety Bay resident and as part of the winding up his Company, approached the Community Council to see if it was interested in receiving the free donation of Hopeward, Bathing House and Crow woods which was left in their ownership after housing development. These woods had been offered previously to Fife Council and were declined. Firstly, action was taken to take this up with Fife Council and following prolonged talks with them involving the Community Council and ASP to see if they would alter their position, these talks failed and it was left for the Community Council to take further action to avoid the woods from eventually being auctioned off to private buyers.
Following an SOS in the Dalgety Bay’s community newspaper the “Diary”, in November 2012 a preliminary meeting was held with interested residents to form a volunteer Community Woodland Group that would manage them if the generous offer by ASP could be accepted by the Community Council who would also obtain them free of legal costs. This was agreed and resulted in a Steering Group being set up at the beginning of 2013.
After ironing out the legalities involved, the Steering Group produced an excellent 5 year management strategy and with lots of hard work behind the scenes, at the end of 2013 the woods were secured into the ownership of the Community Council and the Community Woodland Group was formalised with a constitution and a committee. With insurance cover arranged by the Community Council who also awarded a grant of £1000 to them from Fife Council’s Participatory Budgeting Initiative monies given to the Community Council, this is a start and enables the Group to fund raise and progress to long term management and maintenance of the woods. The path through Crow Wood and the Coastal Path that runs through Hopeward and Bathing House Woods will still be maintained by Fife Council and the Fife Coastal and Countryside Trust respectfully.
With the Dalgety Bay community being the proud new owners of these woods plus Downing Point also gifted by ASP as an outstanding area of natural beauty, their future is looking assured. Plans of the Group are to complete the final stages of tree safety works which have been undertaken over the past few years, in addition to new tree planting works, non-native species and green waste tipping removal, plus wildflower seeding on some grassed areas.
The main ethos of the Group is to encourage the local community to engage with their local woodlands and improve biodiversity whilst maintaining and managing the woods for the future generations of Dalgety Bay. Already, the Group has made contact with other Dalgety Bay community groups and schools. Morvern Fyfe (P5 Donibristle Primary School) was the winner of the Groups’s logo competition and was presented with the prize of a peach tree by Fife Council’s Provost Jim Leishman. Well done Morvern!
The Group relies solely on volunteers and would ask that all users of woodlands in the town and residents, to take away or deposit dog waste in bins provided and refrain from illegal fly tipping (including green waste) or the cutting of trees and illegal occupation of public woodlands. If you have any further suggestions for the woodlands and would like to see any works included within the programme, please become involved with the Group who are looking for further volunteers from all backgrounds, whether it be providing IT, accounting, fundraising/grant applications, support or being involved with any physical works. The Group would love to hear from you.
The Group has a website and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
*Colin McPhail is the chairman of Dalgety Bay and Hillend Community Council