Saturday, 18 February 2017


It seems that Highland Council has been busy trying to justify rejecting our petition due to be debated on Monday. The HC report seems to be based on advice from THEIR employees about OUR tidal waters. Even with my 13 years on the river and over 8,000 visits, I have never been approached or consulted by Highland council staff for my opinion or expertise on our tidal Riverside or it's wildlife. I hope our own councillors take a realistic unbiased view and give it the credence it deserves. 
I have written to our councillors clarifying the points raised in the HC report, here is the Trust Response :
The Nairnshire Committee.           Response to Petition Report                            16th February. 

Dear Committee members,

The River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trustees, have read report item 5 regarding our petition request recently lodged for your determination. Although the Trust has only existed for 4 years, the founder has 13 years of twice daily observations, experience and interaction with the wildlife and their environment on the tidal reaches of the River Nairn.
We are concerned solely with the tidal area and the effect of urban human activity, on the wildlife their habitat and environment.
As with all tidal estuaries they are a magnet for water birds and other wildlife, especially during the long Scottish winter months. The reasons are obvious, since the tidal exchange twice a day creates feeding opportunities for all the river bird life, and salt water reduces the likelihood of freezing.
The Trust supplements the natural gathering of ducks with natural grain feed, given in a responsible way where there is no waste, and only the target species get fed. We cannot however vouch for other members of the public within the Town of Nairn.
We only have one Family of Swans, and these we carefully nurture, they are a very well known local attraction.
There have been eleven occasions when Swans or cygnets had to be rescued due to fishing tackle injuries.
This is one of the reasons we have asked for the cooperation of Angling association members to refrain from fishing in the tidal area below the A96 road bridge. They have 8 miles of fishing above the bridge. The Trust would be happy to pay the annual £50 fishing rights fee to the angling Association to refrain from fishing this small area.

As for the points about pollution and what bird life the river can naturally sustain. We could make the same assertion  over the sewerage system of Nairn built to accommodate about 5,000 people, now with a population of 11,000.  Not to mention the effluent from farms, and septic tanks that leach into the river, as well as the combined rainwater and sewage outfalls. As for river rats, they are part of the natural river wildlife eco system and are a threat to no one. I have seen them eating Salmon kelts that get washed downstream during winter and provide food for gulls and Otters as well. They also eat the seed pods from Himalayan balsam which is now abundant along the riverside. If it were not for people crossing  foot bridges, they would rarely see a riverside rat. This is a seaside town and gulls are sadly part and parcel of it, although the Trust tries to dissuade people from feeding the gulls. The Otters make use of the ducks and kill a substantial amount every year, even the seals that regularly come up river on the high tide have the occasional duck !
The 170 Trust members are not the only ones who enjoy observing all these natural events, many hundreds of tourists also appreciate the natural world and increase the foot fall in Nairn.
It may interest your committee that the duck numbers have more or less remained static over the past 3 years, proving that there is a natural ceiling on the river. These birds disperse all over and up river come the spring, and not many will be seen during the nesting season.
Part of responsible management of this tidal area within the Town would be having a few more signs educating the increasing amount of dog walkers, that there is the safety of other species to be considered.
A few more information panels showing the different types of birds that can be seen on the river would not go amiss either. We would happily supply the photos and text free of charge.
What the Trust does, is for the whole community of Nairn to enjoy, as well as the tourists who visit the Town.
This is the 10th anniversary of the swans Island which has proved to be a much loved attraction, and a definite asset to Nairn which incidentally costs the public purse nothing !
The Trustees hope you take heed of the 1250 genuine petition signatories, and listen to our Trust experts at the coal face, rather than a few Council jobsworth experts, Facebook trolls and critics.

Yours Sincerely        Joe Telfer on behalf of the Trustees.

No comments: