Covering September 2014 – August 2015
In September 2014 The Green Room had been opened for 6 months and was already proving to be a community focus for a large and varied number of activities that are the heart of any cohesive community.
Volunteers perform a significant force within our community and November saw the second Volunteer Awards dinner, with delicious food cooked by volunteers (of course) and hosted at Kirknewton House Stables Many local people were publicly recognised and thanked for the often invisible work that they undertake, giving time and energy to catalyse a diverse range of activities within this village.
KCDT organised and ran an expanded Christmas Festival and BBQ event in December and monthly Craft and Food Fairs at the Village Hall/Green Room. Sadly the monthly events were not financially sustainable so we have now made both the November Christmas Craft, Food Fair and Family BBQ Kirknewton House Stables and Visit Santa in the Green Room annual events. I wish to thank Mr Charles Welwood of Kirknewton House for his generosity in continuing to make the Stables freely available for these community events.
We undertook our second community consultation, with more respondents taking part than ever before. Our findings have been publicly presented and this has guided us in constructing our new Community Development Plan for 2016-20. Volunteers and paid staff will be required to help deliver this ambitious plan yet I have concerns about the long-term funding of this project as Lottery Funding will expire in August 2018.
Sadly the opportunity presented to this community by the proposed Fauch Hill Windfarm, a generous bargain unmatched in its scope and value anywhere in Scotland, was lost when the Scottish Government rejected the proposal on appeal. I was genuinely disappointed at this outcome as we lost the potential for an “in perpetuity” stream of funding that would have supported the work of this trust and many other like it in adjacent communities. It is with regret that I note that our local MSP’s did NOT support this project despite an overwhelming majority of local populations being in favour of the windfarm. This leads me to reflect on what exactly local democracy means and how it can be hi-jacked by a small minority of vociferous opponents to the development of Renewable Energy projects that we will all need in any sustainable future supply of electricity.
One of the most significant findings from our most recent community consultation is that the notion of a broad “community spirit” has entered into the rankings of those aspects of life in Kirknewton that we seem to value highly. I sincerely hope that KCDT has played a minor part in the ascendency of this sense of pride. Let’s keep up the good work.
In December we also began the development of a Hydropower opportunity that had become available on the National Forest Estate under their “Residual Offerings” programme. We secured some grant funding through the CARES scheme to develop the business case and feasibility of a number of small hydro-electricity projects that we have offered to share on an equal basis with the local host community.
In early 2015 we began to explore the purchase of Camps Junction, a small development site at the eastern end of Kirknewton and submitted an application to the Scottish Land Fund (SLF) for a contribution toward the £75,000 price asked by West Lothian Council. (We were successful in securing £60,000 towards this from SLF in September 2015 ) This is, in part, driven by the results of our recent consultation which identified a gap in the availability of houses for fair-rental that could accommodate older members of this village. We have ambitious plans to build housing that might meet some of these aspirations while utilising all of the positive lessons derived from constructing the Green Room to deliver very low energy bills and demonstrate long-term genuinely sustainable
building methods at the eastern entrance to our village.
In February 2016 the Green Room will be two years old. It seems to be wearing well and delivering an ultra low- energy profile as designed. It is the result of a great amount of attention to detail in design and construction, driven by volunteers. The end result is one of which we should be proud , that will not fall down! ( unlike many Edinburgh Schools) and will continue to have a miniscule carbon footprint
Throughout the year the Green Room and the Village Hall have continued to act as hubs for a multiplicity of classes, events and volunteer-led groups. People of the village have met, chatted and utilised this space, parents have seen their children gain access to music, language classes, reading, nursery classes, art and sport.
The year has seen much closer ties between ourselves, the Kirknewton Community Association and the Gala Committee both of whom have come under the umbrella of KCDT.
I wish to thanks our staff members, Tony Foster, Jennifer Ba, Zoe Hubbard and Sian Markx for all their labours and the tremendous and unmeasurable contribution that all those members of our community have delivered through their volunteering and work for the betterment of this community.
Stewart Mckenna, April 2016