District News, March 19 2021

An adult red-billed chough. Photograph: Martin Yelland.

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ISLAY:

Funding boost will support one of the UK’s rarest birds

RSPB Scotland has received £20,000 from SUEZ Communities Trust for its project Restoring Coastal Habitats at the Oa on the Isle of Islay.

Islay’s coastal habitats are one of the last places in Scotland where chough, one of the UK’s rarest birds, can be found.

Through this project, RSPB Scotland will work to reduce rank, overgrown vegetation across a key section of coastal habitat that benefits island wildlife, particularly the Scottish Biodiversity Listed (SBL) chough, and promote biodiversity across the reserve.

David Wood, RSPB Scotland’s site manager at the Oa, who is looking after this restoration project, said: ‘The money from SUEZ Communities Trust will be vital for the reserve, enabling us to target our livestock grazing onto the most suitable areas for foraging chough.

‘Without this, areas of coastal grassland can quickly become unsuitable for chough, reducing the feeding habitat available for this threatened species.’

Marek Gordon, chairman of SUEZ Communities Trust, added: ‘SUEZ Communities Trust provides funding awards through the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund. We were delighted to be able to offer funding to RSPB Scotland.’

JURA:

Breathing space for threatened respite flat

Volunteers campaigning to save a respite flat on Jura have won a two-month reprieve.

After a meeting between Jura Care Centre Group (JCCG), Argyll and Bute’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) and West Highland Housing Association (WHHA), the respite flat that is part of the care centre in Craighouse can stay open for the time being.

Last month, our sister title The Oban Times reported how JCCG members were ‘dismayed and shocked’ when they found out only by chance that the HSCP decided on Christmas Eve 2020 to stop funding the flat.

Arrangements were being made to clear furniture out of the flat and move in a full-time resident mid-February when the JCCG eventually heard what was happening.

A spokesperson for JCCG said the meeting on March 5 between all the three partners had resulted in a two-month reprieve to try and find a solution.

‘We are fairly hopeful we will work something out,’ she said.

Another of the flats, owned by WHHA in the same building, had become empty, temporarily allowing the respite flat to stay available for now.

More meetings are now planned to discuss the future of the flat used for Jura residents to convalesce after hospital treatment before returning to their own homes, as well as allowing carers to take much-needed breaks.

Over the years, the JCCG has put forward various proposals on how to help support the cost of the flat, including short-term holiday use for visitors with mobility issues, which could still be an option for consideration.

The HSCP apologised last month for any concern and distress caused to the care group and local community, while WHHA pledged to continue to be supportive of the Jura Care Centre Group and ‘be happy’ to discuss specific accommodation requirements that would help the community.