District News, July 8 2022

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Distillery layout change given go-ahead before reopening

The owners of an Islay distillery have been granted permission to extend its off-sales area and make changes to its layout ahead of its public reopening – which they hope will be in less than two months’ time.

The Caol Ila Distillery by Diageo, at Port Askaig, was granted a licence in November 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down its development.

And a successful bid has been made to add a further four square metres to the off-sales area, as well as minor changes to the layout.

The variation to the premises licence was granted at a meeting of the Argyll and Bute Licensing Board on Tuesday, June 28.

Solicitor Ewan McGillivray, of Morton Fraser, said: ‘Diageo is making a substantial investment in whisky tourism in Scotland. The centrepiece of this is the Johnnie Walker experience in Princes Street in Edinburgh.

‘One of the things that seeks to do is direct whisky aficionados and tourists to other areas, which include Caol Ila, with its wonderful views across to Jura.

‘My colleague appeared before the board in November 2019 to seek approval for the visitor experience to replace the former visitor centre. This covers some three floors and was granted without difficulties.

‘Unfortunately, as with many things, the pandemic slowed down progress, but it is hoped it will be open very soon. The plan is to open to the public on Thursday, August 25.

‘It was identified that some changes to the layout are required, including an increase of the off-sales capacity.’

The change to the licence conditions will also see bar meals added at the distillery.


Action plan empowers islands to tackle climate change

Islay and Jura have come up with a unique way to address the climate emergency through local environmental action.

With support from environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, the Isle of Jura Development Trust, South Islay Development and Islay Energy Trust have developed a bespoke community climate action plan, setting out how the local community can improve the environment and tackle the challenges everyone faces.

The collaborative plan sets out specific actions people can take in their area, to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, boost the local economy and make Islay and Jura cleaner, greener and more sustainable places to live.

It is designed to be updated regularly, can be contributed to by anybody in the community – and everybody can play a part in tackling climate change through the activities it sets out.

‘Working with Keep Scotland Beautiful on our first community climate action plan has helped us think about what action we can take locally to tackle climate change in Jura, how we can combine it with work already being done locally and our community-led action plan, and how we can make it accessible and achievable for everyone here,’ said Sarah Compton-Bishop, volunteer director of the Isle of Jura Development Trust.

‘We’re using the joint Jura and Islay plan as a positive starting point for us to go on and make a user-friendly plan for Jura which will support us in keeping Jura beautiful, active in tackling climate change and a great place to live.

‘Taking part in Keep Scotland Beautiful’s community climate action plan programme helped show us all that there are things that we are already doing, and that we can start taking action on, to make a difference.

‘The best thing is that we can tailor it to work for our island and make it achievable.’

Funding from the Scottish Government, as part of Scotland’s COP26 community engagement programme, has allowed Keep Scotland Beautiful to work on community climate action plans with seven communities across Scotland – Islay and Jura; Arbroath; Newcastleton; Knoydart; Pollokshields; Ferguslie Park; and Shotts.

Each community received support from a community climate facilitator, to help their community to develop its unique plan.

Keep Scotland Beautiful has also highlighted inspiring ideas from across Scotland and beyond, and provided guidance about further potential funding.

Keep Scotland Beautiful’s communities manager Katie O’Donnell said: ‘I am delighted to announce that, thanks to further funding from the Scottish Government, Keep Scotland Beautiful will be able to continue to support the communities for another year – until March 2023 – as they progress through their plans.’

The community climate action plan is helping to keep Jura beautiful and active in tackling climate change.
The community climate action plan is helping to keep Jura beautiful and active in tackling climate change.