Flow Country community consultation announced

Flow Country landscape
Norette Ferns

An extensive community consultation on a proposed World Heritage Site for The Flow Country has been announced.

The Flow Country in Caithness and Sutherland is the largest expanse of blanket bog in Europe, covering around 200,000 hectares. A recent international study has described the areas as being "the best peatland of its type in the world".

The Peatlands Partnership has announced that a community consultation on a World Heritage Site for The Flow Country will kick off on 14 May, with the first in a series of events across Caithness and Sutherland. Consultation forms will also be available on online, and you will be able to have your say on the Highland Council consultation website from 14 May too.  

Joe Perry, the Peatland Partnership’s World Heritage Site’s Project Coordinator said:

"A Flow Country World Heritage Site would not only be an enormous accolade for the area and the many organisations, land managers, crofters and farmers who have maintained this land for generations but it could also bring many positive development opportunities and undoubtedly some challenges too.

"The purpose of the consultation is to find out what our local communities think about this idea and to see if we can help meet some of their aspirations through developing a World Heritage Site that meets their needs as well as recognizing the global importance of this vast peatland."

The consultation process will start on Tuesday 14 May 2019 in Wick with the first of a series of thirteen drop in events around the area. These events, which will run from 11am to 7pm, except for Golspie which will be from 1pm to 7pm, are part of a larger community consultation about the whole idea of a World Heritage Site in The Flow Country.

Independent chair of The Flow Country World Heritage Site Working Group, Mrs Frances Gunn of Tongue said:

​"It’s really amazing to think that we have something right on our doorstep that ranks in global importance alongside the Great Barrier Reef, The Grand Canyon and The Pyramids!  Who would have thought it? 

"These drop-in sessions are a great opportunity for local people to come along and see what the World Heritage Site Project is all about and what it might mean for them. World Heritage Sites are an internationally recognised brand and might bring a number of opportunities for local people and any budding entrepreneurs out there."

The timetable for the drop-in events is as follows:

14 May

Pultney Centre, Wick

15 May

Golspie Community Centre (1pm-7pm)

16 May

Timespan, Helmsdale

17 May

Dunbeath Heritage Centre

20 May

Brora Community Centre

21 May

Lybster Community Centre

22 May

Altnaharra Hotel

23 May

Youth Centre, Halkirk

24 May

Thurso Library

27 May

Lairg Community Centre

28 May

Strathy Village Hall

29 May

Tongue Village Hall

30 May

Kildonan Hall

The Partnership will collate all the feedback from these meetings as well as gathering local people’s ideas and anecdotes about The Flow Country. This will help them develop a plan for taking the possible World Heritage Site forward in a way that takes local views on board and provides interesting opportunities for businesses and communities around the north.

Working Group members and the Project Co-Ordinator, Joe Perry, will be on hand at the drop in sessions to speak to people and note their comments. Feedback forms will also be available which can be completed there and then or taken home to complete and send in at a later date.

If anyone cannot attend the drop-in events, consultation forms will also be available on The Flow Country website at: http://www.theflowcountry.org.uk/world-heritage-site and on The Highland Council’s online consultation portal at: http://consult.highland.gov.uk/portal/environment/flow_country_whs/flow_country_whs.

Both these can be accessed from Tuesday 14 May.