Talks to begin on future of Kinneil Woods

Walkers in Kinneil WoodsCONSULTATION on the future of historic Kinneil Woods in Bo’ness begins next week. Two public meetings have been organised to help develop management plans for the historic woodland.

The first meeting, hosted by The Friends of Kinneil, will take place on Thursday, February 7, starting at 7.30 p.m. Residents will also be able to air their views at a second meeting, hosted by Bo’ness Community Council, on Wednesday, February 13, starting at 7 p.m. Both talks will be held in the meeting rooms above Bo’ness Library.

The woods are owned by Falkirk Council. The local authority has brought in the environmental charity Central Scotland Forest Trust (CSFT) to develop a management plan for the site – and to help win external funding for improvement works to be carried out.

The Council’s convener of environment and heritage, Bo’ness Councillor Adrian Mahoney, encouraged people to attend the public meetings. “The woods are well used by local people,” he said. “It’s vitally important we work with them to plan for the future.

“The two meetings this month are just the start of a wider consultation process to gauge public opinion and look at options for the years ahead. I’d encourage local people to come along and make their views known.”

Mike Ewart, CSFT’s sustainable development officer, will attend both public meetings. He said: “The woods have suffered from high winds in recent years. Many trees have been blown over and a substantial part to the west of the site has been lost. We’re now looking at ways to improve the area.

“Safeguarding local forests is essential to preserving wildlife and helping the environment. The public meetings will provide an opportunity to outline the present condition of the woodlands and to gain ideas on the future management of the area.”

Friends of Kinneil chair Lynn Munro walks her dogs in the woods twice a day. She said: “We’re really lucky to have such a great woodland on our doorstep. But the site also faces lots of challenges, particularly with fallen trees – and vandalism. We’ve written to all our members asking them to come along and attend the first public meeting on February 7. We’d also be delighted to see any other members of the public at the meeting.

“These are community woodlands and it’s really important that people come along and have their say.”

Madelene Hunt, convener of Bo’ness Community Council, said her group had been looking at ways to improve the whole of Kinneil Estate. “The woods and the surrounding area are an important asset to Bo’ness, but need to be better managed in the future. I see there’s lots of potential for better maintenance.

“I’m pleased Mike Ewart is attending our monthly meeting to talk to us about plans for the woodland. All community council meetings are open to the public and I’d encourage local residents to come along and share their views with Mike and the Community Council.”

Anyone who would like to know more about the consultation process should contact Mike Ewart at CSFT on 01501 824795 or email: mike.ewart@csft.org.uk

Kinneil Estate was originally owned by the Duke of Hamilton. In 1922, the former Bo’ness Town Council purchased the woodland area and estate under the Public Parks Act. The estate is now owned by Falkirk Council. As well as acres of woodland, the park includes a section of the Antonine Wall, historic Kinneil House and Kinneil Museum.