South Scotland MSP Emma Harper on Friday (04/06/21) met with the Loch Ken Trust Team, including Chair Alan Smith, Project Manager Barnaby Fryer, and the new Ranger Ken Scott, to discuss how the team are managing now that lockdown restrictions have been eased and people are again back enjoying the water, camping and making use of all the fantastic natural resources and biodiversity the Loch has to offer.
At the meeting, Ms Harper heard how the Trust have been extremely busy working to ensure the Loch is a safe place for all, as well as on how to improve it. In doing so, the Trust have produced a draft consultation document which is going out to the wider public to set out their exciting new plans which they are looking for community support for. Ms Harper has invited the Trust to the Scottish Parliament to present these ambitious plans to the Marine Tourism and Recreational Boating Cross Party Group, to obtain interest from across Scotland.
The South Scotland MSP also had the opportunity to hear directly from the Trust and new Ranger on the impact he has had in the short 8 week period he has been in post. During this time, the Ranger has engaged directly with most of the farmers and residents who border the Loch, has prevented at least 32 police call outs to the Loch through positive engagement with those making use of the Loch’s resources and through using Police Scotland’s 4 E’s approach – Engage, Explain, Educate and Enforce. Ken has also organised plans for a community BBQ and has been building positive relationships with the Loch’s surrounding businesses, including the Galloway Activity Centre.
However, Ms Harper shares the Trusts concerns that the Trust only have funding for Ken to stay in post as Ranger until October this year. This isn’t ideal as the Trust would like to have carried out a wider engagement event with local schools and community groups over winter, with a view to providing education to people on natural, environmental and safety issues around the Loch. Ms Harper is therefore taking the case to the Scottish Government where she will be requesting £10,000 each year over a three year period for the Trust to secure Ken’s role.
Alan Smith, Chairman of Loch Ken Trust, commented;
“We are delighted with Ms Harper’s continued interested in the work of Loch Ken Trust. We are one year old this month and whilst we feel we have achieved a lot in a short time we have so much more to do. The appointment of a Ranger dedicated to the Loch Ken area has made a huge difference albeit he is on a short term contract with limited hours. This has served as a proof of concept and we are delighted that Ms Harper is seeking to source appropriate funding to allow this post to be secured for a longer period and to allow the value being added by this role to expand and continue”