LOMOND School is “highly unlikely” to have the use of its rugby and sports fields for the foreseeable future as a result of the Duchess Wood’s closure, one of its staff has claimed.

Keith Robertson, the school’s facilities and estates manager, attended the meeting of the wood’s local nature reserve committee on Tuesday, August 20.

And he described as “harrowing” the situation faced by the school, saying that it is unable to carry out maintenance of the pitches because the tractor used to do the work needs to use the wood to get access to them.

Mr Robertson referred to a previous situation where access to parts of the wood was made difficult by an unsafe bridge.

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He told the committee: “As a result of this public safety closure, the school is faced with a horrendous legal and insurance conundrum.

“We cannot instruct an employee to gain access to the fields when it is subject to public safety closure.

“There will be no rugby on those playing fields and no cross-country events – not just for Lomond School, but in the community as well.

“Rugby is part of the curriculum at Lomond, but also for a number of other schools.

“We are not able to train or play host to other schools.

“The cross-country event is also a community one, and there is also the Forest Schools project, which is participated in by primary and nursery pupils.

“We have echoes of the situation with the bridge, when it was closed and there was no access – and when, if we had just put up a guard rail, it would have been all right.

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“That was a safe and practical solution to what was looking like being a disaster.

“The school would never instruct an employee to flout a public safety closure.

“But had we had the information [on the Duchess Wood closure], had we been able to co-operate and work together, we could have done the necessary operations over the summer.

“It is harrowing. We have completed the sand dressing of the fields but we need to fertilise them and ensure that they are in a suitable condition for sport.

“That opportunity has now been lost for the summer, and we cannot return to it until next summer, even if contracts are put in place by mid-September.

“It is highly unlikely there will be any sport on the fields, and we are in breach of the conditions of maintenance agreed with Luss Estates.”

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Helensburgh Central councillor Lorna Douglas, the chair of the committee, said: “The closure of the woods has had such a knock-on effect, right through the groups that use it, and for the future planning of the school.”

Ailsa Cunningham, the council’s technical officer, said: “The recommendation was to close the wood.

“Once we have that in black and white, it would be a foolish man to override that.”