A FUNDING award of more than £100,000 will help a Helensburgh community group transform a local woodland into an “educational resource” for residents.

The Helensburgh Community Woodlands Group (HCWG) has benefitted from the latest round of grants from the Scottish Land Fund, with five local ownership initiatives throughout Argyll receiving a share of just over half-a-million-pounds.

HCWG’s pot of £117,128 will enable the group to buy the two-hectare Castle Woods from its current landowners, with the two parties having been in discussion - and dispute - for years.

As reported in last week’s Advertiser, HCWG had submitted applications to purchase the green space, along with land near Cumberland Avenue, under new Scottish Government legislation, but their bid was knocked back by ministers.

READ MORE: Helensburgh group's landmark woodland buy-out bid rejected by ministers

Whilst the Cumberland Avenue site will remain in the hands of Margery Osborne and Thomas Paterson, an agreement has been reached for the transfer of ownership of Castle Woods, which, according to HCWG members, has long been neglected.

Andy Donald, HCWG convener, said: “Helensburgh Community Woodlands Group are delighted at the award from the Scottish Land Fund, which goes a very long way towards providing the funds to help us purchase Castle Wood, a much valued but badly neglected woodland and nature conservation site which lies in the heart of our residential community.

“The woodland has not been maintained for many years and instead of being used for play and exercise it has fallen into a dilapidated state.

“Dangerous trees need urgent attention and the neglect of drainage ditches has resulted in water-logging and instability of tree roots as well as flooding to local properties.

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“Until now the local community has been powerless to take action to improve the situation and protect the woodland.

“The Scottish Land Fund award has given our community the very welcome opportunity to address these issues.

“We plan to transform the woodland so that it can be accessed by people of all abilities for exercise, play, peace of mind and for educational purposes.

“This can only help to improve the health and wellbeing of our local community and we are very grateful for the support received.”

The money from the Scottish Land Fund will allow HCWG to improve the woodlands and provide public access, eventually turning the woodland into a “much valued natural amenity”.

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