PEOPLE living in Rhu have been urged to make their views known in the next few days on a new management plan for an area of woodland above the village.

Around 30 members of the public, including local MSP Jackie Baillie, attended a public meeting at Torr Farm on Friday to discuss a proposed management plan for the native woodland in the area following the felling of trees at the site last year.

The deadline for members of the public to comment on the plans – which are available at the website of Rhu and Shandon Community Council - is Wednesday, June 22.

Concerns were raised on Friday at the potential impact of the management plan on birds, bats and mammals in the area as well as the possible increased risk of flooding on the West Highland railway line, which runs below the wood.

But land owner Anne Ferguson says she is confident those concerns are unfounded – and hit out at the “unsubstantiated allegations” she said were made at the meeting over the felling work at the woodland last year.

Ms Ferguson said: “I’m keen to work with the local community and the purpose of the meeting was to engage with them to present and discuss a management plan for my wood at Torr Farm.

“I was delighted that about 30 people attended including Jackie Baillie MSP and felt that the meeting on the whole went well. However, I was disappointed that on occasions during the meeting, unsubstantiated accusations were levelled at me regarding the tree felling I carried out last year.

“I am in separate talks with Scottish Forestry about the felling that was carried out and during the meeting on Friday, I made several clarifications about this to those who were in attendance.

“Having been brought up on the farm, I am fully aware of the needs to protect and conserve wildlife, and during all the felling that I carried out, I took care to ensure that no wildlife was disturbed.

“Flooding was raised as a concern but this was discussed on site and I demonstrated that the prime watercourse going across my land would not be impacted from any of the works I propose to carry out.

“I would like to emphasise again that the work I have already carried out and would like to carry out in the future is part of a 10- to 20-year plan to bring the wood back to its original state before it became overgrown and is not in any way for commercial purposes.

“I will be working closely with Scottish Forestry to ensure this is carried out in a proper and sensitive manner.

“I hope to have follow up meetings with those who raised concerns in the near future and look forward to receiving feedback from the community and working with them to resolve any site issues and concerns they may have. I will re-engage with the community when I have carried out revisions to my plan which I anticipate will happen late summer this year.”

Ms Baillie said: “I was pleased to meet with the land owner at Torr Woodland and members of the community last week to discuss plans for the area.

“It is important that the views of the community are taken into account before any further felling takes place and the meeting on Friday was helpful so that local people could put questions to the landowner.

“Any proposals regarding ancient and natural woodland must take into account the environmental impact including on the wildlife who have their habitats there.

“I encourage anyone who hasn’t made their views known to send their comments to Rhu and Shandon Community Council by June 22.”