Community fears noise concerns are falling on deaf ears

BSW Fort William manager Oliver Stephen.

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BSW Timber say it is continuing to work with the local community in order to keep noise levels down despite growing concerns within the Kilmallie and Ardgour areas.

Sawmill operations recommenced in June last year following an eight-week period of lockdown. Members of the 187 strong workforce saw a phased return and following a number of noise complaints that were raised in that period, BSW manager Oliver Stephen attended a local community council meeting to address these concerns.

He told us: ‘This resulted in some positive actions being taken on site to help mitigate some of the concerns.

‘Further improvement works have been identified and are in the planning phase of completion.

‘The BSW Fort William site now has 212 employees and is a key business for the Lochaber regional economy, we understand our obligations to the local community, and take these incredibly seriously.

‘We wish to continue to work with the local residents and community on improving the relationship and sustainability for all.’

Samantha Thomson, chairperson of Ardgour Community Council told us that residents of Achaphubuil have been suffering for years from noise and light pollution from BSW and welcomed the reassurances that measures were being taken to alleviate the problem.

She told us: ‘It has been particularly unbearable for the last 18 months.

‘After many sleepless nights and numerous complaints, residents were very much encouraged by a recent meeting between some of the community and the CEO of BSW who has promised to put in noise mitigation measures.

‘Ardgour Community Council and Achaphubuil residents hope that these measures will be completed as soon as possible and will continue to work with the mill manager and the CEO in the hopes of a satisfactory conclusion to this misery.’

However, Kilmallie Community Council (KCC) acting chairman John Hutchison said that the feelings at the KCC meeting last week were that of ‘disappointment’ over the lack of communication by the company.

‘We certainly don’t want this to run and run, and I’d much rather try to deal with the issues in a focused, quarterly meeting where good relations could perhaps be built,’ he said.

Mr Hutchison has now appealed to the company to give some thought to resetting BSW’s relationship with the community.

‘We do want BSW to succeed but it can’t be at the expense of folks’ wellbeing,’ he added.