Plan Consultation Archive
Management Plan Newsletter - September
Management Plan Newsletter - March 2002
Comments from Benbecula & Harris
Final Version St Kilda Management Plan 2003 - 2008
St Kilda Management Plan 2003 - 2008
Thought from National Trust for Scotland
Kilda Management Plan 2003 - 2008
The St Kilda archipelago is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage
site on account of its outstanding natural heritage value - its
soaring cliffs and internationally important populations of sea
birds. On 1 February 2003 the Scottish Executive delivered a nomination
to extend St Kilda's World Heritage Site status - to include the
spectacular marine environment and the haunting cultural landscape.
A new five year Management Plan (2003 - 2008) has been prepared
to accompany this bid.
The new St Kilda Management Plan is an integrated document covering
all aspects of the site - cultural heritage, natural heritage and
the St Kilda landscape - and how it is interpreted, both to visitors
and to people who cannot visit but who have a tremendous interest
in the islands. It also addresses issues to do with the social and
economic impact of the property and the day-to-day management of
The Trust has worked closely with many other organisations to identify
the key issues to address in this new Management Plan. We have also
consulted local people and local interests as part of this process
and have held two open meetings in the Western Isles, one on Benbecula
and one on Harris, to explain the background to the work and listen
to local views. The views expressed at these meetings, and via responses
to this website, have helped the Trust to write the new Management
The final version of the St Kilda Management Plan is available on-line
in PDF format from the link below. This 115 page document includes the
main text of the Plan, but not the accompanying Figures and Appendices
at this stage. We hope that these will be available on line later this
Visit the "Final
Version St Kilda Management Plan 2003 - 2008" for more
information. (pdf format, 1MB)
To view and print PDF documents you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader
it for free.
St Kilda Management
Plan 1996 - 2001
First Thoughts From The National Trust For Scotland: Issues To Address
To help us
prepare for the consultation exercise, we took some time in 2001,
at the start of the process, to think about what we see as some
of the key issues that should be addressed in the Management Plan
for St Kilda. These are set out below. The Management Plan process
has considered all of these issues, and many more, and set out an
appropriate response, agreed by all the partner organisations involved
in the development of the Plan.
spill from passing shipping is a serious potential threat
to the natural heritage of St Kilda - any spill could have a
catastrophic impact on the internationally important colony
of seabirds. Minimising this risk is a key aim for us all. The
UK Government is in the process of identifying Marine Environmental
High Risk Areas which would provide guidance to mariners on
environmentally sensitive areas that should be avoided.
Would a designation such as this offer
a workable protection for St Kilda?
Frontier, west of St Kilda, is a site of current interest
for oil exploration and production though the threat
of oil spill from this source is considered to be far less
than from passing shipping The UK government placed a moratorium
on the issues of oil licences within 70 km of St Kilda whilst
this Management Plan was being constructed. On the basis of
current geological knowledge it is extremely unlikely that
oil or gas is present in amounts that would make production
economically viable within a 70km radius of St Kilda. The
risk of oil spill as a result of oil developments in this
area is therefore negligible. Oil spills resulting from oil
exploration and production outwith this zone, though affecting
the outlying surface waters, would be unlikely to reach the
World Heritage Site in damaging quantities. The effect of
such a spill on seabird feeding areas is currently being examined
in a Risk Assessment evaluating all the risks to St Kilda
and its surrounding waters.
marine Special Area of Conservation around St Kilda has been
set up to protect the outstanding communities on the underwater
reefs and caves. It extends to about 5km offshore. There is
a small creel fishery in this zone, but because of the rough,
rocky underwater topography trawling is unlikely, though if
it were to occur it could damage the reef organisms. Under the
provisions of the SAC, any fishing (e.g. for lobsters)
must be sustainable.
How important is fishing around St
Kilda to Western Isles fishermen? What controls should there
be on fishing in the UK's only marine World Heritage Site?
Kilda hosts the largest seabird colony in the north-east
Atlantic and this is the main reason for the islands' World
Heritage Site status. The colony is supported by the fish population
in the surrounding seas; some of the food is from discards from
the fishing industry but in other cases, e.g. sandeels, both
fishermen and seabirds pursue the same quarry.
Should fisheries controls take account
of the need to protect the seabirds' food supply?
accidental introduction of rats to the islands is the
greatest potential threat to the seabirds. A draft code of practice
for visiting ships and helicopters, for importation of goods,
and for waste management has already been discussed.
Who needs to be a party to discussions
about finalising this code of practice; and what should it include
to guard against the introduction of rats and other species?
survival of the rare and extremely ancient Soay sheep
preserves an important genetic resource but also offers a huge
opportunity for scientists and researchers to study them and
learn from their adaptation to this harsh environment. Our policy
is to preserve their genetic integrity, for instance requiring
strict controls in the foot and mouth epidemic, and to treat
them as a wild population where mainly observational research
is permitted. We therefore allow natural fluctuation of population.
From time to time the population "crashes" and many
sheep die; visitors often find the sight if dead sheep upsetting.
Do you agree with this approach? What
more information should we provide on the importance of the
sheep or on the results of the research?
the Village Bay area, the Trust's priority is to maintain, and
where necessary repair, the ruins to preserve the unique atmosphere
of the abandoned settlement. St Kilda is the only place where
the Trust tries in effect to fossilise an archaeological landscape
by maintaining buildings and the infrastructure of the landscape
so that they do not deteriorate further. We do not have
the resources to apply this policy over the whole island, but
still have a duty to conserve as best we can. We are considering
identifying different conservation zones that will allow us
to take less active / interventionist approaches in some areas.
Do you support this repair approach
around Village Bay? What would you feel if the buildings that
make up this important cultural landscape were allowed to deteriorate?
How should we approach structures over the rest of Hirta and
the other islands? Do we explain our approach well enough -
how could we do it better?
funding can be found, we would like to carry out more research
into the cultural heritage of St Kilda. Before we did this,
we would need to identify areas of work to pursue.
What are your unanswered questions
about the history and way of life of St Kilda? What are the
gaps in the information we provide at the moment?
is a lot of information about St Kilda available, and
owned by many different organisations. We would like to think
about setting up a database to bring all of this together, making
it easier for everyone to find out where to go to find out more
information on any aspect of the islands.
Would you find such a source useful?
How can we make it available to a wide audience?
and interpretation on the islands largely focuses on the
story of the islanders and the wildlife interest of the property.
There are other stories to tell - e.g. how people have adapted
to the unique natural environment and how different organisations
are working together to manage the site.
Do you think that interpretation should
include subjects such as these? What other topics should come
up? How can we get this information across - should we consider
temporary or permanent exhibitions (perhaps in the Western Isles?)?
How can we give a St Kilda experience to those who can't visit?
Use of Gaelic?
Kilda is a popular site for climbing and diving. Diving
in particular, due to the outstanding underwater life and clear
seas. Climbers must be careful not to disturb nesting seabirds
outside of the breeding season, weather conditions make climbing
Should climbing be allowed outside
of the breeding season? How can we get the conservation and
safety message across? How can we tap into the knowledge of
people who dive around St Kilda?
Kilda has for many years been managed by Scottish Natural Heritage
(SNH) on the Trust's behalf. From next year, the Trust will
take management back in hand.
How can the Trust maintain the excellent
links that SNH has established with people and organisations
in the Western Isles?
the presence of the MoD on St Kilda makes a considerable contribution
to the management of the island the MoD buildings and installations
on Hirta are regarded by many as a blot on the landscape.
In the event of any future withdrawal from the site, a decision
would have to be taken on their future.
Should they be left or demolished in
their entirety? Do you think they have acquired a cultural significance
in their own right and that some parts at least should be saved?
Main Comments Received
huge thank you to everyone who sent in their ideas on how St Kilda
should be managed throughout the 18-month consultation process.
Thank you also to everyone who commented on the Consultation Draft
of the Plan in Autumn 2002. This was posted on the website and sent
to everyone on the Management Plan mailing list, with posters distributed
on the Western Isles to advertise the draft locally. Around 45 people
responded to the consultation. All comments were reviewed by the
Trust with its partners, who agreed changes made to the Management
We hope that
public consultation raised awareness of the importance of St Kilda
and the challenges of managing this internationally important site.
We are very grateful for all of the comments received, which directly
influenced the content of the Plan. Many people expressed their
appreciation of being consulted in this way and although such an
intense level of consultation cannot be maintained over the long
term, we hope to find ways to retain contact with these stakeholders
as part of the ongoing management of the islands.
the Plan have continued to be dominated by two subjects - the treatment
of the Soay sheep and the issue of climbing.
and enthusiasts from across the globe have been in touch to
express support for the Trust's current policy, echoing our
belief that they should remain unmanaged to preserve the unique
characteristics of this rare survival of an ancient sheep breed.
The Trust is currently taking advice on whether animal welfare
legislation would be interpreted as applying to this wild flock.
Sheep breeders have also urged caution with regard to the suggestion
of creating another self-sustaining flock of Soay and/or Boreray
blackface sheep on an island elsewhere in the Western Isles,
to ensure preservation of the gene pool in the event of disease
on St Kilda. In the Plan we have noted the need to consider
this carefully and learn from the experience of similar experiments.
number of climbers have got in touch to express concerns about
restrictions on climbing on St Kilda and the Trust is currently
working with the Scottish Natural Heritage and the Mountaineering
Council of Scotland to hear their views. The St Kilda Byelaws
state that "no-one will be permitted to climb any of the
cliffs without first obtaining the Trust's Authorised Representative's
permission, which permission will only be given to those who
can satisfy him of their own experience and reliability."
We have two clear concerns - public safety and nature conservation.
To avoid disturbance to the internationally important populations
of breeding seabirds, permission to climb is not granted in
the breeding season. But outside of the season, weather conditions
are generally too hazardous to safely allow climbing. Our discussions
with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland will look again
at this situation and help the Trust to decide and promote a
clearer position on climbing.
It has now become clear that this subject
needs to be addressed against the wider context of a National
Trust for Scotland policy on both climbing on sea cliffs and
access to islands in general. There will of course be issues
that are specific to St Kilda, but these will best be addressed
in the context of an overall policy. We would therefore like
to broaden out this task and work with the Mountaineering Council
of Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage to review the Trust's
position as regards climbing on sea cliffs and access to islands;
and as part of this exercise to agree a position re climbing
on St Kilda.
is clearly now a bigger job than previously anticipated. We
have therefore taken the decision that this is not something
we can achieve in the timetable for finalising content for
the St Kilda Management Plan - and that this task should instead
be included in the Plan as a priority action.