On 12th July 2014, over 150 people gathered in Maryhill Burgh Hall in Glasgow to celebrate the recent recognition of huts in Scottish Planning Policy, and to explore the barriers to, and opportunities for, a new hutting movement in Scotland. The strength of will and enthusiasm in the room was palpable and we all came away with the strong feeling of positive momentum.
Maryhill Burgh Hall proved to be a fantastic venue, and the morning saw excellent speakers set the tone for the day. Ninian Stuart, founder of A Thousand Huts, opened the day, and Carbeth hutter Alan Graham gave everyone a taste of the stories of Scotland’s largest hutting site in advance of the afternoon’s site visit there. Alastair McIntosh led a rousing rallying cry which took us from politics to theology in lightning time! Lesley Riddoch had us all on the edge of our seats with her thorough comparative analysis of the opportunities for hutting in Scotland and Norway. Everyone got the chance to participate in the Panel Discussion featuring Donald McPhillimy, Anne Cunningham, Gerry Loose and Alastair McIntosh, chaired by Lesley Riddoch, before the workshops began. Our site visit to Carbeth was wonderful. We were given a very warm welcome from the Carbeth Hutters, some of whom not only welcomed us into their huts, but also plied us with such delicacies as home made macaroons and birch sap wine!
Some of the key issues which arose on the day included:
Tenancy rights for hutters. Serious concerns were raised that currently hutters have no real tenancy rights as they are not classed as ‘permanent residents’. They therefore live with a lot of insecurity. At the Rally were people from Rascarrel who had been evicted, as well as people on neighbouring land who were concerned for the future of their huts. Since the Rally, we have asked Government Ministers Richard Lochhead and Paul Wheelhouse for a meeting to discuss this problem.
Keeping hutting affordable. There was a strong sense that we need to work to ensure that affordability is built-in to future hutting. See the report from the workshop on Keeping Hutting Affordable for more information (will be available soon).
Low Impact Living. Many people asked the question – what about full-time low impact living?
Support for a new Hutters Federation. At the end of the morning session, we put the question to the whole Rally – Do you think a representative Hutters Federation would help to progress hutters rights and hutting opportunities? There was a resounding ‘yes’ and around a third of the room raised their hands when asked if they’d be willing to actively help make this happen. Since the Rally Gerry Loose of Carbeth has proposed some initial research of existing hutters and a core group will meet soon to discuss plans for the next steps. We’ll circulate a summary of ideas drawn from the Rally and other meetings in relation to the Hutters Federation, and hope that all those of you who voiced an interest in being involved in the development of the Hutters Federation are all ready to help move things forward!
Communication and skills sharing. Many people asked for more facilitation of communication between hutters, prospective hutters and prospective landlords. There were suggestions this could be done via an online forum and face-to-face meetings. People were also keen to learn the skills of hut building and off grid living.
It was fantastic to witness the earnest and engaged conversations going on at every workshop table. Topics included: Building your hut; Off grid living; the economics of hutting; the Welsh experience of Low Impact Living; and How do we keep hutting affordable. We are still working through a mountain of notes and will produce a full report soon from the event. If you have notes from your workshop, please do send them to us at email@example.com
Response to the Rally
There was an overwhelming positive response to the Rally. In advance of the event, there was media coverage on BBC Radio Scotland Out of Doors, BBC television Scotland 2014, STV, The Herald, and New Start magazine. Many people became members of Reforesting Scotland, and pledged to come to the Reforesting Scotland gathering on Skye in October. We’ve had a huge upsurge of new Facebook group members and during the Rally our Twitter account activity peaked on an all-time high!
Join our online forumYou can now take part in our online discussion forum, the Hut Circle, at www.reforestingscotland.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=4&sid=c3b0afa18cebbb9efe08cfb50c095ba9
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