As mentioned in earlier posts, the rangers from the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park visited the island to help ensure that the project will not adverseley impact local wildlife. The simultaneously good and bad news is that we think we may have bats in our tower (castle). We hope to have more definitive information today, but we understand that the bats may embed themselves in the cracks in the masonry and, therefore, the trimming of the ivy would likely disturb them (or their habitat if not currently in residence). The same may be said for the trimming of the saplings coming out of the walls since scaffolding must be set up to do this carefully (but we are not sure if we might still trim saplings). If there is any evidence that bats do live in the tower, an expert will need to be brought in to determine if and when we might do those works. Some information has suggested that, with the proper additional permissions and permits, we might be able to proceed with the ivy trimming in the months of October/November ... when the bats are clearly not in residence. Unfortunately, this requires a costly bat survey and license from Scottish National Heritage and, given the natural cycle of the bat, could take many months. A bat survey will be needed to prove there are no bats if there is any evidence that they might roost in the tower.
So, Fiona will hopefully get additional information today and we will determine what portions of the project can go forward. As we have mentioned, certain works depend on the completion of preceding works, but we may still be able to proceed ... just less efficiently. We certainly want to do whatever we can while being good stewards of your donations and of the natural heritage. PLEASE feel free to comment here or send us your thoughts at Info@EllanVhow.org.
Bruce, Katherine, and Fiona