Outrage as cows given right to roam Highland village of Plockton

Cows are free to roam in Plockton
Cows are free to roam in Plockton
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Cows will once again have freedom to roam the streets of a scenic Highland village after being banned over the risk of an E coli outbreak.

But many residents fear the animals could pose a danger to health, damage cars and destroy gardens in Plockton.

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Cattle were banished from the village 15 years ago through a deal struck by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and the Plockton common grazings committee.

But the agreement is set to end next month, meaning crofters are entitled to bring the cows back.

The move, which could see up to 46 cows let loose in the village, has caused outrage among locals.

Concerns were raised during a heated meeting on Monday.

Former community council chairman Charlie MacRae claims there are three strong reasons why the ban should stay in place.

“Nowadays there is too much traffic, much more than 15 years ago,” he said.

“Also there is a real risk of E coli and children should not be near these cows.

“Not only that, there is now very little grazing left in Plockton as much of the land has been built on or fenced off.”

He says not all crofters are agreed on “bringing the cows down” and insists the decision should be unanimous.

The meeting also heard from Bob Kennedy, a retired lab scientist, who claimed to have polled residents on their views. He said 90 per cent do not want cows back in Plockton.

“I would hate to see the goodwill of the civic duty of keeping the village looking so nice and all our flowers go to waste because cows are back on the street,” he said.

The community council said a new development trust is to be set up, which it hoped could work with the community to achieve a satisfactory solution.

NTS representative Iain Turnbull said: “As the landowner we are not able to say no to the cows. The law is quite clear.”

He said he was “happy” to talk to crofters in order to find an “amicable solution”.

After the meeting, community council chair Mary Jane Campbell said she can see both sides of the debate. She said: “The crofters are not a force for bad. I think a compromise is the best way forward.”

One of the plans put forward is to restrict the number of cows let loose at one any time.

However, Mr Macrae points out that even one cow can eat window boxes and leave manure that ends up trampled through people’s homes.