Fury in Hamish Macbeth village as cows allowed to wander the streets once again


RESIDENTS of a Highland village used to film the TV series Hamish Macbeth are furious that cows will be allowed to roam their picturesque streets.

The beasts were banned from the roads of Plockton 15 years ago amid concern about E coli and damage to cars. A tourist was even killed in the village by a roaming cow in 2003.

But the deal struck between Plockton common grazings committee and the National Trust Scotland has been overturned.

The decision caused uproar at a community meeting on Monday night in the normally peaceful west coast community.

Plockton residents are unhappy that cows may be allowed to roam the streets again (Credit: geograph.co.uk)

Charlie MacRae, a former community council chairman, told his local paper that the same reason for banning the animals 15 years ago still stands.

He said: “There is a real risk of E coli and children should not be near these cows.

He added that the decision to allow cattle back into the village should be unanimous and that not all crofters were agreed on “bringing cows down”.

A villager, known only as Denis, told the meeting the plans were “nonsense” and alarmed attendees by claiming that a boy in England had died just by touching a cow.

He told the National Trust for Scotland: “You just want compensation, that’s all you want.

“You’ve no right in law to bring them down.

“We do a damn lot for this village. But we don’t bring cows down.”

Another attendee, whose name was not given, claimed to have used the telephone directory to poll the residents on their views and found that 90% were against having cows back on the streets.

The man, who described himself as a clinician who dealt with gut bugs, said: “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.”

Iain Turnbull, National Trust for Scotland representative, told the meeting no risk assessment would be carried out.

He said: “As the landowner we are not able to say no to the cows. The law is quite clear.

“Fifteen years we had a collective agreement [but] it was voluntary.”

Mr Turnbull also said he would be “happy” to talk to the crofters in order to find an “amicable solution”.

The decision to ban the cows broke ground in 2002 when villagers clashed about their presence.

Some residents felt that they were a tourist attraction, while others were furious about the mess they left behind.

Before the ban was imposed, a pensioner was gored to death by a Highland cow near Plockton in 2003.

The unnamed man, who was on holiday with his family, had been walking along a path when he encountered the animal. He was admitted to Broadford Hospital in Skye, before being transferred to Glasgow’s then Southern General Hospital where he later died.

A spokesman for the National Trust for Scotland said: “We were pleased to have the National Trust for Scotland represented at the community meeting last night to discuss the crofters’ proposal to re-introduce cattle grazing in the village. We look forward to the organisers’ thoughts on the debate.

“It’s our view that whatever agreement is arrived at should ensure a balance between the grazing rights of the crofters, their legal responsibilities as owners of livestock and community safety.”