Sustrans (sustainable transport but do not know anything about sustainable business) administer grants for the government.  The principal of the North Highland Way project was researching whether the client might be eligible for a grant under Community Links.  It is, but where is the profit?  The problems are outlined below:

These were my observations

1. A private company cannot develop the route, or any part of it, and then charge for accessing it, having made the investment. (due to  the Scottish Outdoor Access Code)
2.  There is the situation where a client  cannot benefit from the project from money from public funds.
The client would have been Rachel Carson Enterprises, a company registered in Ireland.
3. The company is in Ireland and due to the difficulties  encountered with both public and private sector, as well as the voluntary sector (ie Highland Highlife and now SUSTRANS), the principal will not be setting up a business in Scotland again including a socio economic company.  This means that no funds can be applied for.  Time=money and the principal is not prepared to put even more  time into to an application and get no return on the investment.
No understanding of time=money. 
4.  Dounreay are the obvious organisation to sponsor my time, or the NDA.  This has  already been proposed and received no reply has been received.
Ongoing… a private sector organisation which receives millions from the public purse and purport to support socio economic projects, but don’t. Nor do they support the environment. 
The principal wondered if SUSTRANS would be prepared to speak to Iain Morrison and Malcolm Duce about this.  The ERI in Thurso should be given more recognition by HIE.
She also wondered also if she might be able to use the SUSTRANS logo on her  website at with text of their choice and a link.
No was the firm reply.  In that case they don’t support the idea.
The principal did the same with SOAC, but did not actually ask SNH who are currently avoiding her as she made a fuss about what they are doing at the Peatlands. Although she agrees that people should learn about the Peatlands, she does not agree with what she sees as an extension to the NC500 which does not adhere to the EU Directives on Sustainable Tourism and Climate Change.  SEPA are actually responsible for this but are doing nothing or about the rocket project.
How can the NC500 adhere to the Directives when they encourage people to drive round in bigger and bigger cars.
She looked forward to hearing Mr. Hickey’s thoughts.  On the face of it, it seemed as determined as the principal that the project would go ahead.  The principal  copied Stuart Gibb for his input, should he so wish. He knows the principal and her capabilities.
Kind regards
The response:

In response to the below and various other emails I have received from you;

  • Community groups, councils, transport partnerships, private companies (except if they are outwith Scotland), etc. are all eligible to apply for Community Links
  • All are expected to manage their own cash flow, including paying their employees – in some instances, this may be partially resourced through Community Links funding, but this cannot be the primary objective of accessing Community Links funding. So where is the money for the applicant?
  • All are expected to have an established governance structure or steering group – this needs to be more than one person.
    • Why… if one person has the qualifications and experience to manage such a project, then why should they be excluded.
  • All are expected to provide solid evidence of their capacity to manage the project with the support of the project officer – this needs to be by way of relevant documentation, not expressed verbally or informally through email.

Again, where is the revenue?  The lack of understanding of business and economics is unbelieveable. 


In this instance, there is no justification for me to allocate time, resources, and funding to your project for the following reasons; (Not MY project, it affects all businesses in the north)


  • I have seen no robust evidence so far of your capacity to manage this project (feasibility study, documentation of previous works, the constitution of your groups, licences, proof of qualification, etc.)

Another attempt at getting the feasibility study free of charge.  They must have been talking to HIE.  The work of the company under LetsGoNorth is well documented and well known.  The Dunnet Head Educational Trust and the Caithness & Sutherland Walking Festival to name but two projects. Brough Bay Limited was registered in Scotland and disbanded as it was no longer viable due to lack of support of any kind from the Director of Planning and Infrastructure of the Highland Council, for reasons only known to himself. 

  • I do not see that there is a steering group or governance structure in place, with enough people involved to manage the project

There does not need to be a steering group if the expertise is within the company.

  • Neither you, nor your company, are based within Scotland.

The Scots don’t want inward investment.

I must advise the following;

  • Any work that you are currently undertaking in furtherance of this project is independent to yourself and you should not expect that any public body is obligated to retroactively fund you for this.
    • Rachel Carson Enterprises has not asked for this.

  • Sustrans is a charitable, non-profit organisation administering public funding for community benefit, and should not be viewed as a method of payment for an independent for-profit business.

Yet another way of trying to extract information out of people with qualifications and experience for free.

  • I am not prepared to make any kind of approach to Scottish Government, HIE, THC, SNH, or any other public body or their employees on your behalf and indeed, it is not within my remit to do so.

Why would they.  They don’t want to help in any way.

  • As we have not been able to commit resource to the project, I would request that you do not use the Sustrans logo or other form of reference on your website as this would be misleading in terms of our involvement.

We will not of course do so


Should any group come forward who meets the above specifications, I would be very happy to help talk them through the process of applying for Community Links. If your end objective is to have the North Highland Way instated, for the benefit of the community, my suggestion is to seek a group willing to make the application. If no group is willing, it must be assumed that community interest is not sufficient.


There is plenty of community interest, but no resource.  Time has to be paid for.  People have lives and jobs and family commitments. Rachel Carson will not be spending time looking for a group.  It is futile.  All people want to do is take expertise and knowledge for themselves. 

Many thanks for your correspondence so far, but I will be unable to go any further with this exchange until I am able to justify allocating my time to it, as per the above.



Published by Dawn Marshall

I have written for several publications in Scotland and Spain and have a Diploma in Freelance Journalism. I also have a BSC in IT and Spanish from London South Bank University, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Economics, Policy and Risk from Heriot Watt University. I am a member of the NUJ in Belfast.

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