Friends of King’s Cross campaign

Campaigning to preserve a much loved, beautiful, tranquil area on the Isle of Arran from inappropriate industrial development by Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS).

Some background to the campaign:

In 2022, FLS purchased Whitefield Farm on King’s Cross, a 30 hectare former dairy farm which was being used for sheep grazing. The farm also includes a farmhouse, cottage and various outbuildings. FLS has yet to say publicly precisely what its plans for Whitefield are. A number of documents obtained via FoI indicate that over several years plans have been developed for a new timber stackyard and export facility.

The noise created would affect a large area around the site. Kings Cross is a very tranquil rural area with little background noise, and the impact of the “impulsive” nature of the noise of timber movements would be significant over a large distance affecting many properties and landmarks including the Centre for World Peace on nearby Holy Isle run by the Samye Ling community.

An independent noise modelling study in 2019, commissioned by FLS, has already confirmed there would be considerable noise and that it would be very challenging to mitigate, such that it could be contained within regulatory noise limits.

Members of the public, residents and visitors to Arran are horrified by the plans for Whitefield, with the clear preference expressed that timber exports continue to leave the island via Brodick.

On February 8th, Friends of King’s Cross released the following statement:

FLS buys Brodick Timber Yard

“We understand that the timber yard and export facility and slipway on Market Road at Brodick previously owned by John Thomson Limited has been sold to Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS).

This is encouraging news and may be a signal that FLS has taken heed of the considerable community concern regarding their purchase in 2022 of Whitefield Farm at Kings Cross. Continuing the exports of Arran timber from Brodick would avoid enormous environmental damage at King’s Cross as a result of creating a new timber export yard there. The alternative of the large development at Whitefield Farm would mean huge additional public expenditure to re-develop the site, as well as the ruin of a tranquil area of farmland and coastal fringe overlooking Lamlash Bay and Holy Isle that is much valued by residents and visitors.

We believe that the completion of the purchase of the timber yard significantly strengthens the argument for continuing with the status quo for exports of felled timber from the island, and we would welcome confirmation from FLS that the development at Whitefield Farm is now unnecessary as FLS intends to continue to export timber via Brodick via the existing yard and/or Calmac ferry.

We understand that the timber export facility on Market Road has been working below capacity for the last few years and we believe that all the timber due to be harvested from Arran can continue to be exported from Brodick.

We await further confirmation from FLS of their intentions for both the purchase of Whitefield Farm on King’s Cross and the timber yard and current export facility in Brodick, and we note that there might be further opportunities for FLS to purchase additional neighbouring land at Market Road if that is needed to expand the existing facility. We would encourage FLS to explore such options.

We are also heartened by the recent Calmac initiative of offering freight only ferry services to Troon using the MV Hebridean Isles. While this is a temporary arrangement for now, freight specific services seem an eminently reasonable and economical method of transporting large commercials on and off the island, including trailer loads of timber direct to the sawmill at Troon using an island haulier. We hope that Calmac can work with the local community to continue freight specific services for the benefit of the island as a whole.”

Meeting with Katy Clark

On Friday 24th February Friends of King’s Cross held a meeting with Katy Clark to discuss the recent developments. During the meeting, local residents and visitors expressed their concerns, and Katy Clark made suggestions as to how the campaign can go forward. While it is a hopeful sign that the site at Brodick has been purchased, there is still not enough information from FLS as to know what their intentions are.

Katy said she would look further into the alternatives, and try to broker a meeting with FLS. There have to be agreed routes for timber transfer and she would investigate how a route via Brodick would be received. She emphasized however, that because King’s Cross is not a zone for industrial usage, compared to somewhere like Hunterston, it may be a clear rejection if and when the proposal does go to a planning committee.

As well as noise pollution, the environmental concerns are great, given that industrial development would destroy the biodiversity of the area. As well as the close proximity to Holy Isle, the proposed site is right next to the No Take Zone and South Arran Marine Protected Area. With constant shipping of timber, the marine environment would be hugely affected. It was noted that very rare flora and fauna have been found in the area as well. Katy stressed these are all reasons why the FLS project is not viable, and the Friends of King’s Cross need to continue to campaign widely on these issues.

Friends of Kings Cross has been formed to protect the beauty, diversity and spectacular setting of King’s Cross from inappropriate industrial development. We have gathered significant support from residents, visitors and our elected representatives since our formation in October 2022.

An otter swimming in Lamlash Bay, Isle of Arran. Credit: Jamie McDermaid

Featured image shows the view from King’s Cross looking towards the north of the island. Credit:

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