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Next Steps

We would now like to get the community’s view on whether to pursue these proposals. Should we put in applications for grant funding to purchase the former Slains Kirk and additional land nearby?

Photo by Nick Scott / Alamy stock

If we purchase the kirk building, the plan is to develop a social enterprise café which would aim to generate enough income to cover its own running costs – including paid staff so that volunteers are not diverted from other projects – and to make a profit. We’ve received costed architectural sketch designs to upgrade the building to a highly energy efficient and sustainable space. The year-round café / bistro would cater for locals and visitors, with a strong emphasis on local provenance and sustainability. Initial plans are to open four days a week, which would increase if there is sufficient demand.

The café would also be available for hire for occasional events. We hope to host a program of events, special evenings and classes by local artists and musicians as demand dictates. There would be space for the sale of paintings, jewellery and other crafts. Display space would also include interactive information on energy conservation and local heritage.

Woodland planted on surrounding land would offset the equivalent of 830 return car journeys to Aberdeen each year. A much larger area would be required to make us carbon neutral in the future, but it is an important start to raise our awareness of the impact of commuting and encourage other alternatives. It would also increase local biodiversity habitats, as this is an important area for migrating birds and would add amenity value for locals and visitors.

What We Are About

Since we consulted you in 2018, SEAchange has been awarded charitable status with the following objectives:

  • To promote environmental protection by providing information and demonstrating ways to reduce climate change
  • To promote art and local heritage, encouraging enjoyment of art and music, and preserving our heritage

We have tried to keep you updated with progress through The Blether and would like to thank the Community Council for their help and support in that.

This leaflet is being sent to every household in the Collieston and Slains area. It gives a summary of progress, and outlines the proposals we have developed from the ideas you have suggested most often in our earlier consultations.

Now, you have the opportunity to make the decision on whether we take these proposals forward to the next stage. Everybody aged 16 or over and who is on the electoral roll will be entitled to vote. The ballot will be conducted by a consultant, Helen Barton of Highland Community Resources who has been employed with grant funding to ensure it is truly independent. We will not see your votes – Helen will give us and all of you in the community only the overall result.

This leaflet gives a brief summary. If you need more information you will be able to ask us in person at our presentation on Saturday 16th November, which you can drop into any time between 10:30am and 3:30pm.

Detailed documents are also available on our new website which also has a link from

Community Ballot Results

We have received an email from Helen Barton, the independent consultant who organised the ballot.

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Thank you for the turn-out, and for registering your votes for and against the SEAchange project. 

We have received an email from Helen Barton, the independent consultant who organised the ballot.  Helen wrote:  

“headline results are:

74% in favour of the kirk proposal

75% in favour of the land proposal

40% overall turnout
(52% Collieston village)

The turnout level is very good for this type of ballot, and a very clear result here. A more detailed breakdown is included in the report attached. If there is anything else you need do let me know.

Best regards,

If anyone would like to join our emailing list to be notified about news, meetings and progress, do email us on:

You are very welcome to join in the next stages of the SEAchange project.

Many thanks again to you all,
from the SEAchange team

A Brief Outline

What we want to do and why

Our vision is to become net carbon neutral as a community by 2045 at the latest, and to try to achieve net zero emissions as soon as possible. We aim to do this through changes in the ways we travel, the ways we heat our homes, the ways we consume energy, the food we eat and how we live.

As we learn more about climate change facts, we’re sharing what we learn.

We are very grateful to the Scottish Land Fund for awarding us funding which has enabled us to purchase land on which to plant a community woodland to help offset our carbon usage, and also the Slains Kirk building, in which we hope to create a café that people will enjoy coming to. People in our community have expressed the need for somewhere to meet each other informally, as some feel lonely and isolated, particularly in the winter months.

We still need funding to renovate the building as our project centre, with investment in energy efficiency and in sources of renewable energy.

At the same time our café will celebrate the historic Slains Kirk building, and will feature stories from the community’s past, reaching across centuries, and valuing the roots which have made the community what it is today.
It will provide a venue to encourage art and musical talent – and to appreciate the craftsmanship of the building itself.

All ages in our community have already been involved in different aspects of the SEAchange project.

Where and who we are

SEAchange is a community group with all the members living locally.

We are in north east Scotland, on the coast twenty miles north of Aberdeen.

The group was born at a public event in Nov 2017 at the end of which 14 of those who came to the meeting signed up to meet further and to work on the ideas put forward that evening. We continued to consult the community, receiving ideas in email suggestions following community newsletter articles, online survey comments, a gala day stall, and an open coffee afternoon. Some people have moved away, and others have joined the group.

The group has been meeting regularly since then and has developed the SEAchange project to meet the needs and aspirations expressed by the community.

At first an informal community group, we adopted an interim constitution during 2018, and became a SCIO on 4th April 2019 SEAchange – Slains Environmental Action for change SCIO
Charity number SC049195

Our officially defined geographical base is the area represented by the Slains and Collieston Community Council.

We are already working in partnership with Slains School, and are in conversation with the Forvie Centre at the Forvie National Nature Reserve, run by Scottish Natural Heritage.

We have consulted members of other groups in our community – for instance the Slains and Collieston Community Council, the Collieston Offshore Rowing Club, the Collieston Development Group, the Collieston Harbour Heritage Group, and Collieston Action for Teens.

Carbon Neutral Community 

Our aim is to work towards becoming a carbon neutral community. We need to address our large carbon footprint, because we are a mainly commuting community, with high heating bills from living in old stone houses. We aim to do this in a number of ways:

  • One of our team is Professor Pete Smith, FRS, FRSE, who is an international climate change scientist working at the University of Aberdeen, who has contributed regularly to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who is advising us on the necessary steps on a pathway toward net zero emissions as a community by 2045 at the latest, with ambition to reach net zero sooner.
  • We have been in contact with Professor Dave Reay at the University of Edinburgh who has agreed to offer honours / masters students the opportunity of coming to our community to do research projects which will help us to quantify our baseline carbon footprint levels, to provide a roadmap for emissions reduction and to advise on how we can monitor progress toward our net zero ambitions in the coming years.
  • We see the disused kirk, which is a 200 year-old stone building, as an ideal example to demonstrate what can be done with high specification insulation, ground-source heating, and renewable energy, to transform old buildings like those we live in to net zero housing. This will serve as an example and a demonstration, with all of the details and costs on display on boards so that people can learn from the renovated kirk and adopt the technologies in their own homes. To this end, we plan to make it the centre of this project, creating a café information centre for learning and sharing ideas about the changes that individuals can make through lifestyle choices
  • We also aim to purchase land nearby which we will plant with trees. The woodland planted on this land will offset 830 return car journeys to Aberdeen per year. We hope to acquire more land for planting trees in the future, but this initial step would be key in raising awareness of the cost in carbon emissions of car journeys, and the potential of encouraging car-sharing. Tree-planting will also provide added biodiversity habitats, with at the same time amenity value for the community. Working together to plant the trees will help grow our feeling of community, and of well-being.
  • As we go forward we hope to work more with other groups, particularly other small communities with similar ambitions.
  • The changes we learn how to make in our own homes and lifestyles will be on-going, and we hope that – together and individually – we can make a lasting difference as we work towards becoming carbon neutral. We hope to acquire more land for tree planting as funds allow, expanding the project as soon as possible.
  • We believe that as we find effective ways of reducing our use of fossil fuels, and our over-use of energy, we can inspire others to realise how important this is.


Immediate and Short Term:

Regular activities so far have been planning meetings, consultation with the community, researching viability of the project, and writing funding applications – all of which will continue.

  • Now that we have been awarded grant funding by The Scottish Land Fund to purchase the Slains Kirk building, one priority will be to do the urgent repairs required to preserve it.
  • Collecting data on existing/reduced use of fossil fuels and other sources of greenhouse gas emissions, in partnership with students from the University of Edinburgh under the guidance of Professor Dave Reay.
  • Researching and providing information on ways to reduce our carbon footprints.
  • Hosting a series of open public talks on climate change, behaviour change, transport emissions and alternatives, the climate impacts of food and other relevant topics organised through Professor Pete Smith, in collaboration with Aberdeen Climate Action.
  • Working together as volunteers to plant trees, create paths and recreational woodlands.


Longer Term:

Running a café which will be a centre for sharing information about climate change and what individuals can do through lifestyle choices. There will be wall displays with information about low carbon living

  • Our café will give a lead by example in sourcing all food as locally as possible, by providing exciting plant-based menu choices, and in participating with local initiatives to use surplus food for community benefit, thereby creating as little waste as possible.
  • The café will also provide a place for people to meet each other informally – a need expressed by the community
  • Providing learning resources for local children and young people, in partnership with Slains School, especially with respect to the impacts of climate change, and ways to reduce our own carbon emissions.
  • Developing a continuing programme of educational, artistic, musical and other relevant activities for all ages
  • Providing training in practical skills, both in the café and the woodland environments
  • Training also in skills such as improved driving techniques to minimise fuel consumption

Grant Funding

We have already been awarded grant funding to develop this project.

Our very warm thanks go to The Scottish Land Fund for their award of grant funding to purchase the Slains Kirk building for community use as a centre for the SEAchange project.
They have also awarded us funding to purchase nearby land on which to create community woodland.   Together these two purchases will be a vital step in the realisation of the SEAchange project.

The Formartine Area Committee and The Architectural Heritage Fund have enabled us to have professional advice to research the viability of acquiring the old kirk building as a demonstration model and as an information centre for our project. This has included a feasibility study, a valuation, a condition report, a structural survey, architectural design drawings and costs calculated by a quantity surveyor, as well as help with our business plan from Just Enterprise.

The Architectural Heritage Fund have given us further funding in February 2021 to develop the project – again very much appreciated.

Formartine Area Committee also funded an independent community consultation and ballot, which took place in December 2019. Voting papers were sent to all 252 homes in the Community Council catchment area. There were two questions, representing the two strands of our project. Of the 187 votes cast, 74% and 75% supported each of the two aspects of the project.

This support from the community gives us confidence in both the viability of the SEAchange project, and the need felt by the community here for it.

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