Category Archives: Letters To The Editor

Regarding The Array

letters to editor

I am writing this to express my concern at the way in which the proposed Tiree Array is being forced through the consenting process. It alarms me that Scottish Power Renewables want to get consent to develop their project before they actually release the details of what they are planning. I find it hard to believe that they have got as far as they have with their research and planning without being able to give us the least bit of information on what they are going to do. The “Argyll Array Project Update No8-May 2011” only reinforces the point that they are intent in keeping us in the dark until they get consent.

I find it strange that the government would even consider giving them consent without having detailed plans from them. How can individuals, group etc make any sort of informed decision without even the most basic facts. I have spoken to a lot of people who are undecided about the project and will make their minds up when they have some more facts. The harsh reality is that there will be no facts until Scottish Power Renewables have got their consent and by that time your views will count for nada. The time to make your mind up is now before it is too late, and in light of the fact that they are not disclosing any information you have to say no. It is up to us to force the hand of this huge multinational company by saying no now and force them to come clean as to what they have got planned.

When you look at the groups that make up the master planning process you have to question some of the motives and who is actually going to be there to look after the interests of Tiree and surrounding areas. It is obvious how SPR want the planning to go, least amount of cost and hassle to them. Highlands and Islands Enterprise have poured millions and millions of pounds into the turbine factory in Campbelltown. Argyll and Bute council have invested a reported £12 million into Campelltown harbour to make the turbine factory. The Crown Estates are the body that will be taking the money for effectively renting out the sea bed to the developer and are set to make millions from wind farms.

Scottish Natural Heritage have indicated in a document on offshore wind farms that they believe wind farms should be at least 35km offshore to reduce the visual impact on Scotland’s pristine seascapes, however SPR and other developers have ignored this advise and carry on regardless. So that leaves the Trust to represent the views of the people of Tiree. No disrespect to the Trust but in light of the bodies they are up against their voice will be lost at the negotiating table.

I would be very grateful if SPR could clarify what the possible implications of the Argyll Array would be on public services. In earlier scoping documents they stated that they did not intend to invest any money in schools, medical facilities or roads on Tiree as this was the responsibilty of local government. So would it be fair to assume therefore that the Array will have a negitive effect on public services?

It has also been reported that if SPR were forced into paying a levy on generated power this money would by default be paid to Argyll and Bute council. How much of this money would filter its way down to public services on Tiree and how much get swallowed up by A+B’s budget deficit? It would be very helpful if SPR could clear up this issue before any more rumours start.

Now is the time to say no. If we wait for any clear facts and information from SPR until we take a stance it will be far too late. Until they have set promises in stone we as a community have to say no. If the Array is going to go ahead we can only maximise any compensation by fighting. Remember there is a big difference between compensation and benefit and until SPR can prove otherwise this development is not going to bring any benefits to the island.

Adam Milne, Crossapol, Tiree

Hannah Brimelow’s recent letter about the Tiree Array offers wise advice from someone who knows at first hand how things work in the world of high finance and giant corporations.

As she points out, while the island is mulling over promises from Iberdrola, there are deals being done and consents being pursued. Once consent is granted, there will be no practical way to stop the developers from ditching those promises and riding roughshod over the island’s wishes.

So the message from Hannah is that there is effectively only one way for Tiree to have any control or influence over what will happen to it, and that is by coming out in opposition to the granting of consent. Without that opposition the island has no worthwhile authority to make demands.

Whether for or against the Array, I expect most of us would want to force Iberdrola to put the island’s best interests up there alongside its own corporate profit. If we think that they are doing that already, I fear we may be mistaken.

Peter Isdell-Carpenter, Milton.

Dear ma’am
The No Tiree Array (NTA ) Group is formalising its membership, and has drawn up its Constitution. This is essential to take NTA forward as a consultee within the Licensing and Consenting Process. For full details go to , then click on “Constitution” in the main Menu.

The membership donation is £1.00 . To make this donation via the website simply click on the ” Paypal Donation ” button, and follow the instructions. You do not require a PayPal account to process this payment.

For those without internet access and/or would prefer to make a donation by cheque then please do so by making your cheque payable to:- No Tiree Array and send it to me at the address below.

NTA has a provision in the Constitution for “sympathisers ” who for all sort of reasons may not wish to become a member but wish to register their support. NTA requests that where there is more than one potential member in the same household, that they make separate donations. That way NTA will be able to keep an accurate membership list.

NTA has, to date, been funded by its founding core members. Your donations will , amongst other initiatives,allow NTA to produce a quarterly newsletter, and upgrade its website. We look forward to your support of NTA .

Yours faithfully, Robert Trythall , Aird, Cornaigmore

History Repeats?

letters to editor

Dear sir,
Further to the letter from Duncan Castling, he certainly paints an horrific picture. How much notice should we take? I have the advantage of being able to remember Tiree 70 years ago.

There were quite good roads, the RAF built many of them. I wonder if the building of an airfield, and Camps, and being overrun by workers brought many complaints about the destruction of an idyllic way of life. At that time to buy a stamp it was necessary to walk from my grandparents Croft in Ballevullin to Cornaig, there was no road. Incidentally my Mother and her siblings had to walk to Cornaig, every day, to go to School.

There was no electricity. That was finally acquired after the war when the RAF generators became available for the local population. There was no water supply other than from wells. The water had to wait until much later when, oddly enough, one of my friends from University, was the Engineer. It was about his first job after graduating. We graduated in 1962.

No doubt all of those developments reduced the desirability of Tiree as a place to stay, or did they? I could go on, but suffice it to point out that the window that Sorley MacLean used to look through, was boarded up, not because of development but because of the lack of it, the land was needed for sheep, and for outsiders to visit and enjoy the remoteness.

Change must happen, anywhere that is not changing is dead. we must be very careful about resisting while not rolling over and allowing developers a complete clear hand. Lets hope we can find a champion like the wee Town Clerk from Lerwick, I’m afraid I can’t remember his name, who got such a good deal from the Oil Companies. It is possible and can help the community.

from; Alasdair MacArthur

Oh What A Night

letters to editor

To quote the old Elvis Presley song “Oh what a night, oh what a night it really was, such a night”

Thanks to Ian Smith and Eilidh MacFadyen for organising the fabulous concert on 21st May at An Talla. Two and a half hours of top class entertainment, and all for the price of less than 2 pints of beer! That is what I call value for money!

To the Tiree Piping Society, keep up the good work to promote music in the island. To those who entertained us, Thank you , Thank you, Thank you.

John Gunderson

If x then…

letters to editor

The inhabitants of the Island were initially said to be ecstatic. Their roads were being regularly repaired and widened. No delays now waiting in ‘pockets’ The improvements had sadly eaten up some of the pretty picturesque houses and machair due to road straightening, but it was for the greater good wasn’t it? Coping with the needs of heavy vehicle maintenance traffic to the airport. In reality only the few remaining sheep had not been compensated.

The airport had been dramatically upgraded and everyone agreed that this must be better for the Island. It had been improved so much to satisfy the needs of the fleet of 12 heavy helicopters. They were required to cover the maintenance and breakdowns on the huge turbines. The runways had also been extended to permit larger jet planes to land the manpower and materials. It was a bit noisier than the old airport but hey, that was the price of progress.

The Gott Bay Harbour had been a bit of a shock for many older residents to cope with. It all seemed a bit cluttered with all the temporary pontoons and docking areas for barges. Offloading the consumables and fabricated parts required to keep the turbines operating. Sadly the bay was now getting a little bit polluted due to shipping and transfer spillage, but experts had said it would settle down hopefully in the future and most of the seals and wildlife had moved away anyway.

The High School sadly closed a few years ago in a cost cutting exercise. Possibly due to the fact all the new workers come to the Island on short term contracts living in the temporary accommodation providing all the needs a migrant workforce requires. The swimming pool and sports complex are still only available to the workers despite objections from the local residents. To many people It did look a bit like the old RAF camp, but that was due to the security requirements. Unfortunately the promised employment had created a bit of resentment when it was finally realised that all the well paid work required specially trained and qualified personnel. Some of the remaining Islanders did work on the camp security and general maintenance, but it had led to many young people just deciding they were better off on the mainland.

The fishing industry is still fighting a legal battle for compensation following the access restrictions on the West of Tiree and the alleged pollution from Gott bay.

The supermarket had been initially extended and carried a much more varied selection of food. But when the tourists stopped coming it became unsustainable and had to close. The surfers followed the wind to other untouched island beaches. Residents now agree that there is less unemployment as everyone who can leave and work has left the Island. The indigenous population is predominately elderly and retired.

The biggest problem behind it all was the turbines. No-one had anticipated that the the power of the sea could be so destructive and violent as the climate changed. Nature proving again that it was ruled by chaos and unpredictability. Planned failure rates went out of the window and greater maintenance was required. The weather prevented access and reduced output as the turbines spent increasing periods of time shut down and awaiting repair. Then the unthinkable happened, turbine blades were sheared off in some of the most violent storms the Island had seen in a hundred years. The debris field resulted in an exclusion zone to all shipping. Currently one third of the five hundred turbines are either shut down or only capable of operating at reduced capacity due to malfunctions. The undersea cable is currently broken again and awaiting another costly repair. It was probably this that finally caused the the two main contractors to finally file for liquidation.

Solicitors acting for the crown estates are looking at many years of profitable litigation sorting out the aftermath. While a legacy of engineering problems obscures the view that no-one now has the incentive to resolve. The current government considers the project an expensive embarrassing failure and has cut all grant funding to the Island in a cost cutting exercise, as few voters live there anyway.

“There’s a board nailed across the window I looked through to see the west,
and my love is a tall tower forever a bright warning of treacherous passage.”*

Duncan Castling, Sandaig

*From the poem “Hallaig” by Sorley MacLean

Revisiting Island X

letters to editor

M Macarthur (letters, April 15th) paints a rosy picture of “the island of X” receiving spin-off benefits from an inshore windfarm.

Why do we have to imagine “the island of X”? Wind turbine generation has been around for decades, so there must surely be many remote communities enjoying these compensations. And there must be members of these communities who would tell us they felt that the huge environmental cost was worth paying.

If there is no real example like this, then the people of Tiree are right to be suspicious.

Yours faithfully
Simon Laird, Brock

The Future?

letters to editor

Picture the scenario. It is a few years down the line. S P R and the government have mistakenly thought that N T A represented the entire Tiree community and have cancelled the proposed wind farm off the coast of Tiree. Instead they have built one off the shores of the island of X.

The inhabitants of X are ecstatic. They now have good roads. Their High School has been upgraded and now offers a wider choice of subjects. They have twice daily sailings from their new pier and twice daily flights from their upgraded airport. The fishing industry is prospering due to the increased numbers of fish attracted to the area by the warm water surrounding the turbines. They have excellent leisure facilities including a swimming pool. The supermarket has been extended and now carries a much more varied selection of food. The population has increased making the island altogether more vibrant. There are top graded hotels and restaurants. Tourism has increased due to all the facilities. There is no unemployment.

This was the injection the island of X needed. But what of Tiree? They can only look in envy at the prosperity enjoyed by the island of X. Tiree has lost out!! They have missed the opportunity to liaise with the government to bring prosperity their way. Young folk are leaving and the decreasing population is becoming more elderly.

Tiree will remain the peaceful haven that those who move there desire. But it will be in a time warp.

M Macarthur

Artistic Turbines

letters to editor

Thank you Robert Trythall

At last a visualisation of the proposed wind farm from Sandaig. I love wind farms and believe it would be good to have our very own environmentally friendly outdoor art installation, which would also provide renewable energy.

The turbines remind me of work by famous artists such as Anthony Gormley, Giacometti and Tinguely. They are quite beautiful. I wish we could consider a more detailed visualisation with coloured turbine blades e.g. pink (as in Sweden) or shiny/sparkly to prevent harm to birds.

The nuclear disaster in Japan should be a reminder that more renewables are now necessary. They are the only alternatives and the argument ‘not in my back yard’ is not acceptable. Any argument against wind farms pales compared with nuclear installations.

Ulrike Rawson

Thanks From SNP Candidate

letters to editor

I am writing to ask if you might include in the next issue my thanks for the welcome and hospitality I received when I was on Tiree.

I had of course visited before – when I was Environment Minister – but it was good to be able to come back as the SNP Parliamentary Candidate.

I had a lot of important issues raised with me and I would intend, if elected, to hold a surgery from time to time on the island as well as making myself available from my constituency office to tackle problems and help local people as they require.

Having spent five years living on Benbecula – and have a wife from North Uist – I know a bit about island life and as I have lived for almost 20 years in Glendaruel I am also up to speed on Argyll & Bute concerns.

Regards Michael

Michael Russell MSP Scottish Parliamentary Candidate for Argyll & Bute

Broadband Concerns

letters to editor

I am writing looking for support on what to do next concerning broadband connection in Balevullin where my home is. I recently returned to BT who said they could cover the area – this was not to be the case.

I had enquired about Tiree broadband by the way, only to hear there was a waiting list etc. and I do not wish to use Sky services.

What I heard about Balevullin, and then heard that other areas have been told the same, was that if we got together 15 signatures our request might be rewarded with an improvement to lines etc. To this end if anyone in the Balevullin / Hough area (or nearby) wants to sign up can you let Lorna MacDonald know on 220 642. BT has since told me that it is up to the local council and BT Openreach about where lines are upgraded.

My appeal is for guidance about how to resolve this more quickly than waiting for 15 signatures. Please do make contact on pearlhbrown{@} as I am most frustrated by this rather antiquated approach to remedying something that may or may not work.

This episode has had its lighter moments though. The old BT landline to the house is so poor that I gave up trying to discuss the issues with BT and decided to wait until returning to London;
Also I innocently said to Lorna ‘give me you email address so that we can keep in touch’ – we both laughed! And then finally at the airport I was asked if I have checked in on line – I wish I thought silently.

Yours sincerely Pearl Brown

Questions About Array

letters to editorDear Sir,
I have been reading with concern about the Tiree Array and as a visitor to Tiree for the past twenty years I hope you
do not mind if I use An Tirisdeach to ask a few questions as I am now more confused than before with more
questions than answers so would welcome any and all comments to a few simple questions.
Firstly on the subject of vested interests in this project I can understand how this project primarily benefits a Spanish
developer, Scottish Power Renewables, and the Crown Estates but I am not certain I understand whom else are
beneficiaries as the one extremely important group that under current legislation have absolutely no entitlement to
any compensation or any rights whatsoever are the good people of Tiree.
2 What measures are planned to protect the people and heritage of Tiree from the inevitable human impact on its
fragile Island community and heritage, exactly how many people will be moving to the Island and will they bring
children for the school and new permanent residents or is it proposed that there is just a fleet of transitory migrant
workers to build and maintain the wind farm. Will MacLeod’ s have a new Polish food section as does our local
Tesco’ s to accommodate the islands’ new guests.
3 Transport is always an issue in the islands and Cal-Mac often struggles to service the people and businesses of
Tiree as it is, so how will Cal-Mac cope with the hugely increased demands for freight and people for the new Array.
Will they build a new ferry, build better facilities or inevitably just struggle on with more delays, cancellations and
problems for the beleaguered residents, businesses and visitors of Tiree. How will the roads cope with the huge
increase in demand, or can I assume of course that Argyll council is ready, willing and just waiting to repair, restore
and rebuild the islands’ roads, very much as they do today.
4 If the Tiree Trust is the definitive representative voice of the whole island community I am not certain I
understand why full trust membership is limited to only full time residents, surely all those that own land on the Island
including holiday home owners who have a large financial stake on the Island should also be allowed some level of
5 As the development is deemed offshore, the people of Tiree apparently absolutely have no right to be consulted,
have absolutely no right to any compensation and are thus entirely reliant on the goodwill of a Spanish developer
and any promises of the Scottish Government to protect the interests and future of the Island and its people. I can
find no comments online from SEPA or SNH, the two institutions whose apparent primary function is to protect and
look out for fragile environments and communities like Tiree. Nor can I find any comment from the Duchy of Cornwall
whose leader has been very vocal previously about onshore wind farm developments.
The Tiree Trust and other groups are working hard and doing a great job to highlight individual issues and keep
everybody informed but might it be time for a local referendum of all concerned people including residents, nonresident
landowners and even the greater readership of An Tirisdeach to establish the wishes and concerns of the
people and friends of Tiree.
6 Whilst I fully support renewable energy, the question is at what cost. Tiree fishermen will lose significant fishing
grounds, Crofters disruption to their livestock and grazings, Visitors will hardly want to stay at Turbine View and if
history is correct the developers will bypass the local businesses to use national hauliers and suppliers, and
islanders with have to compete for jobs with the partners of the temporary residents.
7 – What will be the legacy of this project as it only has a proposed working life of some twenty years and
notwithstanding the damage to the community and heritage of Tiree will the island and the seas around Tiree be
littered with post wind farm wrecks, derelict buildings and general debris to add to the visually highly attractive legacy
of the last transitory residents from the last war.
Finally I would like to remind everybody that this is an election year so until the 5th May is the only time if you are
very lucky you might just get an MSP to talk to or listen to you, though good luck on that one.
Angus Barlas

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