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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.
The main topic of conversation which divided opinion on and off the island, is the proposed off-shore wind farm, now known as Tiree Array, which caused heated debates and which I am sure will continue through this year too.
February saw the appointment of a new Police Officer – PC Tanner, and the wind turbine at Ruaig was given the name Tilley following a competition run by the board of Tiree Trust.
Following tests in April Tilley was officially declared “open”, with a naming ceremony at Ruaig, followed by a gathering at An Talla where Champagne was served followed by Tea/coffee and cakes. A dance in the evening was well attended.
The newly formed Ch@ room on a Friday evening proved popular with our youngsters as did the continuation of the Youth Club.
In March there were rumours that Tiree High School could be closed as part of Argyll & Bute Councils cost saving measures. This culminated in a packed meeting at An Talla in May being informed that whilst the school would remain open the number of teaching staff would need to be reduced. The Parent Council organised many meetings with council and government officials in order to minimise the harm that this would do to the education of our children.
Over 100 people took part in Tiree’s first ever Sport Relief Mile raising over £1000 for charity.
Highland Airways went bust and the flights from Oban to Tiree were taken over by Hebridean Air Services Ltd.
In May we heard that there was to be another island first –Tiree Music Festival was to take place in July. This turned out to be a huge success with performances from Skerryvore, Skippinish, Gunna Sound, Trailwest, the Defenders, Fortunate Sons, Crooked Reel, Torridon and a unique performance by the All Star Tiree Ceilidh Band. News of this year’s Tiree Music Festival will be announced shortly – watch this space!
A volcano erupting in Iceland caused disruption to flights all over Britain and Tiree was left for a number of days with no planes arriving or departing.
For those of a more energetic nature the annual 10k run in June involved over 200 people both locals and visitors.
The debate regarding Tiree Array continued with over 150 people attending a public meeting at An Talla.
2010 was the year of the 50th Anniversary of Tiree SWRI, a lunch was held at the Lodge Hotel to mark the occasion.
A group was set up to try to find a way to save the Thatched House Museum and although the original building has been sold there are plans to build a new thatched house museum and research into this is ongoing.
July was packed with the Art Exhibition, Feis, Agricultural Show and Dance, Sports Day and 5 A-side football tournament. Strenuous activity continued in August with the Regatta. Once again the Raft Race proved a popular if slightly ungainly affair and the Trawler race was fought out in its unique colourful way!
A Grand Black Tie event was held to mark the opening of The Ringside Theatre and film showings there over the following months have proved to be popular with young and old.
Another first for Tiree occurred at the end of September when a Northern Parula ( a small bird) stopped for a few days of rest. This was so rare that twitchers from all over the mainland arrived – some by chartered plane- to catch a glimpse of the visitor.
Although the winds blew strongly at the beginning of October, by the date of the wave Classic the island was left with barely a breeze and many activities took place on land rather than on the waves.
In October a new memorial was unveiled at Sandaig, to commemorate HMS Sturdy which had been driven onto the rocks following a storm in 1940.
Gordon Connel was winner of Music Tutor of the Year at the Trads in November and Skippinish Ceilidh House won Venue of the Year.
December saw snow lying on the ground for a number of days and temperatures struggled to get above zero despite the sunshine. The Christmas Party season banished the winter chill for a few days at least but a few days into January the snow returned to keep us on our toes.
At a meeting on Monday 6th December the Tiree Airport Consultative Committee (TACC) members agreed to contact the Scottish Government’s Transportation Division following revelations and recent press comment that the Government, through their asset owning agency Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), are planning the imminent purchase of two new Twin Otter aircraft from Canada for use on the Campbeltown, Barra and Tiree routes.
All three `lifeline’ routes are financially supported by the Scottish Government through a mechanism called `public service obligations’, or PSO’s for short. TACC members have learned that the Scottish Government Transportation Department Officials and Minister have already visited Barra to give assurances and to make promises to the public with regard to the future of the Glasgow to Barra air service.
While the Twin Otter has been an excellent aircraft for Tiree, and is apparently the only aircraft that can continue to serve Barra with the unusual beach take off and landing, members of the TACC felt that the needs of each island are quite different, as Tiree passenger numbers have steadily grown over recent years due to the introduction by Loganair/FlyBe on the Glasgow-Tiree route of the Saab 340. Resilience, and also the capacity to grow the Glasgow-Tiree service, should our route be served purely by the new Twin Otter aircraft, were two concerns expressed by TACC members.
Kenny Crawford, Head of Aviation Transport Scotland, has been invited to visit Tiree to discuss the island’s needs and to explain the Government’s proposals and vision for the future of Glasgow – Tiree PSO. He has agreed to come in the New year and has said that no decision on ordering aircraft will be made before 2012.
Any community group/s that have concerns regarding the Government proposals should make their views known to Ann Kirby at the Tiree Trust who will be coordinating a response to the Scottish Government’s Transportation Department.
Trust directors are pleased to announce the appointment of Andy Wright as our new Finance and Governance officer. Andy’s roots are on Tiree, and he is looking forward to moving here with his wife Hannah and 12 week old baby daughter. Andy’s post, like Ann’s post as development manager, is funded by the Big Lottery as part of the Harvesting the Wind Award the Community received in 2008 (Sophie’s position is very generously funded by the Robertson Trust, while Lynne’s post is funded by HIE).
November was another very good month for Tilley, generating 232 MWh, which takes the total for the year to date to over 2100 MWh, still ahead of our projections. We will be holding a public open day/evening in mid or late Jan to launch the Windfall Fund. This will also be an opportunity for you to tell Lynne what you want to be included in the new Community Development Plan. We are delighted that TREL has received the 2010 Scottish Renewable Energy Award for Best Community Initiative. This was for “an initiative that has been lead and developed by a community and which supports renewables development in Scotland”. We beat a very strong field of candidates including projects lead by Balfour Beattie and NPower. We should all be very proud that TREL voluntary directors have got national recognition for all the hard work they put into making Tilley such a success as a beacon not just for Tiree but for other communities.
This week we have had the final night of Ch@ Room. We had a Christmas themed evening with games and Christmas challenges. We also served tasty turkey and cranberry toasties! I managed to secure a much appreciated grant of £300 from ACHA. The young people also raised £60 at the craft fair. This money will be used for new equipment for the Ch@ Room. Ch@ Room will commence again in January 2011. Next Wednesday (8th) is the final night of Youth Club. The youth Club is having a snowman drive and a fantastic Raffle. All funds raised are for youth Club! Show your support by coming along and joining in the fun. For more information or to volunteer for any of the youth groups on the island don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at email@example.com
At the time of writing the Tiree Array developers, Scottish Power Renewables, were due on Tiree for a meeting with the Trust. We will update you on anything new we have learned from that meeting. Also at the time of writing, Lloyd Gudgeon was due to attend a meeting in Glasgow with the Scottish Government, The Crown Estate, Argyll & Bute Council and SPR, to formally demand that the Tiree Community becomes part of the process which directs the design of the Array and considers whether or not it should receive permission to go ahead. We will update you on the outcomes of that meeting. Meanwhile on Tiree, the Forum continues to put together a picture of the likely impact of the Array, should it go ahead. To help with this, Sam Bouchnak has joined the team. He will be concentrating on providing the Forum with support in the run up to a public presentation in February. There is another survey out there trying to get your opinions on what the Array might mean for us. This survey is being run by Argyll Renewable Communities, which is made up of the communities of Tiree, Islay and Kintyre, all of which are facing potentially close offshore windfarms. The survey can be found at
and you can find more details on a separate article in this paper. We want to collect as many responses as possible so that when we talk to government about our concerns we can not be accused of representing only a small number of local people or specialist interests. Please do take 10 minutes to fill out the questionnaire. Paper versions are available from the office.
We continue to work on placing a large number of contracts. We are about to kick off the process for appointing Lead Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consultants and consultants to carry out a preliminary route evaluation for the export cable.
Last month we met with Marine Scotland and gave them a general update on the project. We agreed to meet with them again once our Lead EIA consultants are appointed, in order to discuss methodology for the range of studies on potential impacts of the project.
Interviews are currently being held for the SPR Community Liaison Officer, Tiree position. We hope to make an appointment this month. Our survey is now closed for Tiree, but is still open on Coll (as it was launched much later on Coll). We will close the Coll survey shortly and will then begin to look at results.
The Crown Estate has recently launched a brochure on careers in offshore wind. This will be an incredibly useful resource for anyone wanting to get into the industry. It outlines the various specialisms within the industry, has case studies on people who work in the sector already, and indicates the qualifications which are required for a career in offshore wind. We currently only have a limited number of hard copies, all of which we will bring to the island next week. However, the brochure can also be viewed online here:
Home Energy Assessors Alun Jones and Frances Woodhead are visiting every home on Tiree to make sure that every house that is entitled to free insulation measures is identified. They have been contracted on behalf of Argyll and Bute Council and the Scottish Government, working with the Energy Saving Trust.
The Home Insulation Scheme is a new scheme for the Argyll Islands providing an energy audit, a home energy report and energy efficiency advice and is available to people who own their own home or rent privately.
Measures identified will be completed in a cluster basis to reduce the costs of getting installers to visit the islands. The visit will involve a short questionnaire which will allow referrals to be made to Miller Pattison who have the contract to undertake the insulation work. They will also be able to make referrals to the Energy Assistance Package that provides additional measures dependent on circumstances.
Even if your house is not suitable for the basic loft or cavity wall insulation being offered or has already been upgraded, the information collected will help to make a case for insulation upgrades that suit more Tiree homes. Energy monitors for loan, and other energy saving giveaways will also be on offer.
We hope that Tiree will get behind the scheme and that the visit will be of value to you. Houses listed for a visit will have received more information in a letter addressed ‘to the occupier’. The questionnaire can also be competed over the phone by calling the Energy Saving Trust on
The sound of the waves, driven by the storm of the night before, onto the gravel beach in Sandaig mingled with the playing of the Tiree Pipe Band. We gathered around the new memorial to HMS Sturdy as the rising wind showed us a glimpse of the fury felt by the sailors seventy years before.
The service, led by the Revds Peter Williams and Bruce Neill, was attended by around eighty people – three families of the crew (one had come from New South Wales to be there) alongside families from the township who had done so much to look after the exhausted men, representatives from the coastguard and Commodore Charles Stevenson who was representing the Royal Navy.
A special wreath was laid at the cairn to honour the work of Captain Donald ‘Dan’ Sinclair, Greenhill, who had instructed the crew to wait on board until low tide and had saved many lives as a result.
After the service we left to go to Soroby graveyard where we laid wreaths on the graves of the five sailors who drowned that day, as well as honouring the dead of the air forces who are also buried there. Tea was provided at An Talla and this gave a welcome chance to get out of the weather and swap stories about the Sturdy. There was also a huge display of items from the war from the collection of Mike Hughes.
At night Mike gave an illustrated talk on the impact of the war on the Hebrides, bringing his usual passion to the subject, and some stories. Apparently potatoes from the Sturdy stores have been grown in Middleton until recently. The families who had come for the event left the island full of memories, both happy and sad. Then Monday saw a huge storm batter the island, giving a taste of what it must have been like on that fateful day.
Thank you to everyone who supported the weekend, which had been initiated by Mike Gibson and organised locally by An Iodhlann.
Please see below your regular update on the proposed Argyll Array offshore windfarm.
We continue to work on placing a large number of contracts. We recently appointed our legal advisors, and are close to awarding contracts for a call-off arrangement for bird/marine mammal survey vessels. The next contracts to be placed will be for lead environmental consultancy and technical advice. Our vessel-based bird and marine mammal surveys continue, and we have just completed an Autumn bird survey using radar.
SPR Community Liaison Officer, Tiree
The deadline for applications for this position has now passed.
We received a number of good quality applications, and are discussing these with internal colleagues. We will be in touch shortly to invite successful candidates to interview.
Since our public exhibition in September, we have been conducting a survey of island opinions on our project. A hard copy of this survey was available in issue 478 of An Tirisdeach, It can also be completed online at www.argyllarray.com If you have not already filled one in, we would encourage you to complete the survey. It is anonymous, and we will present the aggregated results in An Tirisdeach.
The postal address for surveys:
Morna Cannon, ScottishPower Renewables, 4th Floor, 1 Atlantic Quay, GLASGOW, G2 8JB.
“It was a Thursday, I remember it well. Willie got up – he heard something moving outside, something being blown by the wind…This would be about 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning. It was quite a rough morning and it was raining. I would call it force 9-10, a severe gale… Just before we got down there we could make out it was a naval vessel – the paint, the colour, you see. There were a lot of people there; you’d hear “Help!” [The wreck] would be about 60 yards from the gravel beach on the rocks out there. I remember – I’m sorry, I’m getting emotional – the first thing we met there, a body, a beautiful, young fellow. I picked him up and took him beyond the reach of the ocean and put him on the grass”
– the late Hugh MacLean, Barrapol.
Tiree had seen its fair share of wrecks driven ashore, but the scene on the rocks off Sandaig at first light on October 30th 1940 brought home the sickening reality of the Second World War. A Royal Navy destroyer broken in two, beaten up onto the oil soaked beach with scores of stunned sailors sheltering from the storm and five bodies left behind by the tide.
I was not able to walk very well because I had cut my feet on the rocks but the islanders seemed suddenly to appear…I was taken to a cottage where the people were very kind, my clothes were dried and I had a hot bath. I fell asleep exhausted in a beautiful bed.
– Leading Seaman Harry Springett, from the Sturdy
To honour the five seamen who lost their lives and to remember the great kindness the islanders showed to the shipwrecked sailors, a memorial has been built above the beach in Sandaig where the ship hit the rocks. 70 years, to the day, after the tragedy this memorial will be dedicated at a service on Saturday 30th October at 2pm. Relatives of the crew, along with Commodore Charles Stevenson, CBE, (Naval Regional Commander, Scotland and Northern Ireland), families of the islanders who showed such kindness to the seamen and the Tiree pipe band will be there.
After the ceremony there will be another short service in Soroby Cemetry to lay wreaths on the graves of those who lost their lives. Afterwards there will be teas at An Talla at 4pm where everyone will be welcome to meet the visitors.
In the evening at 7.30 Mike Hughes will give an illustrated talk on Tiree during the Second World War in An Talla (the last talk Mike gave at the Fèis was a sell-out! Be there early).
The memorial has been built by Bernie Smith and Sons and organised by Cmdr Mike Gibson, the son of the Sturdy’s chief engineer. The committee of An Iodhlann hopes the island will support this historic day.
Do you have anything salvaged from the Sturdy or connected with it? If so, we would love to borrow it for the evening of the 30th October. We plan to have a table of things from the wreck at Mike Hughes’ evening talk.
Please contact Dr John.