Tag Archives: Climate Change

Tiree Community Council Update

Coastal erosion, planning and rubbish were three important issues that came up at this month’s community council meeting.

This was held using Zoom, although a return to face-to face meetings may be on the cards in future depending on a future Argyll and Bute Council consultation. Unfortunately, a slipup meant that there had been little advertising for the meeting and our audience was much smaller than usual.

The Dynamic Coast project is funded by the Scottish Government and involves a wide range of bodies from the University of Glasgow to the Ordnance Survey. Its goal is to pinpoint lengths of the Scottish coastline that are particularly vulnerable to erosion over the next generation. Running since 2015, researchers have compared 1890 and 1970 high water marks marked on old Ordnance Survey maps with modern models of the landscape to make predictions of the what the 2050 coastline might look like. (See www.dynamiccoast.com and go to the map section). For example, while sand has been deposited at the two ends of Gott Bay’s An Tràigh Mhòr, sections in the middle have receded up to 25 m between 1975 and 2006. By 2050, it is predicted that 1.3 km of the road here will be lost. On Cladach a’ Crògain or Balephetrish Beach, both ends of the beach have receded by 26 m over the same time, and lengths of the road here too are likely to disappear by 2050.

The second phase of this research will be published this week. It focusses on the most vulnerable stretches of coastline – and Tiree has several – and seeks to put forward solutions. One researcher keen to take this further is Julian Sartorius, a geographer at the University of Dundee. He is coming to the island in September, and would like to make contact with a representative group of us to help him research what people who live in these at-risk areas think about coastal erosion. He will be advertising for volunteers soon.

There was another discussion of the Community Council’s latest draft of the Planning Policy. Following two public meetings, an online survey and some feedback, we have refined the document. If a planning application generates eleven or more comments from island residents (which can be made in confidence to the community council); departs significantly from Argyll and Bute’s current Local Development Plan; raises important matters of principle for the island; might reasonably be predicted to have an impact on the broader community of Tiree; or impacts on a Listed Building as designated by Historic Environment Scotland, we will discuss in public whether to send a response to Argyll and Bute’s Planning Department. Having gone back over the last one hundred application, we think that this would have been the case four times over the last four years. The latest draft is on our website, and we welcome final comments before the September meeting.

We have had some correspondence about bags of rubbish left beside bins. The final public bin – one at the pier – has been removed by the Council after nondomestic rubbish was left in it. It was pointed out that rubbish is a year-round issue for the island, and that we all have a part to play in keeping the island tidy. Part of the problem is that a number of owners of rented houses do not pay for a weekly commercial uplift. Part of the solution is to make greater use of the dump, open six days a week. We decided that we would write to the Council to ask for more facilities. Finally, concern has been expressed about police cover for the island, particularly at the height of the tourist season. Marlene Baillie, the Area Commander, wrote back promptly to our enquiry to say: ‘I can advise that wherever possible we will continue to provide cover by sending an officer over from the mainland … As I am sure you will appreciate, I cannot guarantee cover on every occasion as sometimes the requirement to cover can be at short notice with insufficient time to identify staff and secure accommodation on the island. However, every effort will be made to send an officer over at the earliest opportunity if required.’

Dr John Holliday, Iona Campbell, Gerard McGoogan, Phyl Meyer, John Patience and Stewart Carr were in attendance. Please send us any comments and questions. Our next meeting will be on the second Wednesday of September.

Letter To The Editor

letter to the editorThe photographs from Nàdair Thiriodh of Crossapol taken in December and again in March (An Tirisdeach 566) are a timely reminder of how vulnerable the machair dunes are to extreme weather conditions. The most damaging of the winter’s storms on 3 January 2014 was caused when low pressure drew in very strong winds and a tidal surge of about a metre on top of the high spring tides. These are the very same conditions that caused the lethal floods in East Anglia in 1953.

Walking the beaches the day after the January storm was a sobering experience. Ten years ago, when I was studying oceanography and climate change for an OU degree, the forecast was that such events could be expected once every 200 years. More recently it has come to be understood that higher ocean temperatures will cause storms to be more powerful and more frequent. We have seen what that will be like this winter. If we care about the machair we must also care about climate change. It is right that we should ask Argyll & Bute and the Scottish Executive what they are doing to protect the machair. In return they could reasonably point to their ambitious renewables strategies as contributions to achieving a low carbon economy.

We have seen the formidable spin machine of No Tiree Array in action in recent weeks as they stamp on any sign of opposition. Tiree has much to fear from climate change and how we respond to the challenge of renewable energy is much too important to be left to a single issue pressure group that feels no obligation to listen to the community or to consider the wider context of what they campaign for.

The Argyll Array may have gone away for now, but there will be other renewable opportunities for Tiree such as a re-engineered array, wave generation or building on the success of Tilley with an ambitious community owned project. It is time to hear from others in the community. For example, is it the settled will of the majority on Tiree to refuse to play any further part in implementing the Scottish Executive’s renewables strategy? If we are unwilling to make our own contribution to this strategy, what right have we to ask others to help protect our machair?

It is to be hoped that the new community council will be an opportunity for a more democratic discussion of issues in which single interest groups are not the only voices heard.

Bill Welstead, Taigh Allamsa, Baugh