Tag Archives: conservation

NÀDAIR THIRIODH – TIREE RANGER SERVICE

bksa_parkingHow quickly a month passes by as Tiree Ranger and a busy one it has been.

The Tiree Wave Kite Masters was a huge success, but I must say a personal thanks to the BKSA organisers of the event who were in touch beforehand for information on protecting the local environment and ensuring their competitors parked responsibly.

As I write the Wave Classic is taking place and again the organisers have been very pro-active in working with me to ensure minimal impact on the machair and that the competitors behave responsibly. Unfortunately there is some bad news. Anti-social behaviour and littering has been occurring in and around the public bird hide next to the Scottish Water pumping station at Loch a’ Phuill. Together with PC Steph Tanner, we will be keeping an eye on this and urge all users of the hide to be vigilant and to tidy up after themselves – many thanks.

On a positive note another couple of guided walks have taken place and have been well attended. I have stopped these now for the winter period, but look forward to starting them again next spring.

The Tiree Ranger Service has now registered with Scottish Countryside Rangers Association. This nationally recognised organisation helps to develop and enhance Ranger services across Scotland and helps Rangers promote the enjoyment, understanding and care of Scotland’s outdoors.

Equal/Disabled Access Group/Forum

I have not yet had anybody express an interest in joining this group/forum so I am asking again. If you are not interested in joining a group, but would prefer to discuss “equal access” on a one to one basis instead, then that would be great as well. I have managed to speak directly with two visiting carers looking after a disabled person and they have given me some good simple ideas on improving access for disabled people. They also stated that they think Tiree is very good for catering for disabled people in comparison to other remote/rural places they have visited.

To re-iterate from my last article, following a number of ideas and requests for help suggested to TRD over the past two years, as part of the Tiree Ranger project, we have obtained some funding to establish and support an “Equal/Disabled Access Group”. This group with the help of the Ranger would map locations (e.g. beaches and other areas of interest) that are accessible/not accessible to disabled people, or those with limited mobility and perhaps also for pushchair users and publish this on the Isle of Tiree website to assist visitors. Once this is done, the intention would be to work with the group to look at how access to difficult to reach locations could be improved and see how these changes could be funded.

If you would be interested in joining or participating in this Equal/Disabled Access Group please contact me on 07765449487 or email me on accesstrd@tireebroadband.com or just stop me and have a word if you see me out and about.

Scottish Countryside Rangers Association

Steve Nagy, Tiree Ranger

Argyll Array Project Update 17 October 2011

Scottish Power Renewables logoOffshore wind careers evening

There was a good turnout at the careers evening organised by SPR at the end of last month. There were brief talks from two SPR Operations and Maintenance managers and also from a work boat operator, who had travelled from the Netherlands especially for the event.

The Careers Service gave their professional perspective on future careers in the offshore wind industry. Most of the evening, however, was given over to a number of interesting discussions about the practicalities of working on an offshore wind farm. The main points coming out of the evening were

  •  Offshore wind farm Operations and Maintenance provides career opportunities in all areas; professional, technical, craft, administrative and manual, with all of these equally appropriate for men and women.
  • The current entry method is mainly through having existing skills in any of those areas. · The next few years will see specific training for offshore Operations and Maintenance being developed.
  • The industry provides new opportunities for good quality, secure jobs. This is the case nationally but would have particular impact on Tiree were any part of the Argyll Array Operations and Maintenance to be sited here.
  •  Electrical, Mechanical, Electronic engineering, aeronautical and even car mechanic type backgrounds, to vocational standards (HNC, HND etc) and higher, provide an excellent grounding for work as turbine technicians.
  • Offshore oil and gas skills are also transferable to offshore wind.
  •  Going along to the Scenario Mapping events taking place between now and Christmas in Tiree gives an excellent opportunity to understand and influence how Operations and Maintenance for the Argyll Array could develop.

A number of those who were able to come along found the format and contributors relaxed and informative. The company would like to thank those who travelled to Tiree and also all those who attended for making the evening such a success.

Tiree visit to Offshore Windfarms

Ralph and Morna from the SPR Project Team took four visitors from Tiree to view offshore windfarms from Barrow-in-Furness in north west England on the 26th and 27th September.

The visitors from Tiree were Robert Trythall, Clare Jones, Sophie Isaacson and Ian MacInnes. The aim of the visit was to demonstrate what an offshore windfarm looks like from the coast, to give an idea of the jobs and infrastructure involved in construction/operations of an offshore windfarm, and to demonstrate SPR’s approach to development of windfarms.

On Monday the group visited SPR’s Whitelee windfarm and Visitors’ Centre on Eaglesham moor outside Glasgow, then drove to Barrow-In-Furness, in Cumbria. At Barrow, the group drove along Walney Island, and viewed the Barrow, Ormonde and Walney offshore windfarms from the coast including viewing the turbines at night.

The next day the group visited the Walney Offshore Wind farm’s construction base, and spent the day talking to staff from DONG Energy, who run the site. The group spoke to staff involved in project management, port operations, marine logistics, workboat crew, administration and health and safety. The group members have all given their personal impressions of the visit in the accounts published elsewhere in this week’s paper. I think it’s fair to say that the three main issues which come out of these accounts are

  1.   The potential for economic and social development from an offshore wind farm.
  2. The visual impact of jacket foundations.
  3. The visual impact of the wind farm at night.

These last two points are things the company is taking very seriously and I will have more to say about them next week.

Future updates

  •  Details of local consultation meetings
  • More on the wind farm visit

 Questions or comments

If anyone has any questions or comments on any of the above, or indeed any aspect of the project, please contact me at – Donnie Campbell, ScottishPower Renewables Community Liaison Officer, Machair, Kilmoluaig in the first instance. My land line telephone number is 220 352, mobile number 07881 983 753 and email donnie@argyllarray.com

Argyll Array Project Update 15 September 2011

Scottish Power Renewables logo

Below are responses to the last of the points made at the Public Information Day held in late June. Only one or two of the comments made have not now been responded to.I will look at these in the next update.

  • Concern about effects on tourism and lack of formal contact with representatives of tourism – Any effects on tourism will be looked at closely in the socio-economic section of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the project. If there are any potential negative effects, there may equally be positive effects. For example, any harbour improvements resulting from the project may encourage yachting tourism, a very valuable business which Tiree presently can’t access .It’s also possible to discuss tourism issues specifically with those concerned and I will be taking that forward directly in the next few weeks.
  • Concern that the wind farm be further out to sea, and desire that there should be fewer, but larger, turbines arranged not to present a ‘wall’ to the island – While there were few comments like this in June, there were considerably more over the summer, mostly from visitors to the island who had gone to the exhibition in the Rural Centre. The company is very aware of the issue and this will be taken account of in the Landscape and Visual Assessment which will be another part of the EIA. As I said in June, the photomontages were indications of what might be, not predictions of what will be. The sea bed conditions and a number of other constraints will determine the final placing of the turbines in the site.
  • A desire for more detail about onshore development, operations and maintenance possibilities and helicopter noise. – The Tiree Onshore Scenario Mapping consultation being carried out now will go into some detail regarding the whole issue of what may be developed onshore for operations and maintenance. It has not been possible up to now to identify in more detail the basic options presented in June. But since then a considerable amount of work has been done on this and the information will be passed to the consultants carrying out the consultation on behalf of Argyll and Bute Council. The possible options for an Operations and Maintenance presence on Tiree will therefore be presented more fully at the next consultation event during the first week of October. While this will not be an SPR event, there will be SPR representatives attending to answer any questions. This will be a very important event for giving more information about this major aspect of the project and I would encourage as many as possible to come along. Keep a look out for the advertisement in An Tirisdeach.

Careers Information Evening

The offshore wind industry in Scotland will be a rapidly growing part of the economy over the next twenty years. There is also the possibility that the Argyll Array development may increase the numbers of good quality, secure jobs available in Tiree.

The company has been in discussions with the Tiree Trust for some time now about how Tiree could become better informed of potential opportunities in this area. We’re delighted, then, that we’ll be able to hold an Offshore Wind Careers evening in Tiree at the end of this month. It will be held at An Talla at 7.00pm on Thursday 29th September.

Who is this event for?

It’s for anyone interested in careers in offshore wind. However, it will be of particular interest to people of working age who are interested in finding out how they could prepare themselves over the next five years or so for employment in the industry. We hope young people who have not yet decided on a career path and school pupils of about 14 and older and their parents will also find it very useful.

What will be discussed?

The evening will give a flavour of what jobs are actually done on an offshore wind farm;
how people repair and service turbines offshore, how people onshore monitor the turbines and co-ordinate the work on them and how the technicians and materials are transported to the turbines. We hope to give concrete examples of how people have joined the industry and how people can plan for education and training to enable them to do so too.

Who will be leading the evening?

There will be three people currently working in the industry there to talk about their experiences of their work and how their careers have developed. There will be careers specialists able to talk about current and future training /education routes and what people interested in joining the industry should do now to prepare themselves. There will also be SPR representatives there, able to discuss matters specific to the company.

What will be the format of the evening?

There will be a brief introduction covering the industry in general and how people from Tiree could become involved in it. The three industry workers will then each give a brief outline of their work and how they got there. A brief presentation on careers pathways and education/training will follow. The main part of the evening will be a chance for people to speak directly with the workers and careers specialist in organised small groups, over a cup of tea, to allow the kind of questions and discussion which are sometimes difficult in large meetings.

I hope this evening will be informative but relaxed and I look forward to it being a successful first step in this important area.

Future updates

· Final responses to comments made at the Public Information Day

Questions or comments

If anyone has any questions or comments on any of the above, or indeed any aspect of the project, please contact me at:
– Donnie Campbell, ScottishPower Renewables Community Liaison Officer, Machair, Kilmoluaig in the first instance. My land line telephone number is 220 352, mobile number 07881 983 753 and email donnie@argyllarray.com

ARGYLL ARRAY PROJECT UPDATE No.6-APRIL 2011

Scottish Power Renewables logo

Community Information Day

The ScottishPower Renewables Community information Day will be held on Tuesday 28th June in An Talla. The Project Team will be available to give information and hear your views between 2.00pm and 6.30pm with refreshments available.

The Project Team will be joined by a number of specialists from Scottish Power Renewables who will be able to give some background on their particular areas of responsibility.

The first photomontages showing what the wind farm could look like from various points on the island will also be available on the day and will be left for public display on the island. More details about the Information Day will be available closer to the time.

Website Update

A major update to our Argyll Array website is coming soon.

This will carry all the updates that appear in An Tirisdeach but will also be able to carry items that are too detailed or too big for the newsletter. It will enable anyone wanting background to the project or the latest news to access it 24 hours a day, from anywhere in the world. The website address is www.argyllarray.com

An Tirisdeach will still be where all the latest news is published first but the website will be a useful addition to that.

Unfortunately, not everyone on Tiree has access to the internet so if anyone would wish paper copies of the website updates, please contact Donnie Campbell.

Marine Scotland

  • Marine Scotland has been referred to many times since the Project was announced but many are still not sure what the organisation is or what it has to do with the Project.
  • Marine Scotland is a new department of the Scottish Government, set up two years ago. It was made up from a number of smaller bodies with responsibility for the sea and brings them all together under the one department. Many marine matters have effects on each other, such as fishing, the environment, oil and gas developments and wind, wave or tidal power. Marine Scotland was created as the single body that understands all these matters and which can plan and oversee the way Scotland’s seas are used.
  • It resulted from a combination of the government Marine Department, the Fisheries Research Services and the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency. An important part of Marine Scotland’s work is Fishery Protection and it has three ocean-going protection vessels and two aircraft for this job. One of its offices is in Cameron House in Oban and its vessels and aircraft can be seen regularly around Tiree.
  • Another important part of its work is giving permission for wind farm developments. It deals with planning matters at sea, while Argyll and Bute Council Planning Department deals with developments on land.
  • Marine Scotland looked at the Argyll Array project when it drew up the national plan for wind power developments which was published a few months ago. As part of the consultation on that plan, officials visited Tiree twice over last autumn and winter to gather people’s views. (Read more about this national plan on our updated website.)
  • Officials from Marine Scotland will consider the full planning application for the Argyll Array when it is submitted in 2012 and are likely to take a year or so to decide on the application after receiving it. They will either refuse it, grant it as it stands or grant it with conditions attached.
  • There will be a link from our website to the relevant part of Marine Scotland’s website

Met Mast

ScottishPower Renewables is seeking to erect an onshore meteorological mast to measure wind speed.

The type of mast would be similar to the one erected before the community wind turbine was built. It would be just over 70m in height and would be expected to be in place for up to five years. ScottishPower Renewables is in the process of identifying technically appropriate sites, and will contact owners/occupiers soon.

As well as an agreement with the occupier, ScottishPower Renewables will have to apply for planning permission to Argyll and Bute Council. Further details of the proposed mast will be available then. If permission is granted for the mast, tenders can then be issued for its construction and maintenance.

It is hoped that the mast will be in place by the end of the year.

Thank you

Morna Cannon, Assistant Project Manager, visited Tiree earlier in the month for a formal meeting but also took the opportunity to meet a number of people informally over the two days, to discuss the project and hear people’s views.

Thank you to all who took the time to speak with her and for their kind welcome and hospitality.

Future Updates

  • More information on the wind farm planning permission process
  • Information on a planned offshore wind farm visit
  • Information on a Careers Workshop to be held soon
  • An update on the appointment of an Environmental Impact Assessment consultant

Questions or comments

If anyone has any questions or comments on any of the above, or indeed any aspect of the project, please contact Donnie Campbell, Machair, Kilmoluaig in the first instance. Donnie’s land line telephone number is 220 352, mobile number 07881 983 753 and email donnie{@}argyllarray.com

Beetle Bonanza and Bumblebee Safari’s

Great Yellow Bumble Bee

Coll and Tiree provided a ‘hive’ of activity, with experts converging on the islands during National Insect Week.

Visitors included Bob Dawson representing the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and a group of four entomologists; including Darren Mann (Oxford University Museum of Natural History), Geoff Hancock (Hunterian Museum, Glasgow), Garth Foster (Aquatic Coleoptera Conservation Trust) and Jeanne Robinson (Glasgow Museums), sponsored by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Glasgow Natural History Society (GNHS) to survey the island’s insects and to investigate sightings of a very rare and special beetle.

Walks and talks were organised on both islands and lots of people came along to find out more about the rare and interesting insects they share their islands with. There was even interest from the national media; a film crew came out to Tiree for a day to film for the National Lottery Awards, who have supported the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s work on the islands. The visiting group were particularly interested in the short-necked oil beetle, Meloe brevicollis, thought to be extinct in the UK since the 1940s, before making a surprise re-appearance in Devon in 2007. No one expected that the next sightings would come last year from Coll, but a digital photograph sent to the beetle expert Darren Mann indicated that this was the case. These unusual looking beetles are dependent on solitary bees for survival. After hatching out of the soil, the beetle larvae sit around on flowers waiting for visiting bees to grasp onto. They must get to a bee’s nest, where they kill their young and feast on their pollen stores. Their host bee in the Inner Hebrides is the Northern Colletes bee (Colletes floralis) – also a rare species!

Whilst the bees are doing very well on both islands, no oil beetles were found on Tiree. Coll however was found to be extremely active this year, with about 40 beetles being recorded from 4 different coastal sites over 2 and a half days. A local high school teacher from Tiree came along to the beetle talks and was keen to teach his students about the beetles and enlist their assistance in surveying for them. These beetles can be relatively easily spotted along coastal paths and often identified from good photographs. Photographs can be submitted to the experts directly or via the RSPB wardens. The public can play an invaluable role in monitoring the status of these insect treasures in the islands. The general insect survey has also been revealing, resulting in many new insect records including at least a dozen species that have not been recorded from Coll and Tiree, including the diving beetles Ilybius guttiger and Hygrotus novemlineatus and the cranefly Erioptera nielseni. You can find out more about the insect survey on the National Insect Week blogs: http://blogs.nationalinsectweek.co.uk/jeannerobinson/

Hot on the heels of this peculiar beetle was Britain’s rarest bumblebee, the great yellow bumblebee Bombus distinguendus. Rather more mobile than the oil beetle, the queens emerge from hibernation mainly in June, and during the week were busy collecting pollen and searching for nests. Tiree and Coll are important areas for this species in the UK, largely because of the machair and its management.

After spotting a couple of queens on Coll, including one sheltering behind an Escallonia hedge in a strong wind, Bob Dawson of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust arrived at Ceabhar, Sandaig, to be shown a photo of a great yellow bumblebee by Duncan and Polly. Remarkably, it had flown into the restaurant! This was a good omen, with one or two more sightings, including one in John Fletcher’s garden, before a Bumblebee Safari at Balephetrish saw beautiful weather and a good turnout by people and bees alike. There were perhaps as many as 8 queen great yellow bumblebees among the dunes, mainly feeding on kidney vetch. An earlier Bumblebee Safari at Totronald on Coll had missed out on the great yellow bumblebee this time around, but the two other rare bumblebee species were present: moss carder bee Bombus muscorum and red-shanked carder bee Bombus ruderarius.

Coll and Tiree are the only places in the UK where these three rare bumblebees can be seen together, and if anyone would like more information on how to identify and record bumblebees please get in touch at the address below. We really need to know how the numbers are doing on the islands from year to year. Keep up to date with what’s happening with the great yellow bumblebee on ‘Bob’s blog’ http://gybb.bumblebeeconservation.org/

All of Coll and Tiree’s bumblebee species were out and about, including the unusual Barbut’s cukoo bumblebee Bombus barbutellus, which takes over the nests of other bumblebees. It was mainly the large, queen bumblebees that we were seeing, of the eight different species on the islands, but there were a few of the (smaller) workers out and about, which would be from nests started by queens back in May. These would have emerged from hibernation before the great yellow bumblebee, back in April and May.

There was also a bumblebee on Coll (at Cornaigmore) that ought not to be on the islands – a buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris. This is still a common species on the mainland, but it seems the sea crossing is not too serious a barrier for this large, mobile species. There are regular reports of bumblebees visiting boast a few miles from shore, which are usually the commoner species. Who knows, perhaps some of Coll and Tiree’s speciality bumblebees can make it to the mainland and establish nests there? Almost as quickly as they arrived, the experts reluctantly departed, convening on the M.V. Hebridean Isles for a quick debriefing over lunch. We were all agreed that these are very special islands indeed, and with a lot of analysis to do back at our respective bases.

MOTOR HOME OVERNIGHT PARKING SITES ON TIREE

camper_1

After public consultation, the votes are in on implementing a scheme for motor homes/campervans visiting Tiree, which would ensure that the number of these vehicles arriving on the Island would be restricted to the number of overnight parking sites available for them.

The public vote found an overwhelming majority in favour of this scheme.
The aim of the scheme is to provide designated legal overnight parking places away from the sensitive machair land. June and July 2009 saw a 154% increase in the number of these units coming to Tiree, compared to the same months in 2008 and this trend is expected to continue next year.

The erosion caused by the increase in vehicles is visible across the island and the overnight parking scheme is part of an island-wide access programme, which aims to prevent further deterioration of these sites.

Included in this programme are plans to provide improved access tracks and parking, better facilities and improved signage/ interpretation in order to improve the visitor experience whilst at the same time protecting the islands natural and cultural heritage.
The aim is to provide enough designated legal overnight parking places for all motorhomes and campervans visiting the island. To achieve this we are looking for the co-operation of crofters and land managers on Tiree to provide suitable sites on fenced croft land. This would give crofters the opportunity to generate extra income over the summer months by receiving a nightly fee from the customer.

Argyll and Bute Council planning department have stated that a crofter can site three vehicles per croft between April and October without seeking planning permission. All that is required would be a dry level area of ground with easy road access, clear of farm implements and livestock. It is planned that a central waste disposal and water collection site will be available to visitors, as it is not feasible to have these facilities on every croft. It is also hoped that all reservations would be made through a central booking system on the island.

If you are interested in providing an overnight parking site and would like to discuss the matter further please contact Alison Spence on 07765449487 or email accesstrd@tireebroadband.com. If unavailable, please leave your contact details.

Destruction of Caoles Dunes

caoles_beachAn Tirisdeach finally went to Caoles to find out what all the brouhaha was all about regarding the dunes at Caoles.
Indeed, it is a shocking sight to behold.
The sand in the picture is not a beach, but where the marram grass used to be. The 9,000 year old dunes were destroyed in the construction of two holiday homes.
A phone call to Andrew Montgomery the factor for Argyll Estates elicited the following response:
“ I am furious about what has happened. I have insisted the dunes have to be reinstated with netting on top of the dunes and marram grass re-planted. I will be keeping a close eye on the situation as it needs to be exactly as before.”
Mr. Montgomery informed An Tirisdeach that work will start immediately.
At time of going to press, all endeavours were being made to rectify the destruction that has taken place.

Community Wind Turbine Update

turbine_site_worksWork is progressing well at the Ruaig site. Stage 1 (Access Road and Crane Pad) has been successfully completed by Agrimarine.

Stage 2 (Foundation Base) is now in progress. In simple terms, this stage consists of digging out a large hole, fabricating a metal frame, and pouring a large amount of concrete. The end result, after two or three weeks to set, is a large circular base on which the turbine will be bolted. It’s obviously a lot more technical than that and the team from Raymond Brown Construction, assisted by I A Mackinnon Haulage/Plant Hire, are working very professionally at the site to complete stage 2 on time.

In the coming few weeks a long articulated vehicle will come to the island to carry out a trial run up from Gott Pier to the Ruaig site. This will help to specifically define areas where road works are required to allow the vehicles carrying the turbine and crane to reach the site. Hopefully, all going to plan, the turbine and crane will arrive on the island around the middle of October. When the turbine and crane arrive on island there will be unavoidable disruption and delay on the roads from the pier to the site. Once dates are confirmed we will be able to give a more detailed time schedule to all.

Hopefully this information provides a general update and we apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused. If you have any concerns or wish more details regarding any stage of the process please get in touch with Liz at the Trust Office 01879 220074 or any of the Tiree Renewable Energy Company Ltd Directors.