Tag Archives: wind

A Profile Of Tiree’s Kitesurfing Champion

Helen_kitesurfIt was with great pleasure that I heard it was our own local resident Helen Thompson who was the BKSA Womens Champion 2013. My kite surfing friends had spoken highly of her and were impressed by her use of a strapless board and her apparent natural affinity with the ocean.

Helen winning the championship was a source of pride to us all. Aged 27 years, Helen IS originally from Killearn near Glasgow, but has lived on Tiree for 11 years. Visiting Tiree with her family in 1993, Helen learnt with a friend to windsurf on Loch Bhasapol – the place to go on Tiree if interested in this increasingly popular sport. Going on to learn surfing and kite buggying, Helen eventually had her first kite surfing experience in 2003 and that is where her interest has stayed.

Although Helen has not competed for four years, she is no stranger to competition and winning. She was British Amateur Champion in 2006, British Overall Kite surfing champion in 2008, British Wave Masters Champion in 2009 as well as South African National Cable Wakeboard Champion in 2009.

Helen a cheerful, friendly lass, started her own Tiree kite surfing academy in 2010 and gets a real buzz teaching a wide range of age groups, a skill that makes being in the water much more fun. Catching up with Helen at Crossapol beach after the weekend celebrations I asked her what the competition had been like for her.

“Well the weather conditions were amazing. Absolutely fantastic. We completed the competition a day early with three full rounds of all categories. We had cross off from two different tacks over the week and decent 20+knots. Tiree really lived up to its reputation as a world class venue. Elsewhere you can wait for days for the right weather conditions to occur. My favourite kiting beach is Crossapol; off shore, cross shore, its brilliant with waves in all directions, and although I have travelled extensively I would probably say that Tiree is my favourite place to kite surf as I haven’t been anywhere in the world that offers as many options in different conditions.

I had the best week I have ever had on Tiree and as I haven’t competed for 4 years it was great to see all the familiar faces again and I realised I really love competing. The camaraderie is great and we all get on. Of course we take the competition seriously as we all want to win, but even during the competition we are always chatting, exchanging thoughts on kit selection and analysing the weather conditions. Usually it’s the conditions you have to battle against not the competitor in your heat. You just have to go out and do your absolute best.”

As Helen and I sat on Crossapol beach drinking our hot chocolate I asked her what winning meant for her and if anyone inspired her. “Winning is a great feeling, it’s the clarification that my hard work training has paid off. I’ve been out on the strapless board in all conditions this year; on flat days, on massive days trying to dial in my feet and it has paid off. And as for inspiration, well other successful kite surfers inspire me, at the moment my Slingshot team mate Patrick Rebstock is a great inspiration.” As I prepare to leave Helen checking out the waves and the wind direction, I suddenly remember what advice would I want if I was contemplating taking up kite surfing. Helen smiles. “Well I would say to you the same as I tell my students; training, practice, keeping fit and trying to avoid injury, and fun, it’s fantastic fun and not just for the young.”

Thanking our new British Kite surfing champion for her time, I depart thinking of Alastair Mathieson (The Green). A keen kite surfer now in his early 70’s, Alastair is living proof that adrenalin sports aren’t just for the young and you’re never too old to have fun and keep fit at the same time.


A.J Sutherland

BKSA Wavemasters – 16th To 21st September 2013 – A First For Tiree

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABritish Kitesports is the National Governing Body for the sport of Kitesurfing and is bringing the Wavemasters 2013 to the Isle of Tiree for the very first time.

The competition, now in its 8th year, has come to Scotland mainland however has never come to Tiree.

Kitesurfers use surfboards and kites to ride the waves and score points to advance in the competition in a knock out format. The kites are water re-launchable and if they go down in the surf will pop into the air again. Riders try and get the longest and biggest waves to score highly in their 7 minute heats.

We are excited to come to the Isle of Tiree and sample the wind and waves it has to offer to make the week a memorable one – top riders from across the UK will be coming. Defending their titles are Scots George Noble from Fraseburgh and Kierra Alwood ( now residing in Norwich).

The competition starts on the Tuesday and runs through to Saturday at various beaches on the island depending on the wind direction.

1/3rd down 2/3rds to go – SPR consider downsizing

no tiree arraySPR revealed at their TIREE Public Information day on the 30th Oct that they were:

“ considering a revision in the design” of the proposed Array.This would in effect reduce the Array by approx 1/3 rd from 300 to 215 (6MW) Turbines .

This has arisen from surveys prompted by environmental issues with regard to (1) Basking Sharks and (2) the Great Northern Diver. The Skerryvore Reef is a Basking Shark hot spot, also favoured by the migrating Great Northern Diver.

What has prompted SPR to respond to these issues is not clear. SNH’s Basking Shark survey is not due for completion till 2014 NTA is not aware of any statutory survey required at this point in time. SPR is not completing its EIA till 2014. Down sizing is a consideration. It has not been conceded .


How SPR contrived to exclude this building from the ONSHORE SCENARIO MAPPING EXERCISE beggars belief.

If it was onshore, it would be Tiree’s largest ( 6 acres) and tallest onshore building (27m). Construction would require major road and harbour works . SPR offered the converter shown here as an example. SPR states as follows: -“ it is planning to proceed with an offshore convertor station. If SPR changes it’s intention to proceed with an offshore convertor station, we shall advise this publicly.”


John Muir Trust /YouGov poll results show:-

43 per cent would be less likely to visit a scenic area with a large concentration of turbines, while just 2 per cent would be more likely to visit a scenic area with a large concentration of turbines. Regional variation in those who say they are less likely to visit scenic areas with a large concentration of turbines ranges from 32% in the North East of England to 49% in Wales. In Scotland the figure is 36%

For further information go to:- www.no-tiree-array.org.uk

Argyll Array Project Update #38 – November 2012

Scottish Power Renewables logoPublic Information Day (PID)

This year’s Public Information Day (PID) took place last week in An Talla.

One of the important points discussed was a proposal to revise the design of the wind farm to exclude some of the Skerryvore Reef area, which would reduce the overall size of the wind farm. A revised map of the proposed site for the wind farm was displayed.

There were also revised photomontages available, which illustrated the potential change to the visual impact of the revised site area.

Another point discussed was the options for the wind farm converter station. A slide display explained the basic differences between a facility being offshore and being onshore. (Offshore means being out at sea in the wind farm itself, as currently planned and onshore means being on land, on Tiree itself.)

These were the main areas of interest to the exhibition visitors and there was a lot of informed discussion on the day. There will be a summary of the points made by the public in a future update. Meanwhile, all of the material in the exhibition has been posted on the project web site www.argyllarray.com and I still have the actual photomontages used on the day if anyone wishes to view them directly.

A full colour booklet which reproduces most of the display material is also freely available to be picked up at various public points round the island.

Future updates

· A summary of feedback from the PID

· Progress with the Tiree Community Partnership Fund

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 220352, mobile number 07881 983753 and email [email protected]

No Tiree Array Update


SNH is currently conducting a Basking Shark survey of the Skye-Mull area, including Tiree & Coll, as part of the environmental study with regard to possible MPA status for, or within, the Area. Tracking details have been impressively revealing in terms of shark location, confirming Tiree-Coll and Skerryvore as a basking shark hot spot. SPR’s survey boat is reported to have sighted 918 Basking Sharks within the proposed Tiree Array Area on 6th August.

NTA will provide a detailed analysis of this data on its website www.no-tiree-array.org .uk


SPR has stated it is ‘minded’ to put this offshore. This is based on feedback from last years Public Information Days and the Scenario Mapping Consultations. Notwithstanding this background, SPR still wants to ‘provide more information‘ on locating a convertor onshore in Tiree.

In SPR’s view there may be some ‘benefits in respect of jobs and infrastructure’. SPR advise that it is their intention to provide this information at their next Public Information Day. Irrespective of the reasons offered by SPR to reconsider their ‘minded’ offshore location for such HVDC converters, there are technical ,and operational reasons why SPR would wish to have one, at least, of what could be up to three such HVDC converters on shore Tiree .

NTA has requested SPR to present appropriate visualisations and montages of both options. SPR has refused this request, consequently NTA is requesting Marine Scotland and Fergus Ewing, Scottish Government’s Minister for Energy, to intervene.


SNH in Marine Scotland‘s Scoping opinion stated :-

We highlight that ‘dark skies’ at night are a major attribute to Tiree. SPR has consistently refused to present appropriate visualisations. NTA will endeavour to present same, shortly, using data provided by SPR.

NTA Update

NTA decided at the end of February to look at environmental issues associated with the proposed Tiree (Argyll) Array.

We reported in the 16th March edition of AnT on the unique Tiree status of the Great Northern Diver and Basking Shark. This highlighted their relationship to possible Special Protected Areas on Skerryvore Reef, and the context of the marine environment to the proposed Tiree Array. Such status issues may have crucial and fundamental implications in the consenting process for the proposed Tiree Array- NTA expanded upon these themes in the 30th March edition of AnT. Coincidentally in the same edition, SPR tucked away a discreet announcement of an 18 month delay in the project. SPR gave environmental reasons for this delay, coincidentally, with specific reference to the Great Northern Diver and Basking Sharks!

The latest JNCC report shows that a substantial basking shark HOT SPOT has been recognised overlapping the Great Northern Diver HOT SPOT within the entire proposed array area. This concentration of sharks is equal if not more important than the nationally important Gunna Sound hotspot.


scale of array turbines

Look closely. It gives you a very clear idea of how Skerryvore will be dwarfed if this Array goes ahead. Don’t forget Skerryvore will be surrounded by 180-300 Turbines. Scottish Power Renewables has PERSISTENTLY refused NTA’s requests to publish its June 2011 Visualisations and Montages. As recently as 14th May SPR still resisted when stating “It’s not consumer friendly to put such a large files on line”. Two days later however, SPR finally posted their visualizations on their website. (http://www.argyllarray.com/news-detail.asp?item=134). Just WHY it has taken SPR nearly a year to do so is a mystery. Perhaps they were worried at what your reaction might be, to what these monsters might look like close to Tiree’s shores? Maybe it is coincidental that NTA‘s detailed March 2012,submission to Marine Scotland criticised SPR ‘s Public Information and Consultation? NTA advised Marine Scotland that: – “contrary to previous undertakings SPR had not posted these June 2011 visualisations”. NTA’s submission to Marine Scotland also advised that SPR had not updated its Tiree (Argyll) Array website since July 2011. For those who follow the SPR website, there has, in the last few weeks, been a veritable deluge of updates!


At the end of February, NTA contacted the RSPB to protest at a serious omission on the RSPB website. It contained no specific reference, or information, on the proposed Tiree (Argyll) Array. The omission was made more shocking by the RSPB’s site having specific references to other Scottish offshore wind farm sites. NTA is pleased to advise that the RSPB has now rectified their omission, and the RSPB site now has a dedicated Tiree (Argyll) Array page. To find out how they see things NOW, go to www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/casework/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-313798. Friends of the Earth, WWF & RSPB have been reported in the national press as recipients of funding from wind farm developers. NTA has been in contact with the chairpersons of each organization, asking for details of such funding.


Following SPR’s recent confirmation that they will study the possible local climate change caused by the inshore array, NTA will try to ascertain what methodology SPR intend to use to study these affects on our island’s weather, on our agriculture, on our environment and ultimately affects to our homes. NTA will confirm the current International, European & UK protection legislation, furnished upon the local areas proven to already meet and exceed the SPA/NIMA & MPA criteria, ie the areas that would be damaged or destroyed by the industrialisation of Skerryvore Reef and the entire area of the proposed Array.

Following the recent tourism boom at the UK’s incredible first ‘Dark Sky’ park in Galloway, NTA will further investigate Tiree’s posible ‘Dark Sky’ status and future loss of our beautiful night skies caused by the Tiree Array. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ukscotland- south-scotland- 17988825


NTA has been criticized for making reference to the Nov 2011 CITI report that there would be investment uncertainty created in the light of the independence issue. SPR’s rivals Scottish and Southern (SSE), it must be said, has been open and forthright on this issue, by stating that it would honour existing investment in Scotland. SSE warned, however, that the uncertainty created by the 2014 referendum could jeopardize future investment plans. (http://scottishutilities.co.uk/news/78.htm). The renewable industry is subsidy driven and subsidy dependent. Subsidy policy is, currently, UK Government policy. But uncertainty of the subsidy policy of a possible independent Scotland is a matter of deep concern to any investor. Spain is in financial crisis. Only last week Ignacio Galán, Chairman of Scottish Power, and its parent Iberdrola, stated his commitment “to sell assets, cut investments and improve efficiency in an effort to reduce debt We are going to revise all of our investments that aren’t already allocated … focusing much more on our debt situation.” It would appear that debt reduction has become the number one priority for Iberdrola-Scottish Power.

Wobbles and Delays In Tiree Turbine Plans

Tiree Array (artists impression)

The controversial proposals to erect giant turbines close to Tiree are hitting delays and uncertainties.

As we know, Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) now will not submit planning applications until the latter half of 2014. Tiree folk have to accept at face value the company’s explanation that this is due to ‘environmental issues’. However, there may be other factors at work to put brakes on SPR’s plans. Citi Group, the global investment bank, warned that investors would be cautious until after the Scottish referendum on independence. These ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTIES were more recently compounded by market worries about the exposure of Scottish Power and its parent company, Iberdrola, to Spanish banks. Spain’s economic crisis is mounting by the day. The issue of the withdrawal of Doosan, the Korean manufacturer who planned to develop offshore turbines in Scotland, was clarified by the company as the result of ‘…the overall economic conditions in Europe’. In other words, the wind energy industry is feeling the windchills of all the economic woes!


A recent SPR update stated it was minded not to place a huge converter station on Tiree. Last week the Oban Times reported that SPR were exploring options via Mull. SPR reasoned that if offshore cabling risked being dredged up it could take months to fix it!

This happened near Tiree two years ago and it took five months to get power transmission back to normal. If this is such a real risk it makes one wonder why the Tiree Array is being proposed in the first place! SPR itself is not allowed to build or own the kind of high voltage equipment needed for these jobs. The transmission network will be constructed by an Offshore Transmission Operator (an OFTO) appointed by OFGEM the energy industry regulator. Had things been on track for Tiree, the OFTO tendering process for the Tiree Array should have been started by now. There is no sign yet of this happening.

The Moray Array made its first moves on this process last November, and it is hoping to submit for planning in 2012. It would appear to the layman, then, that transmission problems for SPR continue to mount and may be contributing to their own planning application delay. NTA has asked for clarification on this from OFGEM and SPR.


The issue of the Tiree Array is now at the heart of Europe! NTA made a presentation to an EU symposium on offshore windfarm environmental issues, including the Blue Carbon question and potential destruction of wildlife, flagged up by NTA itself.

These also may have contributed to SPR’s problems. The meeting was attended by folk from the Scottish Government and Marine Scotland, the planning agency.


Regrettably, the Tiree Trust has withdrawn from a previously agreed joint approach with NTA to this question of visuals and the selection of viewpoints on the island. Because of delays, SPR will pursue this issue next year. Last November Marine Scotland announced that it was ‘currently reviewing its licence manual and the consultants working on this will include visual impact.’ This shift on visual impact will replace and update current guidelines and when these are published NTA will consult with the various statutory bodies involved. We’ve told SPR we’ll be doing so. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THE CONSULTATION PERIOD FOR THE ON-SHORE MAPPING SCENARIO CLOSES ON FRIDAY 27 AUGUST. ALSO BE AWARE THAT CONSTANT UPDATES ON ALL THESE ISSUES AND MORE ARE AVAILABLE ON NTA’S WEBSITE AT www.no-tiree-array.org.uk

Argyll Array Project Update 25 – Febrary 2012

Scottish Power Renewables logo

Community Partnership Fund

The second meeting with Tiree Community Development Trust to discuss this initiative took place on the 14th of February and the third meeting on 21st February.
A joint report on the meetings will appear in the next issue of An Tirisdeach.

Engineering Foundation Programme

A reminder that any young person interested in applying for a place on this year’s programme should contact either myself or Ralph Thornton on 0141 614 0418. Staff at Tiree High School will also be able to give prospective candidates further information and support. Obviously, places are open to both female and male applicants.

Coastal Communities Fund

Further to the item in the last update, any group seeking funds from the Highlands and Islands part of the Fund can download a prospectus from www.communities.gov.uk/documents/regen eration/pdf/2085591.pdf.

Converter Station

Preliminary research has now been completed for SPR regarding the siting of the converter station at the wind-farm end of the grid export cable route to Dalmally. Most will recall that a short-list of possible export cable routes has already been drawn up, all of which involve either a route over Mull to Oban or a completely sub-sea route to Oban, with no cable coming on to either Coll or Tiree. At the moment, SPR is minded to apply for permission to site the converter station offshore within the wind farm and not onshore in Tiree. The current position is based on feedback received through last year’s Public Information Day (PID) on Tiree, and the Scenario Mapping consultations. However, SPR has agreed with Tiree Community Development Trust to provide more information on the onshore convertor station at this summer’s Public Information Day. There are some benefits in respect of jobs and infrastructure on Tiree which would occur irrespective of the strategy for the windfarm. The island’s views will be sought at the PID in the summer, and if there is strong feedback in favour then SPR would reconsider the possibility of an onshore location.

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 07881 983 753 and email [email protected]

Community Notice From Tiree Trust And SPR

Tiree Trust LogoScottish Power Renewables logo

SPR has recently given a commitment to establish a Community Partnership Fund and to discuss with the community how to set it up. It has always been a priority for Tiree Community Development Trust to find out, on behalf of the community, more about what this could be if the proposed Array went ahead.

At the first public meeting held by SPR on Tiree it was announced that if the proposed wind farm development went ahead there would be financial benefit for the local community.

The first meeting between Tiree Trust and SPR to discuss the proposed Community Partnership Fund (CPF) took place on 24th January 2012. The purpose of the meeting was to plan the process for agreement of the Fund. Points discussed, which will also be on the agenda for future meetings, were:

  • How the meetings should be recorded and reported and how the community should be consulted.
  • The role of Argyll and Bute Council.
  • What the make up of the negotiating body planning the process should be.
  • How the final Fund amount per year should be calculated.
  • What the make up of the future body which would administer and distribute the Fund should be.
  • How funding for skills/education/training could be used in 2012-13.
  • Negotiation stages and timetables for the process.

It was agreed that the above points would be on the agenda for the first stage of the discussions. The second stage would focus on what the Fund would be used for and what its amount would be. Each stage would end with a community consultation in the form of either an open afternoon or an evening public meeting.

There will be further meetings on 14th February and 21st February with the community consultation on Stage 1 soon after. Stage 2 will then commence immediately, with the object of final approval by the community, which would be Stage 3, around April 2012.

This is a joint update from the Trust and SPR. It was agreed at the meeting that these updates should be joint and not be included in the regular SPR updates. Full minutes of the CPF meetings will be available to the public at the end of each Stage of negotiations.

Tiree Community Development Trust is neither for nor against the proposed wind farm development and this process is a continuation of the fact finding mandate given by the community at public meetings in 2009/10. If anyone has any queries regarding the above please contact Donnie Campbell or the Tiree Trust office.

Argyll Array Project Update #22 – January 2012

Scottish Power Renewables logo



Welcome to the first Argyll Array Project Update of the year. I and the rest of the Project Team would like to wish everyone a happy, peaceful and healthy 2012.

Community Partnership Fund

The first meeting with Tiree Community Development Trust to discuss this initiative will take place during the week beginning 23rd of January.I will provide a report of that meeting in my next update.

Environmental Impact Assessment

The company are still working towards a deadline of Spring 2013 for submitting the application for consent. To support the application we need to write an Environmental Statement (part of the Environmental Impact Assessment – EIA). A variety of assessments into the human, biological and physical environment will be necessary in order to complete the Environmental Statement. WSP Group were appointed at the end of last year as our lead consultants on the EIA. They will be responsible for managing and co-ordinating these assessments on SPR’s behalf.

What have we done already?

– We have completed two years worth of bird and marine mammal monitoring on the wind farm site, and are now conducting an impact assessment on the basis of the data we gathered.

– During this week consultants Cathie Associates have been carrying out a visual geological survey of the island. The survey was carried out by geologists walking the terrain and observing the surface geology. There may be a follow-up survey later in the year. The results of the survey will be used to complement the sea bed geophysical surveys to be done on the wind farm site itself later this year.

What will we be doing next?

– There will be a survey of benthic (seabed) ecology on the wind farm site and possible export cable route. The data collected will be used to assess the potential effects of the wind farm on seabed habitats and species.

– The three wave buoys and current profilers which I mentioned in a couple of updates last year will be deployed on the wind farm site. The intention is to leave these instruments in place for one year. The data collected from these will be used to assess the potential effects of the wind farm on sediment movement and wave patterns. It will also inform many aspects of the technical design of the project.

– There will be two surveys of marine traffic on the wind farm site. The first of these will be in late winter, probably February, and the other later in the year. The surveys will be carried out from onshore on Tiree itself. Marico are the company carrying out the survey on SPR’s behalf. There will therefore be a couple of vehicles deploying a radio and antenna at various spots near the west coast of the island for the duration of the survey. The survey is expected to take about two weeks.

– Detailed work will commence on both the potential landscape/visual effects of the project and the potential socio-economic effects of the project. There will be more information on both these important aspects of the EIA as they get under way.

Technical Design Work

– Work continues on developing the engineering design of the project. In support of this, in Spring/Summer, a geophysical survey of the wind farm site and potential export cable route will be undertaken. This survey, conducted from a vessel, will measure the seabed depth, and yield information on the seabed sediment types and their thickness. The data from these surveys will inform decisions about where turbines and cables can be placed on the seabed. There will be full consultation with local fishermen regarding how this survey can be carried out with minimal disruption to fishing activity.

– This Spring/Summer we hope to apply for planning permission to erect an onshore meteorological mast on the west coast of Tiree, as described in a couple of updates last year. This mast will obviously provide us with accurate information on wind speed and direction. – Over the next few months work will continue to identify the preferred cable route to take the electricity from the wind farm back to the national transmission system. It was decided late last year not to take the export cables over Tiree and Coll. We still have to assess whether the cable route might pass over Mull or go completely undersea and, once it reaches Oban, the best route to then get it to the connection point at Dalmally. We also still have to decide whether the converter station which will be needed at or near the wind farm will be sited on Tiree or offshore.

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 220352, mobile number 07881 983 753 and email [email protected]

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