Letters to the editor – week 37

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Blinkered refusal


It is always a delight when a letter awakens a landowner.

James F Lithgow’s insult about ‘blow-ins’ is a typical trait. I worked extremely hard to buy my farm, not being able to piggyback on my forebears’ efforts, and I didn’t ‘blow-in’, it took two forty-foot pantechnicons four days.

It is clear he has an interest in wind turbines, and no doubt with a pair of wellies, a fish farm or two. His blinkered refusal to accept the huge body of evidence regarding fish farm contamination suggests he has an investment and it needs protecting. But only, of course, if you don’t have a commercial interest.

There is a huge amount of evidence that mechanical kelp harvesting does irreparable damage to the sea bed. Could I draw your readers’ attention to the Facebook page ‘Stop Mechanical Kelp Dredging’?

The sea bed can’t be seen, but a bank statement can. No prizes for who is the loser. The 600 jobs in aquaculture will not last long if mass kelp harvesting is allowed to decimate sub-sea environments and the only jobs on fish farms will be pushing barrows of diseased and dead fish.

I’ve no doubt he knows that wind turbines have a 25-year life span and then the hugely disruptive process will start again if an alternative has not been discovered. It has been calculated that the energy costs of a wind turbine will never be recovered during its lifespan, but those receiving grants really don’t care.

Why, given the amount of rainfall in Argyll, are hydro schemes not pursued? It used to be a mystery, until one looks at the vast sums of subsidy given by a gullible government to so called ‘alternative energy sources’, which actually means ‘alternative revenue sources’.

There are any number of pretty glens that could be dammed, providing an extra environmentally-friendly leisure resource, create an opportunity for aquaculture and would not require a replacement somewhere down the line.

Alexander Hamilton, Tayvallich.

Long term viability


With reference to James Lithgow’s letter of September 7, it is important to make a couple of points.

Mr Lithgow is right to say kelp has been sustainably harvested in Argyll for generations. There can be no comparison, however, with the current proposal to mechanically dredge up entire stands from the seabed together with all the fragile life that depends on them. This is not sustainable as evidenced in the few countries which have allowed this practice to take place.  Seaweed cultivation, on the other hand, is sustainable and more can be found on this through the Scottish Association for Marine Science.

The 2018 parliamentary inquiry into the environmental impact of salmon farming warned current methods could cause ‘irrecoverable damage’.  This is deeply concerning to those of us who live here, raise families and rely on the sea for our creel fishing, shellfish and tourism businesses. We also all have an inherent responsibility to care for our environment and there is increasing urgency to do this.

Enterprises do need to be encouraged to grow and to provide opportunities and employment. This, however, must be done responsibly and with thought for the long-term viability of our communities.

The profits of the predominantly multi-national salmon farming companies, who benefit from current loopholes in our environmental regulations, are well able to fund a responsible and researched approach for sustainability and diverse employment opportunities. Norway, for example, is encouraging its salmon farmers to adopt closed containment and these methods are working well in a number of other countries, including the USA.

The council has a legal responsibility for the environment and needs to take precautions for the future of Argyll, not just for job numbers today.

If short-term interests are prioritised, all of our futures will be much the poorer.

Will Self, on behalf of Friends of the Sound of Jura

Pipers and freestyle


Most schools in Scotland have pipers and drummers within their pupil population.

Schools in Argyll are probably no exception. May I please ask your readers to seek out their pipers and encourage them to represent their school as a piping quartet, if not as a full band, at the next Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships?

The championships are organised annually by the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust. The next championships will be held at Inveralmond Community High School, Livingston, on Sunday March 10 2019.

More details are on our website – www.thechampionships.co.uk.

Last March, 145 schools from Scotland and two from England were represented at the championships, with a category for all standards of playing.

Five years ago we introduced a new category of ‘freestyle’.  The aim of this is to provide an opportunity for schools to showcase their other musical skills alongside those of their pipers.

The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (www.sspdt.org.uk) hopes many young pipers and drummers from Mid Argyll – with other musicians too if entering the freestyle event – will participate in next year’s championships.

Patrick Gascoigne, administrator, Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships.