Letters to the editor – July 9, 2021

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Community harm from windfarms

Sir,

Community councils in Kintyre and South Knapdale have been overloaded with windfarm applications during lockdown and the pace seems to be accelerating.

Currently we have eight windfarms in operation and two under construction. These 10 sites have 167 wind turbines and a capacity of 253 Megawatts between them. The maximum height of the turbines is 150 metres.

There are a further 12 windfarms in the planning process. These will have 178 turbines between them, designed to produce 898 megawatts. The maximum height of these turbines is likely to be 230 metres.

If all of these go through, we will have a total of 22 windfarms with 345 turbines between them producing 1,151 megawatts. Of those turbines, 45 are likely to be 200 metres-plus in height.

Our community councillors are unpaid volunteers and do their community council work in their own time.

Kintyre and South Knapdale community councils have had no worthwhile offers of assistance from either the Scottish Government or Argyll and Bute Council.

We have supported a petition calling on the Scottish Government to increase the ability of communities to influence planning decisions for onshore windfarms. At the same time, we have seen some developers being less than enthusiastic about providing community benefit grants and refusing any meaningful community shared ownership.

We are not against windfarm developments and we recognise the government’s need for more renewable energy sources, but we need to prevent any development that will harm our communities and their economic well-being.

Bob Chicken, on behalf of the six Kintyre and West Knapdale Community Councils.

Little understanding of rural Scotland

Sir,

Scotland’s rural economy will be put at risk if the Scottish Greens are given the opportunity to influence the Scottish Government.

Last week a letter was sent by a dozen organisations, including gamekeepers and moorland groups, to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warning a SNP-Green deal would tear apart rural jobs.

Essentially the Scottish Greens are an urban-based party with little interest or understanding of what makes rural Scotland tick.

It is no wonder so many rural organisations have expressed their alarm at the talks between the Greens and SNP, leading to the real possibility of the Greens exerting even more influence over government policy.

We simply cannot afford to lose jobs and livelihoods in often fragile coastal and rural communities where there are few, if any, alternative sources of year-round employment.

Rural Scotland must not be sacrificed to the political interests of the SNP, who failed to win a majority in May, and are now left scrabbling around for the support of a fringe party like the Greens.

Donald Cameron MSP, Highlands and Islands.

A summer message to pupils, staff and parents

Sir,

We’re at the end of the school year and what a year it’s been.

Nothing could have prepared us for the challenges we’ve had to overcome in the last 12 months, particularly in our schools, but the way in which staff, pupils and parents have coped is remarkable.

Pupils adjusted to new ways of learning with confidence; teachers became accustomed to providing lessons on a digital platform; our central education teams went above and beyond and parents continued to provide their children with support as they juggled their own work and transformed their homes into makeshift, temporary classrooms and offices. When we entered lockdown in March 2020, I don’t think any of us expected it to last as long as it did. A year later and things are just slowly starting to get back to normal.

Schooling today, however, still looks different to how it did before. For the second year in a row, young people have been unable to sit their exams and teachers have had to work closely with the SQA to assess pupils’ work. School leavers who have gone onto further education have done so without the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the student experience; P1 and S1 transitions have had to take place virtually and annual school events have been held without the usual parental/community involvement.

Despite these challenges, our children and young people have taken lockdown life in their stride. Their ability to adapt and overcome in and out of school has been truly phenomenal and inspiring.

I know the last year hasn’t been an easy ride for staff, pupils and parents but the ability you have shown to adjust to these unprecedented circumstances has blown me away.

People really came together to support each other when things got tough and I think that’s what makes Argyll and Bute so unique. We all look after one another, through the good and the bad, and I couldn’t be prouder to be the policy lead for education.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to each and every one of you for the hard work and dedication you have shown to education. While we’re not out of the woods just yet, I have no doubt we will come out the other end of this stronger than before. I would like to wish you all a fantastic, well deserved summer break.

Have fun and stay safe.

Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, policy lead for education, Argyll and Bute Council.