Opinion: Martin Laing on what’s happening around Oban

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Reducing airport security is a mistake
There has been both rapid condemnation and praise for plans to scale down the security checks at a number of airports, including those providing flights to Glasgow from Barra, Tiree and Campbeltown.
It is a subject worthy of concern and it prompted immediate reaction from local MPs Brendan O’Hara, member for Argyll and Bute, and Angus MacNeil, who represents Na h-Eileanan an Iar.
The decision by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd decision was taken in association with Transport Scotland, the Department for Transport at Westminster, the Civil Aviation Authority and Loganair.
While it will ‘streamline’ the check-in process at the small airports, it is a worrying development on a number of levels.
HIAL is quick to point out that passengers flying into Glasgow to catch connecting flights will have to reclaim their luggage and then proceed through normal security procedures.
But what about those people simply flying into Glasgow? As it stands, they will not have to go through any security checks.
This has obvious shortcomings, not the least of which is making these airports attractive to criminals, including drug dealers.
Then there is the ever-present threat of terrorism. The airport workers’ union Prospect is correct to condemn the move as it believes the new measures will compromise the safety of both staff and passengers. A spokesman was also right to flag up the fact that the flight path into Glasgow passes over a number of potential targets.
While Prospect has an obvious agenda because there are fears for the number of jobs that could be lost as a result of the cutbacks, I fully endorse the comments made by its negotiator, David Avery.
He said that security staff still regularly find prohibited liquids, small knives and firearms ammunition. He added that the flight path ‘is close to nuclear power facilities at Hunterston, the large oil terminal and facilities at Finnart on Loch Long, and Ministry of Defence establishments at Coulport, Faslane and Glen Douglas’.
The safety of passengers and air crew is absolutely paramount and should not be compromised by moves such as this.
Errors or pedantry?
I was upbraided the other day by a member of Argyll and Bute Council’s press team for ‘mistakes’ in last week’s column.
The council officer complained about a number of issues, including my ‘subjective’ use of language in condemning the approval given to locate an oil depot next to the travelling people’s site close to Oban airport. I was berated for saying the oil storage would be ‘yards’ from people’s homes. ‘It’s not yards away – it’s 30 metres,’ I was reprimanded.
And apparently the kerosene to be stored there is not ‘highly flammable’. My Chambers dictionary defines it thus: ‘Kerosene, noun: a combustible oily mixture of hydrocarbons obtained mainly by distillation of petroleum, used as a fuel for jet aircraft.’ Not flammable?
I was also chided for criticising the planning committee for failing to act over the decision to allow homes to be built too close to Ann Colthart’s house in Connel, contrary to planning rules. ‘They’re not rules – they are guidelines,’ I was scolded.
Pedantry? You decide.
Great news for village
It’s great to see the new affordable homes at Ulva Ferry on Mull nearing completion.
At a time of population decline in our remote communities, this excellent development will help to reverse that trend and bring new families to the village.
Applications are being asked for from people who might want to move to Ulva Ferry. Given the location of the new houses close to the primary school, these homes should be very popular.
What do you think?
Write to The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB, or by email to mlaing@obantimes.co.uk.