Letters to the editor week 39

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Fish farm poses threat to ‘place of wonder and amazement’

I have recently discovered that Kames Fish Farming Ltd, having – justifiably – been knocked back on their proposal to site a fish farm in the Sound of Jura have now applied for permission to put one in a secluded bay on the unspoiled west coast of the island of Jura.

I believe this to be perhaps the least suitable place for any such venture and should under no circumstances be allowed. The risk of long-term environmental damage to this pristine area is too great.

Some learned sage once said: ‘The economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment, not the reverse.’

And here we are again – the economy versus the environment.

I’ve sailed the waters off the west coast of Jura and it truly feels like a last wilderness. With its rugged cliffs and hardly accessible beaches standing sentinel against the wild Atlantic, there is a sense of time slowing while the modern world recedes.

I’ve watched tribes of wild goats dining on seaweed, next to rookeries of common and grey seals hauled out, warming on the shoreline. Overhead, golden eagles and sea eagles wheel on the westerly winds, dwarfing the myriad gulls that pepper the skies. Gannets circle, watching, and, in a blink, sheath their scimitar wings and fall from the sky like living lightning bolts to pierce the waters.

I have encountered the lumbering bulk of basking sharks with their great, gaping maws pushing slowly through the plankton-rich water while far behind the pendulum of tail rhythmically scythes the surface. I’ve witnessed the sleek, arching back of Minke whales roll through the swell, and the graceful play of dolphins and porpoises are not uncommon in this stretch of ocean. I believe, once, I even caught a glimpse of the weird and wonderful tropical sunfish before it sank into the gloom.

This coast is a place of wonder and amazement, visited by and home to some of the Earth’s iconic creatures and it is unique in its glory. Are we really prepared to jeopardise all this for profit? To ship some plastic-wrapped, unnaturally produced protein halfway round the globe because the newly enriched Chinese market demands it?

Please, no. I urge all with even the slightest regard for our natural heritage to object in the strongest terms possible and to sign the petition at https://you.38degrees.org. uk/petitions/stop-proposed- fish-farm-on-west-coast-of-jura.

Andy Grant,

Achnamara.

Education is key in fighting the menace of drugs

There were a reported 934 drug-related deaths in Scotland during 2017, a number that is expected to rise.

In a town such as Oban that means 1.7 more predicted deaths but today’s modern designer and illegal drugs are an unknown quantity and quality, with many containing deadly chemicals of extreme toxicity.

Drug-taking is akin to Russian roulette in capsule, tablet or powder form. They can kill  indiscriminately. Indeed, the youngest Scottish victim of ecstasy known as molly was just 13 years old.

The hospitalisation of nine youngsters in Scotland earlier in the year, two deaths in England at a music festival, and a 14-year-old child in Cornwall shows us that class A drugs are rife and constitute a nationwide pandemic.

The past decade has seen a doubling in drugs-related deaths in Scotland and a marked increase among young women, due to probably being mixed with alcohol. Only one in 10 users ever manages to kick their ‘casual’ habit. It becomes a lifelong fight.

The solution is good education in school about the dangers, being able to say no if offered drugs by a so-called friend.

The casual users or dealers of these deadly drugs may work in your local library, hotel, charity shop, hairdresser, favourite café, bar, restaurant or newsagent. You and your children and your neighbours are all equally at risk.

All ‘accidental’ drug deaths are preventable so learn to just say no.

Stephen Jones,

Burnside Place, Millpark, Oban.

Jura residents fear for safety because of road

Local Jura people have been trying to have a piece of road in the area of Knockrome repaired since before Christmas.

The road was ‘repaired’ with gravel – yes, gravel – earlier this year but the road is only getting worse and locals are concerned as winter returns.

Argyll and Bute Council seems to be ignoring the problem. It has been reported by multiple people multiple times, months apart, on the online form but nothing has been done.

The collection of potholes are so deep you need to go into first gear and dodge them as best as you can, and people are now taking to driving on the verges to avoid the holes but concerns are being raised of the banking leading down to the river giving way with vehicles having to mount the verge.

Emails have been sent along with photos to multiple Argyll and Bute officers but still nothing has been done. One local has taken it upon himself to email the transport minister , MSP and MP asking them to step in.

Another major concern is that this road is part of the route the ambulance has to take to get to the air ambulance. The road is in no state to be travelling along on a normal day, let alone during an emergency. It is uncomfortable for patients and risks delays or obstruction to the air ambulance which is unacceptable.

Nicky Mulholland,

by email.

Rothesay work was carried out by volunteers

PIX IN FOLDER TO GO WITH THIS ON PAGE

A few  weeks ago I was painting some benches along the Rothesay sea front when I was approached by a couple who had spent ‘three lovely days in Oban’.

They had told a shopkeeper in Oban that they were making their way back home via the Colintraive ferry to spend a day in Rothesay, then cross to Wemyss Bay and return south.

They were informed by that shopkeeper that ‘the provost of Argyll and Bute lives there and it (Rothesay) gets all the money for improvements’, quoting new lamp-posts and upgrading of the frontage.

I, as a local Rothesay resident, can understand these rumours as we have always assumed, rightly or wrongly, that the main amount of council funding was allocated to the Dunoon area.

The truth is that, although we get an appreciative vocal backing from Provost Len Scoullar and our two elected councillors, Jean Moffat (Ind) and Jim Findlay (SNP), the work mentioned above was carried out voluntarily and for free by my brother Gordon and myself, who are both in our 70s, with Argyll and Bute Council only supplying the paint.

We all, whether Dunoon, Oban or Rothesay, are lucky to live in some of Scotland’s most beautiful areas and if the financial cuts and lack of manpower continue to erode the appearance of our individual environments, then we should be prepared to volunteer to keep the standards the we have been used to.

Iain Gillespie,

Chairman, Bute in Bloom,

East Princes Street, Rothesay.