Letters to the editor week 44

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Upgrade of road should not be at expense of hospital

I must respectfully take slight exception to the letter from Joanne Matheson of Acharacle in the Oban Times of October 18.

While I agree that the A82 itself is badly in need of an upgrade (particularly, I would say, on the 10-mile stretch between Inverarnan and Tarbet), and I’d like to see a bypass being built from Morrison’s roundabout over the river to Blar Mhor to connect with the A830 at the Blar roundabout, I don’t think that any such upgrade should be at the expense of anything much more needed, such as the new hospital.

Davie Kerr,

Onich.

Strange sights on the road beside Loch Awe

I was most interested in your story about the strange happenings around Loch Awe (‘Loch Awe road is one of Britain’s spookiest’, The Oban Times, October 18).

I was a bus driver working for Stewarts Coaches at Dalavich from 1997 until 2005. I would set out at 6.45am to do a school run from Eridine and quite a few times on the way would be flashed from behind by a Mark Three Cortina wanting to pass. I would pull in at the next passing place but was never to see it. Also, on several occasions a Vauxhall Vellux flashed to pass but never did.

I have never mentioned this to anyone except Tommy Stuart, who said he had seen these cars as well.

I also saw a man walking long the side of the road one morning around the same time just before the what was then Highland Heathers. He was wearing a three-cornered hat and knee-length trousers. He put his hand up and vanished.

I only mention this now as other people have felt and seen things too.

Thomas Middleton,

Dalavich.

A Remembrance verse
South Pier should be run by public authority

For nearly 100 years, the North and South Piers at Oban, and the defined harbour areas around them, were owned by the council and fell under its jurisdiction. The wider Oban General Harbour Authority Area (which is still a legal entity) fell under the jurisdiction of the Oban General Harbour Authority, on which the council was (and is) a joint undertaker.

In 1988, the South Pier was forcibly handed over to Caledonian MacBrayne, despite a great deal of political opposition. That politically-driven decision was the catalyst for the insidious growth in CalMac/CMAL’s dominance and self-serving influence over the management of Oban harbour since.

Whatever the original intention was for the handover, ultimately CMAL’s stewardship of the South Pier has been detrimental to the economic
benefit of the port of Oban.

Attempts by the council to develop the South Pier over the years have
been thwarted by CMAL’s vested interests, and while CMAL has been very happy to reap the benefits of the income it receives from the South Pier, it has spent very little on the infrastructure of the pier itself.

It is difficult to see why ownership of the South Pier now has anything to do with provision of lifeline ferry services. The commercial activities currently undertaken at the South Pier (or which could be developed in future) are not remotely linked to the core business of CMAL or CalMac, but could be of prime importance to the wider economic success of the port of Oban.

Work is well under way towards the establishment of a Trust Port Authority at Oban. Serious consideration needs to be given by the appropriate authorities to rectify the mistake made in 1988 and to put in place the relevant legislation to vest control of the South Pier in the hands of a body
that will have the wider interests of Oban at its heart.

Fergus G R Gillanders,

Craigaol, Kilmelford.

Coire Glas: huge environmental questions unanswered

It seems that Scottish Canals has accepted an agreement with SSE on the Coire Glas pump storage scheme (not classified as a renewable) that can be financially lucrative to them (Lochaber Times, October 18).

Scottish Canals would otherwise have been expected to make representations on SSE’s plans to extract more than 23 million tonnes of water and discharge the same every day to Loch Lochy. This has a consequent risk of bank erosion and scarring on the shores of Loch Lochy, with acknowledged effects of many and rapid fluctuations in loch level on waterplants and aquatic invertebrates.

Of course, much of the incredible four million tonnes of rock will still have to be taken out by thousands of lorry transports as well as by canal.

There are still many unanswered questions: how does SSE square the fact that it will get paid twice, for generating the electricity from the wind farms and also from the pump storage scheme? How much will it recompense the community (businesses and home owners should get personal compensation for massive environmental disturbance and it will take 20 years for landscape recovery)?

How exactly will the four million tonnes of rock be disposed of and how is SSE going to ‘remodel’ the landscape at Coire Glas, as it so nicely puts it? Also, how will it will take in 1500 Mw of power continuously to Coire Glas pump storage and also get the electricity out?

I wonder if the customers of Scottish Canals will be pleased to see miles of huge pylons from half way up Loch Lochy on the west bank to Fort Augustus. More than one million visitors each year passing on the A82 will see these blighting pylons and also walkers on the Great Glen Way. If SSE does not insist in making this an underground electricity connection to Fort Augustus, then it will be an eyesore in the Great Glen.

Jim Treasurer,

Friends of the Great Glen Environmental Group, Fort William.