Letters to the editor week 05

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Fantastic care at Oban hospital


Recently I had to have a procedure done at Lorn and the Island General Hospital in Oban and I cannot praise the nurses and doctor enough.

We are well aware that the NHS is struggling and we hear all that is negative and little that is positive. Those of us who live in this area of Argyll are lucky to have very good service in that we have a shorter waiting time than a lot of areas, and an excellent hospital with hard-working staff.

So, to all the staff in ward A, the doctor and nurses in the endoscopy theatre on January 23, I give you my bouquet and thanks for your professionalism and care.

Ruth Hawke,

Isle of Mull.

Beautiful Oban is blighted by litter


I notice from talking to people and from posts on Facebook that an increasing number of residents are becoming exasperated by the amount of litter which pollutes our pavements and public places.

The street sweepers do a great job in keeping George Street and nearby areas as clean as possible, but you only have to leave the sea front and within 50 feet the rubbish is a serious problem.

I went on to the viewing platform at McCaig’s Tower the day after the Hogmanay fireworks display and leaned over the railings, along with a number of other people who were enjoying the view. Looking down, the view was less attractive; bottles, cans, carry-out boxes and coffee cups littered the ground.

At the foot of the steps I’ve seen people step over rubbish which has been dropped within a few feet of a litter bin. I walk down Jacob’s Ladder regularly and on every visit more rubbish is evident, mostly thrown over the fence by those who use the two seats, or dropped beneath the seats by those who can’t be bothered to throw it.

Down below you can see cans lodged in the bushes, clothing caught up in the trees and years-worth of rubbish down the banks and lying behind the distillery wall.

Another of my favourite paths is Star Brae, a useful route if I’m going down in the direction of Tesco or Homebase. This path, with its wonderful views, is ruined by the amount of rubbish which is dropped here or thrown over the fence.

If, at the bottom of the Brae, you cross over into Gibraltar Place, you will be met by more rubbish, both at the entrance of Tesco car park and along the bank behind the recycling bins, while around the bins themselves regular heaps of recycling or rubbish are piled.

The car park is no better, with litter in the shrub beds, the trolley parks and the informal path up to the High Street, which is a disgrace. The car park on the other side of Lochavullin Road is no improvement and this leads up naturally to the much-maligned Black Lynn, a dumping ground for all the usual rubbish with the addition of supermarket trolleys. Rafts of bottles and cans clog the surface of the burn – far more, I expect, have sunk to the bottom.

Other parts of the town suffer equally, I’m sure, but these areas are the ones I know best. Can it be that many passers-by have become used to the situation and no longer notice it?

So what is the purpose, you may ask, of yet another letter on the subject of litter? We know that many caring people pick up litter in all of these areas and in other places, and have done for years. What makes it such a soul-destroying occupation is the knowledge that by tomorrow, the next day or next week it will be just as bad.

How come I’m writing under the banner of Keep Oban Beautiful when our professed intention is to stay positive at all times? The answer to that question is simple – we can do something about it!

Picking up the litter is a quick fix but not the long-term solution; the only way to stop it is to educate, to persuade and to reward, to find a way of generating pride in Oban. We discuss this on the Keep Oban Beautiful Facebook page.

Let’s get everyone involved, from young children upwards, though primary schools, high school and beyond. Let’s erect signs or banners to remind everyone of what we’d like to do, and let’s publicly thank those who do their best to make the town a cleaner place, as befits a beautiful West Coast fishing and ferry port and a major tourist destination.

Is it possible to imagine that Oban might one day be declared a litter-free town?

Maurice Wilkins,

Keep Oban Beautiful.

Disputing impact of salmon farms


Given that Salmon & Trout Conservation (S&TC) commissioned its report from the Norwegian Institute of Nature Research (NINA), it is not surprising that it confirms its claims that sea lice from salmon farms are killing wild salmon and sea trout. After all, that is exactly what it paid for. NINA conveniently failed to include anything that might contradict S&TC claims about the impact of salmon farming.

According to S&TC, the River Awe last year recorded the lowest number of fish since 1964. However, the rivers Tweed and Tay also recorded some of the worst fishing for decades. These rivers are located far from the nearest salmon farm.

Your article (The Oban Times, January 18) article states that ‘the review of more than 100 scientific papers found that up to 50,000 wild salmon die as a result of the parasites in Norway’. This is something I would dispute but will make an assumption here that NINA is correct.

I also note that Dr Dianne Baum of the Lochaber Fisheries Trust (as well as Andrew Graham-Stewart (of the S&TC) say that the sea lice in Scotland are the same as those in Norway. Therefore, applying the same conversion of deaths per tonne of production as in Norway (one dead fish for every 24 tonnes of production) and applying it to Scottish rivers, then the number of deaths of wild migrating salmon (smolts) expected would be 7,500 fish per year.

This equates to about the same number of eggs produced by one wild hen salmon. More relevantly, while the expected total mortality of smolts in Scotland due to salmon farming would be 7,500 smolts, the number of adult breeding salmon and sea trout killed in 2016 by anglers for sport was 9,096. It seems that Mr Graham-Stewart and his fellow anglers are doing more damage to wild fish stocks than any salmon farm.

A long-term study of the impacts of salmon farming in Ireland found that the mortality of wild salmon smolts due to sea lice was just one per cent. By comparison, 95 per cent of wild salmon smolts currently die before they are able to return to their home rivers, even when their home rivers are located hundreds of miles from the nearest salmon farm. S&TC conveniently ignores this huge mortality, preferring to deflect the blame onto local salmon farms.

Dr Martin Jaffa,

Callander McDowell, Manchester.

Salmon farms are unhealthy for fish


Michael C Smith suggested that fish farm sea lice are responsible for the destruction of our native wild salmon stock (Letters, The Oban Times, January 18).

There are other negative consequences of intensive fish farming that also need to be addressed.

These are:

1. The sheer number of them. The visual impact of sea farm cages cluttering up so many of our most beautiful remote bays and lochs, making these places no-go areas for us and many other creatures.

2. The ethics of caging these wild creatures in the first place. Salmon are top predators. Can we put thousands of them in a crowded cage and expect them to be healthy and well? It is cruel to say the least. The stress alone is enough to make them diseased. The food they are fed is very different to what they would naturally eat in the wild.

3. The product produced at the end of the day may not be fit to eat. Ethoxyquin remains in the flesh of the salmon and we eat it too. The drugs azamethiphos, cypermethrin, deltamethrin and emamectin benzoate are used regularly on the salmon to kill sea lice. These are fast-acting neurotoxins and are toxic to mammals, birds, fish, other sea creatures and humans.

4. The negative long-term effect of salmon farms on our sea, shore and everything that lives in, on or near them has not been properly assessed. We don’t know for how long the ground below fish farms remains void of life, toxic and harmful to the environment and us.

Who is accountable? The companies that cause the harm, the environmental agencies that allow it to go on, or we as consumers for hiding our heads in the sand on this very emotive subject?

Eva Tombs,

Isle of Lismore.

A82 is in a terrible condition


Having read Rob MaCallum’s letter (‘Argyll roads have never been so bad’, The Oban Times, January 18), I would suggest he avoids travelling between Fort William and Spean Bridge.

I can almost guarantee it will frighten him more than any of the latest hi-tech rides you find at a theme park.

Just how Transport Scotland and its agent, BEAR Scotland, can just carry on replacing road surfaces without investigating the failures on some of the not-so-old surfacing work seems a total waste of money.

Is it narrow carriageway widths or lack of foundations that is one or more reasons for the diabolical state of our only major connection between Fort William and Inverness? And is it really all about the harsh winter weather?

In the mountain areas of France, a much bigger country than Scotland, it has the kind of severe winters that we have, but their road surfaces are far superior when compared with the A82.

If the specifications are right and the workmanship is acceptable, then will the government make the urgent decision and start spending our money wisely instead of seeing year after year resurfacing over poor infrastructure.

Thankfully, we now have CityLink’s luxury coaches, which help to cushion the A82’s imperfections, as we use to think we were riding on Blackpool’s old wooden roller coaster.

Alan Robinson,

Spean Bridge.


Numerous complaints about state of roads


I attended the latest Argyll and Bute Council administration meeting with my fellow Conservative councillors.

I had the opportunity to discuss with our administration members the recent unacceptable lengthy disruptions to our internet service. I also made my views clear on the importance of keeping our public toilets on Islay open – all the more so if we are to keep and encourage growth in our important tourist industry.

I have raised the numerous and justifiable complaints about our local roads that I have been receiving. With our roads getting worse, a suitable long-term solution is needed and that means large-scale investment instead of piecemeal patchwork.

Councillor Alastair Redman,