Letters to the editor 28.02.19

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Rise in Corran Ferry fares is unfair

Highland Council approved their budget on February 14, including an increase in council tax of three per cent, with the probability that it will go up by the same amount next year and the year after.

This comes alongside various planned cost savings, and an increase (also three per cent per year for three years) in the cost of cremations, burials, bulky uplift, Corran Ferry fares, fish export certificates and a few others. So that’s okay then, it’s only in line with inflation and at least we are all being treated fairly and equitably.

But hang on a minute. It isn’t fair or equitable because the small communities of Sunart, Ardgour, Morvern and Ardnamurchan are required to pay higher charges to make use of a ferry to get to their only nearby town, Fort William.

Approximately 1,500 people who have no reasonable option but to make use of the Corran Ferry to get to work, healthcare, shops and meetings are going to have to pay more to do so.

This specific group of people have been targeted for an increase in their day to day costs, whereas all other cost increases are either applicable to all, or may be required by us all at some time.

As far as I can see, this is the only example of an increase in cost being applied specifically to one group of people, according to where they live.

Imagine if the council tax increase was only applied to those people living on Skye. Or if the cost of burials only went up for people living in Nairn.

We are appalled when we read about the so-called ‘postcode lottery’ whereby people get differing healthcare according to where they live, and yet most of our councillors, including four out of the seven Lochaber ones, were prepared to support this particular penalty.

This is unfair, and Highland Council should be ashamed.

Joanne Matheson, Acharacle.

Urgent need to address the problem of potholes

There is a real need to address the large quantity of potholes on Islay between Port Charlotte and Portnahaven and the long overdue resurfacing of the Claddach road is still needing to be done.

The constant flooding of roads across Islay is rapidly accelerating their deterioration.

Even in the areas that don’t flood, the amount of heavy traffic on our roads means that pothole repairs only last a few weeks at best. We can see evidence of this on Mansfield Road in Port Ellen and at the bottom of Main Street in Bowmore.

As part of the current council administration, I will continue to lobby relentlessly for better infrastructure for my council ward.

Councillor Alastair Redman, Kintyre and Islands.

Proper management of MPAs is needed urgently

I read with interest and anger that a further incursion of illegal dredging has been tracked in a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Sound of Mull (The Oban Times, February 14).

It would seem to me that seabed damage by such activity is unacceptable, not just in MPAs but in much of our inshore waters, since these seabeds in fairly shallow waters are the nursery ecosystems for many of our valued marine creatures, be they immature fish, and sustainable shellfish stock, caught by divers and creel fishermen.

The case for better spatial management and a modernised return of the three-mile limit is clearly being made by such destruction.

The goal of wealth and jobs was why the three-mile limit was set in place originally. The three-mile limit was created to protect spawning grounds and maintain the fishery.

The trawl closure within three nautical miles of the coast was repealed in 1984 under pressure from the industry. Thereafter, bottom fish landings went into terminal decline, with all species collapsing to zero or near zero landings by the early 21st century.

Very soon, over-fishing resulted in the loss of many of the fisheries, followed by increasing bottom trawling and bottom dredging doing untold damage to seabeds and ecosystems.

Inshore waters require better spatial management and good compliance with Marine Scotland enforcing this. Until then, we shall continue to lose precious habitats and see diminishing returns in the truly sustainable fisheries.

Sally Campbell,

Blairbeg House, Lamlash, Isle of Arran.

Tree-felling in Knapdale is restoration project

With reference to Nick MacIneskar’s letter (The Oban Times, February 7) regarding the felling at Barnluasgan, Knapdale Forest, please may I reassure your readers that this work is part of the ambitious plan to restore the native oakwoods in Knapdale.

The trees above the car park were non-native beech and noble fir, which have been removed to prevent them seeding into the surrounding forest.

Similar fellings were carried out on the hillsides to the north around 20 years ago; these areas are now covered in dense regeneration of birch, ash and oak.

We hope to reopen the car park shortly to allow access to view the beavers. With time, we fully expect to see the Atlantic rainforest re-establish in this special part of Mid Argyll.

David Jardine,

Regional manager, Forest Enterprise Scotland.

Canna is the wrong place to house valuable collection

Your correspondent Alan Rankin, writing on behalf of the National Trust for Scotland, states that the Canna collection is in good hands (Letters, February 14).

If this world-class collection is sitting in Canna House subject to the possibility of water ingress, fluctuation in humidity, infestation, pilfering and fire, it is at risk and being kept there purely for sentimental reasons – a fact which Hugh Cheape agrees with me about.

How are students to get to and from Canna, where are they to stay when they arrive and who is going to provide the technology and reading rooms necessary for modern research? Not Mr Campbell’s estate, his executors, who stand charged with their protection, or the National Trust for Scotland.

Iain Thornber, Knock House, Morvern.