Letters to the editor – 19.12.19

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Approval of zipwire application beggars belief

On May 9 this year Highland Council declared a climate emergency. On December 4, the same council granted permission for a multiple zipwire attraction at Kinlochleven.

I am dismayed that no consideration was given at the Council meeting to the wider issue of the implications of allowing a proposal in this location to go ahead.

Local and national opinion, including the Woodland Trust, Mountaineering Scotland and the Ramblers’ Association all expressed reservations. More than 1,600 people agreed: ‘Kinlochleven is not an amusement park but is part of Scotland’s wild land heritage. Time spent in nature is free for all to enjoy and should not be ruined by a permanent, ugly, expensive structure that will only benefit a small minority.’

Veteran outdoor pursuits authority Cameron McNeish stated via his Twitter account that he is ‘saddened to hear of plans for a zipwire in Kinlochleven … Kinlochleven’s potential is better than cheap thrills like that’.

Highland councillors granted permission for this development while repeatedly asserting it is ‘difficult to say’ what the impact will be, as it is an ‘unknown quantity’.

Councillor Andrew Baxter referenced his own recent enjoyable family holiday experience on a zipwire and Councillor Carolyn Caddick based her judgement on her own experience of her children’s zipwire in her back garden.

I am flabbergasted our councillors imagine these subjective inanities are relevant to informing the decision-making process. I am further disappointed that Councillor Baxter, who ‘understands the area particularly well’ and who was at pains to show his awareness of the controversy surrounding this proposal, saw fit to recommend the constraints on operating hours – proposed by Environmental Health to protect the local community – were lifted, thereby giving residents little respite from the noise and disturbance.

Only one councillor raised the issue of the carbon footprint of the development. There was no debate on the carbon emissions which will arise as a result of the 200-plus visitors per day that the developers claim will come to the village and the huge 35-seater all-terrain SUVs that will be carrying them backwards and forwards through the village at 15-minute intervals.

No questions were raised as to how the wires are to be put in place, given that many structures like this drag their cables along the ground before lifting them and attaching them to the towers. This would have a significant impact on the ancient woodland which the structure will span.

Presumably, this is part of the ‘unknown quantity’ which the council is happy not to explore.

Kinlochleven Community Council, the elected body for the village, has remained neutral on the proposal in recognition of the divided opinion surrounding it. However, opponents have been derided, mocked and, in some cases, threatened on social media, with one supporter of the development who holds a prominent role in the community labelling the objectors as ‘the most hated group in the village’.

In conclusion, I hope the project’s supporters will enjoy a sense of civic pride in hosting this ‘attraction’ and not run into the well -documented problems that Skye and the North Coast 500 route are experiencing.

My chief concern, however, lies in the fact that Highland Council has now set a precedent for allowing theme park-style developments in National Scenic Areas; given the growing environmental crisis, the council’s support for projects encroaching on Scotland’s world class landscape purely for financial gain beggars belief.

P L Clay, by email.

Thanks for donations to shoebox appeal

On behalf of Blythswood Care, please convey our sincere gratitude to all who so generously contributed to the Blythswood Shoe Box 2019 Appeal and pray that each box will be a blessing to each one who received them.

From the Lochaber area, we were delighted to be able to send 805 boxes up to the Blythswood Depot at Deephaven, Evanton, where they have been transported to Hungary and are being distributed to those in great need.

Renewed thanks to all and every blessing for Christmas and New Year 2020.

Kenny and Barbara Matheson, (Blythswood Care, Lochaber branch co-ordinators).

Oban panto was a real theatrical treat

Once again, I have been privileged to attend the annual panto put on by Oban’s  Spotlight Musical Theatre Group.

This  year’s was Camelot the Panto and the local cast owed nothing  to the original professional staging. Kevin Baker was the producer and Louisa Hyde directed and when these two experienced thespians get together nothing but perfection may be expected.

Several full cast dance scenes filled the stage and well-rehearsed singing complimented dance routines which would not have embarrassed Strictly.

The children in the audience  revelled in the pleas for help from the lovelorn hero and ghosts and witches and covens of evil ladies brought even more excitement. And, of course, there had to be a dame delighting them even more, with outrageous  promptings and community singing.

Well done, Spotlight. Oban is proud of you. Long may you continue to delight us all.

Raymond Shaw, Glasgow.