Lessons to be learned after storm damage

A barge brought in heavy machinery to clear the channel to allow lifeline ferry services to be re-instated for the islanders who live on Easdale with storm Dennis washing up slate blocking the ferry in. Picture by Kevin Mcglynn.

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Lessons must be learned after Easdale islanders were left stranded by recent storms.

Seil Community Council chairperson Julie Ferris said the island’s plight had highlighted the importance and need for long-term planning.

Structural experts from Argyll and Bute Council had already been out to inspect the state of the harbours on both Easdale and Seil and, at their last meeting, community councillors had requested to be copied into the reports.

Damage from Storms Ciara and Dennis sent slates and rubble tumbling into the sea, blocking off the Easdale ferry and trapping the usual boat inside the harbour.

It took a number of days before the council could get an excavator over to the island by barge to clear the debris re-open the harbour.

Argyll and Bute Council and a local boat operator had attempted to run an emergency goodwill boat, free of charge and with lifejackets, to and from Easdale while waiting for repairs but had to stop when the Maritime and Coastguard Agency raised regulations and deemed it dangerous.

Seil Community Council also brought forward an interim meeting to devise a plan to get urgent prescriptions from the doctor’s surgery and essential food supplies across to islanders.

Mrs Ferris said: ‘We need to learn for the long term and it has been good to have had this opportunity to plan in advance. We must not think this was it and it’s all over. We need to have contingency plans.

‘We will look to see what we can all learn from this. We need to know in advance what can be done, we must be prepared. It shows just how the ferry is both a vital and tenuous link.’