Letters to the editor – 19.11.20

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Fionnphort ferry berth

I refer to the planning application for a new Breakwater and overnight ferry berth in Fionnphort 20/01499/PP.

There is to be no public consultation or Environmental Impact Assessment and residents should have more opportunity to consider the impact of this development.

The rock breakwater will be 3.4metres higher than the existing pier, obscuring much of Iona from the slipway and disregarding Local Development Plans 3,4 ‘Conserving our outstanding environment’. I see no additional economic benefit to the community from the breakwater – see LDP 5 ‘supporting sustainable growth of our economy’. A similar height of breakwater is planned on Iona.

The current overnight berth makes it the only UK ferry that cannot be serviced by road, our hardy ferry crews putting the vessel into service by dinghy. CalMac created this problem when they built the overnight berth on another island instead of providing vehicular access on Mull to service their ferry.

CMAL will soon commission a bigger ferry for the route, requiring ongoing dredging at the slipway. Sediments will be shipped to Port Ellen for ‘safe disposal’.  The replacement hybrid vessel will require a powerful electricity shore connection to charge batteries for propulsion. However, Fionnphort has inadequate distribution and Scottish and Southern Energy Networks previously stated that future demand for the electrification of public transport would need to be met from renewable energy. Until then the ferry will presumably be charged overnight from a diesel generator in Fionnphort.

The planning application does not acknowledge electricity networks as a constraint and it makes no provision for generator noise or CO2 emissions. This does not meet with LDP STRAT 1 – policy for sustainable development, 2019 Climate Change Act, or LDP 10 ‘maximising our resources and reducing our consumption’.
This is an estimated £8.3m opportunity to harness wave power and reduce CO2 emissions on the most iconic route in Argyll.
Nigel Burgess, Kintra, Mull

Churches need our support

Thankfully, the UK Government has finally decided to make the furlough scheme available also for the devolved nations in the future if such need arises – sadly not without some hesitation.

Then my thoughts have returned to the recent letters regarding Support for our Priests and Churches. It seems that Covid is going to remain with us for longer and despite a chance to revise availability for all these support schemes, Places of Worship and Priests were excluded yet again. Why did we not use the time during the past schemes to look for the areas that we missed? I am sure there are plenty of them and rather than providing support with all the restrictions possibly returning, we are sentencing them to further decline.

If someone thinks that being a priest is only about caring for spiritual needs, they are truly mistaken. They are an integral part of our culture and community. Our priest is a valued member of Morar Community Council. I am a crofter myself and when one of my cows got stuck in a bog, Fr Stan was there along with other men to help me in my time of need. This is what community and support is about.

Are we truly going to forget about them and our churches?

Mairead Macdonald, Morar

Ganavan Sands shock

I was shocked to hear that there is a proposal to site mobile homes on the car park at Ganavan Sands. I cannot imagine that this idea has been at all well thought through.

This is a very well used area, enabling the people of Oban and visitors to benefit from the beautiful environment. Indeed, I believe the land was gifted, in perpetuity, to the community for the health and well-being of all.

Given the lack of parking in the surrounding area and the low frequency of public transport, this proposal would prevent the existing access, currently enjoyed by all who visit. It would, in my opinion, create the very opposite outcome as enshrined in the original deed.

One also wonders about whether the existing infrastructure would be sufficient to cope with more properties. Additionally, in terms of the environment, has an impact assessment been carried out?

In conclusion, I would urge the local authority to reject this proposal and continue to ensure that the beach remains a wonderful asset for the community of Oban and everyone else to enjoy.

C Jess, sent in by email