Letters to the Editor – 11.2.21

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Fionnphort breakwater

Fionnphort breakwater Planning Application was validated without Environmental Impact Assessment or public consultation. Scrutiny of the numerical wave modelling reveals that the design is based on flawed wave height predictions. The council have acknowledged this, appointing a further review and reducing the design life of the structure from 120 years to 50 years.

Climate change is bound to wreak havoc on the Argyll Atlantic Islands and one legacy of this project will be the coastal defence works handed down to the next generation. In addition, the crossing to Iona will become more turbulent and hazardous for small craft.

The plan is to ship 50,000cu.m. of rock from the Glensanda quarry to create the breakwater, which will block the current passage. A new channel will be created to the North but this will require periodic dredging. An alternative plan to excavate 20,000cu.m. to create an inner harbour would provide more shelter for the ferry and new berths for fishermen and tour operators.

All other options have been ruled out in favour of a breakwater that will disfigure the Sound of Iona for all time.

Last year Calmac won an award from Keep Scotland Beautiful which it needs to uphold when considering the impact of the proposed breakwater on visitor experience. A photomontage of the breakwater has now been commissioned by the council, which will reveal the full visual impact of these plans. Both Calmac and the council have been misguided by desktop consultants.
Nigel Burgess, Kintra, Mull.

Why can’t emergency drone flights be accommodated?

The Oban Times’ coverage of Skyports Ltd proposal for a temporary danger area to provide a corridor for occasional drone flights from Oban to Mull gives prominence to objections. In particular, Brendan Walsh’s concerns for interference with the arrival by air of guests at his hotel business are covered at great length. But, what are the views of the other 2,666 residents who might feel that receiving medical supplies in minutes has advantages over a 40-minute ferry crossing which happens at two-hour intervals and for only part of a day, especially in cases of emergency?

From our vantage point on Oban Hill, we are not aware of a busy sky in the Firth of Lorn, even in summer and wonder why time and space can’t accommodate emergency drone flights?
Ian Reid, Oban.

Poor state of affairs

Our dilapidated local roads and poorly maintained cemeteries continue to be raised by many concerned constituents, including many members of local community councils both on the islands and the mainland.

While I understand that our roads department is struggling due to local authority budgets being cut by the Scottish Government much more still needs to be done.

It has been said to me time and time again that we are fast approaching the point of no return and when it comes to our local roads and that neglecting day to day maintenance will end up costing us more in the long run.
Councillor Alastair Redman

Regulator should stop TSB bank closures

The banking regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, should stop TSB closing their branches in Helensburgh, Dunoon, Rothesay, Lochgilphead and Campbeltown.

These closures will leave only the Oban branch open in Argyll & Bute. Many TSB customers will have a very long journey to reach their nearest branch. Not everybody can use internet banking.

The banking regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has already pointed out that during the Covid pandemic it will be hard for banks to reach their customers and engage with them on closure proposals effectively. They also pointed out that customers may not be able to get to a bank to make the necessary preparations before the closure, such as transferring to another bank.

Instead of just pointing out these difficulties, the FCA should step in and tell TSB not to go ahead with these closures. Leaving only one TSB branch open in Argyll & Bute is unacceptable.

Councillor Alan Reid, Cowal.