Letters to the Editor – 21.10.21

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Great to be born on Mull

Your front page story on Thursday October 7 is great news and congratulations to the Holland family!

There is quite a contrast to my own birth at Torloisk in July 1950 – present were my mother, the District Nurse, and myself! My father was playing the pipes outside the house. No fuss. My brother, Patrick, sadly no longer with us, was born in very similar circumstances at Kinloch Lodge, Pennyghael, in December 1951.

Home births were commonplace in those days. It is a great privilege to have a Mull place name on my passport!

Abigail will enjoy as much fun as I have had over the years telling of her birth in Mull – maybe she will be a Gold Medallist at the Mod singing Ant Eilean Muileach?

Angus Cheape, Pennyghael, Isle of Mull.

Arrival of Utne is good news for Mulleachs

CMAL’s purchase of the Norwegian ferry MV Utne will be widely welcomed by all Mulleachs, and will provide a degree of resilience to the overall CalMac network that has been desperately needed for years. Furthermore, if CalMac utilises this vessel in the correct way, its introduction into service may also have wider implications for lifeline ferry services.

Unlike the majority of CalMac vessels, MV Utne was built without crew cabins. In Norwegian service she sailed for 18 hours per day with two crews of four working nine-hour shifts each day. If CalMac emulated that pattern, it could allow the ship to complete nine round trips between Oban and Craignure per day, which would increase total capacity on the route in real terms compared to the schedule operated by MV Coruisk.

However, that would require a significant change to CalMac’s (in other words the RMT’s) crewing model, which is inflexible and inefficient. A classic example of this is the Oban to Lismore route. For 17 out of every 24 hours a day, that ferry lies unmanned and shut down at the North Pier.

As MV Utne is slightly smaller than Coruisk, with a lower windage profile, it is hoped that she will suffer less from berthing problems associated with larger vessels due to bad weather, and be able to remain alongside the Craignure linkspan berth overnight, unlike MV Coruisk.

It would be a shame if the benefits offered by MV Utne are not realised and used as a model for other CalMac short ferry routes.

Fergus Gillanders, Kilmelford.

New Oban wildlife-friendly park?

There is an area of land to the north-east of the railway line, stretching from behind the old woollen mill on Soroba Road in the west to the C32 [Glencruitten Road] in the east, and bounded to the north by the High School, the football and rugby pitches and the golf course. This area is connected by an underpass, under the railway, to another area going east from Nant Drive in the west.

In the past, this land was farmed with cattle grazing and then later horses. But now the only grazing animals are the occasional roe deer. For the past few years, it has gone wild, with scrub trees and bracken allowed to spread. But there is abundant wildlife – I have seen roe deer on the ground, red squirrels in the trees and buzzards in the air, and large parts of it are covered with trees, including rowan, silver birch, oak, holly, hazel and hawthorn.

This could be an amazing asset to Oban if it was properly managed with imagination. There are paths going through it, including a ‘core path’, and a large part of it is, I believe, owned by Argyll and Bute Council.

Nature is being promoted by governments and various voluntary bodies as an essential tool in improving the nation’s health. There are probably grants that could be accessed and people with the expertise and energy to get this potential asset made into a real one.

Could the council look into this?

John Burton, Oban.