Letters to the Editor – 14.4.22

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Oban flood risk is real

Further to your article on the rejection of planning permission for a site in Oban town Centre, which I note has attracted some incredulity from a few local people, I am writing to you as a local environmental consultant with many years’ experience in the field of flood risk.

Most people don’t realise that as per Scottish Planning Policy, which the council, SEPA and developers have to follow, a new residential development must be assessed against a minimum of a 1-in-200-year risk of it flooding plus the effects of climate change on flood levels. This is to protect the property, not increase the flood risk to properties downstream by removing floodplain storage (albeit not applicable here) and importantly provide safe egress for inhabitants and ingress for emergency services.

In living memory Oban has probably only experienced less than a 1-in-50-year flood event but a 1-in-200-year event will inevitably happen and could occur at any point. Indeed, a 1-in-200-year flood could theoretically occur this year or in the near future.
As many readers will be aware, the climate change crisis is already having an effect on rainfall. With respect to flood risk, intensity is increasing and will continue to do so over the foreseeable future.

In terms of the existing developments mentioned in social media responses to your article, there has been an ongoing increase in the effect of climate change on future flood levels. Pre 2019 SEPA required an uplift of 20 per cent on the 1-in-200-year watercourse flows in Scotland. For burns such as those in Oban this now stands at 46 per cent to 2080.

Much of Oban will undoubtedly flood in the future/near future and you only need to look at SEPA’s flood map (available online) to get an indication of this. Indeed, a well-advertised informal drop-in session for the local community was held in the Corran Halls in 2019 where the Council and their environmental consultants flagged up the risk to the town.

Proposed mitigation measures included construction of a circa shoulder height sea wall along the promenade and beyond, creation of floodwater storage at Mossfield Stadium/the Golf Course and close to the Hospital, and increasing the capacity of the pumping station on the Black Lynn which historically has been needed to stop the banks over topping, particularly during high tides/rainfall.

Very sadly, despite the widespread advertising of this meeting, only a handful of the public attended. Had some of those making the comments attended, they would perhaps appreciate the forthcoming risks to the town.
Dr Garret Macfarlane, Connel.

Sports field disappointment

We were surprised and disappointed to read that the Morvern community had to go cap in hand to the Scottish Land Fund to purchase the sports field at Knock, Lochaline, from their local estate (Lochaber Times, March 31).

According to a recent book written by a member of the family that owns the estate, the present owners acquired the entire 45,000-acre property, consisting of 40-plus cottages, a large mansion house, salmon river and deer forest for less than 50p an acre.

Could they not have done the honourable thing by donating this small piece of recreational land near the village free gratis without relying on the cash-strapped Scottish Government to stump up almost £140,000 pounds in the present economic crisis?

It would be a gracious act if the estate owners waived the government handout and passed the money back to the community allowing it to proceed with its modest plans and stop making beggars of us all. They would surely not begrudge a few acres to a tiny village on the periphery that has most loyally supported them for nigh on a century.
Name and address supplied.

Was it worth the effort?

My wife and I have been on holiday to Colonsay for many years, this time in March.
We had booked to travel from Oban on Friday March 11, returning the following Wednesday.

We heard the Friday ferry was cancelled and rebooked for Saturday. We waited around the terminal all day on the Saturday, leaving eventually on the Sunday morning. On the Monday we got a message to say the Wednesday boat was leaving on Tuesday. We spent two nights on the island, and four nights travelling.

Next year we will have to consider if it is worth the effort.
Barbara & Robert Vanderpump,

Not so green after all

Because of the greenhouse gas emissions created in manufacture and extraction of the Lithium for the batteries an EV driver will need to drive 92,000 miles to reach CO2 emission parity. The electricity EVs use is not green either.

Over the last 12 months electricity was created, in percentage terms, by fossil fuels 41.1, wind 19.6, solar 4.1, nuclear 16.8 and biomass 6.9. Therefore the electricity is tainted by fossil fuels, and nuclear by those who hate it, and certainly biomass is not green since trees are cut down in America and Canada, made into pellets and then transported on diesel ships and then by diesel lorries.

So ‘dirty’ EV electricity could range from 41.1 per cent to 64.8 per cent.

Not so green after all.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

National Insurance rise

Reports on increases to National Insurance state that contributions will increase by 1.25% this month. In fact, the rise is a 1.25 percentage point increase applied to existing National Insurance rates, not a percentage increase on those rates. This might sound pedantic, but it does make quite a big difference to the figures.

For people currently paying National Insurance at a rate of 12%, this will mean they start to pay at 13.25% instead. Most people will therefore see an increase of more than 10% in the amount of National Insurance they pay after the rise.
Alex Orr, Edinburgh.