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Sadly we have had to suspend the Sannox Bay Hotel renovation project as chronic and enduring problems getting to and from Arran on the ferry has meant another eight wasted days trying to get back to Sannox from the mainland. I guarantee lots of other folk from Arran will have had this and similar ferry headaches.
The latest ferry mess at CalMac follows the MV Caledonian Isles dent to her bow visor. The replacement ferry is too small and has insufficient capacity. Hundreds of folk were sent a text cancelling their bookings with just 12 hours notice and told to ‘try their luck and just turn up’. But CalMac caveats state passengers have no guarantees they will get on a ferry. Ardrossan/Brodick now have a free-for-all melee that has replaced the Arran ferry booking system. Frustratingly, I had spinal surgery and am due for more operations, so have to rely on a disabled driver Blue Badge. So booking a ferry is a vital part of journey planning. Unfortunately, there is now no way to book a place on the ferry if you are disabled. In spite of pleas to CalMac, so far this week, their company policy on people with disabilities is ‘go-away’.
This is not good. But it also means we can’t sort out the Sannox Bay Hotel site meeting for the Building Warrant and North Ayrshire Council officials. That results in closing down the hotel renovation job for at least two weeks until the MV Caledonian Isles dunt in the bow visor is repaired. Because these ferry disruptions are now so commonplace, firms like ours are having to postpone or cancel investment decisions on other Arran projects. This will mean lost jobs.
Meanwhile the CalMac shoreside staff, officers and crew are working incredibly hard. My experience is they are doing their absolute best in difficult circumstances and should be commended. The problem is at CalMac senior management. Even then, Robbie Drummond the CalMac managing director was kind enough to accept an invitation to attend a future public meeting in Brodick. But will this help? We really need a sophisticated solution to this complex and chronic ferry fiasco. CalMac has four million pounds in subsidy every week to keep the lifeline ferry services going and is failing badly. The newbuild ferry MV Glen Sannox is rotting away, whilst the warring parties sort that out and is many months away from service on the Arran lifeline route. So I would invite anyone who cares about helping remedy the Arran ferry mess to let me know if it is worth starting a formal petition to the Scottish Parliament to sort out this ferry mess: www.calmac-enigma.co.uk
Sannox Bay Hotel
Our ‘friends’ at the Scottish Salmon Company have asked North Ayrshire Council to consider a scoping study in support of a gargantuan salmon farm between Sannox and Fallen Rocks on the NE coast of Arran. The NAC planners’reference is 19/00182/EIA accessible on the planning website.
The site just north of North Sannox near the Falling Rocks will encompass 20 huge cages plus a feeding barge and occupy an area immediately adjacent to the shore equal to three football pitches and extend at least1km along the shoreline. But it is not just visual intrusion into one of the most popular wild coastal walks on Arran undisturbed by road traffic. It is what it might do in terms of water quality, marine life, intertidal zone biodiversity that is most worrying. This is factory intensive farming at its worst without any pollution safeguards. Waste food and faeces, yes salmon shit too, will be dispersed along the coast, particularly towards popular Sannox beaches all 2000 tonnes of it or more annually. This is three times more than is generated by the entire resident population of Arran and equivalent to a waste stream generated by a town of 14,000 persons.
This is not only a wonderful recreational area for residents and visitors alike, it is part of the Arran Moor Special Protection Area. It is also of great importance regarding the geological sequence of rocks to trace along the shoreline, an educational wonderland for budding geologists with archaeological history mixed in.
The company sets out to claim the moral high ground in producing food for the ever expanding world population but it is an entirely false claim. The industry is unsustainable when it comes to food sourcing. All salmon aquaculture companies worldwide are having to battle with spread of disease and parasitic infection characteristic of intensive farming using toxic chemicals to try and arrest premature mortality. It is a fact that during the last two months of last year some 30 tonnes of dead salmon were removed from the existing Lamlash fish farm, the cause being undeclared. Anybody encountering the yellow trucks of the waste disposal contractor on the ferry will have been only too aware of the perils of this industry. The latest bullet in the armoury is hydrogen peroxide, tonnes of this broad spectrum biocide being deployed to contain the lice that invade the open cages.
Do we want this huge industrial development with its pollution signature invading our pristine coastline ? Whether you are an environmental enthusiast, walker, kayaker, wild swimmer, tourism promoter or just simply wish to protect one of the most untouched beautiful coastal areas of this island I say this project is not for you. Don’t let me influence you however. You will I understand get you chance to hear the company extol the virtues of their proposal at a meeting in Lochranza on the 2nd April. In the meantime can I encourage you to send in your views of the scoping document submitted by the company and available with North Ayrshire Planning. They need to spell out what baseline topics (descriptions of the existing environment) and likely impacts resulting from development would be experienced. Only when more information and understanding is available will it be seen that this proposal flies in the face of Arran’s secure longer term future.