Arran Banner letters – week 32

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Castle concerns

Sir,

As a regular annual visitor to Arran (often twice a year) since I was a one year old in my mother’s arms, and now as a 72 year old pensioner, I feel that I have earned the right to criticise policy making at Brodick Castle, even though I must profess ignorance as to the original concept.

I was extremely surprised and saddened this year to discover that one of the greatest assets of the castle experience, has been downgraded to a souless, characterless wooden hut! I’m talking about the café.

Who on earth thought it was a good idea to move the café from the wonderful vista at the  castle front, to the old book room and gift shop at the back of the castle which looks on to the castle car park?

The old café was always a great part of a castle visit, not to mention a tremendous joy, to be able to enjoy a cup of coffee and something to eat, whilst sitting outside the castle (or inside) on a fine day, and enjoying the company of the numerous beautiful chaffinches and occasional robins, who were always grateful to share a scone or two! The wonderful panoramic vistas across the bay from the tables outside the castle, just complemented the whole magnificent holiday experience.

It  seems an absolute tragedy to deny holidaymakers such a superb experience, and replace it with a characterless, noisy environment, in a wooden hut behind the castle beside the car park! In my humble opinion, the powers at be have missed a massive publicity trick here, and may yet live to regret their decision, especially as the Scottish Tourist Board are trying to encourage visitors to the islands. Absolutely crazy!

Who, on earth wants to sit in a characterless wooden hut to have a coffee, when they could be enjoying the birds and the open air just outside the castle, looking onto the walled garden and across the bay?

Arran will never be the same again!

Yours,

John Kirk,

Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Festival backing

Sir,

I was surprised to read the complaint in last week’s Banner about the Rock ‘n’ Blues Festival. I am also a resident of Hamilton Terrace and not particularly a fan of this music. Yes, it was close to where we live, but Lamlash is a tourist venue and events like this bring people in to discover the village. It’s an opportunity for local charities to engage with visitors and it also brings in money to local businesses.

I lived for 18 years in the Oxfordshire village of Cropredy. It’s 600 residents were joined for a weekend every August by 20,000 folk rock fans for the Fairport festival. We all knew it was happening and everyone from the local scouts to the primary school got involved, cooked breakfasts and generally made the most of the occasion. The primary school made enough to afford it’s own swimming pool.

May I suggest that next year, Dr Shenhav arranges to go away for the weekend or, failing that, invest in some earplugs.

Yours,

Karen Acham

Lamlash

Rolling Stones

Sir,

While I have some sympathy with your correspondent’s complaint regarding the noise from the Rock and Blues Festival, the rest of the letter which goes on to suggest that ‘not everyone enjoys that kind of music’ and that the site should be changed to the Ormidale is, in my opinion, an example of pomposity and nimbyism. Incidentally, there is a very strong rumour the Rolling Stones are to play a three night concert at Lamlash next year!

Yours,

Brian Grindall,

Shiskine.

Lessons learned

Sir,

From responsible dog owner to dog owner responsible for sheep death, in a flash.

Picture this: a visit to our favourite Coire Lochan last summer with friends, young family and our beloved seven year old labrador. Above the deer fence, I let the dog off the lead. A little later, from the footpath, she spotted a young sheep and gave chase. As the scene unfolded, she was immune to recall, highly aroused and yapping like a puppy in front of the sheep, darting in and out, bottom up, tail wagging, excited.  She was not growling or snarling.  By the time I reached her, she was standing over the sheep which was barely breathing. I put her on the lead and directly contacted the owner of the livestock. The sheep did not survive.

The fallout? Utter shock and horror and now life with a dog we view differently.

The lesson? Any animal can behave unpredictably, clearly even a pet labrador. Please learn from our mistake: off the lead means that the dog is beyond your control if something goes wrong.  Now, to keep our dog on any footpath she is kept on a lead.  An absence of a ‘keep your dog on a lead’ notice doesn’t mean that it’s okay to take the lead off, or mean that there is an absence of wildlife/livestock.

Thanks to the kind neighbours who helped me bring the farmer out to the scene.  The farmer was extremely understanding and balanced in his response and voiced his appreciation at being informed.  We are very grateful for the way he dealt with the distressing situation and the loss of his livestock.

Please readers, when walking on the beautiful Isle of Arran, expect the unexpected – and keep your dog on a lead.

Yours,

Jess Ostler,

Winchester.

Propaganda letter

Sir,

Lochranza can also confirm that residents received the unsolicited Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) proposed mega salmon farm development plan propaganda letter for Millstone Point, North Arran, see last week’s letters page.

I am requested to point out to the SSC on behalf of the (LCCA) that it remains vehemently opposed to this marine development.  The LCCA has some 250 local supporters.  Should there be any doubt of our intentions then the SSC should reflect on the fact that both villages turned out en masse to object in April 2019 to the same plans the SSC is again putting forward without modification.  We will object to SSC request to NAC for planning consent approval whenever that is issued.

We object to the SSC proposals because they give no recognition to have listened to residents comments made on their stated public days.  That is to say that they have publicly consulted but now intend to ignore any comments made.  I attended two public sessions and have consulted with attendees at other sessions.  My principal recollection is that residents were very distrustful of the SSC and did not want SSC operations anywhere near Arran : just for them to go away!

We object to the SSC Millstone Point plans because it is showing it intends to ignore residents objections concerning the preservation of the natural marine habitat at Millstone Point area which concerns otters, basking sharks, seals, dolphins, sea birds as well as the undersea flora and fauna.  It is a sought after area by walkers and those travelling by sea which will be ruined by the farm.

We object because the SSC salmon farming method which is based on the use of open nets.  The open net method trashes the local environment by allowing untreated salmon faeces, waste food pellets and the neurotoxins used to try to prevent epidemics of sea-lice and disease to fall through the holes in the net contaminating the local area beneath them and the tidal locality.  A mega salmon farm proposal such as Millstone Point will deposit annually as much untreated salmon sewage as a small town such as Oban.  Human sewage must of course be treated before discharge.  We have witnessed and smelt the yellow lorries passing through Lochranza en route to the ferry and mainland dumps which contain the dead bodies of tonnes of asphyxiated and diseased fish from the Lamlash farm, apparently soon to close.

We object because there are now some 300 licensed salmon farms on the west coast of Scotland.  Two parliamentary inquiries into the Scottish aquaculture industry took place in 2018 and found that “the industry has proven itself largely incapable of addressing many of the key issues in salmon farming, in particular sea-lice control and disease”.  The Scottish government and its environmental control agencies have yet to decide how to respond to the several tens of recommendation made by these inquiries but hopefully some stricter guidelines may soon emerge.

Until these new salmon farm operating rules do emerge and are implemented, we believe, as do many environmentalists that there should be a moratorium on future salmon farm developments such as Millstone Point, Arran and Kilchattern Bay, Bute until it can be proven that these farms can be operated in an environmentally sustainable way.  Anyone who wishes to view salmon farming reality should visit Corin Smith’s Facebook page – Inside Scottish Salmon Farming Feedlots.

Are you listening yet Scottish Salmon Company?

Yours,

John Ford,

Lochranza & Catacol Community Association.