Arran Banner Letters – week 42

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Ferry competition


It’s all very well to say that the ferries fiasco must never happen again. But as long as the state-owned CalMac and CMAL have a monopoly over almost all the ferries and most of the key ports, then inevitably it will.

Political interference and dismal project management mean that Scottish taxpayers will pay over £200m, more than twice the original budget, to get just two new ferries, two years late. (Though since their technology and the supporting infrastructure is untested on any ferry route in the world, it could take even longer.)

Those now in charge run a fleet of 33 boats that are an average 23 years old, when the working life of a Scottish ferry is 25 years. By the time the new CalMac ferries are in service, half the rest of the fleet will be past its use-by date. That means yet more Arran boats being taken off the crossing to plug ferry failures elsewhere.

Telling CalMac, CMAL and their political masters in Edinburgh to ‘do better in future’ is a waste of breath. On the Arran-mainland route, which is by far the busiest, the only viable future is proper and transparent competition, with new operators bringing in fresh ideas. More generally, future ferry projects should be evaluated through an entirely independent process—not left to an insider quango like CMAL.


Eamonn Butler


Government competence


Just read the 5 October Banner and was most surprised to read that CMAL accuse Jim McCall and his team of being ‘hopelessly out of its depth’ regarding the construction of the new ferry. Yet, in the article on the Arran Action Group, it mentions the tests on the simulator which resulted in the ferry having alterations to the already built hull! In addition CMAL were responsible for the new, not fit for purpose, Brodick terminal which would not look out of place at Glasgow Airport, only difference being that escalators would be provided, instead of stairs (and not affected by an Easterly wind!). No doubt the concerns/suggestions on the new Ardrossan terminal design will also be completely ignored.

The ferry fiasco could have been avoided if a proper technical feasibility study had been carried out to assess the suitability of using LNG in a relatively small vessel. At present only large ships have hybrid (LNG and diesel) engines due to the complex handling and storage of LNG.

This entire project is just another example of the Scottish Government’s abysmal record over the last few years on major issues, including education, NHS (both operational and infrastructure) and Transport (railways and lifeline ferries). It appears that the level of competence can be measured in baby boxes, sanitary products, smacking and now workplace parking

On the subject of the Scottish Salmon Company, the 4 October edition of Private Eye includes an article on the proposed SSC fish farm off Arran. Despite the company being ‘Scottish’ the major shareholder is now a Danish salmon farmer based in the Faroe Islands. It also describes the significant effect of untreated waste and chemicals on the native sea wildlife. According to the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, sea lice would also adversely affect the wild salmon and sea trout population. Last year Marine Scotland warned SSC about four farms for failing to control the sea lice, described in a previous edition of Eye (No 1498) as an epidemic. Since the beginning of 2019, data has highlighted that 3.1 million farmed salmon died due to disease, including 200,000 on an SSC site.

I suggest NAC planning department read this article when discussing the application, since the Danish government have now banned all new fish farm proposals due to the effect on the marine habitat.


Robin Gardner

Milton of Campsie

Lamlash Events appeal


I am writing this letter in the hope that we can inform some more people about what we are doing as a community organisation on Arran and try to enlist some help. Lamlash Events, a non-profit company, was set up three years ago to be the vehicle behind keeping the Santa’s Sparkle event going (which was formally run by the previous owners of the Glenisle Hotel). Our aim was to ensure that the community were involved and what had been a really loved occasion continued to happen.

The objectives are simple and written into Lamlash Events constitution: –

1. To encourage or undertake any event or project for the benefit of the village

and community of Lamlash and the wider Isle of Arran, Scotland.

2. To organise or hold social events in Lamlash or the wider Isle of Arran.

3. To apply all money raised or received by the company to such events and


To this end Lamlash Events has now supported and help organise three successful Santa’s Sparkles, the Arran Rock ‘n’ Blues Festival and the Vegan Festival to be held 14/15th March 2020. We have five directors who work tirelessly to apply for grants and raise money to make these festivals happen however they cannot continue without the help of more local Arran people. If you can support with funds, give a donation, sponsorship or any administrative task such as writing letters, applying for grants or general organisation of licences, marshalling, loaning fencing or indeed any other job involved in these festivals, please get in touch. We have a Lamlash Events’ Facebook page for messaging and an email for Santa’s Sparkle if you wish to get in touch this way. Alternatively, call 01770 600418 and ask to be put in touch with one of the directors.

Santa’s Sparkle are looking for offers of people to organise & run stalls/games particularly aimed at young children, help to decorate the school and Santa’s Grotto, create a float for the parade, plus donations of raffle prizes, tombola and lucky dip prizes. If you can help, please get in touch.


The Directors

Lamlash Events

Re-homing request


Alison Prince had two cats, Mitzy and Fingal. I homed Mitzy with her when her cat Paddy passed on.

Her daughter has contacted me and asked if I can try to find a suitable home for them. SO far I have advertised via social media and as yet no suitable home has been offered nor found.

They are obviously used to a quiet environment with no children and no dogs, with access to a safe garden. Fingal is a black male, 13 years old and is neutered whilst Mitzy is a grey shaded tabby, eight years old and also neutered.

I am saddened that there hasn’t been a better response to our appeal but perhaps the right person isn’t on social media and might be found via normal channels of a newspaper.

Can you help please? Thank you!


Linda Hartley

Cats Protection Arran

01770 820 611