Arran Banner letters – week 01

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Opposition is not premature

Sir,

We refer to the RDS Forestry’s letter to the editor  of 14 December 2019 headed Opposition Premature.

The Imachar Group is a like minded group of individuals dedicated to opposing the proposed industrial development at Imachar Point and fully support Malcolm Kerr’s letter of 30 November in that regard.

RDS Forestry is currently involved in pre-planning for what their letter describes as a timber loading facility. The reality is much more, a substantial bellmouth at the public road and part way up Imachar hill, a roadway leading to a large timber stackyard and a slipway. The whole project will take up an area the length of four football pitches terminating just before the first cave on this section of the Arran

Coastal Way, a favourite recreational and walking area for local residents and visitors in an unspoiled natural environment.

This unfortunate project has been kept under scrutiny and just as RDS have been preparing by way of various surveys, ground and marine analysis for North Ayrshire Council (NAC) planners so those inclined to oppose the scheme have been preparing their own response. Whatever concerns RDS may have for the progress of their development it is certainly not for them to dictate to any party who wishes to monitor their particular approach to planning.

There are public access documents available on the NAC eplanning website under planning reference 19/00869. One of these is a letter from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to NAC in which they make clear their opposition to the project and from which the following is an extract: ‘Overall the development at this location will have damaging impacts on important features of the National Scenic Area, the nationally significant long distance walking route, and the local wildlife site.

‘There is also a risk to specially protected species. While SNH recognise the need for this timber facility we do not consider that this industrial development is appropriate at this location.’

We believe we can let this statement speak for itself. The Whitefarland to Imachar leg of the nationally significant Arran Coastal Way is one of the few off road sections of its western trail.

Unique in its pristine state and listed as one of Scotland’s Great Trails it gives significant added boosts to Arran as a tourist destination and the income flowing from that status.

Arran Access Trust (AAT), a Scottish registered charity, is the body who adopted and now oversee the Arran Coastal Way. SNH retain under the constitution of the Arran Access Trust a permanent director on the board of AAT. Given their stated aims, and the opposition of SNH, we would expect AAT to endorse SNH’s opinion, and similarly seek to have the project rejected should it move to a full planning application.

Yours,

The Imachar Group Team

Vote for STV

Sir,

The General Election results of December 12 reveal that the votes of many Arran Banner readers counted for nothing, thanks to continued use of our antiquated ‘first-past-the-post’ voting system.

Signing away your democratic rights with the mark of illiteracy in single member constituencies enables MPs to be elected on a small fraction of the vote; over three quarters of the Scottish MPs were elected on a minority of their constituency vote. Consequently, seats won by a party do not necessarily reflect the level of support nationwide for that party, nor are outcomes consistent or certain. On December 12, Boris Johnson’s so-called landslide was achieved on just 44 per cent of the vote; 56 per cent of those who voted did not support his party.

More worrying for those who support the Union is the fact that the Scottish Nationalists took 81 per cent of the seats for just 45 per cent of the Scottish vote while in Northern Ireland, Unionists were awarded fewer seats than the Nationalists, even though they had polled more votes. It seems our Victorian voting system is undermining the Union.

As the Labour Party’s Secretary of the time observed as long ago as 1936: ‘There is no greater gamble on earth than a British general election.’ You might as well throw dice.

If your readers want to know more,www.knackered.org.uk sets out the deficiencies of our current voting system and advocates its replacement with the Single Transferable Vote, a British invention which is already used for local elections in Scotland. STV increases the degree and accuracy of representation, it minimises wasted votes, and it is the most powerful vote on the planet. It is high time it was introduced for all elections in the UK.

Yours,

David Green,

Southport.

Elderly befrienders

Sir,

From personal experience I would like to express my appreciation for the befrienders. People who volunteer and visit the elderly here on this island. My lady comes every week with her lovely dogs and even brought her husband, who redesigned my awful back yard. I wish them all a very happy New Year.

Yours,

Pat King,

Shiskine.

Scouting thanks

Sir,

The last decade in Scouts has seen some big achievements. We welcomed new members every single year. We committed to tackling the biggest social issues facing our country including protecting our environment. We encourage young people to do more, learn more and be more. That’s thanks to the amazing volunteers who get stuck in and make it happen.

As we begin the new year, I want to thank those who gave their time, from the minibus driver, to the tea makers and the den builders. Every single person is playing their part to give young people aged 6-25 the skills they need for school, college, university, the job interview, the important speech, the tricky challenge and the big dreams: the skills they need for life.

Thank you all, Scouting couldn’t happen without you.

Yours,

Andrew Sharkey,

Chief commissioner,

Scouts Scotland.

Sightsavers support

Sir,

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of the three million plus players of the People’s Postcode Lottery in the UK.

Thanks to your support, People’s Postcode Lottery has been able to provide over £500 million to good causes since 2005, which is just incredible. Over £3.9 million of this we have been grateful to receive at Sightsavers.

Money raised by players has been indispensable in helping Sightsavers to fund vital, sight-saving work in some of the world’s poorest countries.

A cataract surgery can cost as little as £30 but it has a transformational effect.

We recently worked with Gordane and Suhura, a married couple from Mozambique, who were both almost blind from cataracts. They were able to have sight-restoring surgery within a week of each other and it has turned their lives around, enabling them to return to normal day-to-day activities such as cooking, working and socialising. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

So once again, a big thank you to all the players in Scotland for your support.

Yours,

Dr Caroline Harper CBE

Sightsavers CEO