Arran Banner Letters, week 11, 2022

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Unsung heroes


I would like to put in writing how grateful we are to Mrs Phyllis Picken and the group of volunteers responsible for providing the Kilmory minibus service, as unsung local heroes.

Phyllis and her team provide, through the Kilmory minibus, an important service, that provides accessibility to ensure the pupils access to educational activities and experiences to a greater extent on the island as well as on the mainland.

Pre-pandemic, Kilmory Primary School used the minibus to access a variety of educational cluster events eg: sports events, Isle of Arran Music Festival, Day of Dance etc.

We are all looking forward to the academic year 2022-23, when hopefully, these events will be held again and primary school children can meet up with their peers from across the island.

This is extremely important for children in the more remote schools eg: Kilmory and Pirnmill, who may have only one child in their year group.

The biggest contribution that the Kilmory minibus provides to the schools is transporting children from four of the schools to their annual block of swimming lessons.

Living on an island we place great importance on all children being given the opportunity to learn to swim.

Kilmory, Pirnmill and Shiskine  schools use the Kilmory minibus to attend their lessons in the Kinloch Hotel in Blackwaterfoot. Corrie Primary School use the minibus to attend their lessons in the Auchrannie Resort in Brodick.

The competitive pricing is very much appreciated.

The four schools who use the minibus to access swimming lessons are small schools.

Due to the pandemic fund raising has been extremely limited.  However, the reliability of the service and the friendliness of the volunteer drivers is what makes the Kilmory minibus service outstanding.


Shirley MacLachlan,

Head teacher, Brodick, Corrie, Kilmory, Pirnmill, Shiskine and Whiting Bay Primary Schools and Early Years Classes.

Old school photograph


Lovely to see my old school photo which I gave to the hall committee a few years ago as I still have the original.

I walked to the school in all weathers as did most of the children.

I am unsure of the two small girls at the front although I think one may be Lachie Miller’s little sister.

Back row, from left: Sheena Nicol, Mayfield; Innes Campbell, Dippin Kennels; Elizabeth McNab, Lloyds Cottage; Winifred Stein, School house.

Middle row: Frances McNeil, Drimla; Heather Potts, Coastguard House; Betty McDonald, Balegra Farm; Georgina Charles, Coastguard House.

Front Row: Douglas Stein, School House; Ailsa Campbell, Dippin Kennels; ?; Margaret Hamilton, Whinhouse; Lachie Miller, Auchenhew.

I put where everyone lived as quite often this is not recorded. I am sure you will have a good response to the photo.

It saddens me greatly to see all the present ferry chaos. I well remember being on Brodick pier when my father brought the previous Glen Sannox in for the first time and he invited the Lady Jean FForde to cut the ribbon to allow the first car to drive off the ferry.

My father and all the other skippers told the the people making the decisions that Ardrossan was unsuitable for winter sailing. They have been proved so right over the last 50 years.


Liz Macpherson (McNab),



Nuclear fusion confusion


I hope that your readers will note that the letter (March 11, 2022) deprecating the proposal for a nuclear fusion plant in North Ayrshire is based on a misunderstanding of the proposed technology.

It is nuclear fusion that is proposed and not nuclear fission on which all nuclear generators to date have been based. The statement in the last paragraph, that ‘no more fusion plants should be built’ illustrates the writer’s confusion –  the fusion technology has yet to be developed for industrial application.

It is true that fission produces radioactive spent fuel and that this takes several centuries to decay to the level of radioactivity occurring naturally in ore in the ground ie a safe level.

It does not take millions of years as your writer alleges. I agree that lumbering future generations with taking care of this dangerous residue for centuries is unacceptable.

However, nuclear fusion involves fusing light elements and thereby releasing energy involve elements like helium, with negligible radioactive by-products.

This is why research must continue to develop this ‘clean’ energy source that is dependable, unlike wind and sun. At the present rate it will be decades before fusion plants are in operation by which time global climate change may reduce the ‘cost free’ energy we get in Scotland from wind.

If your writer wishes to contradict my understanding of the technology and risks associated with nuclear fusion, I am sure your readers would benefit.


Ian A Brown,



Welcome new technology


The letter from a reader last week regarding the proposed nuclear fusion plant at Ardeer is slightly wrong in its understanding of how such power plants will operate.

The proposed prototype plant will indeed be nuclear fusion rather than nuclear fission, which your reader elaborates on, giving Dungeness as an example.

Nuclear fusion is totally different. It is the process that powers the sun.

It has the potential to provide a near-limitless source of low carbon energy by copying the processes that power the stars where atoms are fused to release energy.

Unlike fission reactions which generate potentially dangerous radioactive waste products, fusion reactions have the potential to create abundant zero-carbon power.

There will be no barrels of radioactive waste or three-headed fish in the rivers. One of the few bi-products is helium, a harmless inert gas, also currently in demand from various industries worldwide.

If helium is released by accident, you’d just have some people walking around with squeaky voices for a while.

Seriously though, fusion does create radioactive elements, but on a level similar to what you would find in a hospital.

For an almost unlimited amount of power, we should be welcoming this new – cleaner – technology with open arms.


Graham Chappell,



Support for project


It was disappointing to read the letter in last week’s Banner which was critical of the possible STEP fusion energy plant at Ardeer for all the wrong reasons.

Whatever one’s views are on conventional nuclear power plants, what is being considered at Ardeer is totally new and does not have the long list of issues associated with conventional nuclear power.

The STEP fusion process is inherently safe and a runaway meltdown explosion and associated contamination cannot happen.

Fusion reactors don’t produce high-activity, long-life radioactive waste like conventional nuclear reactors with inert helium being the waste gas from the fusion reaction.

The current crisis with fossil fuels has brought into focus the need to change to local, greener and sustainable energy production.

Whilst wind, wave and sunlight are all useful contributions to the solution we also need energy that can be produced on dark still nights.

The STEP fusion concept is an exciting and far safer way to harness the energy of atoms which can produce much-needed green energy far into the future. We should all support this project for the wide reaching positive benefits it brings.


Timothy Billings,



Banner reader Liz Macpherson recalls not only the names of the pupils from the Heritage Museum’s appeal last week but also where they lived.