Arran Banner Letters – week 12, 2022

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Arran or Alcatraz


As ferry disruption achieves new records, political infighting regarding the legality of the newly awarded Turkish contract emerges, rather than a public inquiry focusing on the dire state of west coast ferry provision and renewal.

From 1993 until 2007, 12 vessels were brought into service (33,350 tons) – some are now already over 20 year old. From 2007 only six with a tonnage of around 17,000. Average output – one vessel every 2.5 years.

In June 2021, a Scottish government spokesperson intimated that ’19 new vessels would be brought on stream in 10 years’. Current delayed delivery undermines that boast. Best ‘guesstimates’ suggest that fleet renewal will take a minimum of 45 years!

After much ‘vessel hunting’ last year the second hand monohull MV Utne (now Loch Frisa) was added to the fleet at a cost of £9.5 million – currently in dry dock undergoing a £1.5 million upgrade – although doubts have been expressed regarding capability for the proposed route.

Operational subsidy from 2015 to 2020 was £723 million whilst the repair and maintenance bill for the same period was around £90 million for 31 vessels.

Reassuring to know that the chief boat juggler of CalMac will be a panel speaker at an International maritime conference in Malmo in May.

The subject: Ferry Industry 2025, climate friendly, super digital, customer friendly! There is also a session on industry strategies for ‘Operational efficiency and profitability in the passenger travel market.’ I hope he has booked a seat!


John Lamont,



Synchronisation question


I have been reading the various letters on nuclear power, however there is a very important aspect regarding future power sources which needs to be addressed.

Renewables, in particular wind turbines, can only be switched on to a live grid, since the actual voltage/frequency characteristics on the network must be known for synchronisation. At present system synchronisation and stability is maintained by the large generators in power stations. With the impending closure of fossil fuel power stations, alternatives need to be found to ensure network stability and energy availability.

When Torness closes, the Scottish power network will be relying on the internconnectors with England to provide synchronisation for the renewables. Should Scotland become independent, who will be responsible for the Scottish network?

National Grid is the system operator for the UK (also for gas). Will this be passed back to Scotland, including the balancing of supply and demand? Perhaps the local MSP can clarify the Scottish government strategy on this matter,


Robin Gardner,



Need to do more


In the UK, 1,000 people die from breast cancer every month – that’s 1,000 too many.

Most of those deaths are from secondary breast cancer, which occurs when breast cancer cells spread from the first (primary) cancer in the breast to other parts of the body.

Secondary breast cancer can be treated but not cured, so we urgently need to do more for people affected by this incurable disease.

Breast Cancer Now is calling on readers to pledge to raise £1,000 by December 31 – from bake sales, to getting sponsored to walk or run, however you choose to raise the funds you’ll make a difference by supporting research, care and campaigns for anyone affected by incurable breast cancer.

We need more research. Every day in the lab brings us closer to a future where everyone with breast cancer lives and is supported to live well. Help us get there faster.

We must ensure no-one faces secondary breast cancer alone. There are an estimated 35,000 people living with secondary breast cancer in the UK, but without an accurate, up-to-date figure, we’re missing insight and much-needed information about their experiences and outcomes.

We need to keep raising our voices. Last year, our campaigning efforts helped secure a secondary breast cancer audit in England and Wales, meaning for the first time we will know the number of people living with this disease.

This data will support the NHS to design and plan services and help to improve outcomes for people diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. This is progress. But we can’t stop there.

Help us create a future where people with secondary breast cancer get more precious moments with the people they love, and to do the things they love – sign up to our £1,000 Challenge today at


Rachael Franklin,

Breast Cancer Now,



Quiet life


Dogs Trust Glasgow is currently caring for an array of four legged friends that require rural locations for their forever homes.

The majority of people who get in touch with us are looking for a dog that can cope with going to public parks, being around strangers, children and other dogs. For a lot of our dogs this busy life is not for them. They require regular routines and a much quieter life with minimum interaction with strangers, and being exercised in areas that are largely free from other dogs.

We hope that by appealing for people in rural locations to get in touch, we will find the perfect forever homes for all of our dogs that will greatly benefit from the quiet life.


Sandra Downie,

Glasgow Rehoming Centre Manager, Dogs Trust.