Your letters to The Buteman: June 19, 2015

A photomontage supplied by objector David Irving of what the proposed Auchintirrie wind turbines might look like when viewed from Ettrick Bay.
A photomontage supplied by objector David Irving of what the proposed Auchintirrie wind turbines might look like when viewed from Ettrick Bay.

This week’s crop of your letters to The Buteman includes a response to Bute Community Power’s statement on wind turbines, a nostalgic recollection sparked by a column in The Buteman and thank you messages from Macmillan Cancer Support and the organiser of Rothesay’s ‘name the rabbit’ competition.

To see your views in the next print edition of The Buteman, email news@buteman.com by 5pm on Monday at the latest - but remember that the sooner we receive your contribution, the better are its chances of appearing!

Keep your letters as brief as you can, and please ensure that your name and address are included for publication. We also need a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, although this will not be printed.

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BCP’s turbine defence doesn’t stand up

On your website this week you publish a statement from Bute Community Power in response to objections to the proposed wind turbines at Auchintirrie. I would like to comment on the extremely misleading and highly patronising statements made in BCP’s letter to Bute Community Council.

The directors of BCP say many of the objections are “uninformed and not based on factual information”.

However, on reading the comments on the Argyll and Bute Council website, many of the objectors are clearly both well-informed and passionate.

The project’s supporters, however, appear to rely almost exclusively on the Landscape Wind Energy Capacity Study 2012 (which the proposal contravenes).

Twenty of the comments have been a simple case of cut and paste, and around 15 of them without even a change in typeface.

The fact that many visitors to the island have taken the time to object, without any financial incentive, is an indication of the potential harm this proposal would cause.

BCP’s statement quotes the Argyll and Bute Landscape Wind Energy Capacity Study (LWECS) of 2012 in that, with regard to visual impact, “turbines should not be sited on a prominent hilltop”.

BCP then proceeds to claim that the Auchintirrie Hill is not prominent.

To further claim that Barone Hill is also not important, and Historic Scotland’s objections “ lack credibility”, demonstrates a profound disregard for, and complete lack of understanding of, both the local landscape and the archaeological significance of the locality. [Ed - for clarity we should point out that Mr Irving’s letter was written before Historic Scotland withdrew their objection to the application.]

The proposed hilltop site forms part of a ridge that lies at the heart of the island and separates the valleys of Ettrick and St Ninian’s Bays. The ancient Dunalunt Fort sits adjacent to the proposed site exactly because of the commanding and dominant position, which has outstanding 360-degree panoramic views .

The LWECS states that any turbine over 35 metres high will quickly become a dominant feature.

On tourism, BCP claims that “it [the application site] is also located in part of Bute which is out of view of the majority of visitor attractions”.

The turbines would be only 1.6 km from the south side of Ettrick Bay, and at 16 storeys in height, would be clearly seen. [Ed - The photomontage at the top of this article was supplied by Mr Irving in order to illustrate this point.]

Ettrick Bay is without doubt one of the island’s greatest assets, and a major visitor attraction.

The turbines would also be visible from many of the roads around the west coast including the approaches to the bays, Canada Hill, and St Ninian’s Point. The turbines would also be highly visible from the West Island Way’s approach to the Straad.

BCP claims that “in the view from Ettrick Bay the turbines will be seen side on most of the time as they will turn to face the prevailing south westerly winds on more days than any other direction.”

The winds obviously blow from all directions, and to state that the wind direction would mitigate the visual impact really is clutching at straws.

Contrary to BCPʼs claims there are many studies showing that visitors do not return to sites that have subsequently had turbines installed. The Mount Stuart Trust are concerned enough to have lodged a very strong, and detailed, objection.

Gigha and Harris - the two islands cited by BCP - are very different places, with many different factors affecting their population and tourism statistics. To imply that any rise in the numbers of visitors to Gigha and Harris is due to turbines is a gross over simplification.

On archaeology, in addition to Dunalunt Fort, which is the largest on the island, and the scheduled monument of Barone Hill, the Bronze Age cists of Croc-An-Coigreaich lie adjacent to the proposed turbine site, and directly on the proposed approach road.

In addition the turbines would dominate the sensitive skyline behind the Kilmachalmaig stone circle when seen from the approach road to the north side of Ettrick Bay.

The standing stones and chapel on St Ninian’s Point (another scheduled monument) would also be detrimentally affected.

Turning to the socio-economic effects of the proposal: BCP would like to use possible future spending cuts as a justification for their proposal, when in fact the impact on tourism is likely to far outweigh the unsubstantiated financial returns quoted.

As far as I’m aware, no business plan has been made available, and the costs involved in fabricating, erecting, maintaining, running and decommissioning the turbines is far from clear. BCP’s claim that they have widespread support is simply not borne out by the figures on the Argyll and Bute Council planning website.

David Irving, Stewart Hall, Ballianlay

Column helps to roll back the years

I always find The Buteman’s editorial column of great interest. In the June 12 issue, editor Craig Borland, writes of getting a “ticking off from a reader unhappy at the term ‘youths’ being used in an article which Craig had written.

The column got me thinking of the words ‘youth’ and ‘youthful’.

When I was a lass, I went to one of the many church ‘youth clubs’. Youth clubs were regarded as a good place to spend one’s time and energy.

They offered the opportunity to play badminton, netball, indoor football and so on. The highlight of our social life, however, was the Youth Club Dance, where many a romance began - and often led to marriage.

We girls applied our Max Factor ‘Panstick’, with great care taken to cover our rosy cheeks, in order to look pale and interesting. Lipstick was carefully applied and blotted; eyebrow pencil was used to draw a “stocking seam” on the back of our legs.

We backcombed and sprayed our hair and we were ready to walk the two miles to the church hall.

The ‘youths’ (a term applied solely to young males at that time) meantime washed, shaved, even if no stubble had yet appeared, and donned their best shirts, ties and Sunday suits. How smart and handsome they looked, well-shined shoes and all.

We girls arrived wearing the latest fashion in ‘frocks’ - in the mid-fifties ‘sticky-out’ dresses, with full circular skirts, supported by starched net petticoats.

Stilletos were ‘in’, and in we walked to seat ourselves at either side of the hall.

The youths or lads stood at each end of the hall. No bar in those church youth clubs for the young men to prop themselves up with.

No girl wanted to be a wallflower, so we all accepted any invitation to dance, even if the youth making the request was known to have two left feet.

The most handsome youths, however, got the eye from most of the young ladies - and if your luck was in, you caught his eye too.

Happy days and happy memories revived by a column in The Buteman. Yes, those were the days, when words had a specific meaning and weren’t so liable to being assessed as to their political correctness or to being misinterpreted.

But, then, language is a living thing and the meaning of words and phrases constantly changes.

Eleanor Black (no longer young, but kidding herself she’s fairly youthful - and most definitely young at heart!), 4 St Andrew’s Walk, Rothesay

Community spirit alive in Rothesay

May I express my gratitude to so many individuals and businesses for the backing they gave to the ‘Name the Rabbit’ competition for the new garden in King Street?

Many people, over the years since I returned to Bute in my retirement, have told me Rothesay is not the same and there is no longer any community spirit.

Indeed, I thought the same until the two recent projects on the dilapidated site opposite Rothesay Library.

Firstly, the ‘Name The Rabbit’ competition for children. Sadly the bad weather kept many of the 65 entrants away - though those who did brave the elements have my respect.

Many businesses gave donations towards goodie bags for the children who entered. This money is, at present, in the hands of For Bute and, hopefully, will pay for the majority of costs.

Print Point contributed books for every goodie bag plus a very generous donation of a £25 book token for the winner. Prize winners who were not present will receive their prizes this week.

The Rabbit, of course, would never have existed without the backing of Joe McCabe and his staff, and also the expertise of Mark Wasley, who carved the rabbit from the tree stump with his trusty chainsaw.

My thanks also to Police Scotland, the Rotary Club of Rothesay, the staffs of the library and Moat Centre and The Buteman.

My appreciation to Rosemary Lonie, Ian Carmichael and Gordon Gillespie, and to John Lilley for the use of his PA equipment.

And lastly, my thanks to our councillors, Len Scoullar, Isobel Strong and Robert Macintyre, for presenting the prizes - and trying to control soggy sheets of paper in the gale-force wind!

Once the public saw what was happening on site, and following the appeal in The Buteman for unwanted plants, we received £170 from members of the public and a generous donation from Rothesay Horticultural Society.

Other locals delivered plants to the site for planting in the two rockeries. Many of these plants are still waiting to be planted but every donated plant will be used. Bute Pet Supplies weighed in with the donation of the flowering plants in the area surrounding the rabbit.

Due to everyone’s generosity no plants had to be bought

The HELP Project initiated and staffed this project, and my thanks to them. If I have missed any person, business or organisation out, then my sincere apologies.

Once again, my thanks and respect to all of the above.

Iain Gillespie, 37 East Princes Street, Rothesay

Macmillan donation thanks

I would sincerely like to thank the following for their recent donations to Macmillan Cancer Support on Bute. - Customer can collections: Toffos, £122.74; Palace Bar, £24.19; Brian’s Sandwich Bar, £20.28; Pokey Hat, £18.45; McIntyre Butchers, £37.91;

The following for £359 from the Easter Baskets: Kingarth Hotel, Bank of Scotland, Fyne Homes, Rothesay Golf Club, The Grapes Bar, The Galatea Bar.

- Robert McKirdy’s quiz £558.90;

- Bag pack in Co-operative, Bridge St. £1,022.75;

- Fashion show hosted by Glen’s Outfitters £701;

Donations:

- Anonymous, £20 and £200;

- In memory of Peggy Black £20;

- In memory of Jessie Miller from the family £20;

- Share of the collection taken at the funeral of Haig Reynolds, £470.

The committee would like to thank the people on Bute for all the support they receive.

Frances Martin (treasurer, Bute branch of Macmillan Cancer Support), 33 Ardbeg Road, Rothesay