Your letters to The Buteman this week

Send your letters to the editor to news@buteman.com. Please include your name and address for publication.
Send your letters to the editor to news@buteman.com. Please include your name and address for publication.

The latest crop of your letters to The Buteman, as published in our June 26 edition, sees thoughts turn from wind farms to fish farms as two writers voice opposition to the possible establishment of aquaculture developments off the coast of Bute.

Council services, ferry services and a family history enquiry also feature this week: to see your thoughts on any local subject appear in our next print edition, get in touch by 5pm on Monday at the latest - but remember that the sooner we hear from you, the better are your chances of seeing your view in print!

Please remember to include your name and postal address for publication, and to provide a daytime contact telephone number in case we need to check any details at short notice (though this will not be printed).

Happy writing!

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Many reasons not to want a fish farm

There are many reasons why one would not want a fish farm located nearby, and I would say to those who have not yet informed themselves of these facts, to go along to the Bute Community Council meeting on July 15 at the Pavilion.

I write to you as a concerned citizen of Kilchattan Bay, on the subject of the proposed fish farm which is earmarked for construction at Chuckie Bay, south of Kilchattan Bay.

As a lobster fisherman I rely on the waters of Kilchattan Bay and the surrounding area for my livelihood, dropping creels in the very area where the fish farm cages are to be located. The locations in which I have creels are critical to the specific grounds where lobsters can be found.

The cages themselves will cover a length of eight hundred yards along the shore and will be tethered by moorings.

These cages will further impact on the natural wildlife of the area eg seals, sea otters, sea eagles, minky whales, dolphins etc which feed in the vicinity of these cages.

Aside from the fact that the pollution will affect the seabed conditions, further impacting on my livelihood, this will affect other commercial fishermen and pleasure anglers who fish from their own boats and from the shore.

This has been a long established fishing area and local beauty spot which if the fish farm is established will be widely affected.

William Neill, Quarryknowe, Kilchattan Bay

Fish farm would be a blight on Bute

My family and I are regular visitors to your beautiful island and look forward to our days on the unspoiled beaches. We particularly enjoy Ettrick Bay with its magnificent views, strand and especially clean bathing.

I am quite distressed to now learn of a multinational company’s plans to install a large fish farm within walking distance to the south of the beach.

Having seen these “farms” throughout the world I have first-hand experience of the effluent problem that blights surrounding areas. Simply put: if this arrives at Ettrick Bay I will not allow my children to bathe or play there, and we will look elsewhere for our holiday.

I fear that my concerns will be similar to many other families (local and foreign) who have chosen your wonderful island as a holiday location.

Paolo Giorgi, Via Santa Reparata 9, Florence, Italy

Common sense approach to wind subsidies

Our UK Government’s announcement to end subsidies for new onshore windfarms means that from April 2016, new subsidies for onshore wind farms across the UK will stop.

Recently, the Scottish Conservatives asked the SNP to back this policy after figures revealed the party’s one hundred per cent renewable energy target had already been exceeded.

Concerns were also raised that Scotland’s rural communities couldn’t cope with yet more subsidised development.

Official figures show that there are currently 7.1 gigawatts (GWs) of onshore wind-farms operating in Scotland, as well as 0.5GWs under construction.

An additional 8.2GWs have been given the green light, while a further 4GWs are in the planning system waiting consent.

This comfortably exceeds the Scottish Government’s target of 14-16GWs by 2020.

We in Scotland and as in the rest of our United Kingdom need to develop an energy policy which will ensure security of supply and affordability. A common sense approach to our energy needs is essential.

Alastair Redman, 23 Shore Street, Portnahaven, Islay

CalMac thanks west coast communities

Senior managers and non-executive directors of Caledonian MacBrayne ( CalMac) recently completed a series of meetings across its network - including one in Rothesay on June 2 - as part of our preparations for the next tender, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took the time to attend and share their views on ferry services in the future.

It is very important to us that the bid we submit has taken account of the views of the communities which will use the ferry services.

Some of the things that people are seeking, such as major timetable changes or new ships, are not within our gift as these will be covered by Transport Scotland in the Invitation to Tender (ITT), but it is nonetheless helpful for us to get as complete a picture of the views of ferry users as possible.

The information we gleaned was very constructive and helpful, but as it is likely to inform part of our bid, it would not be appropriate to disclose details at this stage. However, we will in due course provide feedback to the communities on whether and how their ideas have been included in the bid.

We tried to cover as many areas and communities as possible in the time available and hope that any we have missed will appreciate the challenge we faced in doing so.

We have not ruled out further meetings at a later stage in the tender process, but in the meantime we would encourage as many people as possible to fill in an on-line feedback form if they haven’t already done so.

We are grateful to those who have submitted forms on the day or on-line, and if they have any further thoughts they should feel free to submit more.

The form can be found at www.calmac.co.uk/community-engagement-meetings/feedback.

Robbie Drummond (group financial director and CHFS bid director), David MacBrayne Ltd, The Ferry Terminal, Gourock

Council tax freeze is hitting Bute hard

The escalating deterioration of our public services, as provided by the local authority, is increasingly apparent as one walks about Rothesay - and indeed in every Scottish town and city.

Our roads are full of potholes and our pavements are uneven and cracked, making them dangerous to young, to the frail and to the elderly. Many children have fallen, as have many elderly.

Last July I fell in Bridgend Street. A passing motorist stopped and insisted on taking me to accident and emergency at the Victoria Hospital, where a nurse washed and bathed my face, which was bleeding badly. I was in a state of shock.

The ‘Walks’ which provide non-vehicular access to homes in the Barone housing estate are also in a state of disrepair, as are the numerous sets of steps.

More than a few elderly people live in this estate. The grass verges of these footpaths are untended, therefore weeds are flourishing.

The rear wall of St Andrew’s Primary School is in great need of repair, with bricks lying loose. This has been the case since before the summer break of 2014.

On Monday, June 15, I visited the public toilet next to the putting green at our beautiful Esplanade gardens. I could not believe the state of disrepair that this toilet is in.

It is clean, but the plaster is needing restored, tiles are needing replaced and the surface of the door requires sanding and painting.

I could not help but think: “How can anyone expect visitors and locals to use a toilet in this condition?”

It is ironic that when one emerges from the toilet, one sees a large plaque stating ‘Winner of the Gardens in Bloom Award, 20-whatever’. “ No such award for the toilet”, I thought.

I am only referring to the visual deterioration of our town. Much graver is the impact of the continued council tax freeze on vital services, of which many more Bute residents have more knowledge than I do.

Like all other councils, Argyll and Bute has to prioritise. They are doing the best they can but they are extremely cash-strapped.

Please, SNP-dominated Holyrood, unfreeze this nonsensical freeze, before Scotland recedes any further into the state our country was in during the period following the Second World War.

I have Tweeted Nicola Sturgeon to this effect more than once. To date, there has been no response.

There has been no response, either, from the three SNP Argyll and Bute councillors, nor from Brendan O’Hara, our newly elected MP, to my emails sent six days prior to the time of writing this letter. Are they waiting for the official party line, before replying?

As I knew he would, however, Len Scoullar, our Provost, sent me an extremely courteous and prompt reply.

Eleanor Black, 4 St Andrew’s Walk, Rothesay

Can you help research family story?

Mrs Jean Bonsall of West Virgini,a USA (nee McCurdy and born in Philidelphia), will be 90 in 2016 - but this August is heading to Scotland to try and retrace the steps of her ancestors from Bute.

We would like to hear from readers who have heard in particular of Petheric, who, together with his four brothers, fled Bute around 1666 to Northern Ireland in a small rowing boat, landed at the Giant’s Causeway and then settled in Ballentoy.

Here, we think, Petheric married Margaret Stewart (Stuart), descendant of King Robert II of Scotland.

After six generations, William McCurdy left Ireland and emigrated to America in the mid 1800s. William was Jean’s great-grandfather, and his son Peter and his son Joseph – Jean’s father – all lived in Philadelphia.

Jean and Janet are eager to find out more and maybe even see the general charter of the 30th Parliament, detailed in the Exchequer Rolls (in Edinburgh we think?), showing the assignment of lands to the McCurdys.

Jean is travelling with her daughter Janet – and their tour guide is me. Though I come from Somerset, my neighbour is Helen McPherson (nee Bell) from Rothesay, stepdaughter of John H. Shaw. There will be many on the island who know Helen and her family.

I already feel connected to Bute even before we arrive. We arrive on August 19 and stay until the Highland Games three days later.

We would love to hear from anyone who can help us or can tell us about or show us places we can research.

We are sure those who were involved in the 1989 MacKirdy Clan Gathering on Bute will know so much. If you do have any snippets to share then please email Janet on bonsall@ucmo.edu

Pip Moloney, 12 Bells Acres, Berrow, Somerset