Here we feature the pick of the Letters to the Editor published in the May 16 edition of The Buteman.
Don’t forget that if you want to share your views in our letters page on any subject of local interest, all you need to do is email your opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org (click on the email address at the top of this story). The deadline for submissions to our print edition is 5pm on Monday, although the earlier you send us your views, the better your chances of them appearing in print - please also remember that you must include your name and address for publication.
Thanks to Bute event’s supporters
On behalf of the Isle of Bute Jazz Festival committee, I would like to extend thanks to the local community and businesses for their support for the 2014 jazz festival.
We have received very positive feedback about the weekend and I would like to recognise
the efforts of all the volunteers whose hard work makes it possible to run the event each
Thanks to business supporters for advertising support for the programme, all volunteers,
the Friends of the Festival for their generosity, the Rotary Club and Bute Rugby Club for ticket checking and the hard working ladies who staffed the festival shop during the course of the weekend.
The committee is planning a public meeting in September to set out the plans for the 2015
festival, and will advertise the date and venue nearer the time.
Tim Saul (chairman, Isle of Bute Jazz Festival), 40 Ardmory Road, Rothesay
Turbines can be a tourist attraction too
As a former resident of Bute and with close family ties with the island to this day, I have been reading with interest the various views and observations being offered in this column of late, particularly on the subject of wind farms.
I currently live in the Western Australian ‘city’ - population c.45,000 - of Albany on the pristine southern coast of the state. (Put very simply, look south and it’s next stop Antartica!)
The coastline comprises some of the oldest granite outcrops in the world, interspaced by sheltered white sand beaches with arguably the finest surfing, diving, off-roading, fishing, whale watching opportunities in the entire country.
Yes, we rely on agriculture and forestry as our main industries, but tourism is high up there when you ask the locals what industries support the area and what should we develop in a fast changing economic climate.
In many ways, Albany (named after the Duke of Albany, not that winding road just past Craigmore pier) has a similar demographic to Bute. An ageing population, young people attracted away from the area by better work and brighter lights, an over-reliance on too few local employers, etc.
But let me tell you about our local tourist attractions.
Albany has a rich military heritage, having been the last embarkation point for many thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers bound for Europe at the outbreak of the First World War.
The ANZAC tradition is impossible to avoid, and no tourist leaves without being impressed by the restored forts and the original ANZAC memorial, complete with bullet holes, returned from Egypt after the Suez crisis and re-erected here.
Rothesay’s military heritage is less tangible but no less important, especially to those, like me, whose relatives actively served during the Second World War in Scotland and elsewhere. However, I grant you, Albany does not have a medieval castle!
What Albany does have that Bute doesn’t is a distillery. Yes, a local lawyer (isn’t it always?) with a Scottish-sounding name realized that the cooler conditions of the south coast were ideal for the production of malting barley, built the distillery, stole experts from Speyside and is now winning prizes all over the world – and selling a hell of a lot of booze to the tourists.
Rothesay may not have it’s own stills (officially) but the hospitality found in its many hostelries and eateries is the stuff that advertising agencies dream of bottling.
But to the point of this letter, which is that we have another tourist attraction in Albany: our wind farm. Twenty-four full size turbines that now dominate the south-western skyline and are visible from most vantage points in the area.
Shock and horror from the greener of our residents when the big blades were first erected has now mellowed into acceptance that renewable energy from wind is at least part of the journey we must all make away from fossil fuel or nuclear reliance.
An information centre, walking trail, and further development has seen this percieved ‘hazard to tourism’ turned into a tourist attraction in its own right!
International and national tourists alike can get right up to these monsters – no mile-high fences and ‘keep out’ signs in 20 languages here. Standing under a rotating turbine and looking straight up has become the thing to do for young and old alike and has put the Albany wind farm firmly on the tourist agenda.
Seriously, if you haven’t done it and can do it safely, do it – you will never forget the sensation, I promise!
I would ask those in authority who have the power or inclination to stop the proposed scheme in the Cowal hills to visit the many excellent websites promoting the Great Southern region of Western Australia and see what can be achieved with a little ‘out of the box’ thinking and planning.
Oh, and an afterthought: I would say just three words to those who oppose this development on the grounds that visual amenity would be compromised and tourists would turn away in their droves. Inverkip Power Station (as was).
Peter Niven, 21 Baudin Place, Spencer Park, Albany, Western Australia
An apology - and a safety request
This is an open letter of apology to the young lady whose horse was startled by my car and a plea to her and other riders.
I am very sorry your horse was startled by my car, even though I was on the opposite side of the road. This is the first time that has happened to me to my knowledge. I always slow down for horses when I see them, even driving slowly behind them until it is safe to overtake on the other side of the road.
My first plea is to you directly and to other riders. Please do not ride on the section of the West Road between the Livery and Kingarth that includes Stravannan Glen. In my opinion this section is a danger to, and unsuitable for, horse riders.
This is a steep ‘blind’ dip in the road that turns at the bottom exiting in a blind uphill bend. This means motorists coming from either direction cannot see horses in the dip and motorists cannot see horses from the dip on the level road above until the last moment.
Even more importantly, your horse cannot see the approaching vehicles and sometimes cannot hear them either. So the sudden appearance of a vehicle might startle even the most experienced horse.
My second plea is do not ride two abreast in this section. Yes, I have come across this scenario - and there was a car coming towards me. It leaves no room for manoeuvre and risks collision with the horses.
My last plea is to make yourself visible. This lady was smartly dressed in brown and black on a brown horse. When riding along a road with a 60mph speed limit you should wear a hi-visibility jacket and fit your horse with hi-vis socks.
(I have also experienced a rider near the livery at dusk on a dark horse wearing dark clothing; no reflectors, no lights and no imagination. Luckily I saw them at the last moment silhouetted against the sky.)
I did once unfortunately witness the result of a collision between a horse and rider, and a car. I never want to see that here on Bute.
Paul McKay, Tigh-na-Ceol, Kingarth