Your letters to The Buteman: March 20, 2015

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Send your letters to the editor to Please include your name and address for publication.

This week’s crop of your Letters to the Editor, as published in the March 20 issue of The Buteman, covers another diverse selection of subjects.

Included this week are contributions on wind power, the pros and cons of the SNP and Liberal Democrats, growing Bute’s population and responses to our recent article examining whether the old Rothesay ferries - the ‘streakers’ - really were better than the vessels which replaced them almost ten years ago.

To see your views appear in our next print edition, email by 5pm on Monday at the latest, with the words ‘Letter to the Editor’ in the subject line. We require your name and address for publication; a daytime telephone number is also required in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be printed.

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Wind power: more questions than answers

Bute Community Power are at it again. Their razzmatazz suggests they’re looking to distribute £1 million over 20 years to ‘community groups and individuals’ in an attempt to garner support for their plan to erect a wind farm on Bute.

Sounds brilliant, doesn’t it? It has a kind of exciting “winning-the-lottery” feel about it. But like any too-good-to-be-true spin it doesn’t really stand up to closer scrutiny.

Let’s accept, for a moment, that headline figure of £1 million. Divided by 20 years that’s £50,000 a year. Divided by six thousand (the population of Bute) that’s just over £8 per person per year. Divided by 365 days that’s just over two pence per person per day.

And if they are a way off the mark with their original figure this could be less than a penny per person per day.

Looking at the figures down this end of the telescope, that lottery-win feel quickly evaporates. And I doubt very much you would see anything of your £4 at the end of the year. Someone else’s snout will be in that trough; not yours.

These are just figures; now let’s give them a little context. Two of the major issues facing the future of this island community are attracting the tourist pound and depopulation.

On the first, I know of no examples where erecting a wind farm has actually increased tourism. On the other hand, and this is purely personal, if I knew that a certain destination was awash with wind turbines I would avoid it like a social disease.

Perhaps I may not be your typical tourist; however, if I feel like this, then so do others. To put a conservative estimate on this feeling of, let’s say, five per cent of potential visitors, then what would a five per cent drop in the tourist trade equate to in hard cash? £50,000? Probably more. And potentially a lot more.

Regarding the depopulation question: If they go ahead with this project then I personally will leave. (Did someone say that’s one good reason for going ahead with it?) And had they been already installed before I moved here five years ago I would never have come.

Once again, I know this is only me, but what Bute has to be concerned about is all the others who, I’m sure, take a similar dim view.

And while I’m polishing the keyboard, here is one for the zero carbon zealots to mull over.

I recently heard the following on the BBC (and a cursory look around the internet would appear to support this): to manufacture a wind turbine; the steel, coils, magnets, paint etc; to ship it (from China?); to construct the infrastructure, access roads, cabling etc; to erect them and maintain them, means they have a certain carbon footprint.

To offset this the average wind turbine would need to operate at an optimum for at least 30-plus years.

Currently the lifespan of an average turbine is 20 years. A more useless self-sustaining technology is hard to imagine.

Tony Burns, 10 The Terrace, Ardbeg

No magic wand to wave on Bute population

Regarding recent articles in The Buteman on Bute’s declining population, I believe partly what is happening here is being mirrored nationwide on a larger scale with the so called “brain drain” exodus of people to London or abroad.

Many factors are responsible: lack of jobs, low skilled and low paid jobs, long hours, transport/infrastructure problems, political disaffection and even the poor climate.

There is no “quick fix” or simple solution to resolve these issues and I don’t profess to have the answers but if someone could wave a magic wand and guarantee us temperatures in the 20s all year round, it would be a start!

Tolga Hassan, 42 Ardbeg Road, Rothesay

Stats suggest the streakers were better

The article in last week’s paper, ‘Were the old ‘streakers’ better?’, was very useful, and we should be grateful to Mr Duncan McAlister for his freedom of information request.

The article quotes CalMac as advising caution in drawing from the data any conclusions about “the varying capabilities of the vessels”, and the article does not offer an answer to the question.

The data covers four years, 2005 to 2008 inclusive, when both the streakers and the new vessels were operating. For these years, the weather cancellation rate for the streakers was 0.82 per cent; for the new vessels it was 1.51 per cent.

The weather cancellation rate for the new vessels was, that is, about twice that for the streakers, when both types of vessel were, it has to be assumed, experiencing the same weather conditions.

These are small samples, it is true. But it seems very unlikely that such a large difference in the weather cancellation rate is not mainly attributable to the characteristics of the old and new vessels.

A proper answer to the headline question would require taking account of matters, such as comfort and capacity, not covered in the data provided. But, in terms solely of reliability in adverse weather conditions, these data do appear to show that the streakers were better.

Mick Common, Park Cottage, Upper Quay St, Port Bannatyne

SNP will stand up for Scotland at Westminster

I read with some amusement Finlay Craig’s letter in your March 6 edition.

Mr Craig criticises SNP MPs for having a lower attendance rate and highlights Mr Reid’s attendance at 86 per cent.

It’s worth noting that this includes voting in favour of the ‘bedroom tax’, welfare reforms, fracking, Trident, the privatisation of Royal Mail, whilst voting against the bankers’ bonus tax, the Military Covenant, and against transferring more powers to Scotland.

It would be odd if Mr Craig didn’t know that SNP MP’s do not vote on devolved matters. That is, matters that do not affect Scotland, such as education, health, transport etc.

Mr Craig seems to have overlooked other Lib Dem MPs’ ‘attendance’ records in his correspondence, so let’s see how his colleagues fare.

According to Public Whip (, since the last UK general election, Danny Alexander’s attendance record is 40.6 per cent, Charles Kennedy’s is 30.6 per cent and Nick Clegg’s is just 21 per cent.

The SNP will fight for the people of Scotland at Holyrood and Westminster, while the Lib Dems will continue to look after themselves and the ruling elite.

It’s time for change with a move towards a fairer, more equal and prosperous society.

More and more people in Scotland know this, which is why they are voting SNP.

John Duncan, 19 Crichton Road, Rothesay

Benefits of Lib Dems in government

It feels like thereferendum all over again with SNP campaigners trying to bamboozle everyone by quoting lots of numbers.

Nicola Sturgeon says borrowing £180 billion extra would take debt down, but John Swinney says it would put debt up; the Treasury says the extra annual debt interest would be £4.7billion, enough to build 180 new secondary schools every year.

Things have improved greatly since the Liberal Democrats became part of the UK government. Employment is now 187,000 higher in Scotland than it was five years ago. Wage growth is now ahead of inflation and people are beginning to feel better off. Pensioners are feeling more secure. UK economic growth is vying with the USA to be top of the G7.

These are all economic achievements that the SNP said would never happen.

Independence will also never happen if all those who voted No in September come out and vote onMay 7.

The only way of keeping the SNP out in Argyll and Bute is to vote for Alan Reid, the Liberal Democrat MP with the proven track record of support for the constituents.

John Tacchi, 27 Havelock St, Helensburgh

A version for Bute of The Siphonaptera

The present ferries are not a patch on their predecessors, the streakers. The streakers were not a patch on their predecessors, the ‘ABC’ ferries. The prop-driven ferries were not as good as the paddle steamers they replaced. And so ad infinitum.

Jim McKellar, 41 East Princes St, Rothesay