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Oh dear, Scots Renewables! That’s a weak response. …

Comment posted Now see for yourself: For Argyll challenges anyone to say SPR plans for Argyll Array at Tiree are acceptable by Donald E. Meek.

Oh dear, Scots Renewables! That’s a weak response. Och, och, och… Plotters and GPS are only one part of the equipment needed for navigation, and they do not save you from storms and such like. Come to think of it, they could have saved Australia and New Zealand from some very nasty incidents of late, if your argument is sound. The logic of your argument implies that we can remove lighthouses, marker buoys (like those in the Sound of Gunna, and the entrance to Castlebay) because they have been superseded by GPS and Plotters. Hey ho! Tell that to the Marines, Scots Renewables – or even to a CalMac Master! We also need to consider the effect of such ‘clutter’ on marine life etc. Has a study of that been made? Are the proposed tide turbines for the Sound of Islay ecologically OK? I know that one has been tested (successfully) for energy output (news of that yesterday), but what about their other implications? Given all the ‘shouting’ about the environment nowadays – it will soon be a crime to walk on grass – I should have thought that testing of that kind would have been an absolute priority before any moves were made to build turbines of any sort!

Donald E. Meek also commented

  • The ‘Torrey Canyon’ was a comparatively early catastrophe, and a pretty big one at that, Robert. What a mess! No, the ship I had in mind was the ‘Cita’ (correct name), a 300-ft container ship, which went ‘hard on’ in March 1997. The Master had fallen asleep on the bridge, having switched off the alarm that would have alerted him to a navigational problem…in the midst of a storm. So no help from GPS or plotters there! The containers washed ashore on the Scillies (mainly St Mary’s), and the people had a whale of a time with all the trucks, trainers, plastic sheets, golf bags, women’s underwear, socks and tee-shirts etc. etc. etc. that washed ashore. ‘For windows go this way….For golfing gear go that way…’ read the signs! As a result of the great bounty which it brought, the vessel was re-named ‘St Cita’. (-: My point is, though, that enhanced instrumentation does not eliminate accidents – it can cause them either through human complacency or stupidity, or through malfunctioning. That’s why we must not place more hazards in the ocean.
  • Thanks, Alex. Sorry, as I am not a marine biologist, I do not follow the course of research or surveys naturally, so to speak – so if you could refer me to the published versions of the research/surveys, I’d be most grateful. My understanding (perhaps wrongly from BBC TV News the other night) is that the underwater turbines have only recently been proved to be viable, in the sense that one of these, when tested, provides the expected amount of electricity. So I ask, in ignorance, how scientists can work out what will happen to the environment when their model does not have the benefit of a trial run with a fully functioning turbine? That’s a problem for Islay, of course. I am not too bothered about underwater turbines – I’d be delighted if they were ‘the answer’, so that they could be placed effectively in other tidal flows (Pentland Firth?). I much prefer these to visible clutter above sea level. So, to Tiree….Other implications would be the turbulence/movement of waters and redirection of currents caused by the ‘pillars’ of the turbines below sea level, their effect on fish stocks in-shore, etc. Do the fishermen have anything to fear from the positioning of these turbines? I am not at all an expert on these matters. My main worry is about navigational hazards.
  • Just in case Scots Renewables had his/her tongue in cheek…Does anyone remember the wee boatie that did something nasty off the coast of….where was it?…Italy earlier in the year? Was it at Giglio, by any chance? Well, now then…the boy on the bridge switched off his instruments….but he didn’t make a good job of the steering, did he? Got a wee bit of a bang, and went home with a bit of Giglio Rock stuck in his side? Aye, well…bear in mind too that instruments can CAUSE accidents, rather than avoid them. A very large ship (the ‘Cina’?) ploughed into the Scillies because the Master was – yes – silly, and just kept his autopilot on the wrong course. 1998, was it? Brought lots of unexpected goodies to the Scillonians. I was once on the bridge of a CalMac ship when a routine check of the gyrocompass was carried out by standard reading of marks etc. The gyrocompass had a deviation of 3 degrees from true north. Not much, a landlubber may say, but if you continue the line on a piece of paper, you end up far off course…perhaps tangled up in wind turbines!
  • Leaving aside the very important matter of aesthetics for a minute, I find it unbelievable that rational (?) human beings would even contemplate cluttering a dangerous stretch of sea with additional hazards of this kind. How dare we make the sea even more challenging for our sailors? Why did the Stevensons risk their lives building Skerryvore? For fun? Is that not, in itself, sufficient reason to give this scheme the thumbs down? I am broadly in favour of renewable energy – I have been interested in it since boyhood – but not at a cost like this, and on this scale. I have no problems with Tilley, though other people have. I hardly notice her as I pass. I recognise the need for communities to survive, and develop beneficial income streams. But I have many problems with this monstrous (in every sense) proposal. Being a seaman at heart, I think immediately of the implications for navigation…and shudder when I see such maritime ‘decorations’ elsewhere. I hope that the hard granite of Tiree and its shelf will finish off the proposal.

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