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Issue 59 - February 2016
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The garden in January
 

Editorial

It was with a sense of shock that I opened my email on the morning of Saturday 23rd January and read that the Clyde-led prawn lobby was seeking to have the South Arran MPA order annulled via the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee (RACCE) on Wednesday 27th January. This was a serious challenge to the democratically elected Scottish Government from a business lobby group, just when we thought our Marine Protected Area, after 5 years of negotiation and hard work, was finally about to become a reality. There is more detail of this shameful attempt in the COAST news later in this edition.

In the event, the attempt to have restrictions on fishing in 14 of 30 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) scrapped, failed. Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor called for planned restrictions on bottom-towed fishing to be annulled, but thankfully members of Holyrood's rural affairs committee voted against the move.

Demonstrations were held outside the Scottish Parliament ahead of the debate. A considerable delegation from Arran went over, under the COAST umbrella (literally, given the weather!) and the Voice says “Thank you” to them all. They faced intimidation from the commercial fishing lobby, with eggs thrown and a smoke flare set off, but luckily the wind blew the smoke back into the faces of those who had set it off – surely a sign!

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!Music Society - Chamberlain & Haywood

On Saturday 16th January an expectant audience gathered in Brodick Hall to hear music played by Paul Chamberlain, accordion, and Michael Haywood, playing clarinet, saxophone and whistle as well as violin. This duo had delighted people in the Little Rock café last September, when they visited Arran during National Chamber Music Week, and this time, rising to the expectations of a much larger audience, they delivered an enchanting mixture of music from all over the world, ranging from Balkan traditional tunes to Brahms, with much in between.

Such a dazzling range of style requires consummate skill, and this was impressively evident. The programme included a haunting composition by Paul Chamberlain himself, Orcadian Sunrise, but did not neglect the immense range available. From Piazzolla to the lovely slow movement of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, the programme unfolded one delight after another.

!Carlos Gardel was followed by another composition by the duo, Michael Haywood's Lewis Chessmen. Anyone familiar with these vast, brooding figures instantly recognised the power and mystery evoked by the composition. The performance ended with a 'troika set' (three horses drawing a Russian sleigh) that ended with the irresistible Kalinka, with the accelerating speed that always induces excitement. Brodick Hall rose to the stimulus with huge enthusiasm, and went out into the January night warmed, refreshed and excited. A night to remember.

 

Acclaimed Wind Quintet

The next concert presented by Isle of Arran Music society is at 7.30 pm on 27th February in Brodick Village Hall and features the Atéa Wind Quintet. This internationally acclaimed British ensemble consists of Alena Lugovkina on Flute, Anna Hashimoto on Clarinet, Ashley Myall on Bassoon, Chris Beagles on Horn and Philip Haworth on Oboe. Since their formation in 2009, the Atéa Quintet has performed in some of the finest halls in the world, and they recently became double prize winners at the 2015 Karl Nielsen International Chamber Music Competition in Denmark. Their concert in Brodick will include chamber music from Mozart to Frank Bridge, and the audience will be treated to a performance of the intriguingly named How to avoid Huge Ships by Aaron Holloway-Nahum, commissioned in 2013. Fans of classical music beautifully played are sure to enjoy the evening. Seating will once again be in the popular café-style, at tables and you may bring a bottle. The concert begins at 7.30, and tickets are available on the door, at Inspirations of Arran in Brodick, or online from www.arranevents.com.

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Photo - Copyright © 2016 Atéa Quintet
 

Artist of the Month

!Our Arran Artist of the Month for February is Josephine Broekhuizen, who works from her studio at Whiterock near Lamlash.

Josephine, how would you describe your work and the philosophy behind it?

I would describe my work as very varied. The paintings range from very close observed realism to imaginary painting. I paint landscapes, still lives, plant/flower compositions.

I don’t really have a philosophy; it is more an attempt to express some subconscious goings on. It appears that my environment influences my work a great deal but I don’t go out and sit in the landscape to paint therefore it is landscape by absorption rather than by observation.

I work mostly in oils but also make prints like lino cuts and etchings.

Where did you grow up, go to school, and go to college or university?

I grew up in The Hague in the Netherlands and after high school I studied veterinary studies for a year in Ghent (Belgium). I changed course to fine art and went to The Kunst Academie in Rotterdam for four years.

I then moved to Aberdeen where I got my degree in fine art at Gray’s school of Art. I moved to Richmond for two years before moving back to Holland for a year. I then decided to go back and stay with my now husband, Tim Pomeroy. We stayed near Carnwath in South Lanarkshire for 11 years before moving to the island with our young family. We have lived here now for 19 years.

!What other jobs have you done?

Apart from holiday jobs, I started in adult education in Carnwath. Then after moving to the island, I did a stint in the coop after which I did milk recording for a while. Then I got back into art-project work in schools on the mainland and on the island.

Tell us something about your journey in art- how is it that you are here now, on Arran, and doing what you do?

I don’t feel that it has been an easy journey in art. I have always been very insecure about the worth of my art. Moving to a different country and a different culture has accentuated that... but perhaps moving to Arran has helped because I feel there is not so much pressure here to be in any particular culture.

Who or what have been the greatest influences in your work? Which other artists do you most admire?

The greatest influences on my work have been my teachers in both the Dutch and the Scottish art schools. Although my work does not look like their work I can tell their influence.

I admire any artist who takes their work seriously and is prepared to follow their artistic heart and not conform to what the public demands art should be.

Would you describe your workspace or studio for us?

My studio must be the best on the island except that I would like better heating in the winter! It is a space 9 x 9m square and approx. 6 metres at the highest point. It has mostly north light which is great because it is an even light throughout the day. I am very self-sufficient; I have an etching press, screen printing facility and lino press.

How do you tend to work - in concentrated bursts, sporadically, or in a regular daily pattern?

I work in a regular daily pattern. I try to do a normal day’s work and tend not to work much on art in the evening but keep the evening for other related work.

What are you working on at present?

At the moment I am working on paintings of plants and flowers. They are dense compositions of plants and flowers that are a combination of made-up plants and realistically observed plants. The idea is not to represent the plants realistically but to get lost in the fantasy of the plants and flowers. I have done four of these now and three of these can be seen in the London Art Fair this January.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I am hoping to start work on some etchings related to the plant idea and also possibly some screen prints. My work can be seen at the Arran Art gallery, The Compass Gallery and Mansfield Park Gallery in Glasgow.

Thank you very much, Josephine.

 

!COAST News

Film evening

A fantastic turn out on the 20th January at the Lamlash film evening showing of the Greenpeace film How to Change the World. Plenty of lessons to be learnt from the beginnings of Greenpeace! Thanks to everyone for coming and especially to Sue Weaver for making this happen!

 

Scotland’s Marine Protected Area network put at risk

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and Clyde Fishermen’s Association stand accused by West Coast community groups of bullying the public and engaging in scare tactics in a bid to derail the Scottish Government’s implementation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Jamie McGrigor MSP (Cons) attempted to have fisheries management measures for 14 MPAs (including one around St Kilda World Heritage Site) annulled, placing the whole network at risk.

Community groups, marine conservation campaigners, sea anglers and many creel and dive fishermen have shown strong support for effective MPAs. Representatives from some of these groups demonstrated support for MPAs outside the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, January 27 in a bid to expose an attempt by some in the mobile sector (trawl and dredge operators), to use their influence on the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee (RACCE) to unravel the process of making legal protection for MPAs apply to fishermen.

Howard Wood, a diver who has witnessed first-hand 40 years of seabed degradation and a spokesperson for network member COAST, which campaigns to protect Arran's waters, said:

“It is time that the Clyde and Scotland’s seas were sustainably managed. The Clyde has the potential to be much more than just a prawn fishery and to support far more fishing and marine jobs.’

‘The CFA’s claims that MPAs will impact jobs are wildly overstated. Marine Scotland economists estimate that only 3% of turnover will be affected and even this can be off-set by fishing elsewhere. MPAs will also create new jobs in the creel and dive sector, not to mention angling and tourism. Continued delays are at a huge cost to the public purse - and could be at a catastrophic cost to the inshore environment.’

Diyanne Ross of Sea Change a community group campaigning for Wester Ross MPA says: “The findings from the consultations could not be more clear. Our inshore waters must be protected from these destructive forms of fishing or the people of Scotland risk losing these critical marine habitats and fish nursery grounds forever. This is what many traditional fishing folk and coastal communities want and what an overwhelming consensus of marine scientists tell us must happen.”

Ian Burret a spokesman for the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN) who have pushed hard for Common Skate MPAs points out: "With fewer fish and fewer fishermen the status quo is a failed policy. A healthy and productive sea is essential to the economy of coastal communities around Scotland. Too often decisions about the inshore marine environment are made solely according to the needs of one section of the fishing industry and without the involvement, co-operation or input from the recreational and tourism industries."

Nick Riddiford of the Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative (FIMETI) has commented: ‘Any backward step at this time has negative ramifications for the entire MPA network. We expect the Scottish Government to stay the course and ensure our seas are managed in the interests of the marine environment and all of us who rely upon its good health.’

Andrew Binnie COAST’s Executive Director said: "The latest move to annul MPAs highlights the false assumption that our seas should be managed for just one stakeholder. COAST favours a mixed fishery with sensible spatial management underpinning fair access for all fishermen and new opportunities for marine recreation … Many in the more sustainable creel and dive sectors as well as sea anglers support a reintroduction of an inshore exclusion zone.’

Coastal groups say it is time for a new vision of the sea managed in the broad public interest. They are joining together to demand that fisheries management for all Scottish Marine Protected Areas is ratified by Holyrood as a matter of urgency.

There are numerous scientific studies that demonstrate that dredgers and trawlers damage the sea bed, their own target species (prawns and scallops), as well as other species, the habitat and the wider ecosystem. The inshore area’s protected include nursery and spawning habitats for both fin-fish and shellfish fisheries.

Groups like COAST (South Arran MPA), Sea Change (Wester Ross MPA) and others have produced socio-economic assessments of the impact of MPA’s in their areas which concluded the MPA’s benefits outweighed the costs and they provided substantial gains for fragile west coast coastal communities.

Widespread public support for MPA’s is evidenced by local petitions and the support for community groups supporting MPA’s. In Wester Ross two community councils supported the MPA’s in written statements to Marine Scotland during the consultation period and a local petition supporting MPA’s received 744 signatures in a few weeks. In Coigach, the community opposite the Summer Isles Archipelago, had nearly 50 % of the electoral roll sign in favour of the MPA. The Coastal groups all support low impact sustainable fisheries.

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There is also a very good article on this matter on the Bellacaledonia website. It begins:

“The fishing industry has long escaped any meaningful scrutiny or control, and in doing so has taken a path of such self-destructive avarice and selfishness as would be dismissed insane by Ahab himself. If world fish stocks are in as perilous a state as many reports claim (‘We knew fish catches were too high. But it’s much worse than we thought‘), then the Firth of Clyde is the nadir to which they head. Subject to quite stunning government mismanagement, one of the most fecund fishing grounds in the Atlantic has become a maritime desert in the space of fifty years: gone the thousands of anglers lining its shores in the seventies and eighties, gone the charter boats, and gone, most ironically, the bulk of the trawlers themselves, replaced by scallop dredgers, desperately scraping the seabed like the hands of a starving man through barren soil.

The fishing free for all of the last fifty years has given birth to an exclusive members club in the Clyde Fishermen’s Association which, if it got its way at Holyrood’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change, and Environment Committee meeting on 27th January, would resume its unfettered devastation of the firth. A well funded hybrid of fishermen and government, they have made their message clear: to us alone what remains the Clyde’s fishing industry. Anglers, creelers, divers, and anyone who simply believes that the health of the ocean is not only of more import than short-term greed, but beyond monetary value, will simply have to accept their place.”

 

Corrie Film Club

On Sunday 14th February at 8pm the Corrie Film Club is showing Force Majeure.

!Force Majeure is a 2014 Swedish drama film directed by Ruben Östlund. It follows the marital tension resulting from an avalanche during which the husband, named Tomas, is believed by his wife to have prioritized his own escape over the safety of his family. Filming took place at Les Arcs, a ski resort in Savoie.

The film’s title, “Force Majeure”, is based on a French legal term which is the equivalent of a superior force or unforeseen accident, like an “Act of God”: a disaster that is not covered by one’s insurance policy, or a disaster which relieves both parties of the obligations of the contract until the disaster is over.

Ruben Östlund attributed the inspiration for the film’s key scenes to a few viral YouTube videos which he felt corroborated the plausible situation and emotions of the characters. The director reasoned that “ … if someone captured an event or action or pang of emotion on camera and uploaded to the Internet, then it happened in real life. And it could happen in ‘Force Majeure’”.

Force Majeure was acclaimed upon release, with critics praising its script and cinematography. It won the Best Film award at the 50th Guldbagge Awards, and was named one of the best films of 2014 by various publications.

 

On Saturday 27th February the film club will having its annual ‘Day in the Dark’. This mini film festival will begin at 10am and the program is as follows:

A (Black and White) Day in the Dark
Corrie Hall 10 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. Saturday 27th February

  • Scottish Shorts
  • The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius 2011)
  • Lunch
  • The Misfits (John Huston 1961)
  • Twelve Angry Men (Sidney Lumet 1957)
  • Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick 1964)
  • Supper
  • Pleasantville (Gary Ross 1998)
  • 10:00 - 11:00
  • 11:15 - 1:00
  • 1:00 - 1:45
  • 1:45 - 3:45
  • 4:00 - 5:30
  • 6:00 - 7:30
  • 7:30 - 8:30
  • 8:30 - 10:30

A full day of FREE films. Binge all day or dip in and out. Intervals for coffee, tea and cake. Bring along your favourite snacks and something to share for supper.

Corrie Film Club was started in September 2004 with funding from the UK Film Council and shows a diversity of films most of which are suggested by club members.

The films are usually shown on the second Sunday of the month at 8.00pm. Membership of the society is £15. Visitors are welcome and are asked to give a donation to Corrie and Sannox Hall funds. Please feel free to bring a bottle of wine to enjoy during the films.

 

!The Isle of Arran Branch of Cats Protection …

… had its best year in 2015 and to top it all a VIP visitor!

By Linda Hartley

Pictured below is Peter Hepburn, Chief Executive of the national charity of Cats Protection with three volunteers, Wyllie Hume, Alison Prince and Linda Hartley, Branch Co-ordinator, from the branch.

In 2015 the branch homed a record 31 cats and 42 being neutered! The branch was delighted when earlier in the year the Lamlash Cooperative Store held a fundraising event over Easter and secured much needed funds of over £600. As part of the UK’s national charity we rely on public donations to help us care for cats, find homes for them and assist with neutering which in Arran we have provided full cost.

!Whilst the branch homes most of the cats on Arran some were homed on the mainland and we also helped to find a cat when we have none in care. In this case we liaise with other branches and usually bring them across to their new owners. We are pleased to say that only a handful of those homed went to the mainland and the rest were homed here.

The purpose of Peter’s visit was to see first-hand what it’s like to volunteer on Arran and to chat with volunteers about the work we do to help our island cats. It was uplifting for the branch and we learnt first-hand about some of the new and exciting plans for the future that will help in the education programme to help people better understand cats, new ideas on homing as well as the challenges in getting cats neutered. It was all too short a visit with Peter being whisked away to meet the return ferry. He later tweeted that Arran does vital cat work!

As Branch Coordinator I would like to acknowledge and thank everyone who helped us last year, whether it was spotting a stray, feeding a cat, working with us to find a home, enquiring about neutering, seeking advice about cat behaviour, and volunteering their time and efforts. The cats benefitted from your efforts - Thank you.

 

Holy Isle News

Hello from a rather wet and storm-lashed Holy Isle and a belated Happy New Year for 2016.

We are currently battened-down as storm Jonas is passing over the island and all round the west coast of Scotland, the latest in a series of storms that have turned the paths to streams, torn our prayer flags to ribbons and whipped the sea into white-capped green rollers.

Fortunately, we have a great ferry service which works very hard in demanding conditions to ensure that our guests arrive and depart safely as well as provide us with our groceries and other needs. A big thank you too to all our other suppliers and partners on Arran who help us so well throughout all the seasons.

!The bad weather hasn’t deterred the Saanen goats from giving birth already. The mild temperatures have helped and there are many new mothers to be seen huddled up along the path with their kids. We have also had baby seals taking up residence on the end of the jetty during the calmer spells between storms.

Thanks to all our guests, visitors, volunteers, course participants and course leaders who contributed to another very successful season in 2015, culminating in wonderful Christmas and New Year Retreats. We are currently settling into the three month Winter Retreat, a time for quiet reflection and preparation for the new season ahead.

As part of our planned improvements, we hope to bring a new and more regular output of information and news to keep everyone on Arran in touch with developments on Holy Isle.

 

The Year Past and the Year Ahead

Patricia Gibson MP

Looking back, 2015 must surely be counted as amongst the most politically eventful in recent history. Early in the year, the UK General Election campaign began in earnest with televised UK leadership debates. For the first time, parties from across the UK were allowed to participate and the general consensus amongst pundits and the public was that Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was the most convincing, persuading many in Scotland that the SNP is the party to make Scotland’s voice heard and champion our needs at Westminster.

The outcome of the 2015 election was completely unprecedented and, with Labour and the Lib Dems suffering catastrophic losses and leadership changes – and the SNP now third largest party in the UK – the political landscape is quite unrecognisable.

!I was honoured to be elected by the people of North Ayrshire & Arran and, along with my colleagues, we have done just that – establishing constituency offices early to assist constituents, whilst delivering in Westminster on matters ranging from fox hunting and human rights to devolving more powers to Scotland and the proposed Tax Credit cuts.

At a time when Labour is bitterly divided, the SNP at Westminster is now the de facto Opposition and, with many talented individuals on our benches, we have articulated alternative policies and demonstrate just how fragile David Cameron’s majority is.

Whilst many high profile politicians’ careers ended at the ballot box, it was sad to see Charles Kennedy pass away during the summer. His contribution to UK politics was great and, despite political differences, he is greatly missed.

The Tories cannot always rely on their backbench MPs and some dents have been made in their armour. Nonetheless, their majority has inflicted a number of regressive and frankly Dickensian policies, which will inflict real pain on people across the UK. The young and the disabled have been disproportionately hit by changes to the welfare system and trade union members will see their rights diminish.

Sadly, I fear that more pain is yet to come. For our part, the SNP will continue to stand against the agenda of austerity through choice, and argue for a more progressive way forward – seeking support from all sides to make the government think again.

Last month I was dismayed to watch as the combined forces of the Tories and many Labour MPs dragged the UK in to another military conflict in the Middle East. The decision to bomb Syria is, I believe, misguided, which will lead to more suffering and destruction and may exacerbate an already bloody and complex multi-national conflict.

Regarding 2016, we cannot truly know what is in store. Of course there are some known knowns and there are some known unknowns …

In May, voters (including 16 and 17 years-olds) will go to the polls in the Scottish Parliament Elections. Over the past nine years, the SNP Government has worked hard for Scotland – delivering improved services with ever dwindling resources cut by successive Labour and Tory UK Governments. I believe that Scotland should back Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP to ensure we continue to protect our NHS, keep education free and ensure crime remains low.

With a manifesto commitment to meet, it may be as early as summer 2016 when David Cameron asks people across the UK to vote in a referendum on our membership of the European Union. The SNP is of the firm opinion that Scotland is best served by remaining, which is crucial to so many Scottish businesses and export markets.

2015 may be a defining year in politics, the effects of which may not yet be fully realised. As things stand, 2016 should be just as fascinating. Regardless, I would like to wish all constituents a very happy, fulfilling and prosperous New Year!

 

Poem Of The Month

Selected by David Underdown, who also writes the commentary.

Atlas

by U.A. Fanthorpe

There is a kind of love called maintenance,
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it;

Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;

Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes; which deals with dentists

And Road Fund tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds

The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living; which is Atlas.

And maintenance is the sensible side of love.
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dry rotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.

U.A. Fanthorpe (1929 - 2009) abandoned a conventional teaching career in her mid-forties (she was head of English at Cheltenham Ladies College) and ‘became a middle-aged drop-out in order to write’. During the last thirty years of her life she published eight collections and achieving the rare feat of being both seriously regarded by fellow poets and critics and genuinely popular with a wider public. Her poems are accessible and full of wit and humanity. ‘Atlas’ first appeared in ‘Safe As Houses’ (1995) and can be found in her ‘New and Collected Poems’ published by Enitharmion in 2010.

 
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© Maya Youssef

Celtic Connections and BEMIS celebrate Burns

Every January many Arran folk head to Glasgow for Celtic Connections, the month-long celebration of Celtic and World music. This year the Voice went to a Burns Night with a difference, organised by Celtic Connections and BEMIS, the national umbrella body supporting the ethnic minority voluntary sector in Scotland.

The evening took the form of a culinary and musical multicultural celebration of Burn’s global resonance and passionate belief in justice and equality.

It began with Glasgow-based band E Karika Djal playing spirited toe-tapping Roma music, followed by more reflective sounds from Maya Youssef from Syria on the zither-like kanun.

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Reem Kelani.
Courtesy of BBC Alba / Garaids

Then came the Selkirk Grace and the wonderful dinner feast, which included vegetable haggis pakora, seekh kebabs, various curries and nans, salads and spiced chutneys, and then ice cream and gulab jaman.

After all the eating, Pakistan’s Sara Kazmi and Scotland’s Sarah Hayes collaborated in an extraordinary mix of traditional Celtic and Punjabi songs. They were followed by the powerful Palestinian singer Reem Kelani and her band, performing material from Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and of course Palestine, interspersed with tales from Reem’s life.

Almost four hours later this remarkable evening came to a close, with a packed Old Fruitmarket audience replete both musically and gastronomically.

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Glasgow to Edinburgh Trek 2016

!Kelvingrove Park, Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 July 2016.

The British Heart Foundation Scotland is bringing back its Glasgow to Edinburgh Trek after a successful first year in 2015.

Make your mark in the fight for every heartbeat and join BHF Scotland by walking 100k from Glasgow to Edinburgh non-stop in 30 hours. Entries are now open for the 2nd Glasgow to Edinburgh Trek which is taking place on 30 and 31 July 2016.

Glasgow to Edinburgh Trek is a challenging and fun way to support the nation’s heart charity, save lives and improve your own heart health at the same time. It’s one of the most demanding best events in the calendar and a great challenge to take on to help the BHF Scotland fight back against coronary heart disease – Scotland’s single biggest killer. Walk day and night and experience stunning views, atmospheric pathways, moonlit canals and shadowy tunnels in this unforgettable adventure.

You'll pass numerous famous landmarks and sites along the route, including Kelvingrove Museum and Park, locks on the Forth and Clyde canal, the Falkirk Wheel and Linlithgow Palace before arriving in the capital.

The BHF Scotland hopes to raise £60,000 from the Glasgow to Edinburgh Trek to help fund essential research which can create a better future for the thousands of families in Scotland affected by heart disease. At the moment, the BHF is spending £57million on research in Scotland alone.

For further information and to sign up please visit bhf.org.ukG2Etrek
Entry fees: £50.00 for adults and young people aged 16 or over.
To register call 0845 130 8663 or email events@bhf.org.uk.

 

Endangered Bats

Colonies of bats, already endangered globally by a widespread fungal disease, are also at risk from changes in temperature and climate.

By Charlie Hearst, Climate News Network

Across the world, bats are in trouble from climate change – not only through collisions with the wind turbines that are intended to mitigate its effects, but from what the increasing warmth does to their ability to find their prey.

Bats often get a bad press, portrayed as disease-spreading bloodsuckers. In fact, they perform a vital role as pollinators, seed dispersers and as controllers of pests.

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Common pipistrelle
Pipistrellus pipistrellus

Many bat species – there are more than 1,100 types of bat, ranging from the large flying fox with a wing span of up to five feet to the minuscule Kitti’s hog-nosed or bumblebee bat − are under threat.

In eastern and central regions of the US and in several provinces in Canada, millions of bats have died as a result of a fungal disease called White-nose Syndrome. In some areas, bat populations have declined by 80% or have even vanished since the disease was first identified in 2006.

The impact on agricultural production could be severe. It is estimated that, in terms of insect suppression alone, bats save the US agricultural industry billions of dollars each year.

The fungal disease has also been reported in north-eastern China, and in parts of Europe.

Although much remains to be learned about bat behaviour, there are indications that changes in climate can affect populations.

Most known bat species employ calls and echoes to acoustically navigate, hunt and communicate. Known as echolocation, this sensory system can be so sophisticated that some species can identify various insect types through the differing sounds of fluttering wings.

However, the nature of sound and the speed at which it travels is influenced by humidity, wind and heat.

While much is still unknown about how alterations in climate might affect specific bat populations, a study by researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, published in 2013 in the UK’s Royal Society journal Interface, suggested that the delicate system bats use for foraging for insects could be disrupted, with different species reacting to rises and falls in temperature.

“The prey detection ability, and thus possibly the foraging efficiency, of echolocating bats is susceptible to rising temperatures through climate change,” the study said. “Global warming can thus directly affect the prey detection ability of individual bats and, indirectly, their interspecific interactions with competitors and prey.”

Other studies indicate that extreme weather events could threaten whole bat populations. Warming temperatures could result in bats waking early from hibernation. And bats are considered more vulnerable to dehydration than most other mammals: in drought conditions, they might not be able to fly long distances to find water sources.

Wind turbines – seen by many as a way of lessening dependence on fossil fuels, and so helping in the fight against climate change – are also believed to be having a negative impact on bat populations.

Large numbers of bats have been found dead at the foot of wind turbines, and various studies have tried to find out why they seem susceptible to collision with the turbine blades, and yet are adept at successfully navigating away from other objects. Among the common concerns about wind power is the theory that bats could be subject to what is termed “barotrauma” – disorientation due to changes in air pressure caused by the turning of the turbine blades.

Researchers are looking into a number of possible solutions, such as siting wind farms away from known bat population centres, or employing a variety of deterrents, ranging from electromagnetic radiation to ultrasonic “boom boxes”.

• Charlie Hearst, who has a background in zoology, has researched bats at University College London and at the Bat Conservation Trust.  Twitter: @CharlieHearst.

 

!More on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

By Mark Dearn

An exciting new initiative has been launched by a group of businesses who know that the secretly negotiated EU-US trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will threaten them and risk job losses in the UK. It is called Business Against TTIP - and they want other businesses to join them.

The initiative was launched by Entrepreneur of the Year Titus Sharpe who says that TTIP: “is a sure-fire way to threaten our vibrant business sector”.  TTIP will force UK businesses into unfair competition with US firms with lower standards and lower costs. At least 680,000 jobs will be lost across Europe. It will threaten our safety and labour standards and give US companies a special private justice system where they can challenge any new laws affecting their profits.

Thousands of firms have already signed up to parallel anti-TTIP websites in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

War on Want supports this initiative and has released a report this week called ‘'Rough Trade: The threat of TTIP to small businesses in the UK” showing how TTIP offers small and medium sized businesses nothing, but thousands could fold if US firms are allowed into our markets without having to abide by EU rules.

Mark Dearn is the Trade Campaigner for War on Want.

War on Want fights against the root causes of poverty and human rights violations, as part of the worldwide movement for global justice.

TTIP is similar to the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The Voice for Arran can report that Canadian mining company Pacific Rim, now bought by the Australian conglomerate Oceana Gold, is suing El Salvador for more than $300 million for denying permits to dig. Brushing aside concerns that the mining would poison the Lempa River, the country’s primary source of drinking water, Pacific Rim claims that the government is discriminating against it and is obliged under the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) to protect its investments and potential future profits from mining.

Meanwhile the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a mega-free trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 countries in Asia and the Americas, could come before Congress this year. This agreement would give thousands of corporations in partner countries the right to sue the U.S. government for passing laws to secure climate stability and protect our children’s futures.

 

Scottish Greens call on the Scottish Government to tax owners of derelict land

Too much potential building land on Arran stands empty while the owners build up ‘land banks’, waiting for house values to increase. At the same time many island folk cannot find anywhere affordable to live. Now the Scottish Greens are launching a new campaign as part of the push for radical land reform. With the Land Reform Bill going through Holyrood at the moment it's absolutely crucial that maximum pressure is put on MSPs to enact real change, and the first focus is on derelict land.

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Scotland is facing a housing crisis. Too many people pay far too much for their homes and the cost of renting keeps going up. Yet wealthy developers are holding on to derelict land that could be used to build hundreds of thousands of new homes.

Owners of derelict land are currently exempt from paying tax on it. That means they can hold on to it for years without paying a penny, while elsewhere, the cost of land keeps going up, pushing house prices and rents ever higher.

Scottish Greens want to get the best use out of land, including the 11,000 hectares of vacant and derelict land, sitting unused in Scotland today. They are calling on the Scottish Government to tax owners of derelict land and use the taxes raised to build the extra housing that Scotland desperately needs.

The Scottish Parliament will be scrutinizing the Land Reform Bill at its second stage. The Green MSPs will be submitting an amendment to the Bill,that would bring derelict and vacant land into the Valuation Roll. The Voice for Arran gives its support for this amendment.

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!Book reviews

Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands. Mark Avery, Bloomsbury £16.99

Mark Avery was Conservation Director of the RSPB for thirteen years, and now writes, blogs and speaks on conservation matters. One of his favourite birds has always been the Hen Harrier, a beautiful bird of prey that we here on Arran are privileged to have as a breeding resident. In 2014 over seventy young fledged on the island. However the situation in England is very different, with the Hen Harrier on the verge of extinction as a breeding species. This book charts Avery’s growing realisation that illegal killing of Hen Harriers on driven grouse shooting estates was reaching catastrophic levels, and his increasingly successful attempts to publicise this scandal. Avery reviews the scientific data on all this and also discusses how other aspects of driven grouse moor management, such as heather burning, deforestation, and peat bog draining, have caused carbon to be released into the atmosphere and have led to increased rainwater run-off, directly contributing to the devastating floods just experienced in Northern England over the Christmas period. His conclusion is stark; driven grouse shooting gives pleasure to a tiny number of well-heeled folk whilst having a seriously detrimental effect on the lives of the vast majority of the population, through the damage caused to the natural environment, and should be banned.

Avery writes with passion but also with some humour and a light touch. The result is essential reading for anyone interested in wildlife and conservation in the U.K.

Alan Bellamy

 

!The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death and Happiness. Mark Rowlands, Granta £8.99

The Philosopher and the Wolf, by Mark Rowlands, is exactly what it says. A university lecturer in philosophy buys a wolf cub, being used to large dogs – and then finds out just why a wolf is a very different proposition. This fascinating book goes through exactly what you can and cannot do if you decide to keep a wolf in your house. It will trash your sitting room if you leave it on its own. It will sit up and howl if you have it beside you when delivering a lecture. ('Very useful,' the author comments, 'as an aid to keeping your students awake.'

On a deeper level, the book explores the close and often demanding relationship between man and animal, and while most of us have not gone so far as to share a house with a wolf, it has much to say about how to live with any self-respecting animal. Cat owners, in fact, may find a familiar note in the advice to understand that you cannot mould an essentially wild creature into a totally tame pet. Something in its mind will always be answering to psychological impulses that aren't easy for humans to understand. But in seeking to perceive their nature, a human owner will learn a surprising amount about his or her own nature. This is a book of profound insights, and yet as a story, it can't be put down until you're arrived at the end. A marvellous read.

Alison Prince

 

Last chance for Scotland to Grow Wild

!Registration for seed kits closes on 14 February

Scotland’s biggest-ever seed sowing campaign, Grow Wild, has thousands of free seed kits to give away to help people transform local spaces into beautiful, inspiring and colourful wild flower havens. With registration closing soon, there is still time to apply and make a visible difference to communities up and down the country.

Supported by the Big Lottery Fund and led by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Grow Wild inspires communities, friends, neighbours and individuals across Scotland to come together to transform local spaces, by sowing, growing and enjoying native wild flowers. The seed kits are designed for people to share with those around them. Whether it’s their colleagues, sports club, friends, family or neighbours, the kits provide a chance to get together and enjoy the benefits of sowing native wild flowers. Anyone can apply for up to 20 kits.

There are 100,000 free seed kits available, which once sown will help to create over one million square metres of wild flowers by summer 2016. Anyone can register on behalf of their group by filling in Grow Wild’s simple form at: www.growwilduk.com/seed-kit

Registration closes at midnight on 14 February 2016 and the free seed kits will be sent out in late March, just in time for spring sowing. Each kit contains enough seeds to cover up to 10 square metres, and can be used to transform any space – from balconies to old boots, streets to shared spaces, boxes to buckets. The kits also contain a getting started guide, DIY bee house and site markers.

Last year, Grow Wild’s kits found their way to many different organisations and charities, including those that bring together families, young people, students, community wardens, homeless people, resident’s associations, wildlife groups, ex-service people, Girl guiding groups and many more. One of last year’s kit recipients said: “The free seed kits are a fantastic way of helping an area in so many ways; supporting the local wildlife and pollinator insects, improving the look of the area as well as educational benefits.” Another said: “We applied for free wild flower seed kits: we sowed seeds in planters, wall baskets in the alleyway, and in our own gardens. We also painted wild flower murals, with support from volunteer art students.”

 

Bridge Challenge

South to make five diamonds. West leads the ♠K.

 
 

Print CrosswordCrossword

by Episteme

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Across

 1 Single sailor crustacean (7)

 7 Lizard returned in a magazine (5)

10 Rake new grass outside fruit (5)

11 Sofas lay off debts (7)

12 Motoring club contains nasty crime for us (7)

13 Build upright (5)

14 Rock and rolls glands (11)

15 Oilskins wet dome in extra note (11)

18 Detroys opera sessions from the inside (5)

20 Blunt Veronica with gallery (8)

21 Mature name after island protien (8)

23 Stores street owls with no port (5)

25 Frugality where US sat serene (11)

27 I lie, it's bail needed for charges (11)

30 Late ethics hold falsies perhaps (5)

32 Most vapid but nine sat out (7)

33 Attacked the French swans but had no beard (7)

34 Clumsy writer back in it (5)

35 Pips watch document signed for starters (5)

36 Fishermen from the red-light district? (7)

Down

 1 Passage under a man for example (5)

 2 Most creative traits modelled with energy (7)

 3 Erases cooked bitter aloes (11)

 4 Headless animals make bridge players (5)

 5 The nucleus of dour teen (8)

 6 Nucleus and hot rock build fireplace (11)

 7 REME is confused under a ruler (5)

 8 Indices dial roughly to notices (7)

 9 Collects as seams writhe (7)

16 Nimble 500 imprisoned by crumpled tape (5)

17 Formal production of suit. Liar with jerk (11)

18 Adorn Nell at conversion becoming slower (11)

19 Renew erstwhile jugs inside (5)

22 Alloted to South Africa rising and deigns mutation (8)

23 Pig pens drop junction and swallow all forays (7)

24 Duck roosts on ale tax compound (7)

26 Divorcee for example on broken prop interpreter (7)

28 Fancies taking the left from models (5)

29 Thaws out lawn (5)

31 High speed over river shells (5)

 

Answers for the January puzzle:

Across:
1 Arsenal, 6 Thane, 9 Icier, 10 Teasels, 11 Intro, 12 Tarot, 13 Cossets, 17 Evens, 18 Beds, 19 Menaces, 20 Tests,
24 Inset, 28 Bedevil, 29 Ibex, 30 Slain, 31 Coracle, 35 Nitre, 36 Arete, 37 Answers, 38 Raids, 39 Eases, 40 Essence.

Down:
1 Attic, 2 Seals, 3 Niece, 4 Lists, 5 Diaries, 6 Tritest, 7 Anthers, 8 Egoists, 14 Ocean, 15 Spare, 16 Teem, 21 Edema,
22 Trial, 23 Lego, 24 In Spate, 25 Stamens, 26 Tinners, 27 Beatnik, 31 Cease, 32 Roses, 33 Clean, 34 Ensue.

 

… and finally

It's Tuesday 26th January 2016 and the ferry is disrupted again by the weather. However, we were quite surprised to see this message from CalMac on Twitter:

UPDATE@1340: Ardrossan - Brodick Car marshalling area is flooding and at least 30 minutes until high tide. Lanes 1 to 5 under several feet of water.

Several feet of water on the car marshalling area would mean ArCaS, the ferry office and the Pier Garage would all be flooded, so we had to go and get a photo. Ah, the water's not quite several feet deep then, but just a few inches! However, we do wonder if CMAL has factored the high tide into the design of the new car marshalling area.

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On the same day, this was the scene at the car park to the rear of the small Co-op in Brodick:

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