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Issue 73 - April 2017
Page visits:
The Garden in March


It looks as if the Arran ferry service will be staying in Ardrossan, and that the bid from Troon has been unsuccessful. Peel Ports, owners of Ardrossan Harbour, have had to promise improvements to the Ardrossan infrastructure as part of their attempt to see off the proposal from ABP, owners of Troon Harbour.

What few seem prepared to point out, however, is the absurdity of these two important facilities being in private hands. Harbours should be public facilities and publically owned.

The Voice is produced by a small group of volunteers, and we are looking for extra helpers. Some IT skills to help with set-up would be useful, as would some editorial skills to help with content. If you share our outlook on life and are interested in helping, please get in contact with us. We would like to hear from you.

Alan Bellamy

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Terror Attack at Westminster

From Patricia Gibson MP, North Ayrshire & Arran

!The week before last, events unfolded which we all knew in theory were possible but which no-one anticipated. The reality of a terror attack occurring is something for which no ordinary member of the public is prepared. However, that is not the case for our police and security services who worked with efficiency, professionalism and enormous courage to do all they could to protect everyone on the sprawling Parliamentary estate - MPs, staff and visitors - whilst dealing with the dawning reality of the unfolding carnage on Westminster Bridge a few yards away.

I was with many other MPs in lockdown inside the chamber itself. Whilst there was a great sense of alarm and dread inside the buildings, no one in lockdown was ever in any real danger. The police worked hard to make sure of that. Indeed, one brave and dedicated police officer, PC Keith Palmer, put himself between the attacker and the entrance to the parliamentary estate, an act of selfless bravery which cost him his life. All of us who believe in democracy and the rule of law owe him a debt of gratitude. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family who must be utterly grief-stricken and bereft at this awful time. PC Palmer showed true heroism in the line of duty. He lived a life dedicated to public service having been a member of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command for fifteen years and a soldier in the Royal Artillery before that.

As we were released from lockdown once it was deemed safe to leave the Commons, we bade goodnight to the police, still on duty, as they would be during the night. We each and every one of us thanked them. Somehow it seemed so inadequate for all they had done for us on that awful day and would continue to do, day in, day out, regardless of the danger they might face, taking it all in their stride with cool professionalism.

Five people died, including the perpetrator and I am sure all our condolences are with the families of the innocent and their loved ones. With 40 people injured, some severely, the emergency services swung into action with a diligence and commitment that is truly humbling.

The injured come from ten different countries across the globe showing that the consequences of such attacks really do reverberate beyond their specific geographical locations and require all nations across the world to work together to defeat such barbaric acts of terror. The injured include three police officers who were returning from an event to recognise their bravery. Two of these officers remain in a serious condition.

The police are now investigating this appalling attack. Hundreds of police and security officers are working to establish everything possible about this outrage, including its preparation, its motivation and whether any associates were involved in its planning. The perpetrator’s death makes the police investigation more difficult. However they believe that this attack was inspired by the perpetrator’s conversion to radical Islam whilst serving time in prison for violent offences.

In the light of this attack there will be a fresh examination of de-radicalisation programmes designed to stop people being drawn into extremism.

Last week’s events are a stark reminder that all nations which believe in democracy, liberty and free speech must not take these freedoms for granted. The international community is standing together and has condemned these attacks, which are acts of pure evil but which also show the best of us as we come together to stand defiantly in defence of democracy.

Corrie Film Club

!The date of the April film has had to be changed to Sunday 23rd April. The film is Dheepan (2015, France, directed by Jacques Audiard, 115 mins, Cert 15).

Dheepan is a Tamil freedom fighter who decides to flee the warfare. Arriving in Paris, the family moves from one temporary home to another as he works to build a new life. Winner of the coveted Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, "Dheepan offers a timely, powerful look at the modern immigrant experience in Europe."

Everyone is welcome to the Club’s films. Join us at 8pm on the 23rd in Corrie and Sannox Village Hall.

Nescio Ensemble

Nescio, a group of twelve talented young string players from the Netherlands, are visiting Arran on the weekend of 22nd and 23rd April. Their intriguing name (“I don’t know” in Latin) comes from the pen name of Jan Grönloh, a well-known Dutch author whose stories are based around a group of young artistic friends (like the band itself). They are giving a concert under the auspices of the Isle of Arran Music Society (not yet renamed!) in the Community Theatre at Arran High School on the Saturday, 22nd, beginning at 7:30. Tickets are available on the door on the night, in advance from Inspirations of Arran in Brodick, or online from

!Their line-up consists of six violinists, three on viola, two on cello, and a double bassist, and their programme for the night promises to be varied, as their repertoire consists of “flabbergasting music” by Mozart, Bartok, Enescu “and many others”.

On the Sunday, the Ensemble will be appearing at the PHT in Lamlash, which should guarantee them an even wider audience. In the morning they will be there at the PHT to hopefully work with young Arran string players, and in the afternoon, from 4:00 to 6:00, there will be a Celebration of Young Musicians in the same venue, when Nescio’s players take the stage to encourage young musicians to take part and to showcase young talent on strings.


Great news about the positive impact of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), now from California. Unsurprisingly, the MPAs that have been established for longer, are doing best "Biomass of targeted fish species has increased in kelp and shallow rock ecosystems inside and outside of the northern Channel Islands MPAs (established in 2003)". Our government needs to make sure Scottish MPAs have a proper baseline monitoring programme in place to establish, as they have in California.

Eight-year-old Sophia of Thousand Oaks points out a starfish at Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu
while spending the day with her family on July 24, 2013.
© MAYA SUGARMAN (Southern California Public Radio - 89.3KPCC)

!A new study has found that biodiversity is greater inside the oldest marine protected areas than outside them. Marine life improved in California’s protected areas.

Meanwhile, new research in Arran's Marine Protected Area by Glasgow University reveals the importance of a healthy seabed for cod, haddock and whiting. The once-abundant cod and haddock fishery in the Firth of Clyde may have been destroyed by fishermen dredging up the seabed, according to a report in The Times.

‘Spinning sail’ rebooted to cut fuel and make ocean tankers greener

Invented a century ago, rotating columns fixed to ship’s deck interact with wind to provide forward thrust and could make a 10% fuel saving.

Layout of Norsepower Rotor Sail on a generic Aframax-size tanker.
Photograph: Courtesy of Norsepower

A Maersk tanker will be fitted with Norsepower rotor sails. The technology was first invented by the German engineer Anton Flettner which he trialled on an Atlantic crossing in 1926.

An ocean-going tanker is to be fitted with a type of “spinning sail” invented almost a century ago in a step that could lead to more environmentally friendly tankers worldwide. The unusual sails are rotating columns fixed to the deck of the ship, whose interaction with the wind provides forward thrust. The trial is backed by Maersk, one of the world’s biggest shipping companies and Shell’s shipping arm.

International shipping runs largely on highly polluting “bunker” fuel and the industry is coming under increasing pressure to play its part in tackling climate change by reducing emissions. Technologies being explored to cut pollution include kites, batteries or using biofuels.

The spinning, or rotor sail, was invented by the German engineer Anton Flettner and he put it into practice on two ships, one of which crossed the Atlantic in 1926. It provides thrust for the ship because the wind flowing in the same direction as the rotation speeds up, while the wind flowing against the rotation slows down. The resulting pressure difference pushes the ship forwards.

The rotor sails being installed on a 240 metre-long Maersk tanker are modern lightweight versions produced by the Finnish company Norsepower. They will be 30 metres tall and 5 metres in diameter, the largest rotor sails ever deployed and the first to be used on a tanker.

In favourable wind conditions, each rotor sail can produce the equivalent of 3MW of power, much more than the 50kW of electricity needed to turn it, said Norsepower’s CEO, Tuomas Riski. If the wind direction reverses, the rotation of the sail can be also be reversed.

Riski said that overall fuel savings of 7-10% were expected, equivalent to about 1,000 tonnes of fuel a year: “We are pretty confident we are in this kind of range.” The company has already deployed its rotor sails on a roll-on/roll-off ferry and saw a saving of 6%.

Riski said technology improvements and the rise of environmental regulations mean the rotor sail could take off now, having failed to compete with diesel power in the 1920s. “Wind is the only renewable energy available at large scale in the ocean,” said Riski.

The new sails will be fitted during the first half of 2018, then analysed at sea until the end of 2019.

Book Review

Poacher’s Pilgrimage: An Island Journey
by Alastair McIntosh

The title and cover belie a book of depth, breadth, scholarship and wisdom. Those of you who know Alastair McIntosh may already have some idea of what to expect from the author of Soil and Soul, which included a hilarious and breath-taking account of the liberation of Eigg from centuries of near feudal ownership, whilst arguing for a depth of connection between land and people going far beyond nationalism into realms spiritual.

!Poacher’s Pilgrimage is his account of a walk undertaken in 2009 from Rodel on South Harris to the far North, Butt of Lewis. Lewis is the island where he grew up, the child of an incoming professional family. He grew up there, but is not quite of there, nor does he claim to speak Gaelic; this doesn’t deter him from many a knowledgeable discussion of Gaelic names. He was drawn back in his middle years to reconnect above all with the land, mountains and moor, rivers and lochs, fairy mounds and holy wells. It was a pilgrimage indeed, containing moments and experiences of spiritual wonder, revelations of the mythos underlying our everyday reality. In the process he also comes to a deep appreciation of the people of the islands and a way of life still relatively untouched by the plastic world.

The author’s spiritual curiosity shines through, allied to depth of scholarship in theological matters from Calvinist Christianity to ancient Celtic forms, from Quakerism to Hindu scriptures. He doesn’t hide his doctrinal disagreements with orthodox Calvinism and island Presbyterian practices, but maintains a respect for sincere goodness, in which he finds links to far older, healing ways.

Alastair McIntosh

Did I forget to say that McIntosh’s writing is also an extraordinary mixture of levity and laugh-out-loud moments, honesty and self-awareness, vivid descriptions of the natural world and historical richness? He jumps from one mood to another as swiftly as the clouds overtake him or the sun returns. Woven into this tale is a fascinating discussion of his pacifism and his work at all levels in the British armed forces on peacekeeping and what that might mean, combined with compassion for anyone who has become violent, even in pursuit of such peace.

The Poacher of the title is the boy who grew up with his landless peers, despising the ways land ownership historically seemed to offer not just all the wealth and power but also all the rights to the food of the land, from deer to salmon, leaving the ordinary folk hungry, and indeed, often cleared right away. He goes poaching on this pilgrimage as an act of solidarity with the land and its people. It could sound jokey, but it isn’t.

I started reading this book as research into what we may find when eXXpedition Round Britain comes into port in Stornoway in August, at the halfway point of our circumnavigation. I’m responsible for making links with people there, environmentalists, women’s groups, schools, activists. It’s quite hard to research. I have no connections of my own. McIntosh has given me the greatest help, and none. We’re due to arrive on a Sunday morning - at least I know now, that’s probably not a good idea.

Sue Weaver

Poem of the Month

Selected by David Underdown who also writes the commentary.

All Her Life

by Raymond Carver

I lay down for a nap. But every time I closed my eyes,
mares’ tails passed slowly over the Strait
toward Canada. And the waves. They rolled up on the beach
and then back again. You know I don’t dream.
But last night I dreamt we were watching
a burial at sea. At first I was astonished.
And then filled with regret. But you
touched my arm and said, “No, it’s all right.
She was very old, and he’d loved her all his life.”

Raymond Carver’s down beat poems capture the transcendent through the ordinary. Here in nine lines he sets a mood, a sense of indolence, and then through a brief account of an imagined dream, paints a picture of a relationship that tells us all we need to know. The poem is taken from Carver’s collection ‘Where Water Comes Together With Water’ published by Vintage Books.

Costs of coastal climate damage set to climb

By 2030, sea level rise driven by global warming could be costing the Netherlands city of Rotterdam $240 million a year and, by 2100, Rotterdam could be spending $5.5bn a year on its losses - but the Turkish city of Istanbul could be paying $10bn for coastal climate damage, according to Tim Radford and the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

Altogether, 13 years from now, climate change losses could be exacting a US$1.2bn toll on 19 great European cities. By 2100, the bill could have risen to $40bn, according to new research. Low-lying coastal zones - bits of land no more than 10 metres above the sea level - account for only one-fiftieth of the planet’s land surface. But these coastal zones are home to one in 10 of the planet’s 7 billion-plus humans. Two-thirds of all megacities - with populations of more than five million people - are in these low-lying coastal zones, and they are growing rapidly: in the last 40 years, the population at risk from potentially catastrophic once-a-century floods and storm surges has risen by 95%.

So, as global temperatures rise, in response to higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, driven by combustion of fossil fuels, so do ocean levels. The seas are being swollen not just by melting glaciers from the land but also by thermal expansion. But the frequency and intensity of rainstorms, floods, hurricanes and storm surges are predicted to increase with average global temperatures. So the world’s great seaports and coastal cities are not just committed to losses from extreme events, but will also have to adapt to continuous and increasing attrition from the waves.

Scientists from the Basque Centre for Climate Change in Spain report in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science that they set about trying to model the economic cost to 19 great European cities - among them Rotterdam, Dublin, Glasgow, St Petersburg, Istanbul, Barcelona, London and Copenhagen - under a series of scenarios for future climate change. Such calculations are not new: other researchers have looked at the big picture and come to comparable conclusions: by 2050 coastal flooding could be costing vulnerable cities $1 trillion a year. By 2100, such costs could have risen to $100 trillion.

The eastern coasts of the US are predicted to take an ever more violent battering from windstorms throughout the century, and worldwide the growth of the human population and the flight to the cities will mean that ever greater numbers will be ever more vulnerable. But global statements of awful warning are no help to urban planners who must assess the risk of coastal climate damage to their own cities. So the Basque scientists embarked on the challenge of calculating risks to particular localities.


Since 1980 ocean levels have risen by 20cms, and in this century alone the rate of rise has accelerated from 1.7mm a year to up to 2.9mm a year. But every city is unique, and calculations of risk are bedevilled by factors other than average sea level rise. In some regions, because of intense extraction of groundwater, the land is sinking under the burden of the city just as tide levels are rising. In others, the land is rising in response to the retreat of the glaciers. Above some deep geological structures, sea levels are higher because of gravitational anomalies below the crust; in others they are lower, for the same reason. And in many cases, the levels of hazard change with the decades: some coasts are continuously being eroded, while others are being extended as estuaries deliver ever greater quantities of silt.

So the scientists set out to play with both the worst case scenarios and with the attrition to be expected the other 95% of the time in putting an estimate to the toll of sea level change in their 19 chosen cities by the years 2030, 2050 and 2100: they predicted a probability that by 2030, sea levels for Athens would have risen by 14cms; would have doubled to 28 cms by 2050; and reached 67cms by 2100. Its neighbour Izmir on the Turkish coast of the same sea would have risen by 23cms and 45 cms on the first two dates. But by 2100, the sea could be 120cms higher at Izmir. Such calculations of risk require some very sophisticated mathematical reasoning, but the outcomes can only in the end deliver guides to the likely hazards at any particular European seaport.

What happens to Odessa and Istanbul can be very different, even though they both share the Black Sea. Outcomes for St Petersburg and Stockholm could be quite different, even though each is on the Baltic.

By 2100 sea level rise driven by climate change could be costing Odessa $6.5bn a year and Rotterdam $5.5bn, while Glasgow and Dublin could each face economic losses of around $1.5bn.

The authors warn that outcomes in 2030 would be no sure guide to costs by the century’s end. For instance, they don’t see any significant change for Athens or Stockholm by 2030: sea levels might by then even have fallen at those two ports.

Rotterdam will lead the damage ranking for coastal climate damage by 2030. By 2050, the Dutch city will be overtaken by Istanbul, where losses will increase seven-fold.

Importantly, in their calculations, the researchers factor in the highly-improbable once-a-century events. They do so because, although they remain improbable, when they happen the damage they do is out of all proportion to normal attrition from wind and tide.

“Local, regional, and national policy-makers should not settle for traditional approaches but should seek to introduce risk assessments under uncertainty into their decision-making processes.

Meanwhile a second team of researchers has used different methodologies to warn of broadly the same hazard. Even if the world acts, and greenhouse gas emissions peak at 2040, extreme sea levels driven by major storms could peak by 57cms on average by the end of the century, and do so every few years.

If the world continues with its business-as-usual combustion of fossil fuels, North Sea extreme tides could reach almost a metre, and Mediterranean and Black Sea levels could reach such extremes several times a year.

“Unless we take different protection measures, 5 million people will be exposed to coastal flooding on an annual basis” said Michalis Vousdoukas, a coastal oceanographer with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, who led the study, published in the journal Earth’s Future, published by the American Geophysical Union.

Sea levels have been creeping up for the past 50 years, as glaciers retreat and icecaps melt, and as oceans expand with increasing atmospheric temperatures. But Europe, bounded by the Baltic Sea, the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, has always lived with some kind of marine hazard: the dangers lie now not in the events, but in their increasing frequency.

And for those millions in the low-lying coastal cities - Rotterdam on the North Sea coast, Venice in the Adriatic, Piraeus in the Aegean and Istanbul on the Bosphorus - the hazard could increase a hundredfold.

The researchers looked at mean sea levels, tides, wave energy, storm surge and all the other factors likely to be affected by climate change, to reckon that, without concerted international action to reduce greenhouse emissions, extreme sea levels along the European coasts could reach 81cms on average by 2100.

Joan Eardley Exhibition - A Sense of Place

Dean Gallery, Edinburgh until May 21st

By John Inglis

Joan Eardley is considered Scotland’s foremost woman artist. She was a close friend of Arran’s own Margot Sandeman, having been students together and worked in Arran during and after the war, often staying in the quaint, small cottage, the “Tabernacle”, behind the converted church in Corrie. The exhibition is comprehensive and, as its title suggests, the work covers her stay in Glasgow and later in Catterline in the East.

Margot Sandeman testifies to Joan’s huge dedication to her work as an artist and the exhibition is proof of that. Throughout the Fifties she lived and worked in the slums of Glasgow. As a trained artist in the Fifties and Sixties she was subject to the turbulence of a variety of Modernist influences which she had to work through in search of her own voice. Many of her Glasgow paintings are of children at play in a slum setting. They are rich in colour, strong compositions, some sombre and others bright and garlanded with street graffiti. “Street Kids” 1951 is one of the best depicting three boys each absorbed in his own thoughts, one reading, another eating an apple and a third lost in contemplation. Other paintings of the same series fall into the trap of injecting too much pathos into the figures of children who have a static air of victimhood, some even looking ‘glaikit’. Arguably pathos was not a feature of slum children.

The Catterline landscapes painted in the Sixties show the full, freedom license of American Abstract Impressionism and Joan Eardley exercises that freedom to the full with violent compositions that utilise landscape, sea and weather in symphonies that threaten complete abstraction but are retained in the world of realism by a foreground plant, a cottage or a boat while others forego even that in their painterly audacity, a factor which enhanced her reputation as someone breaking the mould in Scottish painting. “Snow” 1958 has captured a shared winter experience that we can easily relate to and which is held in check before the release of the Sixties whereas “ Boats on the Shore” 1963 explodes but provides a hook for our imagination with the elements threatening both boat and human figure, vulnerable against the immensity of nature. Her stay in Catterline was truly to immerse herself in the place but her painterly interpretation of it was international.

It is tragic that Joan Eardley died at the age of 42 since there was obviously much more to come but a play about her is visiting Arran and will be performed in Corrie and Sannox Hall on Wed. May 10th.

Regenerative Agriculture

In an article in the Guardian, Charles Eisenstein makes some important points about a different way to farm. Regenerative agriculture comprises an array of techniques that rebuild soil and, in the process, sequester carbon. Typically, it uses cover crops and perennials so that bare soil is never exposed, and grazes animals in ways that mimic animals in nature. It also offers ecological benefits far beyond carbon storage: it stops soil erosion, remineralises soil, protects the purity of groundwater and reduces damaging pesticide and fertiliser runoff.

The opposite of regenerative methods:
industrial agriculture

But these methods are slow, expensive and impractical in feeding a growing population, right?

Wrong. While comprehensive statistics are hard to come by, yields from regenerative methods often exceed conventional yields. Likewise, since these methods build soil, crowd out weeds and retain moisture, fertiliser and herbicide inputs can be reduced or eliminated entirely, resulting in higher profits for farmers. No-till methods can sequester as much as a ton of carbon per acre annually (2.5 tons/hectare). In the US alone, that could amount to nearly a quarter of current emissions.

The full article can be found here.

Heroes of the sea to be honoured

From John Kinsman at Coastwatch St Monans

The Shipwrecked Mariners Society is calling on members of the maritime community, and rescue organisations, to nominate colleagues and associates who have demonstrated outstanding skill and gallantry in rescuing those in peril at sea.

The society, which has provided financial support to merchant seafarers, fishermen, and their dependants, since 1839, will hold its 166th skill and gallantry awards ceremony in October.

The awards seek to recognise those who have shown exceptional courage in the face of adversity.

Last year saw the society president Admiral Sir George Zambellas present awards to Rescue 193 of 771 Naval Air Squadron at HMS Culdrose. Malcolm Williams, Chief Executive of the society said “The Society‘s annual skill and gallantry awards are the highlight of our events calendar. Every year we see men and women who have shown outstanding skill and bravery recognised, and I am sure this year will be no different. The awards raise awareness of the professionalism and selflessness seafarers and rescue crews demonstrate in keeping others, whether they be seafarers or members of the public, safe from dangers of the sea. Ultimately I hope these awards go some way towards acknowledging their tremendous efforts”.

Within the past year the society has provided financial support in over 2,000 cases of need, received over 500 new applications for assistance and distributed grants worth over £1.4 million.

Nominations for this year‘s awards can be submitted to The closing date is 12 noon Friday May 5th.

Last word

From WH Auden’s poem September 1, 1939, written when ignorance and hatred threatened the world:

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame