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Issue 71 - February 2017
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The Garden in January


As we head into February the Voice is entering its seventh year of publication as a monthly on-line magazine, bringing you a variety of stories from Arran and around the world. Do let us know what you would like to see more, or less, of, in future editions.

The Voice is produced by a small group of volunteers and we are looking to recruit two extra helpers. One needs to have some IT skills to help with set-up, and the other some editorial skills to help with content. If you share our outlook on life and are interested in helping, please email us. We would like to hear from you.

Alan Bellamy

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The 15 Warnings Signs of Impending Tyranny

By Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.

The warning signs are all there. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As tyrants take control of democracies, they typically:

  1. Exaggerate their mandate to govern – claiming, for example, that they won an election by a landslide even after losing the popular vote.
  2. Repeatedly claim massive voter fraud in the absence of any evidence, in order to restrict voting in subsequent elections.
  3. Call anyone who opposes them “enemies.”
  4. Turn the public against journalists or media outlets that criticize them, calling them “deceitful” and “scum.”
  5. Hold few if any press conferences, preferring to communicate with the public directly through mass rallies and unfiltered statements.
  6. Tell the public big lies, causing them to doubt the truth and to believe fictions that support the tyrants’ goals.
  7. Blame economic stresses on immigrants or racial or religious minorities, and foment public bias and even violence against them.
  8. Attribute acts of domestic violence to “enemies within,” and use such events as excuses to beef up internal security and limit civil liberties.
  9. Threaten mass deportations, registries of religious minorities, and the banning of refugees.
  10. Seek to eliminate or reduce the influence of competing centers of power, such as labor unions and opposition parties.
  11. Appoint family members to high positions of authority.
  12. Surround themselves with their own personal security force rather than a security detail accountable to the public.
  13. Put generals into top civilian posts.
  14. Make personal alliances with foreign dictators.
  15. Draw no distinction between personal property and public property, profiteering from their public office.

We should consider ourselves warned.

The full article can be found here.

A Green Burial Site on Arran?


A number of people have commented on how much they would value the opportunity to choose a green, or woodland, burial on Arran. The Voice would support such a proposal, and we would like readers to email us with your views on this idea, so that we can estimate the level of support.

The Brodick Quartet

The name alone should attract the interest of Arran’s music lovers. This recently formed quartet, who will be performing in Brodick Hall on Saturday, 18th February, consists of four of Scotland’s sensational young string players, graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Glasgow), Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester) and Royal College of Music (London).

!They are: Ben Norris and Katrina Lee on violin, Liam Brolly on viola and Alice Allen on cello. All of them also play with distinguished groups such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Scottish Opera. They are passionate about attracting audiences who might not normally approach a classical concert and each have their own broad musical tastes outside the classical genre.

And their name? They hail from different parts of Scotland (and one from Yorkshire), but they are all agreed that they have a special love for Arran, having spent time here on trips from family holidays to hillwalking and geology expeditions. With such fond memories, they all agreed on the name “Brodick Quartet”. They can’t wait to see the island again, and say: “It would be fantastic to build a relationship with the Arran community over the years to come”. Their programme on the 18th includes music by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Webern. Apart from their enthusiasm for Arran, there are plenty of good musical reasons to come and hear these first class young musicians.

The concert starts at 7.30, the seating will be in café style, and you can bring a bottle if you like. Tickets will be available on the door on the night, in advance from Inspirations of Arran in Brodick, or online from

Violin’s voice restored for Burns Night

© National Trust for Scotland

A violin which Robert Burns is said to have danced to will sounds as it did in the 18th century, after the National Trust for Scotland had the piece restored to its original condition. The instrument is thought to have belonged to Burns’ tutor William Gregg and accompanied Robert Burns’ dance lessons at the Bachelors’ Club in Tarbolton.

Over the years, a series of repairs and modernisations, including the adding of a chin cup, had been made to the violin and it used modern style strings.

Last year, the National Trust for Scotland, the charity which conserves and promotes Scotland’s heritage, arranged for David Rattray, the Kirkcaldy-based violin expert to restore the instrument to how it would have been in the 18th century, when Burns danced to it

The fiddle is a decorated baroque violin of provincial-type construction dating to the mid-18th century. It is made from pine, bird’s-eye maple and plain cut sycamore. It has now been repaired and restored and has been restrung with gut strings as it would have originally.

According to experts at the museum, around 1779 the adolescent Robert Burns began attending dancing lessons in Tarbolton. Curator Sean McGlashan said: “Burns wrote that he hoped dancing would ‘give my manners a brush.’ More likely, he realised dancing lessons were an excellent form of rebellion, as his father frowned upon such sinful behaviour.”

The violin is part of the National Trust for Scotland’s collection at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway. It was due to be played a number of times around Burns Night by acclaimed violinist Alistair McCulloch. This is the first time in many years that people will hear the violin as Burns did in 1779.

Alistair said:  “I am very excited about playing the Gregg violin again and treat it as a real honour. I feel it is important to play music of the period, particularly the music of Niel Gow who Burns met in 1787. The tone of the instrument has a sweetness which enhances the character of these great old tunes.”.

Price of salmon leaps 50% as sea lice epidemic worsens

According to a report in the Guardian, salmon prices are set to soar further in 2017 as salmon farmers from Scotland to Norway and Chile try to tackle parasite problems.

You may never have heard of Lepeophtheirus salmonis, and you’re unlikely to have spotted one, because they are usually less than 1.5cm long, but the humble sea louse is creating waves that are about to wash on to your dinner plate.

Male and female
Lepeophtheirus salmonis

Balanced on blinis, tucked into bagels or crafted into sushi, salmon has become an everyday luxury in the UK. But fans of seafood may be forced to take it off the menu as prices are expected to soar because of a surge in sea lice hitting production.

Wholesale salmon prices leapt as much as 50% last year after severe problems in Norway and Scotland with the tiny parasites, which feed on the blood and tissue of salmon. The problem followed a supply shortage caused by a deadly algae bloom in Chile, the world’s biggest producer of farmed salmon.

Global supplies of Atlantic salmon fell nearly 9% last year and are expected to fall during the first half of this year as lice problems worsen, according to fish industry analysts at the Norwegian bank Nordea. The top five salmon farms in Norway, the world’s second largest producer of salmon, produced 60,000 tonnes less fish than expected last year, about a 6% drop, according to Nordea.

In Scotland, production dropped 4% to 171,722 tonnes in 2015. It was forecast to improve last year but the target is unlikely to be reached because of the sea lice and amoebic gill disease, a potentially fatal illness caused by another parasite, which arrived in the UK five years ago.

Both pests have become more common on fish farms in recent years, with experts blaming warming sea temperatures associated with climate change. The parasites– a tough marine cousin of the wood louse – attach themselves to the skin, fins or gills and feed on the fish.

One major international producer, Marine Harvest, said the volume of salmon it produced in Scotland had slumped by 16%, or 1,500 tonnes, in the summer, partly because it accidentally killed 175,000 fish while trying to treat them for lice.

New legislation on the control of lice comes into force in Scotland this year, after a similar move in Norway, where farmers are trying tarpaulin “skirts” around the upper parts of sea cages containing the salmon in a bid to stop sea lice larvae from getting in – or out.


Just last month Arran residents set sail to oppose the expansion of the St Molios fish farm in Lamlash Bay. Despite freezing weather, over 50 people gathered on the beach in Lamlash and boarded a flotilla of craft including kayaks, RIBs and the Clyde Marine Mammal Project yacht. A photo shoot of the event was reported in the Scotsman as well as widely on social media.

Nicola Sturgeon: Brexit ruling makes need for independence vote clearer

!Nicola Sturgeon has challenged voters in Scotland to decide whether they are content to have the country’s fate decided by rightwing Tories in London or vote for independence.

The first minister again raised the prospect of a snap referendum on independence after the UK Supreme Court unanimously rejected her argument that Holyrood had to be consulted about triggering article 50.

In an angry attack on the UK government’s approach to Scotland’s pro-EU stance, Sturgeon said the ruling meant all Westminster assurances that Scotland was an equal partner in the union were worthless.

“This raises fundamental issues above and beyond that of EU membership. Is Scotland content for our future to be dictated by an increasingly right-wing Westminster government with just one MP here, or is it better that we take our future into our own hands?” she said.

Climate Change Is the World’s Biggest Risk

The rise of the machines isn’t the biggest threat to humanity. It is climate change, extreme weather and other environmental factors.

The World Economic Forum surveyed 750 experts on what the most likely and impactful risks facing humanity are in 2017. In a report released last month, they ranked extreme weather as the most likely risk and the second-most impactful, trailing only the use of weapons of mass destruction. Climate change is responsible for driving an increase in the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather events, notably heat waves.

Failing to adapt to or mitigate climate change and a host of other climate-connected risks including water and food crises and involuntary migration also rank in the top 10.

A matrix outlining the most likely and highest impact risks facing the world in 2017 (World Economic Forum)

To be sure, the machines, rise of illiberalism, income inequality and a raft of other problems all could disrupt the global order, according to the report. But climate change is growing in prominence as humanity’s biggest threat. It’s been a fixture in the top 5 threats in terms of likelihood and impact since 2011.

Meanwhile, nearly 70,000 gulls, starling, geese and other birds have been slaughtered in the New York City area, mostly by shooting and trapping, since the 2009 accident in which a jetliner was forced to land in the Hudson river after birds were sucked into its engine. And as The Climate Psychology Alliance points out, there's something about the psychology of this that speaks to the essential problem we have with living on a planet that is alive and that we have to share with a living universe in order to stay alive ourselves. Our plane emissions are destroying our planet. Planes are the biggest single producer of gases that are disastrously warming the planet. Instead of sharing our airspace, which arguably 'belongs' more to the birds than to us, we slaughter them to allow us to fly in more machines that are slowly destroying the planet.

As if to underline this, the SNP government this month announced new carbon reduction targets for Scotland which it describes as ambitious (“Scotland sets ambitious goal of 66% emissions cut within 15 years”), whilst continuing to argue for a reduction in air transport levies in order to increase aviation activity!

Corrie Film Club

Corrie Film Club has two events this month:

Saturday 4th February - A Day in the Dark - Corrie’s Very Own (Free) Film Festival

Binge all day on classic films, or just pop in for as long as suits you!

  • Scottish shorts at 10.30
  • Coffee at 11.00
  • The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor) - 1940 romantic comedy with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, from 11.15 - 1.15
  • Lunch at 1.15
  • Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock) - 1940 thriller-mystery with Joan Fontaine and Lawrence Olivier, from 2.00 - 4.00
  • Tea and cake at 4.00
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks) - 1953 musical with Marilyn Monroe, from 4.15 - 5.45
  • Supper at 5.45
  • Dr Zhivago (David Lean) - 1965 epic drama with Alec Guinness and Rita Tushingham, from 7.00 - 10.00

All day Saturday 4th February in Corrie Hall from 10.30 a.m. with coffee, soup lunch, tea and cake, and supper.

!Sunday 12th February

A Short Film About Love (1988, Poland, directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, 88 mins, Cert 18)

Ironic romantic drama about a shy young 19 year old who becomes infatuated by an older and more sophisticated woman. Despite their sharply contrasting views about what constitutes love they discover they have more in common than they think.

A Short Film About Love received very positive critical reviews, with many of the critics noting that the film points to Kieslowski's later masterworks.

8pm on Sunday 12th February in Corrie Hall

Both these events are open to all. Come and enjoy!

!The Scottish Greens

The Scottish Greens have secured agreement from the Scottish Government that a Glasgow scheme to reduce child poverty will be rolled-out across Scotland.

The Healthier Wealthier Children project in Glasgow has helped vulnerable families gain an average of over £1,000, with some families gaining as much as £3,400. Rolling this scheme out across Scotland was in the Scottish Green manifesto. There are more than 5,000 financially vulnerable families across the country, who could gain more than £2.3m.


The project trains health workers and midwives to help families experiencing child poverty to maximise their income. Among other types of help, it does that by helping them to apply for benefits to which they are entitled but too often do not claim.

Poem of the Month

Selected by David Underdown who also writes the commentary.

The Way Home

by Liz Berry

Take me among the poplars
where beeches surrender to a path of gold;
before the silver birch,
its slender body tongued by the mouth of dusk.
Take my hand in yours as the path disappears
and do not turn from me
when I kneel to bury my old life in the wet earth,
the life I wept for those nights, the one I dreamt I would lose.

For our boy is waiting inside me,
his love a green bud, and nothing matters now but this,
this autumn afternoon in a singing copse
where we will lay ourselves down
like copper leaves,
that he may never step upon anything but light.

Liz Berry was born in 1980 and lives in Birmingham. Much of her work has a strong sense of place and incorporates dialect from the Black Country where she was born and brought up. This tender poem is taken from her debut collection ‘Black Country’ published by Chatto and Windus in 2014. It won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection for that year.


COAST staff and volunteers have been hard at work clearing undergrowth from around the Lamlash tennis courts, prior to work beginning on the new Marine Discovery Centre.

On Friday 20th January there was a Celebration Event at the tennis pavilion. All were welcome for tea, coffee and cakes, and to hear about the plans and to share ideas. A goodly crowd heard Andrew and Manuela describe the proposed development and discussed a variety of ways of raising funds and providing practical help.


Later in January, on Sunday 29th, there was a volunteer work party with work both outside on the tennis courts and inside the old pavilion. The work outside involved clearing scrub, cutting back hedges and removing old fencing. Inside the pavilion a lot of effort has gone into removing old, damaged plaster from the walls and clearing out old fiittings from the changing rooms.

Book Review

The Memory Chalet by Tony Judt. Vintage paperback.

!I was listening to The Book Programme on Radio 4 recently when I heard Terry Waite say that the most treasured book on his shelves was The Memory Chalet by Tony Judt. I was aware of Judt as a historian of twentieth century Europe but this book sounded rather different from his other writings. The jacket blurb describes it thus:

“In 2008, historian Tony Judt learnt that he was suffering from a disease that would eventually trap his extraordinary mind in a declining and immobile body. At night, sleepless in his motionless state, he revisited the past in an effort to keep himself sane, and his dictated essays form a memoir unlike any you have read before.

Each one charts some experience or remembrance of the past through the sieve of Tony Judt's prodigious mind. His youthful love of a particular London bus route evolves into a reflection on public civility and interwar urban planning. Memories of the 1968 student riots of Paris meander through the sexual politics of Europe, a series of roadtrips across America lead not just to an appreciation of American history, but to an eventual acquisition of citizenship.

And everything is as simply and beautifully arranged as a Swiss chalet - a reassuring refuge deep in the mountains of memory.”

Tony Judt

During the interminable nights of the last year of his life Judt was using his memory of the layout of a chalet his family had stayed in when he was a child as an aid to uncovering other memories of episodes from his life, each of which then leads on to wider reflections on the human condition. I grew up in London at the same time as Judt and so his recollections of that time, the privations and bomb sites, the buses, the green spaces, all evoked powerful memories of my own, as did his chapters on grammar school and university life. From these he goes on to muse on meritocracy, revolutions, the problem of finding peace in the Middle East, sexual politics in American universities, and much else besides. I found the resulting essays thought-provoking, wise, sometimes challenging, and always deeply moving. I can see where Terry Waite was coming from.

Tony Judt died in 2010, aged 62, from motor neurone disorder.

Alan Bellamy

!2017 – A Year of Hope

From Patricia Gibson MP

As we begin 2017, many of us will be breathing a collective sigh of relief that one of the most turbulent and challenging years of recent times has finally ended.

What is clear is that Scotland must continue to be the outward looking, modern, hopeful country it has always been. If there was too much fear in 2016, it is time to shape our future with hope. These hopes, naturally, rest on the younger generations and how we can build a better world, a better Scotland, for them.

Our First Minister pledged both before and after the Scottish Parliament elections last May, that creating better opportunities for children and young people would be the key priority of her government. To that end, 2017 will see that commitment pursued with determination.

From next summer, all children born in Scotland will receive a Baby Box – a gift with lots of useful items for parents of new-born babies – from body suits and beanie hats to thermometers, reusable nappies and baby books. The Box itself doubles as a sleeping space and comes complete with a mattress and bedding. Other countries, such as Sweden, have provided similar Boxes for many years, to help achieve one of the best records for infant and maternal health. The Baby Box will make a real and tangible difference to babies’ lives.

Baby Boxes symbolise the SNP Government’s commitment to ensuring that every single child in Scotland gets the best possible start in life. By the end of the current Scottish Parliamentary term, all three and four year old children and around a quarter of two year olds, will be eligible for 1,140 hours each year of free early learning and childcare – almost double the current levels of provision. The babies born in 2017 will be amongst the first to benefit from that expansion.

There will also be a £750m investment over this Scottish Parliamentary term in School Attainment Funds. The aim is to improve educational outcomes for all children while closing the gap in attainment between children in more challenging socio-economic circumstances and those in more affluent communities. In North Ayrshire we see this commitment in action with the SNP Government funding of the Professional Learning Academy which I was delighted to attend with Depute First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney MSP, at Auchenharvie Academy, Stevenston.

And for young people leaving school, it is also important that they continue to benefit from free higher education and have opportunities to pursue modern apprenticeships, college places and fulfilling employment.

2017 will see ongoing local challenges in North Ayrshire & Arran such as ensuring that the Ardrossan to Brodick Ferry is retained; that the fight for women born in the 1950s – 4,800 in this constituency alone – goes on until the UK Government does the right thing and gives these women access to the pensions they have earned.

I am delighted that in the spring my Ten Minute Rule Bill entitled ‘Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors) Bill’ will be adopted by the UK Government, ensuring managing directors will be held personally liable for any unscrupulous behaviour that their company participates in with respect to nuisance calls, which will help to improve the situation for thousands of people across the country who are blighted by this problem.

I wish all readers a very happy New Year and you may be sure that I and my SNP colleagues will continue to provide a voice for Scotland in Westminster. There is no doubt that 2017 will bring a whole new set of challenges. We are ready to face them.

!Clydesdale Bank to Recognise Community Spirit in Arran

Community projects in Arran are invited to enter an awards programme which could see them share a funding boost of £75,000 to make a real difference in their local area. Now in their fifth year, the Clydesdale Bank Spirit of the Community Awards 2017 is open for applications.

Clydesdale Bank will make donations to recognise and support community projects which are going the extra mile. Registered charities and not for profit organisations are invited to enter their projects into the awards scheme under one of three categories: projects which help people to have a healthy  relationship with money, projects which help people to improve their local environment and projects which help people into employment.

The awards are open to a range of initiatives across the third sector which can demonstrate support for the local community. This could include projects helping to upskill people for the workplace, ventures promoting healthy relationships with money, or schemes aiming to protect the environment. Five projects will be selected in each of the three categories and all 15 winners will be awarded £5,000 each.

Debbie Crosbie, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks Chief Operating Officer and Chair of the Yorkshire and Clydesdale Bank Foundation, said: “Clydesdale Bank’s Spirit of the Community Awards aim to recognise and support the vital contribution that voluntary and charitable projects make to their local communities. “There has been so much fantastic work carried out across hundreds of organisations who provide such vital resources for local communities over the past four years. It is hugely inspiring to see just how much of a difference these awards have made at grass roots level.”

For further information about the Clydesdale Bank Foundation’s Spirit of the Community Awards or to enter, people can visit or go into their local Clydesdale Bank branch to receive an application form. The closing date for applications is Monday 6 March 2017 and the winners will be announced in summer 2017.

Marine News

from John Kinsman

Memorial Service for sub crew

The crew of a submarine that sank one hundred years ago is to be honoured in a memorial service. HMS K13 sank in the Gare Loch, Argyll, during her sea trails. 32 submariners drowned after water flooded the engine room on January 29th, 1917.

The K13 Memorial at Carlingford,
New South Wales

A total of 82 crew were on board. Some were trapped in the forward section of the sub for almost three days before being rescued. The submarine was later raised from the loch two months later and the crew were laid to rest in Faslane cemetery. A service organised by the Submariners Association will take place at Faslane cemetery to honour them on January 29th just as Voice for Arran goes online.

Colin Kerr of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said “every death of force’s personnel is a huge loss. But for these men to die during sea trails of the new K13 submarine is tragic. We must never forget them and I am honoured to be commemorating them on the centenary of their deaths. These men were extremely brave and it is due to their sacrifices 100 years ago that we are today able to make sure our submarines and naval staff are the safest they can be”.

A memorial to the disaster was erected in Carlingford, New South Wales, Australia, paid for by the widow of Charles Freestone, a leading telegraphist on K13 who survived the accident to later emigrate and prosper in Australia. The memorial was unveiled on 10 September 1961 and has the inscription "This memorial has been created in memory of those officers and men of the Commonwealth who gave their lives in submarines while serving the cause of freedom.".

Crime writer joins protest

Ian Rankin

Crime writer Ian Rankin joined campaigners protesting against plans for ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth.

The Rebus creator took part in the rally outside Holyrood on Thursday January 12th. Campaigners fear an oil spill in the area would be catastrophic for species like bottlenose dolphin, minke whale and porpoise. Mr Rankin said “it’s such a rich, biodiverse area and of course tourism is the lifeblood. If one thing went wrong, it would be hellish”.

Arran in the Island Review

The Island Review recently published a poem by Chris Powici about Holy Isle in Arran’s Lamlash Bay. You can read it online here.


Chris Powici's poetry focuses on human and natural environments and how the 'natural' and 'human' worlds overlap one another. Powici is the editor of literary magazine Northwords Now. He lives in Dunblane, and teaches English and Creative Writing for The Open University, the University of Stirling, and in the local community. His collection, This Weight of Light, was published by Red Squirrel Press in spring 2015.

Image Credit: Flickr/ Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Many Faces of Climate Change Migration

By Alex Randall, writer and researcher on climate, migration and displacement and coordinator of the Climate and Migration Coalition.

In the Asia-Pacific, climate change migration is already happening, sometimes by government fiat. And it has implications for all island communities.

We tend to think of climate-linked migration as unplanned, chaotic movement. But it also takes the form of planned, organized projects to move away from places badly affected by climate change. These projects are not always successful, and the people being “relocated” are not always willing participants. But countries across Asia and the Pacific have been at the forefront of these relocations and the rest of the world must learn from the successes and problems.

The media tends to gloss over the different kinds of climate-linked migration that are happening. The idea of a “climate refugees” conjures images of people fleeing drought or sea level rise; traveling together in huge numbers and across international borders. But climate-linked movement really falls into three distinct categories: displacement, migration, and planned relocation.

Displacement is when people are forced to move. They have no choice about where or when they go; moving is simply about ensuring their immediate survival. This is typical after sudden climate-linked disasters, like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Conversely, migration linked to climate change suggests people have more choice in where and when they go. People often migrate as situations such as drought and water stress become gradually worse.

The Asia-Pacific has seen more than its share of both of these. But a number of governments and communities are also engaged in the third kind of movement — planned relocation in response to climate change impacts. Rather than being chaotic and unplanned, these migrations are meticulously organized and negotiated. But organization does not always mean the projects are successful.

As the impacts of climate change begin to take hold, the lessons from these relocation projects become increasingly important.

Pacific Island nations have a long history of planned relocation projects that predates climate change by several centuries. These relocation were often disastrous and would constitute human rights violation by modern legal standards. During the 19th and 20th centuries, entire island populations were moved in order to stake out territorial claims, mine phosphate, and test nuclear weapons. Climate change now presents many island communities with the prospect of further planned relocation. These new relocations are taking place with the consent of both the communities that are moving and the “receiving” areas. But relocating still presents people with difficult choices and often splits communities. Some would prefer to take their chances and stay, others to move. Still other individuals or household might be considering their migration options without their community, and looking at visas and work opportunities in other countries.

In an interview for Oxfam New Zealand, community organizer Ursula Rakova explains the dilemma. Her community, on the Carteret Islands of Papua New Guinea, is broadly supportive of relocation, as most feel they have little choice. But, she concludes, there will still be consequences: “It makes me really angry because this is an island that belongs to us … Having to move away basically breaks us. It feels that we are divided people.”

Read the full article here.

Red Kites generate millions for economy in Dumfries and Galloway

A new report has found that tourists spend £8.2 million in Dumfries and Galloway after travelling to see Red Kites, according to

These raptor species was reintroduced to an area north of Castle Douglas from 2001 and two years later the Galloway Kite Trail — a self-guided tour circling Loch Ken — was launched as a partnership project led by RSPB Scotland.

An economic survey carried out by the conservation organisation found that between 2004 and 2015 the trail attracted more than 100,000 visitors to the area and that £8.2m of spending was directly attributable to people who came to the region to see Red Kites. On average, the trail also supported the equivalent of 19 full-time jobs each year; that figure rose to 21 in 2015.

Calum Murray, RSPB Scotland Community Liaison Officer, said: "The re-introduction of Red Kite has been a massive conservation success story and we now have over 100 pairs breeding in Dumfries and Galloway, but this survey clearly demonstrates how nature can bring economic benefits to areas as well.

"Tourists are visiting the Galloway Kite Trail from all over the UK and many are coming here especially to see our amazing Red Kites. The report also shows the fantastic support that is being given to the trail by local businesses and many of our visitors are now making repeat trips."

Red Kite, Llanddeusant, Carmarthen
(Photo: Phillip Hill)

The Galloway Kite Trail is a community-based project overseen by RSPB Scotland in partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland and Bellymack Hill Farm, which takes visitors to some of the best locations in the region to see the species, as well as promoting activities and services provided by local businesses. Overall visitors to the Galloway Kite Trail spent an estimated £54.6 million in the region.

Doug Wilson, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: "The Galloway Kite Trail has been a fabulous success story in many more ways than one. As an ambitious nature conservation project, it has achieved outstanding results in terms of increasing Red Kite numbers, educating the public about these spectacular birds of prey and raising awareness of RSPB Scotland's superb efforts to protect them and their habitat, and encourage breeding.

"The Kite Trail has also become an outstanding asset in Dumfries and Galloway's incredible portfolio of outdoors activity attractions, giving visitors another great reason to come to the beautiful Galloway Forest Park and explore the stunning Loch Ken area. Having attracted well over 100,000 visitors, the trail has delivered significant benefits to tourism within the region and the impact on our local economy has been tremendous."

Red Kites were persecuted to extinction in Scotland in the 19th century but have now made a comeback in many parts of the country. These graceful birds, which are slightly longer-winged than Common Buzzard, feed mainly on carrion and small mammals, and often come together in groups during the winter to roost.

Kites are now breeding in all three vice-counties of Dumfries and Galloway, with a nesting pair discovered near Stranraer in Wigtownshire last year. A total of 105 breeding pairs were counted in surveys in summer 2016, with at least 120 young fledged. The Kites are also occasional visitors to Arran.

Their boost to the economy of Dumfries and Galloway indicates just how important nature-based tourism could be to Arran if it were better promoted and not seen as just an add-on to trips over here for hen and stag parties or round-the-island cycling in dayglo lycra. It also shows how rewilding of the countryside more generally could contribute to economic regeneration.


Candidate for EU parliament president backs Scotland's participation in Brexit process

THE GREEN MEP running for the new president of the European Union parliament has called for Scotland’s voice to “be heard” in the upcoming negotiations on the UK’s expected exit from the EU.

!Jean Lambert, an English MEP for London, said that “those voices should be heard” from pro-European nations like Scotland and Northern Ireland during future talks.

Lambert is the nominee from the Green-European Free Alliance, one of eight major groups in the parliament.

Giving a briefing to European media in Brussels, Lambert told CommonSpace: “I think within the parliament we are very keen that those voices should be heard - that we find a way of doing that within the process that we’ll be using within the European Parliament. It obviously has implications for cross border working, free movement rights, questions about borders in general. Certainly the questions for Ireland - north and south - have to be there and heard.

“I know that the current person fronting the Brexit process for us, Guy Verhofstadt, has also had meetings with the Scottish administration, representation from Northern Ireland, and Ireland is in the European Union anyway. “I think it’s important that they are heard within this.”

The Green-EFA group have been consistent in supporting Scotland’s right to remain in the European Union following every area of the nation voting remain last June. The European Greens held its major conference in Glasgow late last year, in a show of solidarity to Scotland’s democratic vote to remain in the EU.

Lambert is the second of the main candidates to express support for the Scottish Government’s aim of being involved in the negotiations, and seeking its own position in relation to the EU institutions.

Guy Verhofstadt MEP, the former Belgian prime minister, official parliament negotiator for Brexit and candidate for the liberal group, has already met with Scottish Government ministers twice - and said Scotland should remain in the EU.

New Horticulture & Rural Skills course starting soon on Arran Community Land

Argyll College UHI in Lamlash is now offering a part-time horticulture course which will commence on Monday 6th February. The college, which already provides access to a wide range of further and higher education courses in the dedicated Arran campus, is working closely with the Community Land Initiative in Whiting Bay and Brodick Castle Gardens to offer the part-time NPA Rural Skills course.

The NPA is a part-time course which will take place every Monday for 15 weeks and consists of the following three core units:

This course will be highly practical in nature and will appeal to anyone with a keen interest in horticulture and/or gardening. The knowledge and skills which are taught during the course will be a benefit to a wide range of people from amateur gardeners to those wishing to develop a possible career in this field.

Full course information can be accessed at the Argyll College website.

If you think you may be interested in applying or if you would like any further information on other courses available at the Arran centre please don’t hesitate to contact the centre staff on 01770 600152 or email Judi Worthington.


Letters and emails to The Voice

from Geoffrey Botterill

John Inglis calls for radical change in the world economic order (see previous Voice) and tells us that he voted for Brexit because of a democratic deficit in the EU. In doing so,  he helped usher into power an unelected Prime Minister, who has fought  to sidestep Parliament like a medieval monarch, and who failed to immediately condemn the kind of attacks on our independent judiciary previously emanating only from corrupt dictatorships. Not, I would have thought, a great step forward for democracy. Since then, we have heard the threat to turn the UK into a tax haven if the other 27 countries of the EU fail to bow to May's demands. Not, I would have thought, a great leap forward in changing the world economic order. The answer to John's question about what is to happen next, is for those who, like him, voted out of conviction, but have now been shown to have been deceived, to concede that they made a terrible mistake and join the "Remoaners" in the fight against this nasty and destructive tide.

From Donna McSwiggan

Dear friends and colleagues,

Specsavers Irvine are kindly hosting a fundraising evening to raise money for the Hear to Help service.  This is taking place on Friday 3rd February 2017, 7pm at Little Rock, Brodick, Isle of Arran. It will be prosecco and canapes on arrival, there will then be a short talk from our Hear to Help Volunteer Nancy and there will be music to follow. A raffle will be drawn on the evening too. They expect the evening to finish about 8.30/9pm. To purchase tickets or for more information please contact Specsavers on 01294 313353.

Many thanks,

Donna McSwiggan Project Coordinator (Ayrshire & Arran) Action on Hearing Loss Scotland