NewsPicMag72.jpg not found.
Issue 72 - March 2017
Page visits:
The Garden in February


The Voice is produced by a small group of volunteers, and we are looking for 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

Please click on the picture above for more information.

Advertising Space


Please click on the “ADVERTISING” button on any menu bar

or contact

Arran Charities awarded over £110,000 for Environmental Projects across the Island

It was great news for two environmental projects on Arran this week. Both Eco-Savvy and Arran Community Land Initiative were successful in their applications to the Climate Challenge Fund for 12 months funding starting in April. The total funding granted amounts to £115,000, which not only will help Arran communities tackle climate change, it will also provide new jobs on the island.

!Eco-Savvy’s new project is ‘Arran Eco Savvy Reuse Micro-hubs’ which aim to create an island wide network of reuse and up-cycling sites which will encourage local communities to come together to tackle waste and build a more sustainable future.

These micro-hubs will be focal points for waste reduction – promoting up-cycling though skills sharing, reuse through swap shops and delivering educational events. Each hub will be located in an existing community space and by collaborating with established Arran groups the aim is that no one on Arran will ever be more than four miles from an Eco Savvy Hub.

!Arran Community Land’s project is called ‘Arran Fabulous Community Food’ and aims to extend the use of the community land in Whiting Bay to greatly increase the amount of food grown locally on Arran and to make this available for local consumption. There will be a new orchard, soft fruit plantation and heritage potatoes grown along with workshops and educational events to support and encourage local people to grow and cook locally produced food.

This food production will help to reduce the carbon footprint of food eaten by local people, give them local food options, encourage more local growing of food in the community and enhance carbon reduction on Arran.

This money forms part of almost £10m of funding to tackle climate change across Scotland. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement on Monday, saying:

!“Scotland is making huge progress in delivering our climate change ambitions, but there is still much to achieve and the role of behaviour change and community action is crucial.

“The Climate Challenge Fund supports community projects that inspire people to care about the problem of climate change, consider what it might mean to them in terms of their everyday lives and enable them to take action.’

If you would like more information on the two projects contact Eco-Savvy at and Arran Community Land at

CalMac's annual passenger carrying figures exceed five million for first time in 20 years

!Caledonian MacBrayne's official carrying statistics for 2016 reveal that the west coast of Scotland ferry company passed five million passengers for the first time since 1997.

The Ardrossan to Brodick route was the busiest of all the company’s routes, with 828,262 passengers carried in 2016, an increase of 8.7% over 2015, and 202,843 cars, an increase of 6.8%.

The company said that better value fares may be influencing the rise, though many routes which already had RET introduced in the preceding years as part of the phased introduction also showed an uplift in passenger and car numbers - possibly attributable to a knock-on effect of publicity surrounding the major pan-network roll-out.

RET is a Scottish Government policy to ensure that those living on an island are not unduly financially disadvantaged by ferry fares. It has had a phased introduction, beginning in 2008 with a number of Western Isles destinations and culminating with full network coverage in October 2015. The RET scheme involves setting ferry fares on the basis of the cost of travelling an equivalent distance by road.

Transport Scotland has commissioned a survey of the impact of RET on Arran and it can be found here.

The new CalMac summer timetable starts on 31st March. This means that the winter 08:30 sailing from Brodick on a Sunday morning will stop for four weeks until the second ship arrives on the route on April 27th. This seems to have been a very popular sailing as the only occasion, in the sixteen weeks between 30th October 2016 and 26th February 2017, that one could book a car on the preceding day was Sunday 12th February.

If you have used this sailing over the winter please let us know. It was just a trial service for the winter season but, as it appears to be so popular, maybe we should press for it to continue throughout the year.

New EU emissions regulations for shipping

Meanwhile, the European Parliament has lost patience with shipping industry inaction over climate change and has outlined plans to include vessels in its Emissions Trading System (ETS). Ship owners are furious, claiming it is wrong that they will effectively be charged for carbon pollution in Europe Union waters ahead of any wider international arrangement.

But the members of the parliament in Brussels endorsed a recommendation from their own environment committee that the maritime industry should be included in the European Union’s ETS, a cap-and-trade scheme aimed at tackling global warming.

Maritime transport is estimated to produce around 1,000 million tonnes of carbon annually and is responsible for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It is predicted that CO2 output will increase by between 50% and 250% by 2050, depending on future economic and energy developments.

“This is not compatible with the internationally-agreed goal of keeping global temperature increase to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, which requires worldwide emissions to be at least halved from 1990 levels by 2050,” the European Commission explains.

The decision by the European Parliament involved one key amendment to the proposal put forward by its environment committee: the scheme will only start to include shipping from 2023 if there has been no comparative action taken by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

!Corrie Film Club

The March film is Wuthering Heights (2011, UK, directed by Andrea Arnold, 129 mins, Cert 15)

James Howson plays Heathcliffe. Set in North Yorkshire, the marvellous photography makes the most of the dramatic locations – “a quietly radical, intensely atmospheric fog of a film.”.

8pm on Sunday 12th March in Corrie Hall

Open to all. Come and enjoy!

!Music Arran: Cuerdas

The Isle of Arran Music Society, henceforth to be known by the snappier title “Music Arran”, presents its next concert in Brodick village hall on Saturday, March 18th, by Cuerdas. Cuerdas (Spanish for “strings”) is a duo consisting of Sophie Askew, on harp, and Lindsay Martindale on cello. This may seem an unusual combination, but we can expect soaring melodies over rippling harmonies. Sophie has played with orchestras across Scotland, including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, as well as giving recitals at such famous venues as Edinburgh Castle, Glamis, and Gleneagles Hotel. Passionate about music education, she teaches at all levels from Primary to degree level. Lindsay has also played with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (as sub-principal) as well as with Scottish Opera, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the RSNO. She studied at the Royal College of Music where she won every major cello prize and a scholarship for string quartet.

As a duo, Sophie and Lindsay enjoy performing and researching a wide repertoire, and although their programme for the 18th has not yet been announced, the audience can expect a delightful evening. The concert starts at 7.30, with seating again in café style, and you can bring a bottle if you want. Tickets will be available on the door on the night or in advance from Inspirations of Arran in Brodick.


Unaccompanied Child Refugees

!By Patricia Gibson MP for North Ayrshire & Arran

Recently there were three days and nights of intense debate at Westminster over Brexit negotiations. Only a few hours before the final vote on Article 50, the Government quietly, and without fanfare, announced its plans to terminate the Dubs scheme for unaccompanied child refugees, dashing the hopes of thousands of vulnerable children.

In autumn 2015 there was a public outcry when three year old Kurdish refugee Aylan Kurdi’s body was washed up on a Turkish beach after his family drowned trying to reach Europe.

Yet the UK Tory Government has now abandoned its commitment to providing a safe haven for lone child refugees. So far, the UK has offered refuge to just 350 of an estimated 90,000 unaccompanied child refugees across Europe, having previously agreed to take 3,000.

Lord Dubs’ amendment to the 2016 Immigration Act forced then Prime Minister David Cameron to recognise UK responsibility to assist refugees. This resonates with him, as he was rescued from Nazi persecution in Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War Two via the Kindertransport programme, which rescued 10,000 Jewish children.

Those children the UK Government is now turning its back on are fleeing war-torn cities and villages, many having witnessed family members and loved ones being killed and their homes destroyed. They are alone, traumatised and extremely vulnerable.

Growing up, many of us admired Anne Frank’s bravery as recorded in her diary, yet the parallels between the Frank and Kurdi families fleeing persecution are stark. Whilst Otto Frank, Anne’s father, tried keeping his family safe by fleeing to America, Aylan Kurdi’s father tried to do the same by escaping to Canada. Both fathers were refused entry to countries and each suffered the heartbreak of losing their wives and children as safety eluded them. Aylan Kurdi didn’t need to die any more than Anne Frank. Although their situations are separated by seventy years, both stories are characterised by the same depressingly bureaucratic response to people fleeing regimes which put children in danger.

The provision of a safe haven to child refugees, alone and frightened, at risk of exploitation and trafficking, must not be confused with the wider debate on immigration. The UK Government’s decision is a real blow, to displaced children with nowhere to go and in need of whatever protection we can offer as part of the international community.

Opposition to the UK Government’s decision has been growing, with charities and campaign groups comprehensively condemning it. The Tories even face a backlash from within, as some Conservative MPs support the Dubs route remaining open. The matter will be debated in Westminster later this month.

Scotland of course, has a proud tradition of sheltering refugees, from French Huguenots in the 17th and 18th centuries to Vietnamese Boat people, those fleeing the Balkan wars and Middle East conflicts in recent decades.

The UK Government would do well to remember the Kindertransport and the thousands of children who contributed so much to the UK after their lives were saved from a tyrannical foreign regime.

Socket covers - A safety feature or a safety hazard?

!The British 13 Amp plug and socket is considered the safest in the world. It is one of the results of UK government planning in the 1940s to improve building standards. The committee entrusted with improving electrical installations included just one woman, but that woman had an enormous impact! Her name was Caroline Haslett, she was an electrical engineer, a pioneer in the use of electricity to benefit women by liberating them from household drudgery, and an expert on safety in the home. She believed that a new, more convenient and safer plug and socket was needed. As a result, the first requirement in the committee's recommendations was that it should protect young children from being able to touch live parts by means of shutters, or the inherent design of the socket. The resulting design, still in use today, actually does both. A baby's finger is not small enough to go into the socket holes far enough to reach the live parts, but to make sure, there are insulated shutters on the inside of the holes which prevent anything but a plug being inserted. These shutters close automatically as soon as the plug is pulled out.

!Originally introduced in 1947, British Standard 1363 has been protecting our children ever since, UK law requires all sockets sold to conform to the BS 1363 standard, ensuring your child's safety. Sockets are made to accept plugs which meet very exact requirements (and the law requires that plugs are certified as meeting the requirements). Nothing failing to meet those requirements should ever be put in a socket.

The Department of Health have finally woken up to the fact that so called "socket safety covers" are actually dangerous as they are not manufactured to any standard and can easily disable the in-built safety features of the BS 1363 socket.

Their recommendation is that all such "socket safety covers" should be removed immediately from every socket in all public spaces in the UK and disposed of in a responsible way.

The report from the Departments of Health for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales can be found here.

For more information please visit the Fatally Flawed website.

Cutting-edge research helps revive European plans for many homes to have their own wind turbines as part of a clean energy revolution

By Paul Brown of The Climate News Network

A new type of small wind turbine for home electricity generation, intended to match the popularity and potential of solar power, is being developed in Europe.

!This will be the second time that attempts have been made by the European Commission (EC) to get wind turbines generally accepted for domestic and small-scale commercial use. Fifteen years ago, before solar panels became affordable, small wind turbines fixed to house roofs and chimneys were heralded as one of the best ways of helping to save the planet from global warming and cutting household bills, but it was an energy revolution that petered out.

The problem was that the turbines frequently vibrated and made an unacceptable noise, while wind in urban areas was often too turbulent for efficient use. Although 940,000 small wind turbines were in use around the world by the end of 2014, they are generally uneconomic, and it is a revolution that has yet to happen.

Despite these setbacks, the dream of small-scale turbines has refused to die, and a combination of European Research grants and co-operation between engineers and researchers has led to the development of a new generation of turbines.

The EC wants 20% of the bloc’s electricity to come from wind energy by 2020 and believes that, as well as large-scale commercial wind farms being built onshore and offshore in Europe, small domestic wind turbines can also play their part. An EC-funded Small Wind Energy Project (SWIP) has succeeded in producing small turbines with more efficient blades and far lighter turbines.

The idea is that a household with a small turbine, solar power and a back-up battery installed would probably be able to provide all its own power most of the time, and help to stabilise national electricity grids by reducing peaks and troughs in demand.

Fernando Aznar, a Spanish engineer working on the project, has produced a new set of blades that are wider at the tip − a feature which he says improves the turbine’s aerodynamic performance, reduces noise and vibration, and creates more movement to turn the turbine. The design also adjusts the blades so that they sit at the best angle to the wind to reach maximum efficiency.

Airflow around the new blades was studied using sophisticated computer modelling techniques. This allowed the researchers to estimate power production, as well as pitch, torque and thrust, to aid the design of the pitch control system.

“Air flow near to the tip of the blades has a significant impact on the efficiency and the noise from the wind turbine, as well as the aerodynamic force on the blade,” explains Lin Ma, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Sheffield, UK, who carried out the computer modelling.

“The new blade design takes consideration of the performance, noise, aesthetic aspect, the cost of manufacturing the turbine and the long-term operational and maintenance costs.”

A second problem was the weight of the turbines, which have to work in difficult conditions because in urban and semi-urban areas wind speeds are often low and highly variable. Heavy turbines can be noisy and do not run smoothly in these circumstances, causing jerkiness called cogging torque, which can cause damage to mountings − as well as annoyance to householders.

Jorge Herrero Ciudad, a project manager at Spanish renewable energy company 4fores, has developed a lighter-weight generator that maintains power and efficiency. When combined with new power conversion electronics developed by the project, it is estimated that this will improve energy harvesting by up to 20% at the most common wind conditions in urban environments. The new generators are 50% lighter than conventional models.

“This has been achieved using cutting-edge design methods and cutting-edge materials,” Ciudad says. “For instance, the structure of the generator uses aerospace-grade aluminium, when typically steel is used.”

A lower-weight generator reduces turbine costs in two other ways. The generators are cheaper as they use less material, and the other parts of the turbine, such as the tower, can be smaller as they have less weight to support.

Wind turbines featuring the new blades and generators are being tested at three different sites that represent three different possible uses − on energy-efficient buildings, shorelines and in industrial areas.

Book Review

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada - Penguin Modern Classics.

It is Holocaust Memorial Day as I begin writing this review, an appropriate day to discuss a novel set in Berlin between 1940 and 1945. The book tells the story of an elderly, poorly educated working class couple who passively, even hopefully, go along with the rise of Hitler and the policies of the Nazis, until their only son is killed on the western front. They then begin to see the disaster that Germany is being led into and start writing and distributing postcards around Berlin, critical of Hitler and calling for others to resist too.

!Fallada wrote the book in the last months of 1946, shortly before he died, and based it on the real case of Elise and Otto Hampel, changing some of the names and relationships of those involved. Fallada had been given the Hampel’s Gestapo file by a friend who had become a minister in the Soviet government set up in Eastern Germany immediately post-war. The friend suggested it might make the basis for a novel, hoping in this way to encourage Fallada to write again after he had barely survived the war, having been in and out of a Nazi insane asylum and struggling with drugs and alcohol. It is written in a curiously flat, journalistic style, and details the dreadful conditions in Berlin, with all our ideas of civil society, the law, justice, and government stood on their head. According to Fallada civilian life under the Nazis involves trying to keep your head down, or actively supporting the regime’s barbarities, lest one becomes another victim of the psychopathic thugs who rule the roost. A few brave folk do resist, and Fallada spares the reader few details of their almost inevitable fate. But there is humour amidst the grimness too, and by the end Fallada seems to be saying that those who resist and fail still have the moral victory. ‘Redemptive’ is a term that crops up frequently in descriptions of the book. Primo Levi said it is "the greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis."

However Fallada’s book is not without its critics. In particular the historian of the Holocaust, the late Professor David Cesarani, was scathing in his review:

Hans Fallada

“Is Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin winning readers thanks to its literary merits and because it explores dilemmas about moral conduct in dark times? Or is it selling well as the result of clever marketing? More significantly, is a book that is being puffed as a tribute to the human spirit, the defiance of totalitarianism, really an apologia for ambivalence concocted by a demented writer who didn't know whether to love or hate the Nazis? Fallada offered Germans an alibi for their complicity in Nazism.”

Certainly Fallada’s own life in Berlin during the war had elements of both ambivalence and complicity, and Alone in Berlin does not portray, indeed it disguises, the support Hitler’s murderous policies had from the majority of the German population. In the end it is the individual reader who must decide on the merits or otherwise of this book, but at a time when the far-right, the xenophobes and neo-fascists, are on the rise across Europe and in America, it is nothing if not topical.

Alan Bellamy

UK fishermen may not win 'waters back' after Brexit

Were they misled by the Leave campaign?

The hopes of British fishermen that the UK can win its “waters back” after Brexit are expected to be dashed by the European parliament, despite the campaign promises of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, a leaked EU document reveals.

MEPs have drafted seven provisions to be included in Britain’s “exit agreement”, including the stipulation that there will be “no increase to the UK’s share of fishing opportunities for jointly fished stocks [maintaining the existing quota distribution in UK and EU waters]”.

The document, obtained by the Guardian, adds that in order for the UK and EU to keep to commitments on sustainable fishing – contained within the United Nations stocks agreement – “it is difficult to see any alternative to the continued application of the common fisheries policy”.

!It is estimated that there only about 11,000 people directly employed in fishing in the UK, however the UK’s trawlermen, especially in Scotland, were among the most vocal critics of the EU during the referendum, fuelled by frustration over controls on fishing quotas, which have been blamed on Brussels and the common fisheries policy (CFP).

Trawlermen see themselves as the worst affected by the UK’s membership of the EU. They talk of shrinking quotas, of backroom deals with the Spanish, Danes or French, and most of all, a sense that UK fisheries ministers have been too soft with their competitors.

The UK fleet has shrunk as controls on overfishing and competition have bitten, and as efficiencies have improved output: there were less than 6,400 registered vessels in 2014 compared with more than 7,000 in 2004, employing just under 12,000 fishermen, 12% down on 2004.

Yet it is becoming more profitable, largely after the quota for mackerel grew sharply: in 2014, the total value of landings by UK vessels within the UK and abroad rose to £861m – its highest yet, while the volumes increased, too, to 756,000 tonnes overall. Much of that is landed at Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Lerwick in Shetland: Scotland’s ports generated 64% of the UK’s landings in 2014, thanks largely to the huge mackerel and herring boats based there.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson Baroness Parminter said: “Yet another of the leave campaign’s promises has been shown to be nothing but hot air. The Common Fisheries has been far from perfect, but the reality is fish stocks do not respect borders. So, the only way to prevent overfishing is to work closely with our European neighbours.”

“This shows yet again why the people must be given the final say on the Brexit deal, so everyone including fishing communities can decide if it’s right for them.”

Poem of the Month

Selected by David Underdown who also writes the commentary.

A Small Shaking of My Picture of the Kingdom

by Maura Dooley

A small shaking of my picture of the kingdom;
counters jarred a little, down a tiny snake

or up a ladder. A straightening of spectacles,
a new page in the road atlas, women at a bus-stop,

more red brick or narrow lanes, a going-home of schools,
a blue or yellow bus, somewhere in England.

Against it all I shore what makes this home,
wide light, a weaver’s window, each stone in that wall.

This is the heart’s small change,
a little silver saved against the rain.

Maura Dooley was born in Truro, grew up in Bristol and currently teaches at Goldsmiths College.She will be visiting Arran later this year as adjudicator of the McLellan Poetry Competition. This poem is taken from her first collection, ‘Ivy Leaves and Arrows’ published by Bloodaxe in 1986 and now re-printed in her selected poems ‘Sound Barrier’ also published by Bloodaxe.

Arran Community Land Initiative

What is coming up soon…

REQUEST! Lastly if you have any plant pots, garden tools, tables we can use as potting tables or a bookshelf we can use to put gardening books on – please let us know or drop off on site. They will help the growing groups. Thanks.

Come along to any of our activities or just have a wander around to see what is new on site! If you would like to keep in touch with what is happening, send your email address to and we will put you on the mailing list for our monthly newsletters.

The Community Land is signposted off Golf Course Road in Whiting Bay. There is a small amount of parking for those who can’t walk to sessions in our new car park. For all sessions, please wear sturdy shoes, bring refreshments and waterproofs just in case!


All welcome!  All sessions are free!  Come and enjoy the Community Land!

We Are Scientists Against A Fascist Government

By Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Sarah Tuttle, and Joseph Osmundson, in The Establishment

A view from the scientific community in the USA

As we face threats to humanity ranging from continued violations of Native American sovereignty and anti-Black violence, to anti-refugee policies and the denial of global warming — a phenomenon that promises to displace more and more people — now is the time for scientists to ask: What is our moral duty as scientists?

We are writing as scientists who are concerned about the rise of an authoritarian, Trump-led, and GOP-dominated government. While new administrations always mean change — for federal agencies, for funding priorities, and for the direction of our nation — perhaps not since Andrew Jackson has an American President been so outwardly threatening to so many groups of people that reside within the borders of the United States; as climate change accelerates, so too should our response to it.

Rather than taking up the task of providing necessary leadership to protect our global ecosystem, Trump and the GOP are instead planning devastating rollbacks of environmental protections. We believe the gutting of these programs represent a profound danger to all life on earth; indeed, we are at a precarious point in our human history.

What is our moral duty as scientists?

As scientists, our funding swells on the fortunes of commercial, governmental, and military spending. It can shrink just as easily. Many scientists view their work as objective, operating outside of the realm of the political; ostensibly, facts are facts and shouldn’t be subjected to opinions. History has shown us again and again, however, that science does not exist in a vacuum, but will be exactly used — as a constructive tool or a weapon — to impact ideological, political, and socioeconomic goals. If we’re honest with ourselves, we can see that politics, ethics, and science have always been inextricably entwined.

Our lengthy human legacy traces a long and fraught entanglement between scientists and fascist administrations; we’ve borne witness to the havoc it wreaks not only on scientific research, but on society’s most vulnerable communities. There is no clearer example than the swift and radical changes that the Nazi Party introduced in Germany after they came to power in 1933 — much like Trump — without a majority mandate, but via legal methods.

History has shown us again and again that science will be used to impact ideological, political, and socioeconomic goals.

Donald Trump — with the apparent support of the Republican Party — opposes the open and free exchange of information, including scientific research. More worrisome, his administration has taken steps to further institutionalize and enshrine racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia in U.S. law and government operations.

Science, even just within the United States, is an international enterprise; it’s an intricate multinational dialogue and financial ecosystem. The scientific community in America contains — indeed relies on — immigrants from countries around the world. We recognize that there are hierarchies of power — as with every other facet of society — within the scientific community. We must stand with those at the greatest risk, including people of colour, women/gender minorities, immigrants, and those at the intersections of these identities. Attacks on those at the margins — both within and without the scientific community — are attacks on human knowledge, on the very advancement of our society.

They are attacks on all of us.

We used the words “fascist” and “establishment” in our title very purposefully. The Trump administration is characterized by blatant lies, lies that are repeated even after being proved demonstrably false. The administration uses scapegoats — like immigrants and Muslims — to drive nationalist sentiment. The administration speaks of returning to our nation’s lost greatness, “a greatness” predicated on the oppression of the same scapegoats he seeks to ruin. The administration openly attacks journalists and voting rights.

These are all hallmarks of fascism. And because this fascism now carries the weight of the executive branch of government, it has become an entrenched, establishment fascism, emboldened by the mechanisms of life and death — from drones to nuclear bombs, from family planning grants to decisions about which diseases receive research funding — that the American government provides.

The full article can be read here.

!COAST News: Arran's MPA set for success

Local folk love their Marine Protected Area!

When underwater photographer Richard Shucksmith visited us a few months ago he was impressed with Arran's sea life, but even more with local people's knowledge and support of Arran's No Take Zone (NTZ) and Marine Protected Area (MPA):

"Getting ready for a dive on the pier I was approached by a local lady who kindly explained the COAST story to me and that I needed to be aware of the NTZ. I soon realised that the social impact of the NTZ and MPA has been just as important as its natural impact. The local community sees the MPA & NTZ as their own and a great way to promote healthy seas".

!Despite the uncertain times ahead for the marine environment, the people of Arran are determined to make a success of their MPA. Our vision is not only about protecting and recovering sea life, it's about seizing the opportunity for a rich and diverse economy by promoting sustainable marine activities and fisheries that improve local well-being, livelihoods and attract visitors to the island. Already, the local community has invested hundreds of hours of volunteer time and over £100K towards creating an MPA HQ and marine hub out of an underused tennis pavilion. The new HQ is due to open later this year.

!Local people are making our politicians realise that putting Scotland's coastal communities at the heart of planning and managing for sustainable seas gets you lots of bang for your buck!

Meanwhile, we are pleased that Marine Scotland is taking a more proactive role in inshore fisheries (although we have some reservations about enforcement if size limitations vary from one area to another).

It has been proven in various studies that prioritising creeling in inshore waters is a fairer, smarter, safer, healthier and higher value options. Read more here and here.

European trains go down renewable route

By Alex Kirby at the Climate News Network

Electric trains in the Netherlands have relied entirely on renewable energy since 1 January, and now the UK and Belgium are following in their tracks.

Renewable energy is helping to power increasing numbers of the world's road vehicles. Now several European countries are exploring the potential for using renewables to fuel their trains. In the Netherlands, every electric train running on the Dutch railway network has relied entirely on wind energy since 1 January. The network, NS Dutch Railways, is using an energy company's turbines to generate the energy needed to power its entire electric fleet.

NS uses 1.2bn kWh of wind-generated electricity a year, roughly equivalent to the total annual domestic consumption of every household in the Dutch city of Amsterdam. The wind-powered trains carry 600,000 passengers a day.

NS says three strokes of one of the turbines that supply it generate enough power to drive a train for 1km. Put another way, a single turbine running for an hour can power a train for 120 miles. Since 2005, NS says, its consumption of electricity per passenger kilometre has been cut by about 30%, and it hopes to reduce it by a further 35% by 2020.

A Dutch double decker train in Amsterdam.
(Photo: Maurits90 via Wikimedia Commons, CC-license)

The contract it signed with the company supplying its wind energy, Eneco, forbids the sourcing of electricity from the existing energy market, so only new-build wind farms can be used. The energy NS is using comes from wind farms in Belgium and Scandinavia as well in the Netherlands, and also from some offshore sites.

Critics of wind power say it is an unreliable source because it blows intermittently and so cannot guarantee round-the-clock availability. But Eneco is confident it has enough wind farms to ensure the power supply to NS will be able to keep the trains running.

In the UK, a university and a climate change charity have joined forces to exploit renewables for railways in a novel and entirely renewable way – straight to the tracks on which the trains run.

Imperial College London is working with the 10:10 group in the Renewable Traction Power project, in which university researchers will look at connecting solar panels directly to the lines that provide power to trains. This would bypass the electricity grid in order to manage power demand from the trains more efficiently.

A rail tunnel in Belgium has already been fitted with solar panels that provide current to passing trains. But the university says the UK researchers will be the first in the world to test the “completely unique” idea of trackside generation, which would have a “wide impact with commercial applications on electrified rail networks all over the world”.

“It would also open up thousands of new sites to small- and medium-scale renewable developments by removing the need to connect to the grid,” Imperial says.

In many rural areas of Britain the electricity grid has reached its limit for both integrating distributed energy generation and supplying power to train firms.

“What is particularly galling is that peak generation from solar and peak demand from the trains more or less match, but we can’t connect the two,” says10:10’s Leo Murray, who is leading the project. “I actually believe this represents a real opportunity for some innovative thinking.”

Method to detect noise damage to whales studied.

from John Kinsman of Coastwatch.

Scientists have studied the ears of dead whales to learn how underwater man made noises effect marine mammals.

Crown Copyright

Samples taken from long finned pilot whales that died in mass strandings in Fife in 2012 and on Skye in 2015 were examined in the new study.

The team said there was "an urgent need" to develop methods for assessing the impact of high intensity sonor and other sounds on whales and dolphins. They believe the method they used could guide further research.

Staff from the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme worked with scientist Maria Morell on the study. They examined the inner ears of dead whales. The organs were removed during post mortem examinations and preserved. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was a usual method for detecting such damage. They have recommended that further research be carried out.

The strandings involved in the study saw large numbers of pilot whales get into difficulty in shallow water. Twenty one whales died on a rock foreshore between Pittenweem and Anstruther in Fife in September 2012. The  strandings on Skye's Brogaig beach in June 2015 involved 22 whales. Seven of the whales died, or had to put down because they were in distress and could not be saved. In both incidents there were huge efforts by volunteers, coastguard personnel  and coastwatch volunteers.

!Royal Yacht Britannia

A record 350,000 visitors flocked to the Royal Yacht Britannia last year. The huge figure for the Queen's former floating palace was up 12 per cent on 2015.

The ship, berth in Leith, Edinburgh, was also named the top attraction by Visit Scotland for the 11th year in a row. Visitor numbers have risen steadily since 2010.

Britannia's chief executive, Bob Downie said : "To produce record  visitor numbers 18 years after opening is a real tribute to our great staff".

The Royal Family used the ship for more than 40 years.

Learning to See in the Dark amid Catastrophe

An interview with deep ecologist Joanna Macy

by Dahr Jamail in Truthout. The full article can be found here.

We are living in a time of the convergence of multiple cataclysmic forces: runaway anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), chronic wars and the most grotesque economic inequality ever witnessed on Earth. And all are worsening by the day.

Humans have changed the chemistry of the oceans and altered the very atmosphere of Earth. The planet's largest ecosystems are in free-fall collapse as ACD proceeds apace. Racism, sexism, xenophobia and myriad other structural forms of hate are amplifying around the globe as a fascist authoritarian has ascended to the US presidency, the most powerful office in the world. This reality-television star, failed businessman, sexual predator, and hate-and-fear monger is clearly aiming for the fast track toward totalitarian rule.

Joanna Macy, deep ecologist, systems theorist, Buddhist scholar, author, speaker, teacher,
communing with the Earth at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, January 2017. (Photo: Lois Canright)

"[The totalitarian leaders'] careers reproduce the features of earlier mob leaders: failure in professional and social life, perversion and disaster in private life," Hannah Arendt, author of the essential The Origins of Totalitarianism, wrote. "The fact that their lives prior to their political careers had been failures, naïvely held against them by the more respectable leaders of the old parties, was the strongest factor in their mass appeal."

Sound familiar?

Origins, published in 1951, should be mandatory reading for anyone concerned about what is happening in the US right now, and what may be to come. Arendt, a world-renowned and respected philosopher during her time, could have also been called a prophet.

"The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist," Arendt also wrote. "But people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists."

Many believe that Trump's chief strategist and senior counsel, Steve Bannon -- the racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynist former chief executive of Breitbart -- is essentially the puppeteer pulling the strings. Bannon's goal? "I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment," he told the Daily Beast in 2013.

More recently, just after Trump won the election, Bannon was quoted by The Hollywood Reporter as saying, "Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power."

The news on all fronts is truly horrific. Yet as these malevolent forces charge ahead, equal and opposite reactions of resistance, awakening and love for humanity and the planet are emerging. Not even one month into the presidency, the Trump administration has spawned global demonstrations the likes of which are comparable to those that occurred in February 2003 in opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Clearly an awakening is well underway.

Hannah Arendt begins Origins with an epigram from her teacher Karl Jaspers that seems apt: "Give in neither to the past nor the future. What matters is to be entirely present."

That statement parallels what I was told by one of the great teachers of our time, Joanna Macy.

"The most radical thing any of us can do at this time is to be fully present to what is happening in the world," she told me in 2006.

Macy, an eco-philosopher and a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory and deep ecology, cofounded with her husband Fran Macy a method of grieving, healing and empowerment that evolved into what is now called the Work That Reconnects.

“The most important thing to do is find your gratitude for life. Take stock of your strengths and give thanks for what you have, and for the joys you've been given. Because that is the fuel. That love for life can act like grace for you to defend life.

So don't get too solemn. Don't just spend all your time gritting your teeth. Laugh out loud. Enjoy a kind of wild joy. Ah! Now I have time, to break free from what had stopped me before. Now I've time. This time. To realize my inter-being with all life.

So it'll be different for different individuals. But I think we should not make a move to do things alone. Find others. Even if it's one other person to begin with. Then others will come. Because everybody is lonely. And everybody is ready to find what they most want. And if it means that we have to be in such danger for us to find out how much we need each other, then let it be that.

So little study groups, and book groups, make a garden together. Keep your ear to the ground. Inform each other. We have to develop the skill of finding that it is more fun to be waking up together, Sarvodaya [Sanskrit term meaning "universal uplift" or "progress of all"], than a single lone star on the stage.”

Letters to the Voice

Dear Editor

Here's news from my son about his sponsorship for the London Marathon:

“I am running London Marathon on 23rd April and raising money for Guide Dogs. My JustGiving website link is  There's a bit of background on there about it, and I'm posting regular updates on there about my training and fundraising, and hoping to hit £2500 by the time the race comes around. If you would like to help out please click on the link to donate online, and if you know anyone else that would like to support a great charity then please feel free to pass the link on to them too!”

I hope you can help.

John Baraclough

Dear Editor

Heart disease is heartless. Thousands of people in Scotland are killed each year by these terrible conditions, so the need to find new, life saving treatments, is urgent. Around 670,000 people in Scotland are living with these terrible conditions.

This month is national Heart Month, and the British Heart Foundation is calling on the local community to help us stop heart disease in its tracks. We’re launching a calendar of over 80 incredible challenge events both in the UK and abroad, to inspire people to get active and help us accelerate the fight against heart disease.

From fun runs and marathons, walks and treks, to the BHF’s prestigious cycling series sponsored by Tesco and Jaffa, there’s no reason not to get involved this year. We’ve got something for everyone – even life-changing adventures abroad for the thrill seekers among you, and we have everything you need to get you to the finish.

We are looking for Champions to take on one of our legendary challenge events and help us power vital research that could make a difference to millions.

You can sign up to a BHF event today by visiting for a full list of events and ways to get involved.

Yours sincerely,
Shonali Rodrigues
Head of Events at British Heart Foundation.