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Issue 76 - July 2017
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The Garden in June


Welcome to the July Voice for Arran.

As well as our usual mix of island news and reviews we have quite a bit this month about the coastline and the sea. This reflects its importance for Arran, as an attraction for holiday-makers and sailors, a resource for anglers, and a habitat for wildlife. But it is also a vital part of the natural environment on which all life depends, and it is in a bad way. One significant part of the problem is plastic. The sea is full of it, our beaches are full of it, marine life is full of it, and we have to find ways of dealing with it, as well as ending our reliance on it. When we wash our clothes, especially the fleeces so many of us here rely on to keep us warm, microfibres are washed down to the sea. When industry converts plastic pellets into plastic products, a proportion escape and end up as nurdles in the sea. When plastic bags and other rubbish is blown out of landfill sites, they form microplastics in the sea. When we buy water or other drinks in plastic bottles, they end up on our beaches. When we use many facial scrubs and domestic cleaning products, microplastic beads leak into our waste water. Behaviour change has to come from us as individuals, from industry, and from governments. But as a start, how about refusing to accept plastic wrapping and bags in the shops, and joining the online campaigns to force drinks manufacturers to use reusable and refundable bottles?

Alan Bellamy

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!Corrie Film Club

The film for July at Corrie and Sannox Village Hall will be Suffragettes (2015, UK, directed by Sarah Gavron, 105 mins, Cert PG), showing on Sunday 16th July at 8pm.

A moving drama exploring the passion and heartbreak of those who risked all they had for women's right to vote - their jobs, their homes, their children and even their lives. Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep and Ben Wishaw star. “Suffragette dramatizes an important, and still painfully relevant, fact-based story” said Rotten Tomatoes.

The Telegraph said “Sarah Gavron’s film about the British women’s suffrage movement technically qualifies as period drama: its story takes place in 1912 and 1913, and its sets and costumes vividly and convincingly evoke a bygone age. But it’s written, shot and acted with a hot-blooded urgency that reminds you the struggle it depicts is an ongoing one - and which shakes up this most well-behaved of genres with a surge of civil disobedience.”

Measuring the amount of plastic in our seas

Professor Jenna Jambeck

By Sue Weaver

Three years ago a ground-breaking paper by Jambeck et al. was published in Science Magazine (13th Feb 2015, Vol 347, Issue 6223, pp 768 -771). Just before the research came out, I sailed the Atlantic with said Professor Jenna Jambeck on eXXpedition’s first voyage and I have the greatest respect for this woman, not at that time well known, willing to leave her beloved small sons in Georgia USA to face storms and disabling seasickness for the sake of science and the healing of the earth. The paper estimated that somewhere between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of land-based plastic waste entered the ocean in 2010. Land-based means that the researchers were looking specifically at waste coming from land, often from badly managed landfill sites, not that discarded at sea or carried through tsunamis.

Consequently, the figure of 8 million tons of plastic per annum entering the ocean is now often quoted. However, as Professor Jambeck notes “Without waste management infrastructure improvements, the cumulative quantity of plastic waste available to enter the ocean from land is predicted to increase by an order of magnitude by 2025.” The 8 million tons was the mid-estimate from 7 years ago. It’s likely to have doubled since then.

eXXpedition Round Britain Route

In August this year eXXpedition Round Britain will embark from Plymouth after a rousing send-off from Plymouth University and Professor Richard Thompson, the man who coined the term microplastics. We will be the first researchers to sample the waters all around Britain in 30 days - sampling for plastics, toxics and whatever we can identify in sediments. We will trawl according to the protocols of the 5 Gyres Institute, and our results will be fed into many international studies, including those of our local FIDRA in East Lothian, originators of the Great Nurdle Hunt which COAST has assisted here on Arran.

We will come ashore in the four UK capitals, plus Stornoway and the Isle of Arran. I worked hard to convince my fellow organisers that Arran was vital by referring to its place in the Clyde and research that already shows considerable plastic pollution here. When onshore our aim is to engage the public in as many ways as possible, scientific, artistic, via the media, through schools, through beach cleans and even storytelling events. I’m in the middle of organising events in all these ports of call right now, and will write more next month about the plans for Arran. It’s fascinating to see how different each landfall will be, from a quiet day in Stornoway to three days in London, sailing up the Thames, through the opened Tower Bridge to a mayoral reception, storytelling on the Cutty Sark - and a public lecture hosted by the Zoological Society of London, with Professors Richard Thompson - and the now distinguished Professor Jambeck.

Find out more at

Aboard Sea Dragon, the eXXpedition boat

Sea Dragon is a 72ft (22m), 90,000lb displacement steel hulled sailing vessel built in the UK in 2000. She is one of 11 yachts built for the Global Challenge Race - one of the longest, most demanding ocean voyages ever made with an upwind, west-about 32,000km circumnavigation. Now run by Pangaea Explorations to carry out scientific research, Sea Dragon provides a superb platform of rugged capability, capacity and efficiency with a naturally low environmental footprint.

Plastic on the beach …

… and in the sea


Arran Coastal Rowing Club regatta

By Friederike Lorenzen

Arran Coastal Rowing Club (ACRC) hosted its first regatta on Saturday, 24th June at Lamlash Yacht Club, followed by a social row around Holy Isle on Sunday 25th.

photo by Nick and Marbeth,

ACRC wanted to start relatively small so six clubs from the Firth of Clyde area were invited to Arran for the weekend event: FOCCR, Troon, Prestwick, Girvan, Carrick and Cumbrae. Some participants arrived on the Friday so there was much friendly chat on the roof terrace of the pub in the evening.

As the others arrived on the Saturday morning, everyone enjoyed catching up with old faces and meeting new ones. The weather was thankfully kinder than forecast with a few occasional showers and some sunshine. Nevertheless, the rowers had to face quite challenging conditions for the eight scheduled races. Not only did they have to battle against the other crews for the medals, but they also had a stiff westerly wind to contend with.

photo by Nick and Marbeth,

The races got going at 11am and were run over a 1.5 kilometre course with a water start and finish. For the start all skiffs were lined up outside the moorings in Lamlash Bay and two port turns allowed a long finish along the shore so the spectators could follow the progress and cheer their crews in. Wasn’t this worth the little inconvenience of port turns?

After the prize giving the evening ended with a well received BBQ with over 100 participants in Arran Yacht Club’s boatshed. The music mix was obviously just right as many folk were seen loosening up their sore rowing muscles on the dance floor.

And last but not least the results of the day:

Arran came third, Carrick second and the overall winner and dominant team of the day - with 5 wins in 8 races - was Troon. Congratulations! To the delight of all winning crews, with their medals they each received an Arran Whisky miniature, kindly sponsored by the Isle of Arran Distillery. Each team was also given a handmade rope fender made by John Baraclough. The handsome trophy handed over to Troon was crafted by Steve Garraway, one of ACRC’s boat builders and club members. Click on this link for the full results.

photo by David Ingham,

An exciting weekend ended on Sunday with a social row of about 12 km around Holy Isle. Some parts were a bit lumpy but all crews seemed to enjoy their row around this iconic island. The two Cumbrae youngsters who rowed the first half deserve a special mention. It was a pleasure watching the future of coastal rowing - what a great row the Cumbrae crew had with their kids.

ACRC would like to thank everybody who helped to make the weekend happen - their sponsors, club members and families, the Arran Yacht Club, everybody in the safety & umpire RIBs and the wonderful starter boat, the Arran Rose, the photographers and, of course, all participating clubs, their families and groupies. As everyone left after lunch, tired and happy, there was much talk of meetings at other regattas this year and perhaps another Arran regatta next year …

Many more great photos here and here.

Berthing trials at Brodick’s new pier

The new pier at the Brodick ferry terminal is nearing completion and during June berthing trials were carried out by Caledonian Isles, Isle of Arran and Waverley. Both ferries did low tide and high tide trials at both sides, with Waverley only berthing at the east side.

The Isle of Arran was first, with high tide trials, the same day as she returned to service from having her bow thruster engine repaired. For the high tide trials, she only berthed stern in at both sides of the pier; but did berth bow in at the linkspan for her low tide trials. As the Caledonian Isles berths overnight in Ardrossan some services had to be cancelled for her trials. However the Isle of Arran continued running so the disruption was limited.

Waverley came to Arran on a special trip to test the berth and came in very smoothly and quickly. Unfortunately, when she reversed out again, a heaving line appeared to catch on the pier fendering and caused the bow rope to unravel completely. The Waverley's lifeboat was launched in less than ideal conditions and returned to the pier to recover the lost rope.



Do our politicians care about coastal communities and healthy seas?

Time to embrace sustainable alternative

Little was said during the election about one of the biggest issues facing coastal communities - the health of the marine environment. Ironically, only Donald Trump has succeeded in putting the environment in the headlines - but only by withdrawing from the Paris Accord on climate change! That is bad enough, but we now need to watch out for the UK Government using Brexit as an opportunity to retract from important EU marine legislation.

In Scotland, under devolved powers, there is an opportunity for political parties to make a strong economic and environmental case for two progressive marine management measures. We urge them now and in the future to support a new three mile limit on dredging and bottom trawling in favour of hand diving and creeling - this will be better for the environment, local communities and Scotland's coffers. Fish farms on the other hand need to use closed-containment systems. Scandinavia is leading the way on both issues. Inshore dredging is largely prohibited and Norway has just announced it will put a stop to open-cage farms. These measures can be implemented and would benefit us all.

Alas, at present, none of the main parties are seriously addressing the ongoing degradation of the coastal seabed by scallop dredgers (the loss of Loch Carron flame shell beds being only one example). The Marine Protected Area now declared for parts of Loch Carron show Cab Sec, Roseanna Cunningham is listening as does Cab Sec, Fergus Ewing's announcement to pilot spatial management in some areas. However, we need stronger proactive leadership rather than piecemeal and reactive measures.

Again, on fish farms, despite many articles in the Sunday Herald suggesting collusion between SEPA, the Scottish Government and Salmon farmers, there is silence (except from the Greens) about plans to double polluting open-cage salmon production along Scotland's iconic west coast. This includes a planned 62% increase in the capacity of the farm in Arran's beautiful and popular Lamlash Bay, which the local community has demanded the Government refuse.

Scotland's seas and coastal communities could be healthier and more prosperous with the right support from politicians and Marine Scotland. Let's show the lead and demonstrate Scotland has a real vision for its environment and citizens.

Top photo: Howard Wood/COAST

Andrew Binnie leaves COAST

As many of you will now be aware, Andrew has decided the time is right to move on from COAST. He says:

“Next week will be my last in the office after exactly 6 years in post - wow, the time has passed very quickly indeed. Despite a few more grey hairs, but less hair overall, I must say it has been great fun working with such a committed crew of marine conservationists. I am very proud, of course, to have played my part in securing a 280km2 Arran MPA and a shore side site for a new COAST HQ and marine discovery centre, however, none of the things we have achieved over the period would have been possible without our fantastic staff, board and volunteer team. Thank you very much for your ongoing support. I’ll still be living on Arran so hope to bump into you around the island. Finally, I am delighted to say that the Board have appointed Paul Chandler as our new Director of Operations and Development. I would like to convey my best wishes to him and the COAST crew for a very successful future.”

To the right are some photos from Andrew’s leaving do at Lamlash Golf Club on Sunday 25th June.

Clydesdale Bank Recognises Community Spirit in the Isle of Arran

Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) received a funding boost of £5,000 through the Clydesdale Bank Spirit of the Community Awards to recognise the important role they play in the local community.

Clydesdale Bank announced the substantial donations to voluntary groups at an awards ceremony in Glasgow on 27 June 2017 to recognise the charities and not for profit organisations which are going the extra mile.

Fifteen community groups across Scotland were selected to share funding of £80,000 to make a real difference in their local area including Community of Arran Seabed Trust based in the Isle of Arran.

COAST works to protect and restore the coastal and marine environment around Arran and the Clyde. Through educational activities, campaigning and research they encourage a sense of ownership and involvement in marine management and conservation. The charity received £5,000 to develop and deliver a promotional campaign to raise the profile of Marine Protected Areas in the Clyde and Scotland. Called ‘Our Secret Sea Life’, the campaign aims to engage more than 4,000 people of Arran, the firth of Clyde, the West Coast and Glasgow.

!Now in its fifth year, the awards programme aims to recognise charities and not for profit organisations for the invaluable contributions they make to their local communities. Groups were invited to enter the awards programme 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.

Debbie Crosbie, Group Chief Operating Officer at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks 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. This is our opportunity to say thank you to the incredible community groups across Scotland for the inspiring work they undertake.

“All of the successful organisations are extremely deserving winners which have been recognised for their role in their local communities with these awards from Clydesdale Bank.”

Andrew Binnie, Executive Director of COAST, said: “We are delighted to have been given this award by Clydesdale Bank. We aim to deliver an innovative campaign to involve the public in marine management and conservation. We will be raising awareness through "Our Secret Sea Life" exhibition and workshops. On behalf of us all, I would like to say a huge thank you to Clydesdale Bank for giving us the opportunity to promote Marine Protected Areas.”

Christine Bovill

!Those who heard Christine Bovill’s Edith Piaf show in Brodick a couple of years back will not wish to miss her appearance at the Community Theatre at Arran High School on Saturday, 8th July at 7.30 pm. Those who did not experience her last visit are urged to come along too, for this is a real class act. Born in Glasgow, Christine has built an international reputation with her interpretation of 20th century songs, and as a songwriter in her own right. She has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, in the famous Spiegeltent, and appeared on radio and TV, as well as writing lyrics for film and theatre. On her forthcoming visit to Arran, it will not be a repeat of her Piaf show: this time she has promised an intimate evening of song, with a vibrant and original collection of tear-stained sleepless ballads, alongside infectious Americana and Cajun sounds. Her voice has been described as “a sonic combination of dark chocolate and cigarettes”, and more than one critic has declared it unforgettable. The Sunday Times said: “Something that will stay with you for the rest of your life … I wasn’t prepared for the effect her voice would have on me.” ; and the Metro: “That voice, which is once heard, never forgotten.” Those who have heard her before and those who haven’t, Arran residents and visitors, all are urged to come and enjoy a great night.

Tickets for the concert are available on the door on the night, in advance from Inspirations of Arran in Brodick, or online from As usual, children will admitted free, with their accompanying adult. In the Theatre, there will be easy-access front row seats available if required.

Poem of the Month

Whoso list to hunt

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, helas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangeri for Caesar’s I am
And wild for to hold though I seem tame.

Thomas Wyatt

Thomas Wyatt (1503 - 1542) was a courtier in the English court during the turbulent reign of Henry VIII. He must have lived life in the fast lane: married at the age of 17 and sent on diplomatic missions to France, Italy and Spain while still in his twenties. He was knighted in 1535. Among his probable lovers was Anne Boleyn and in 1536 he was arrested and forced to witness her execution along with that of several of his close friends. A protégé of Thomas Cromwell, he still found time to write poetry and is credited with introducing the (Petrarchian) sonnet form into English. The sonnet above, taken from the Egerton Manuscript hints at the perils of romantic liaisons in Henry’s court.

Book Review

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

!“Just suppose...that the air hero Charles Lindbergh, the man who made the first solo transatlantic flight in 1927, who earned huge sympathy when his baby son was kidnapped and murdered five years later, who called Hitler “a great man” and was decorated by order of the Führer for his services to the Reich, just suppose that he’d taken up Republican invitations to run for president in November 1940, and milked the isolationist sentiment that undoubtedly existed then (No more war! Never again will young Americans die on foreign soil!), and that instead of Roosevelt being elected for an unprecedented third term and taking America into Europe to fight the Nazis, Lindbergh won a landslide victory. And then he signed non-aggression treaties with Germany and Japan, and set about realising his vision of America as a land of the brave and blond, and introduced a set of anti-semitic measures which, if not on the scale of Hitler’s pogroms, were a betrayal of the rights and liberties enshrined in the constitution and yet, such was the young president’s charisma, they were accepted by the mass of ordinary citizens and even by some prominent Jews.”

Philip Roth

So began Blake Morrison's review of Philip Roth’s alternative history, first published in 2004. Narrated by a young Jewish boy growing up in Newark called Philip Roth and full of the details of everyday life, the book draws the reader into an all-too-believable nightmare, grounded in the real, published beliefs and policies of the main characters. The scenario Roth creates is not straightforward and the fictitious young Roth and his family and their friends struggle to understand what is happening and disagree about its consequences, until it is too late. The absence of obviousness only adds to the plausibility of the story.

This is yet another tour-de-force by one of America’s greatest living writers, and the portrayal of an isolationist, xenophobic White House is of course distressingly relevant right now. Indeed a minor character in the book, a New York property developer, crook, swindler, and bully, is thought to have been modelled on the current president in an earlier period of his life.

Alan Bellamy

Marine reserves can give protection against climate change

By Alex Kirby of the Climate News Network

Protecting more of the world's seas offers a double benefit, scientists say. Marine reserves protect fish and other sea creatures against exploitation and pollution. They can also help life both in the oceans and on land to cope with the growing impacts of a warmer climate.

Matt Rand, director of the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy project, which supported part of the research, said: “Marine reserves are climate reserves.”

An international study has found that reserves help marine ecosystems and people adapt to five harmful consequences of climate change: ocean acidification; sea-level rise; the increased intensity of storms; shifts in species distribution, and decreased productivity and availability of oxygen. Reserves also can also help to increase the long-term storage of carbon from greenhouse gas emissions, especially in coastal wetlands, which helps to reduce the rate of climate change, the study found. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it evaluated existing peer reviewed studies on the impact of marine reserves around the world. The lead author, Professor Callum Roberts of the University of York, UK, said: “Many studies show that well-managed marine reserves can protect wildlife and support productive fisheries, but we wanted to explore this body of research through the lens of climate change to see whether these benefits could help ameliorate or slow its impacts.

“It was soon quite clear that they can offer the ocean ecosystem and people critical resilience benefits to rapid climate change.”

Only 3.5 % of the world's oceans has so far been set aside for protection, with just 1.6 % given full protection from exploitation. International groups are working to raise the total to 10% by 2020. Delegates to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s 2016 World Conservation Congress agreed that at least 30% of the oceans should be protected by 2030.

Scientists say marine reserves and marine protected areas (MPAs) protect coasts from sea-level rise and can help to sustain coastal wetlands, mudflats and coral reefs that can act to absorb the impact of storms and extreme weather. They also help to offset declines in ocean and fisheries productivity caused by climate change, for example through the growing acidification of seawater and the reduction in plankton abundance. The reserves protect key coastal systems - mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses - creating localised reductions in carbon dioxide concentrations and water acidity. And they can provide refuges for fish as they adjust their ranges to changing conditions.

Previously published research revealed that marine reserves can promote the rapid recovery of exploited species and damaged habitats while safeguarding intact ecosystems. With fishing outlawed and other human activity limited, they can create very productive areas which allow exploited stocks and degraded habitats to recover. These benefits are greater in large, long-established, well-managed reserves that have full protection from activities such as fishing and oil and mineral extraction. Relative isolation from damaging human activities adds further conservation benefits. The research shows that protecting more of the ocean will also improve the outlook for environmental recovery after greenhouse gas emissions have been brought under control.

It reinforces the IUCN’s argument that the UN ocean protection target should be raised from 10% to 30% of the oceans, which will require many more large-scale MPAs and protected areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Beth O’Leary, a co-author and a research fellow at the University of York, said: “We were keenly aware that marine reserves can increase species’ abundance and help alleviate food scarcity, but our evaluation showed reserves are a viable low-tech, cost-effective adaptation strategy.”

Matt Rand of Ocean Legacy said: “This study should be proof positive to decision makers that creating effectively managed marine reserves can deliver a multitude of benefits.”

A Cultural Evening in the Auchrannie carpark

As part of Arran’s attempt to overtake Edinburgh as the cultural capital of Scotland, early last month the Auchrannie carpark was graced by not just one but two mobile cultural venues. The Art-in-a-Bus travelling gallery brought a display of contemporary art on the theme of ‘Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat’, showcasing the work of four very different artists.

Alongside it, the Screen Machine offered a varied programme of films, including a multi-sensory showing of The Illusionist. This 2010 French-Scottish animated film directed by Sylvain Chomet is based on an unproduced script written by French mime, director and actor Jacques Tati in 1956. Controversy surrounds Tati's motivation for the script, which was written as a personal letter to his estranged eldest daughter, Helga Marie-Jeanne Schiel.

Photos courtesy of Corinna Goeckeritz

Members of the audience were given a box as they entered the Screen Machine, with instructions to open the numbered contents only when each number was held up at the appropriate moment of the film. Thus a scene on a Scottish hillside was accompanied by opening a small phial of heather-scented liquid, and when one character in the film tries on her new shoes we opened a phial of, yes, new shoe scent! A visit to the chip shop in the film was accompanied by the opening of packets of fish and chip flavoured crisps, and so on. Although the effectiveness of these accompaniments varied, it was a fascinating evening’s entertainment and one that we hope will be repeated on the island.

Earlier the same day our intrepid photographer had managed to visit the Auchrannie car park and capture the Screen Machine being set up for the first time after its return from France, following a significant overhaul. Everything seemed to work perfectly and, despite the weather, the Screen Machine was ready to roll just over an hour after arriving. It would have been a lot quicker had some errant drivers not parked their cars in the area which had been coned off the previous evening!

!Akong - A Remarkable Life - at Arran High School

Akong - A Remarkable Life is a documentary film that tells the story of Akong Tulku Rinpoche, and was shown at the High School on the 1st June to a large and appreciative audience.

Born in Kham, eastern Tibet in 1940, Akong Tulku Rinpoche was quickly recognized as a reincarnate Tulku and enthroned as the Abbot of Drolma Lhakhang Monastery at the age of four.

However his life would change dramatically when in 1959, tensions between China and Tibet reached breaking point. Forced to undertake a dangerous journey on foot across the Himalayas to reach India, at the age of only nineteen, Akong Rinpoche and other fourteen people were the only survivors out of a party of over two hundred Tibetans. This episode marked his life profoundly.

After reaching their destination, living conditions in Buxadaur refugee camp in Assam were extremely poor. The hot climate combined with the lack of food and medicine claimed the lives of many of the surviving refugees, including Akong's elder brother, Jamyang Chogyal.

When in 1963, Akong Rinpoche arrived in the UK with Trungpa Rinpoche, life wasn't easy either. In order to support themselves Akong worked as an orderly at a hospital in Oxford. His life started to change a few years later though, and in 1967 Akong founded the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the west - Kagyu Samye Ling in Scotland.

Akong Rinpoche said the countryside around the Samye Ling
monastery in Scotland reminded him of Tibet
Samye Ling Temple

Samye Ling has become an international centre for authentic Tibetan Buddhist teachings, renowned for bringing great contemporary Buddhist masters such as HH the 16th Karmapa, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, Tai Situ, Ringu Tulku amongst others. It also owns and oversees the residential centre on Arran’s own Holy Isle.

Chöje Akong Tulku Rinpoche continued to lead an active life supervising his countless projects, until his life was cut short on a visit to China by three men who murdered him at the age of 73.

His dedication to reach out thousands of people in need, be it through his teachings or through his charity work will be hard to equal. For example his charity ROKPA International invests nearly 100% of donations directly into humanitarian projects in Tibet, Nepal, India and Africa.

The film consists of a mix of historical footage and recent interviews, some with folk connected to us here on Arran, and paints a vivid and engrossing portrait of what was truly a remarkable life.

Is There Hope for the Climate in Scotland After the Election Shake-Up?

Simon Roach writes in DeSmogUK “For the UK Conservative party, Scotland will be seen as one of the few successes of an otherwise miserable 2017 general election campaign.

Despite the loss an overall parliamentary majority and Prime Minister Theresa May’s failed plan to transform her party’s huge poll lead to a domineering presence in Westminster, the Tories somersaulted their 2015 election win of a single Scottish seat, this time taking 13.

This is the biggest surge since the Tory’s Scottish collapse following the 1980s, and will leave many - in a country vastly proud of its anti-Tory stance - wondering what happened.

!Three seats were won in the regions bordering England and in two traditionally conservative areas of central Scotland, a sign seen by some that there is little national appetite for a second independence referendum.

But another clue lies in Scotland’s wealthy, oil-rich North East, where the Conservatives won five seats from the Scottish National Party (SNP), the ruling party of the Scottish government and the third largest in Westminster.

The areas around Aberdeen are the shores harbouring Scotland’s oil wealth, housing over 40,000 jobs and generating billions of pounds of income for both the UK and Scottish economies. But oil production in the North Sea is in rapid decline - largely due to dwindling supply and the increased cost of extraction - with anxiety ensuing over what will happen to those that work in the sector and to the revenue which has been so valuable to the UK’s prosperity.

So what will the environmental and climate impacts of an increased Tory presence in the North East be, both for Scotland and the rest of the UK?

Nick Molho, executive director of green business alliance the Aldersgate Group, believes that the low carbon transition now has sufficient momentum to be resilient to political hindrance - equally for its economic, business and political manifestations.

In 2015, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that Scottish low carbon and renewable energy economy generated £10.5bn annually and employed 58,500 people.

Molho cited growing strength in areas such as tower manufacturing for wind turbines, low emission bus production, batteries, and innovation for marine renewables, including the European Marine Renewable Energy Centre in Scotland.

“The Scottish low carbon economy is becoming much stronger and I can’t see conservative Scottish MPs wanting to stand in the way of that,” Molho said.

In terms of a Conservative deviation from SNP policy in the North Sea, Molho pointed out that both parties fully support the continued exploration of new fields in the North Sea, and of the continued extraction of oil that is economically feasible. So, while not great for the climate, there may be no change here.

There are some subtle differences between the parties' positions, however. SNP spokesperson for energy and climate change, Callum McCaig, accused the Conservatives of planning for a “managed decline of the industry” in his election campaign. The SNP, in contrast, would “help the industry thrive over the years ahead”, he said. McCaig lost his seat to Conservative Ross Thomson.

More positive for climate change, Molho suggested, is that in January the Scottish government set out a new climate change plan, including targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 66 percent by 2032 from 1990 levels and to fully decarbonise the electricity sector by the same year. The plans have already been consulted on and received support from industry, including the oil and gas sector.”

See the full article here.

Ground Source Heat Pumps Pros and Cons

By Derek Morgan

This month’s article discusses ground source heat pumps, how they work and what’s involved installation wise. The heat energy stored in the ground as little as 1.5 metres down does not vary more than 4 to 6 degrees from season to season. This gives them a distinct advantage over air source which might see temperature variations of 30 degrees or more from summer to winter.

The majority of ground source systems are the indirect type and extract the heat from the ground via lengths of plastic pipes filled with glycol (anti-freeze). The pipes can be laid in shallow trenches or in boreholes up to 200m deep. The direct type has refrigerant in the ground loops and is far less popular though extremely efficient > 600%. There has been very little uptake on this type of installation as there is no government RHI available for them at the moment. The added benefits of a direct system is that it requires less pipe, the downside is it requires F-gas qualified engineers to install it correctly making it a more expensive.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. A ground source will run at -20 degrees ambient air temperature - is this true?

Yes as the ground temperature would be nowhere near the air temperature and would only have a minimal loss of efficiency in the colder weather.

2. How much land is required?

For a 10 kw an area of 20 metres by 50 metres is needed to space 1.5m deep trenches with a width of 1m. For a borehole system a 10m square would be adequate for the same 10kw heat pump, the holes being a min of 6 metres apart.

3. How do installation costs compare with air-source?

A ground source system can typically be 3 to 4 times more expensive to install than an air source. A borehole can cost from 4 to 6 thousand pounds to drill and a trench system could cost 3 thousand pounds or more depending on the size of the excavations.

4. Are ground source more efficient?

Yes especially when their S.C.O.P. is used to gauge their efficiency.

5. What are the best makes to buy?

You should seek out a company that sells modulating ground source heat pumps which have inverter driven compressors. They are more efficient and will have a longer lifespan.

6. How noisy are they?

Most ground source are relatively quiet but it is not recommended that you site them inside your property. A dedicated plant room or back of your garage is a good place to fit them.

7. How expensive are they to maintain?

They can be a bit pricey to maintain as the anti-freeze has to be checked and is recommended to be changed completely every 6 years. A typical annual service could cost between £200 and £300.

MV Isle of Lewis departing Oban

The Cat That Spent Three Days On A Ferry

From John Kinsman of Coastwatch

A cat spent three days on the ferry that runs between Oban and Barra before being reunited with its owner.

Luna is thought to have got into a holidaymaker’s car that was driven on to the Caledonian MacBayne ferry at Oban.

The cat was on the MV Isle of Lewis for three return trips before ferry staff spotted an appeal her owner Sandra Granham had posted on social media. Mrs Graham was reunited with her pet on Friday June 23rd.

Luna, whose journey involved a total of 450 nautical miles, went missing from her home in Oban overnight on the previous Monday or Tuesday. On Tuesday June 20th CalMac workers reported seeing a fleeting glimpse of what they thought was a cat on the car deck of the ferry as it sailed into Castlebay on Barra. Staff managed to catch Luna on the Thursday and thought at first that she was one of the strays that roam the pier at Castlebay.

Luna’s owner said she was delighted to be reunited with her cat.

… and finally

In keeping with our theme this month, the media have been reporting that in January, 29 sperm whales stranded on shores around the North Sea. The results of the necropsies (the animal equivalent of autopsies) of 13 of those whales, which beached in Germany, near the town of Tönning in Schleswig-Holstein, have just been released. This is how the Guardian reported the results.

The animals’ stomachs were filled with plastic debris. A 13-metre-long fishing net, a 70cm piece of plastic from a car and other pieces of plastic litter had been inadvertently ingested by the animals, who may have thought they were food, such as squid, their main diet, which they consume by sucking their prey into their mouths.


Robert Habeck, environment minister for the state of Schleswig-Holstein, said: “These findings show us the results of our plastic-oriented society. Animals inadvertently consume plastic and plastic waste, which causes them to suffer, and at worst, causes them to starve with full stomachs.” Nicola Hodgins, of Whale and Dolphin Conservation, added: “Although the large pieces will cause obvious problems and block the gut, we shouldn’t dismiss the smaller bits that could cause a more chronic problem for all species of cetacean - not just those who suction feed.”