Gazette Letters 31.10.13



I copy an extract from the BBC On Line News October 24th.

Writer Mairi Hedderwick has said the TV adaption of her Katie Morag children’s stories could boost tourism to the Hebrides.

Filming of the 26 episodes for CBeebies took place on Lewis. Following a preview of the new show in Stornoway, Hedderwick said visits to the Hebrides by tourists could increase as a result of the programme.

Hedderwick said Lewis had the infrastructure needed by the TV production crew for creating the new series.

The writer: “It is a wonderful advertisement, so to speak, for this part of the world, not just Lewis, but all the Hebridean islands.

“I hope that it will bring a lot of people to this part of the world.”

The 14-minute Katie Morag programmes have been produced by Scottish independent company Move on Up.

It used both studio facilities on Lewis as well as the backdrop of the Hebridean landscape.

And my point is?

Sadly the anticipated scenic view for any potential tourist to Pairc is 50 plus 500 foot turbines on Eishken, with more in planning.

Thirty plus 500 foot turbines on Pairc grazings, an interconnector and convertor station in Gravir.

And now as SSE have just reneged on a sub sea cable to Arnish a pylon line cross country from Gravir across Loch Erisort, Kinloch and North Lochs to Arnish, or where you unaware north of Pairc that the route had changed and is going by your back doors?

Still those visiting the great outdoors from the urban environment might be frightened by one of the last wilderness areas in Scotland and be more at home with the industrialisation.

Maybe Katie Morag will be revised in the next series to reflect the changes to her dream world.

Paul Blake, Pairc


Congratulations to Frances Graham on her letter of October 24th about plastic marine waste. She identifies one of the significant problems of our time.

In a report for the EU in 2011, ‘Plastic Waste: Ecological and Human Health Impacts’, the writers submit that the level of marine waste is by its widespread nature (surface, shorelines, submerged) impossible to quantify.

A great deal of it, however, obviously has its origin with seafarers, fishing activities, and fish farming. None of us is exempt if we dispose of plastic waste that finds its way into streams and rivers that will flow into the sea.

Although plastic use continues its unrelenting rise, some estimate that recycling is holding the environmental (non-marine) waste level in the EU.

“In the marine environment, the impacts include entanglement and ingestion by wildlife. Other lesser-known effects are the alteration of habitats and the transport of alien species. Perhaps one of the most difficult impacts to fully understand, but also potentially one of the most concerning, is the impact of its chemicals.

“The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a layer of rubbish floating between California and Hawaii that has been estimated to span about 3.43 million km2 (the size of Europe).

It is mostly plastic and contains everything from large abandoned fishing nets to plastic bottles to tiny particles of plastic (or ‘micro plastics’). Europe hosts smaller ‘plastic soups’ in areas such as the Mediterranean and the North Sea.”

Two examples of what happens:

In 1992, a container ship lost 30,000 rubber ducks off the coast of China. Fifteen years later, some of these turned up on the shores of the UK (Maggs et al., 2010).

In 2005 a piece of plastic found in an albatross stomach bore a serial number traced to a World War II seaplane shot down in 1944.

Computer models re-creating the object’s journey showed it spent a decade in the Western Garbage Patch, just south of Japan, and then drifted 6,000 miles to the Eastern Garbage Patch off the West Coast of the U.S., where it spun in circles for the next 50 years (Weiss et al., 2006)

Plastic is still a relatively new substance and its long-term effects are not known. What will ultimately happen to the billions of tons of marine waste? It lasts for perhaps centuries, is being added to every day, and constantly the “washing machine action” of the sea breaks some of it down into micro-particles.

There is evidence that some of this is being absorbed up by living animals of all sizes into their body cells and can have insidious effects.

Some are carcinogenic; some mimic body hormones and disrupt growth, development, and behaviour. We eat fish and shellfish.

We must all minimise our use of plastic, recycle plastic waste, and never throw any overboard into the sea. References online:

Graham Morrison, Point


“God governs both the Church and the State” is a rather feeble defence for setting aside democracy in order for up to four clerics or religious affiliates to claim unelected seats on Local Authority’s Education Committees (Iain D Campbell: The Gagging of the Church has to Stop).

He should be careful what he prays for.

According to the latest Scottish census results on religions in Scotland, the Free Church now have even fewer members than the Jedis.

If Mr Campbell is so sure the religious are deserving of these seats; let them all be elected on merit.

Garry Otton

Secretary Scottish Secular Society


The Labour Party councillor for Harris and South Lochs, Councillor MacRae, is mistaken when he claims to have a good attendance record at the Comhairle.

He failed to attend three of the nine meetings of Full Council including the meeting of 1st November 2012, when he couldn’t even manage to send his apologies, and he also failed to turn up to meetings on 6th December 2012 and 13th June 2013.

He can examine his own attendance record by looking at

He also failed to attend two out of eight meetings of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee, two out of seven meetings of the Education Committee and an astonishing five out of seven meetings of the Environment Committee.

He attended only 10 of the 21 training and seminar sessions put on by the Comhairle (at the taxpayers expense) to help councilors perform theirduties.

It would seem that Councillor MacRae contributes so little to the business of the Comhairle that he can’t even remember whether or not he turned up to its meetings.

He even appears to think that there are only six meetings per year!

Through his habitual absenteeism, it seems Councillor MacRae has even forgotten the party he represents, the Labour Party.

This would explain why he votes with the SNP group, who I am sure are missing his support in the council chamber.

John MacDonald

Convener Lewis & Harris SNP branch

EDITORIAL - TV comeback for the Islands

This weekend the raw beauty and unique atmosphere of the Island of Lewis will be broadcast nationwide on the silver screen – in what should be a huge boost to the isles.

The raw beauty and unique atmosphere of the Island of Lewis will be broadcast nationwide on the silver screen – in what should be a huge boost to the Isles.

It has been many months since we began talking about the forthcoming Katie Morag TV series but following a hugely successful première last week the series will roll out on Cbeebies this Sunday.

Filmed on Lewis, it is a huge platform from which to showcase our island.

Mairi Hedderwick’s popular creation has long since captivated the hearts and minds of children through the long running book series but a live action TV series will allow the series to reach a new generation – with the isle of Lewis at the heart of it all.

With BBC ALBA also currently filming a Gaelic drama on Skye with island actors it is a welcome return to television for Hebrideans. Long may it continue!