western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, has received a positive response from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to his letter asking them to consider removing the areas around Barra airport at Traigh Mhòr and Ardveenish pier from any proposals for a marine Special Area of Conservation in the Sound of Barra.
Dr Allan commented: “As I have made clear in the course of the current consultation, the view of people in Barra about this proposed new designation is that they are strongly against it.
“One of the biggest fears which has been raised with me frequently locally is whether designation would have any impact on the operation of the islands’ famous airport at Traigh Mhòr. Given the economic importance of both Traigh Mhor and Ardveenish Pier to the island, I think it would be reasonable for these areas to be removed from these proposals. I recently put this case to SNH themselves.
“SNH have responded to my enquiries by saying that as the Traigh Mhor does not include any qualifying habitats they will be happy to recommend that this area is excluded from any proposed SAC. They are also looking at the question regarding Ardveenish and will consider this before publishing their report.
“This is progress from SNH, however belated, and I hope that further progress can now be made in the coming weeks and months on further reducing the potential impact of any SAC. Particularly significant is the acceptance that large areas of the present SAC site do not in fact contain any of the things the legislation is designed to protect, and I will therefore be pressing this issue further with SNH. I will also continue to make clear people in Barra’s opposition to the wider designation itself.”