Stornoway Gazette Letters 8.8.13

Mitch Thompson captured this magnificent image of an Arctic Tern at sunset.To contribute your photos to our Beautiful Islands feature, email: Include your name, address, where the picture was taken and what inspired you to take it, as well as any technical information about the picture.
Mitch Thompson captured this magnificent image of an Arctic Tern at sunset.To contribute your photos to our Beautiful Islands feature, email: Include your name, address, where the picture was taken and what inspired you to take it, as well as any technical information about the picture.


Brian Wilson had a feature in The Scotsman relating to Lewis where he appears to blame East-coast interests for the demise of the Lewis fishing industry. He is completely wrong and obviously knows little of the history of the Western Isles fishing industry.

I am from the older Lewis generation that were involved in the fishing industry. To see the port of Stornoway reduced to a few boats scratching for prawns is sad and pathetic.

In (Perspective, July 31st) Brian Wilson fails to mention that the virtual extinction of the Western Isles fishing industry is totally due to lack of Westminster government investment in the industry and the surrender of our fishing grounds to the EU trawler fleets by successive Labour and Tory governments.

During the week that Neil Kinnock, as Labour leader, was visiting Lewis, foreign trawlers were counted fishing off the Western Isles.

Twelve of them were Spanish, seven were Dutch, seven were Norwegian, five were French and two were Danish vessels.

In 1948 there were more than 900 fishing boats registered in the Western Isles.

Today the fleet has been reduced to a few boats catching prawn and lobsters. After the Second World War Stornoway Town Council attempted on a number of occasions to ban large steam trawlers from fishing in the Minch.

However, it was thwarted by the Westminster government at the behest of the politically influenced English trawler owners. Since 1880 the population of the Western Isles has virtually halved from 50,000 to 27,000.During the same period the population of Iceland has increased fourfold.

Unlike the Western Isles the Icelanders did not suffer heavy losses in the two World Wars and they have a Government that has always developed and protected their fishing industry. In my youth the sounds of Buchan Doric and Gaelic were heard together on fishing ports all around the coast of Britain Sadly never again.

Donald J MacLeod, Aberdeen


If there is an opportunity to develop a port as in your front page story, then I would hope that it is not hamstrung by the blinkered vision of the old harbour at Stornoway.

Like a lot of other harbours in Scotland, Stornoway was developed in an age when ships were a lot smaller.

These ports have clung onto their role as the terminals for passengers and goods, and we find ourselves having ferries plying routes that are twice as long and twice as costly as other available routes.

It is interesting that the two private companies providing profitable unsubsidised ferry services in Scotland do so away from the old ports.

There has, for many years, been planning for a container transhipment hub at Scapa Flow, where an oil port already exists, that has been proven to be the most economical solution for the whole of Northern Europe but it is struggling to get off the ground as London and the other existing large European ports dredge ever deeper channels and even re-design the ships to keep their grip on the strategically important goods entry and export points.

They keep control and everyone else pays more than is needed.

The larger ships are up to 400 metres long and draw up to or over 20 metres. Are channels going to be created, and maintained, to get these ships into Stornoway harbour? That will be a massive cost in itself.

The place for a harbour like this is in Loch Shell, where the largest vessels can enter and be turned around. There is deep water right in to the shore and terminals could be built near the abandoned village at Stiomreway. Oil transhipment could be done over on the other side where there is no population.

Murdoch MacKenzie, Glasgow


As a frequent user of the Lews Castle Grounds I have become increasingly concerned about the apparent lack of care being taken during recent works.

Only last night I watched parts of the Grounds smouldering again, something which has been happening with increasing regularity over the summer months.

These Grounds were gifted to the people of Stornoway in 1923 for recreation and pleasure and have been enjoyed by generations of locals and visitors ever since.

However recently we have seen various ‘improvements’ to the area which in my opinion are causing more damage than anything else and certainly do not seem to be enhancing the area.

I believe the removal of the rhododendrons are part of the Millennium Forest Project but it would be good to know what is intended to be put in their place.

A walk round the Creed, a very popular route for walkers, is now marred by the huge barren scars which have been left by this removal and the subsequent burning of the land.

The recent addition of cycle tracks also give cause for concern as I witnessed inappropriate use of plant and a distinct lack of supervision during these works with plants being uprooted and trees, all of which are under tree preservation orders, being damaged.

The tracks are also so wide that you can almost drive a car along them in some places.

There has been a ray of hope with some new planting, hopefully of indigenous species, but again very little care seems to have been taken during this exercise and there is debris everywhere.

The various Category A and B listed buildings within the Castle Grounds are also becoming a sadder sight than ever with the passage of time as many are either derelict or have fallen into disrepair.

Surely if restored they could become a valuable source of income for their landlords? So, who cares? Who controls the works? Who stops this devastation and when? Who will clear up the mess?

As the Grounds belong to the people of Stornoway surely we should be consulted on this ruination of such a local treasure.

Lesley Bagshaw, Stornoway


I refer to recent situations in our islands, and observed and commented upon by your Editorial.

I agree with your editorial in regard to comments made on the social aspects by Mr Adams. However, I also wish to comment upon the idea of a Chemist Shop in the Isles of Uist and Benbecula.

We, and that means ‘the people’, are very happy with the situation as it is at present. So, why change? It also reminds me of an occasion that happened when an older man went into his local store and asked for hen food. He was told they did not stock that product; I am of the belief he replied - I can not get any hen feed, but I can get plenty condoms’ no bother. Does that rather sum up the kind of world we live in these days! Christianity v Secularism.

Angus Campbell, South Uist


Having read Rev I D Campbell’s ‘Viewpoint’, article (July 4th) in which he writes about C S Lewis in such a way as to encourage others to read his books, I have to say that, I am at the very least astonished. C S Lewis was not an orthodox Christian, if one at all.

Lewis, in his writings opposes almost everything that Mr Campbell believes, and is committed to teach.

Free Church Ministers are signed up to the Westminster Confession of Faith, and as such, are duty bound to teach the truths of the Christian Gospel, and to warn the people in their care against false teachers,

They are certainly not called by God to speak admiringly of those who deny the basic teachings of the Bible.

Stanley Berry, Glasgow


The A9 is the main path to the north and any islander familiar with what is commonly known as ‘Scotland’s deadliest road’ will know all too well the dangers it holds.

The death toll on the main route for island hauliers is astounding, and that more hasn’t been done to help make it safer is even more astounding.

Average speed cameras at first glance look like a good way of improving road safety while plans to extend duel carriageways are being progressed. But on closer inspection is more likely to add to the list of hazards.

If the speed limits for HGVs is to remain at 40mph on single carriageways the Government’s cameras will see even slower processions travelling up and down the A9.

Dangerous overtaking will be ever more tempting for the driver plodding along.

Listen to island hauliers who travel the route daily and they will tell you what they think about the cameras.

And for next year’s summer holidays perhaps the route through Skye will be a safer bet.