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16 October 2014

Arnish Lighthouse - January 2007

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Happy New Year

After a most enjoyable Christmas and New Year, it's time to wash the dishes, put the bottles in the recycling bin for the green lorry and drink plenty of WATER to minimise any hangover. The weather has been suitably poor, although the rain didn't spoil the fireworks display on Saturday evening.

I would like to wish all readers and bloggers all the best for the New Year, 2007, and may the windfarm long be thwarted.

Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 18:52

Iolaire Disaster - 88 years on

Today saw the 88th anniversary of the Iolaire Disaster, when 205 men drowned at the Beasts of Holm, 2 miles south of Stornoway on return from World War I.

I have blogged about this subject during 2006, and would just like to link to that entry

This entry is in memory of those lost on that New Year's morning.

Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 23:55


If the Lewis Windfarms ever become a reality, it won't really start until 2014.
The problems lies in transporting the electricity generated in North Lewis and Eishken to the mainland and the Central Belt of Scotland.

There were two options: a subsea cable to the powerstation at Hunterston in Ayrshire; cost about 1 billion pounds. This has been ruled out by the developers of the windfarm (LWP) as not being cost effective. Remains the interconnector (subsea cable to Ullapool) and the overhead transmission line to Beauly, west of Inverness and Denny, near Stirling.

The Beauly to Denny high voltage power cable is already in existence, but in order for it to carry the amount of electricity generated in the Highlands and Islands, it needs larger pylons (twice the current size). Same big pylons also need to go up along the 50 miles between Ullapool and Beauly.

A public inquiry is due to start in the autumn into the transmission line down to Denny, which will take until 2011. A public inquiry into the Lewis Windfarm is also due. The subsea cable then has to be constructed. It was announced on BBC Scotland, Highlands and Islands News this morning that as a result of the delays incurred in the public inquiries, the Lewis Windfarms would not be operational until 2014.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 15:11

Fireworks display

The New Year Fireworks Display took place on Saturday, December 30th. A video compilation can be viewed here
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 18:40

Lewis Windfarm

Lewis Wind Power LWP has reduced the proposed size of its development in north Lewis from 234 to 181 turbines. As a result of this revision, a new round of consultations is currently in progress.

An environmental statement on this revised proposal can be viewed in the Council Buildings for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar on Sandwick Road in Stornoway; Stornoway Library in Cromwell Street, Shawbost Old School Library, Ness Development Centre and Tigh Ceilidh in Barvas.

Objections can be submitted until 29 January 2007, that is within 3 weeks from the date of this post, to the following address:

The Scottish Executive
Engergy Consents Unit
2nd Floor
Meridian Court
5 Cadogan Street
Glasgow G2 6AT

The email address:
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 20:39


Read a report that an earthquake, measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale, shook Shetland early on Sunday, with Unst being most affected. Tables rocked back and forth, and the worst rattle someone ever experienced.

Were any of the Unst bloggers wakened by this event? Further info from the British Geological Survey website.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 17:20

Galson buy-out

Last Friday saw the formal take-over of the Galson Estate by the Galson Trust. It marks an important point in the history of community buy-outs across Scotland, a movement initiated in 1993 by the residents of the Assynt Estate in Sutherland. They were the first to purchase parts of their estate, and legislation put into place within the last few years has cemented the trend set by others, such as the Isles of Eigg and Gigha.

At the moment, it is possible for residents, living on any privately owned estate in Scotland to mount a hostile take-over bid for their land against any sitting owner. Even if said owner is not prepared to sell.
Although the Galson buy-out started out as a hostile bid, an amicable agreement was reached with the outgoing owners. Galson's 56,000 acres is the second largest successful buy-out; in November 2006, the South Uist estate was taken over by the people of Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay, amounting to 93,000 acres.

My eye is now on South Lochs, and with a degree of concern. Back in November 2004, the people of the Park Estate voted in favour of mounting a take-over bid for their land. The current owner of the estate was not prepared to cooperate with his tenants, as he is hoping to make a packet out of the Beinn Mhor Power wind turbine park on parts of the estate.

Although the Park buy-out was commenced before Galson was, it is now bogged down in various problems. The worst is something called an interposed lease, which means (as far as I understand it, corrections welcome) that the owner leases the land to one of his agents, a separate company. And if there are more than one interposed leases, the law as it stands turns the whole exercise into a horribly convoluted nightmare.

The second problem is that there is no definite map of land in the estate. Areas of land are described, e.g. a croft "streteching 400 yards in a southwesterly direction from the Stornoway road". Some people have bought their own land off the landowner, others haven't. When I attended a meeting (in April 2006) concerned with a revision of Crofting legislation, trustees of the Park Trust complained bitterly of this whole quagmire, which could take up to 5 years to sort out.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 17:05

Postal matters

Heard some rather alarming news this morning, to the effect that postal services to remote areas of the country could be reduced and subjected to higher charges. Mailshots from banks and major companies, constituting one third of the Royal Mail's business, could be restricted to urban areas, where deliveries cost less.

It would appear that the Royal Mail is more interested in making money than delivering (sic) a service. Charging people more for their location is discrimination, and this move should be opposed in the strongest possible terms.

Moves are afoot to curb charges, levied by private companies, for delivering items to places like the Western Isles. How often do you see in the small print that an extra charge (how about £15) will be made for taking the item here.

The planes fly here anyway. The ferries do sail. So what's the deal?
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 14:37


On 6 January 1957, the Fisheries Protection cruiser Vaila ran aground on Eilean Iubhard, just south of Lemreway in South Lochs at 5.30 am. As the vessel became stuck fast on the rocks, the captain ordered to abandon ship. Three lifeboats were launched, of which two got away safely. The third got fouled and turned over, and several crew ended up in the water. Although the captain was saved, five crew drowned that day. Survivors were brought ashore in Stornoway

The Vaila started life as the Royal Navy Minesweeper HMS Acacia, built at a yard in Ardrossan in 1940. She took part in the Normandy landings off Sword Beach. In 1948, she became the Vaila.

Image:, taken by John Bell.

Poignantly, when the news came through to Stornoway that the Vaila had sunk, at 8 am that morning, the authorities were not aware that 5 crew had drowned in the waters of Loch Shell. They thought all would be safe, as they were in fairly calm waters. Lifeboat was proceeding to the scene.

Source: National Archive for Scotland through Google
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 14:56

Windfarms - information

This week, the developers of the proposed North Lewis windfarm, LWP (Lewis Windpower) are hosting a roadshow in the island. A presentation will be shown in various locations in the communities nearest the turbines. The controversy rages on unabated, with the RSPB, one of the most vociferous opponents of the scheme, stating that the claim of the numbers of jobs which would be generated is inflated. LWP has asserted that more than 200 jobs would result, but the RSPB has said that 70 jobs is a more realistic figure.

Additionally, the death of a raptor in a windturbine near Dounreay has refocused the attention on the adverse effects of a windfarm on birdlife in the island. The environmental impact statement says that 50 eagles are at risk. Mounting concern is expressed about windfarms around the world about the numbers of birds, particularly raptors, which are found killed by the turbines.

It is deplorable that one of the supporters of the windfarms, a Comhairle nan Eilean councillors, is not prepared to conduct an island-wide secret ballot to ascertain the level of support for the Lewis Windfarm. Unofficial ballots have put this as low as 9%.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 16:42

Arnish Yard - success story

The Fabrication Yard at Arnish is non-operational at present, and no news has been forthcoming about its future. This post is about the Hebridean Seaweed company, which has been set up in a corner of the industrial compound that is the Arnish Yard.

Hebridean Seaweed processes locally harvested seaweed (available in large quantities from the shoreline) into a substitute for the much-maligned trans-fatty acids found in many of our foodstuffs.

The company is now working 24 hours a day, 6 days a week - except for Sundays, out of respect for the Sabbath observance in the island.

I'm not quite sure, but I would imagine that there is plenty of space available for other small businesses like that. It is a success story, and I am looking forward to hearing of many more.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 16:53

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