Letters: Island life capsizes. The government must ensure a better future for us

TRANSPORT Minister Jenny Gilruth must fully assure everyone on the island, especially those struggling to prevent small farming or tourism businesses from rising from their untimely graves, that they have a brighter future and soon .

We know better than anyone that we are suffering from a shrinking economy with the rest of the known world so she can skip those avenues of guff and go straight to analyzing the historical failure of the Scottish Parliament to deliver even adequate ships and the infrastructures of our islands. The damage done to trust and the simple predictability of island life over the past 10 years, going against official rhetoric, is resulting in a sad reality for islanders that they have no sustainable future on the islands as long as the Scottish Government fails to support them with real action, rather than a transparent political yak.

How do we know that island life is capsizing? Simple measures. Static or falling revenues in an already marginal area as fuel costs rise to £2 a litre. Calmac’s ferry berths are set to constant “unavailability” months in advance on its website. Residents working or moving. Owners of second homes (there is no “second home”) unable to find DIY premises to clean their business premises.

Much has been blamed on the weather for the ferry breakdowns, but that argument is as redundant as a rusty hulk in Rosyth or the Clyde. Ships in the mid-Atlantic don’t suddenly sink when the weather blows a bit, but they would struggle to moor in a decent swell. The example of Tiree and Coll shows that the investment in link spans has not been sufficient to provide the service. These harbors also need to be protected by breakwaters to kill the swell and the undeniable savings that would come from creating a causeway across Gunna Sound would mean that only one protected connecting span was needed.

What will Mrs. Gilruth do?

Peter Isaacson, Hynish, Tiree.

THE INQUIRY IS NOW OVERDUE

I WRITE with reference to recent letters and articles and in particular Ferguson Marine’s inability to quantify a further perceived delay in the delivery of the MV Glen Sannox due to the installation of cables of inadequate length (“Anger as Ministers Refuse to Discuss ‘Secret’ Cost of Calmac Ferries Rises and Delays’, The Herald, March 16. Ferguson’s claim that these cables were laid before nationalization is barely credible.

Installation of electrical cables at this stage, prior to launch, would have required cable supports to be in place, including structural penetrations and routings compatible with piping, ventilation and other services being defined. If such services were not in place, why would cables be?

On an earlier occasion, the yard said the bulbous bow had been rebuilt because “she didn’t look good”. I think Lloyds Register, the classification authority, might have a different view on this action.

The yard can only claim delay in delivery due to force majeure or additional demands from the owners and any self-inflicted injury must be absorbed into the yard’s delivery schedule. We are of course well beyond these subtleties.

A public inquiry is long overdue, the only criterion for which is “the existence of a public concern”, but it must be convened by a government minister. A little hope.

Norman Brown, former Director and Managing Director, Ferguson Shipbuilders Ltd, Largs.

WORRY ABOUT EV CHARGE POINTS

It was interesting to read Thomas GF Gray’s letter (March 17) about the lack of incentive for an energy supplier to provide a smart meter that actually works. In the meantime, it looks likely that a considerable number of consumers are about to lose subsidies for the installation of home charging stations for electric vehicles, work which, under a UK government program to to encourage the move away from internal combustion engines, are to be completed by the end of this month.

It is unclear whether this situation is unique to those in the region where Scottish Power Energy Networks is the monopoly private provider of infrastructure; but what seems clear enough is that lack of action or even contact from SPEN towards the necessary upgrades to the “looped” main supplies (those shared with neighboring properties) will prove costly and frustrating for people who, with reasonable expectations, started the switch to an emissions-free vehicle, sometimes several months ago.

It’s been too long since the last storm for there to be a credible excuse that every engineer was needed to restore damaged supply infrastructure. There is an inevitable curiosity about whether this company, and if so others, had a financial incentive not to make timely upgrades to their outdated home power cords.

William Patterson, East Linton.

* I was interested in Thomas GF Gray’s experiments with Smart Metering Systems (SMS).

I recently had two smart meters installed by this company. I am also a default Shell Energy customer and have an Internal Display Unit (IHD) which I was told would provide me with useful information. It’s now been two weeks since installation and the IHD is “still waiting”.

Shell informed me that the whole data sharing process could take six weeks, unlike the SMS installer, which said it would take around 48 hours.

I was hoping that the IHD would alert my colleagues at home to the pain they were inflicting on me as a bill payer.

Instead, I foolishly installed the Shell app on my phone which works perfectly, but I’m the only one aware of the pain. It’s great that you can see your life force slowly diminishing with every shower or cup of tea.

From a conversation with the SMS engineer, I understand that the smart meter readings go to a “hub” where the various energy providers can access this data. The new IHDs get their data from this hub, which will make it easier for customers to move between energy companies without having to change equipment. It seems logical if it actually works.

Anyway, good to know from Mr Gray that there is £10 waiting for me once my patience wears off.

Iain McDermid, Alexandria.

LET THERE BE LIGHT

MAUREEN Sugden’s article on DST in the US (“Issue of the Day: Stopping Clocks in the US”, The Herald, March 18) is very interesting. I hope we could do the same in the UK.

I think longer daylight in the dreary winter months would be much appreciated.

John K.Richmond, Lochwinnoch.

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