A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Attention was caught by the Church of Scotland’s submission to the LRRG and resurrected (no pun intended) hope that the Church is reconnecting with the needs of rural Scotland and its people. Being brought up a Free Presbyterian in a non Presbyterian village you were always a little on the outside of the social life of the community. Reluctantly allowed to get involved in the local football teams but was easily led astray when on the odd occasions of winning trophies in the SW Ross league, celebrating was de rigueur. As I have aged I now can look back in admiration at the people who led the breakaway in 1843 from the Established Church. There must have been so much at stake for them as the Church at that time relied on the patronage of the Laird, to the extent the ministers were appointed on the premise they would preach the “right” message. Those who left the Church in many cases gathered on hillsides to hear their lay preachers and there is one such place on the way into Plockton where to the best of my knowledge my maternal grandfather held forth to large gatherings, that was another breakaway and since then I think dogma has possibly become more important than the message. It was the newly formed Free Church who tried to help those made destitute during the potato famine. Now however after reading the submission can’t help feeling how the wrongs of the past ,if you wait long enough, are being repaired.

“If it is to reflect biblical priorities then land reform needs to be directed towards reversing the treatment of land as a status symbol or a commodity and dispersing the concentration of landownership. In so far as the bible recognises the deep interconnection between the justice and health of human society and the health and fertility of the land so land reform needs to reconnect the people and the land and place much greater emphasis on the need for owners of land to adhere to a land use policy aimed at restoring the biodiversity of the land and directing its use to the benefit of the community as a whole.” This is a quote from 2002 and is followed up in 2012 by stating not that much has altered since then. The four stated priorities of  reducing inequality, ending poverty, ensuring sustainability and promoting mutuality can be tackled through further land reform. They go on to point out that even the positive picture of Renewable energy, the proceeds are landlord based and the communities affected get the crumbs.

“Analysis of onshore wind power investments suggests that the 13GW of energy anticipated by the government to be installed by 2020 will pay landowners upwards of £100m a year in total rents, on top of the EU farm subsides they automatically receive for owning land.” Basically saying that the inequality of land ownership is being entrenched even more by public subsidies.

“The Church of Scotland strongly supports the development of community renewable energy schemes and calls upon the review panel to consider how land reform could support such schemes.” And they point out that huge subsidies are being paid to landowners while in energy rich Scotland fuel poverty is on the increase. This does seem a wee bit amiss for a country that prides itself on a sense of community and fairness.

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So in the local scene there is little happening over the last couple of days that are worthy of note. Just a little tremor of excitement as tomorrow we are off to Glasgow to the Opening Concert of Celtic Connections where,Cara Dillon, Finlay Macdonald, Capercaillie, Flook, Phil Cunnigham, Julie Fowlis…..the list just goes on. Friday night it is off to see Darell Scot and Amy Helm, daughter of the renowned Levon. That I am looking forward to although the snow forecast for friday looks a bit dodgy. I always think how fortunate I am to live here, to be able to be politically aware and connected, while enjoying the beauty and companionship of the area and finally getting out to see top class music just down the road.

No “spoots” were being dug up yesterday… I suspects roofs on sheds were a greater priority.

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