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

Community Frustrations.

When it’s windy, dreich and a little grey you would think there is not too much to write about, but this is Applecross and I am off to work in the dark and on the bike in five so just a little just now. Wednesday was a winter’s day on the west, mainly spent inside thinking I am so glad that throughout the summer I managed days I could not be bothered going out to fish but did. Despite the weather fronts with squalls and rain coming in from the west there are blinks of amazing light in the short breaks in the weather.

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As the weather has been inclement the last of the langoustine were landed on wednesday afternoon, by bike of course. The season has shown little sign of slowing down and there have been two very busy days although the evenings have been slightly quieter.

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Thursday was taken up by lots of talk, chatter, meetings about the Coal Shed Pier and its replacement.

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Pier is now a misnomer and it is now a stone faced breakwater. There is lots of opinion about whether it should be east, or west of the faced wall, what it looks like, what it is for and even should it be built. The only thing I can categorically state that it was to be built to increase Applecross’ resilience regarding wood fuel supplies. It is to deal with an existing problem and set in place something for future generations to take forward. If anything this whole project shows how little control or say people living here have when major decisions are taken that affect the workings of the community.

Applecross is the best place but it would not be wise to ignore the problems rural parts of the country face and we should be afraid to stand up and say what these problems are. That does not mean working together goes out the window. I have had chats with guys that have different and opposing views regarding things like the pier but at no time have these conversations become personal and I know I can pass the time of day with them in the future, especially as we agree on so much more. However I feel we are going through a really difficult patch at the moment. Nationally we talk about building up community resilience and that is what we are working on, whether it be income generation, housing, broadband provision, wood fuel supply, fuel provision, but the talk has to be backed up by some sort of help. It has to be more than talk. There are people in well paid positions who should be enabling “the system” so we can help ourselves. Being involved at the community level I believe and see clearly that selling off all our national assets in the 80s is now coming home to roost. Our latest “news” from SSE is that they are invoking a clause in their grid grid connection agreement that they are limiting our connection to 50 kw thus forcing us to reconsider our options as they were based on a 90kw export. They just act with impunity and there seems no regulation to reign them in. This is while as stated previously they are developing huge schemes that take in large amounts of public green subsidies. Surely some sort of community benefit apart from giving out a few grand as sops like upgrading the infrastructure that they now control . This is the fundamental difference between private/shareholder profit and community/nationally owned assets. This blog is called Applecrosslife and these issues directly impinge on life here and should be out there, talked about, discussed and acted on. The latest privatisation may already be rearing it’s head locally….rumour so far but you can bet your bottom dollar our PO services will not be improved, they will become more profitable for the new shareholder but improved service I do not think so…. And this is before I even mention broadband and BT. There is a focus article in the West Highland Free Press www.whfp.com/ that focuses attention on the problems small vulnerable communities have in trying to build up resilience, this time based on our attempts to instate our broadband.. Surely it is to every one’s benefit that places like Applecross are able to look after themselves with a bit of help from out side. This comes across to the visitors who come here. this place is far more than a place to visit and the majority of people who visit here pick up on that and keep coming back for that indefinable more.

I got a little ranty there and maybe it is the season or just that the amazing projects that are happening just now are coming across entirely avoidable obstacles. Anyway there was another spell at the Inn where you make new acquaintances every shift like, the Lewes family who have been here all week, saying their cheerios and will be back, the Californians who will be Janet’s  last guests, or the Geordies who now live in Yorkshire. Oh and the food is pretty dam good as well.

A terrine of Serrano ham with fois gras, lentil du pays, duck comfit set in a Madeira jelly.

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Comments on: "Community Frustrations." (4)

  1. Aye Ali
    Yep the dreaded Mrs T who’s name should not be spoken made many individuals rich and many communities poor, many without hope. We are now reaping the rewards (or otherwise) of individuals & corporate greed in the last 2 decades. Had some interesting conversations with many Americans over the last while which I’ll share when I get back. Including last week with a coloured couple discussing the similarities between slavery and the way many Scots were treated by their masters. Were the Scots no better off in reality in many cases? We are lucky in Europe to have a Social system which helps the less well off but we have a long way to go to stop our political masters feathering their own nests or those of their friends or chasing lasting fame to the detriment of the people and the land!
    Ah well better get off that high horse the now
    Regards
    Gino

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      It is a good high horse to get on to. I suspect they cannot stop grasping more and more and that will be the downfall. Hope it will not be to painful when it all cuts loose.

  2. Jim Hunter made a very revealing comment in his recent book that when new crofting settlements were being created after WWI, that was in the days when “the Ministry” in Edinburgh just went ahead and did things with no local consultation. Contrast with when JH was involved with setting up the Orbost scheme in the 1990s, there was too much local consultation, everyone fell out with each other, nobody happy and the thing delayed for years etc. JH sounded positively wistful for the old days of the Ministry post WWI. So may be today’s equivalent of the Ministry are the likes of SSE and BT etc – someone’s bound to be unhappy with what they do (or don’t do) but at least they are doing something. I’m not saying that’s true or right/wrong or good/bad but it may be a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      Yes agree, some one is always going to be unhappy and living a small scale lifestyle we have to accept that we are and never will be a national priority. We just feel that there is quite a spirited community which is helping itself to “help itself” and we are not only not getting some help to do this but even being prevented from carrying out projects. I know my leanings are community based rather than wealth creation but I think things have swung to much in another direction. But the phrase “you will always be wrong ” does come to mind in whatever one does but that is better than doing nothing.

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