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

(Saturday evening)The weather is often a passing topic but the last couple of days have been special. Over 200mm of rain has fallen over the period and most of it horizontal. The ground is sodden with the only benefit of so much rain in the west you know it drains off really quickly. The rivers and streams are white water torrents. Unfortunately the two cows in the croft opposite look suitably miserable.

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Even Dougal doesn’t rile them up just now. He likes to run up to them shouting, they ignore him and he wanders on, it’s a bit of a ritual and does not seem to bother them. If it was not a work night there would have been very little activity on Saturday. There were a few in with lots of fish but no prawns. Was getting excited about launching on Monday but watching the forecast, seen it deteriorate over the last twenty-four hours, so that has been delayed. Maybe Tuesday but not holding my breath.

(Sunday evening)AGM for the Company was held on Friday and there was a good and positive turn out. Alison put up a slide on her power point to show the absolute string of hassles, hurdles and obstacles that we have had to overcome to get to this stage. From 2008 to 2015 it is remarkable to see the difference in the landscape over the seven years. It struck home to quite a few people how hard it has been to jump through the many hoops and over hurdles.

2008                                                                                                                      2015

Renewables were to be bigger and better                                                      Down to micro schemes.

It was to be a simple export to the Grid.                                                        Due to SSE connections not being what they appeared to be

we are looking at using as much as we can for local power.

Generous FiTs to encourage community renewables                                  Regression of renewable tariffs mean tight deadlines

Banks willing to lend                                                                                          Now looking to Community Shares issue.

Benefit to export renewables onto Grid                                                         Higher income for local use,local buy in,community

resilience,carbon footprint reduction,lower fuel bills.

One of many Communities                                                                               Applecross one of just a few Communities at still battling on.

There was a good turn out and looking at the positive the majority are young and hopefully optimistic.

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I think present and future politicians should look closely at the above list put together by Alison and try to work out a way that communities that try to help themselves survive, should be helped and not hindered. Not looking for handouts but help to get up on our own feet after centuries of patronage. Instead moving goalposts to fit bigger concerns are working against the smaller but viable concerns. On the drive to Inverness I am now passing renewable projects that are connected to the grid and making FiTs for the company that runs the Grid in the north, while if we want the grid upgraded to three-phase we have to pay SSE for the privilege of the upgrade. Energy is a national priority and as long as it is in private hands it will be used to raise profits for shareholders. Have some up beat music playing to counter the frustrations writing this. ( The fine Del McCoury Band) They once sacked Steve Earl from their band for swearing too much on stage. On the Community Broadband front we are still struggling to find out what is wrong at the Filling Station. Although I went to Broadford and all looked okay Sean is going tomorrow with mouse and laptop. The Filling Station is linked into there and may have a problem in the system there. We received a worrying phone call from Paul in Raasay which made our Broadband problems secondary, a fire broke out that had our broadband running through, result Lifeboat and Fire Brigade out all night, occupants okay but all their belongings lost and our cable burnt. While thoughts go out to the guys who lost practically everything Paul has worked a mini miracle and restored the connection which has put the north Coast and Rona back on. Best of Community Co operation as opposed to competition.

A wee bright spot has been the visit of Lateral North as mentioned before in the form of Sue and Graham. Due to work commitments I did not get as much of their company and chat as I would have liked and it is easier for them to explain their take on the future of Scotland and it is exciting. I have a Common Weal tee-shirt that says “Switch on the light and see what Scotland can do”, the same could be said for Lateral North. http://lateralnorth.com/projects/ . They packed and left in their little van as the weather was closing in.

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And back to the gloom, this time the weather which has been atrocious, even by west coast standards. I nipped through to Inverness on Friday so missed out a fair bit of it but Saturday was just as bad if not worse although due to our topography we get away with minimal damage caused by flooding. The roads were under strain though with the usual reports of landslips on the Bypass, but more unusually on the side of the Cluanie Reservoir. Here it was just the neighbours that were looking miserable in their field of mud.

There was a bit of a pickup briefly today in the weather and I could not resist a wander down the shoreline,

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cold but bright

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and took a couple of shot of the breeze and an incoming tide.

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Fine shift at the Inn, stretched for a couple of hours but pleasantly so with lots of lovely and complimentary people in. Although with the Boss away on Wednesday and a thirteen booked in on top of what looks like a nippy evening, challenged will be the operative word I think.

Now for the MoD, what I would say first of all is there is a Trial on this week and guys are already arriving, staying at the Inn and around. I take great care in whatever my views are that I do not personalise any issue that bugs me or feel strongly about. And that was evident with a long chat with Chris and Lee about the Applecross Community, they being up to work on the Trial. They are well impressed by the Community Spirit shown by most who live here. So nothing personal with any one who has differing views or employment, I take the same strange with mobile gear. The Range Expansion has moved on little. Only in as much as to report a CK meeting in Kyle in which he was given several questions to ask the MoD for clarification and the future plans. There are obvious differences of opinions locally about who is doing a good job in protecting the fisherman’s interests but the statements from the MoD worry me. We are assured that the consultation will not just be a box ticking exercise but the statements issued give more than a little cause for concern.

“The extension of the present BUTEC range (presently 82 square kms) off Applecross to 110 square kms – future closure periods will be governed by bye-laws.
· The local consultation will be conducted under the auspices of the MOD Defence Infrastructure Organisation – the lead individual / contact person has yet to be determined.”

My reading of the above is that the Range is going to be extended and then there is going to be a consultation, my understanding of a consultation is that it takes place before an action, even if it is a pretendy one. (Its the Dixie Chicks now, maybe not the best to enhance the mood)

And to keep with the general feeling of the moment there was a fine wee dog who arrived in Applecross a few short months ago, unfortunately Scratch had a short stay here, packed a lot in but left us on Friday and left a lot of people the sadder for it. Dog owners are a different breed when it comes to saying cheerio to their dogs.

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