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The truths they don't want you to read....

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Project Fingal pt 1

Project Fingal may have been hidden in the shadows over the past few years, but it is one I have been tracking - thanks to some well placed moles, and some excellently accurate prophesies - for a few years now.

Today, just some background.

The Chairman of Storas, Angus MacMillan, is well placed to understand the algenate industry, as his father was the manager of the plant at North Boisdale seaweed factory many years ago; before the industry crashed in the 70s.

Coincidentally, Storas seem to have been applying pressure to the current occupant of the factory to give up the lease and the seaweed rights.  Some might say "pressure", some could say "threats", others have said "with menace", but that seems utterly unreasonable.  Doesn't it?

Now, ignoring the inconvenient fact that there probably isn't enough seaweed in the west of Scotland to meet the needs of a factory of the proposed size, just where is the power going to come from?

Coincidentally, Storas have had a huge battle over their inter-connector connection and the ability to develop a windfarm in Uist.  There were very strong suggestions - obviously untrue - that Angus MacMillan had financial interests in windfarm developments that might be in some obscure fashion tied into the Storas connection.

Indeed, a libel action was raised - with great publicity - when it was suggested that there might be some personal benefit, whilst the defendant apparently had evidence of financing being lined up via third parties.  (Anyone know what has happened to this legal action?)

Thankfully, with former MP Brian Wilson of AMEC on the Board of Storas, the opportunity to use the Lewis windfarm to power economic development in Uist makes it all look good,  Conversely, Angus MacMillan sits on the Board of Harris Tweed Hebrides - Chairman? Brian Wilson.

Unfortunately, it looks to me that the maximum power output from any (all?) Lewis windfarms won't be enough to meet the power needs in Uist if the factory goes ahead.  The energy requirements are immense - remember your school lessons about electrolysis?

Thankfully, the AMEC cable was suggested to run to Whitehaven, where AMEC have some business interest, including the renewable energy plant at Sellafield.

And where Brian Wilson chairs the "Energy Coast" forum for West Cumbria, in his role as AMEC representative.

Only the insane would suggest that the interconnector to Windscale IN beautiful West Cumbria could be used to import nuclear power to the islands from an AMEC facility.

Meantime, the two existing seaweed businesses in the Western Isles are about to be undercut by subsidies from CnES and HIE to an incoming business, and see their suppliers and markets potentially destroyed.  Despite years of trying to get assistance to grow.

Still, attracting new grant-migrating incoming businesses is so much better than supporting the useless locals.

More to follow


Anonymous said...

It is also worrying that Mr MacMillan's former right hand man is now in a position to put pressure on the editor of Am Paipear whenever he may feel like writing another article highlighting the failings of the community landlord

Dr Evadne said...


Makes FIFA look like The Singing Nuns.

Its the same old names cropping up time and time again with all roads leading to Bwiyan Bwilson, allegedly.

I give way to my learned colleague.

Anonymous said...

HIE funded the recent Aigas report into how Storas were performing in the eyes of the local community. One of the main findings was that they were a "secretive" organisation.

At the follow up meeting in the local community hall in Daliburgh three weeks ago the Storas representatives were asked to enlighten us about Project Fingal. The HIE employee on the Storas board, Lorne MacLeod, looked to his shoes and was silent while the chairman avoided any answer.

Needles to say, the welsh babysitter was too busy looking for a bigger sized nappy to contain the crap to be able to answer.

Why did HIE bother to consult the community if, at the very meeting to discuss the survey findings, they then evade giving answers to direct questions from community members?

Anonymous said...

If I were to apply for a modest grant from HIE for say a workshop, there is no question that I would be shown the door until such time as I was able to produce evidence of all the required statutory consents; planning, SEPA, etc.

Down in Uist, with regard to the activities of Storas, HIE appear to have a second book of rules, which has only one solitary entry... No evidence of any statutory consents required!

Are we not getting into the territory of Audit Scotland or perhaps the Standards Commission given that normal procedures appear to have been suspended?

Anonymous said...

Dr Evadne

I am severely disappointed that you chose to slur the good name of Jeanine Deckers by inclusion in the same sentence as FIFA.

Notwithstanding this slip on your part, I have checked my records here in the First Division of the Inner House and I note that this chap MacMillan and his QC, the Old Man of Lochnagar, have been very industrious over the years.

In his most recent action, mounting (and I use the word carefully) a case for defamation of his saintly character by Calum MacMillan. His intention was to draw the aforementioned into a protracted and costly legal tussle - much in the same vein as was done to Murdo Mackenzie (and others).

Calum MacMillan took the somewhat unothordox tack of making the entire affair public, which had the effect of showing that the Storas chairman was, as we say here in Parliament House, erm...caught with his pants down.

M'lud, I understand that the Storas chairman is - as we speak - pondering how to extract himself from this particular pickle. Perhaps an appeal to HIE can secure a small grant to pay his learned counsel.

Anonymous said...

Is this factory just being used to push for the £2m shortfall in the harbour development? Gasay is not the best place to put a factory such as this and there are other, more appropriate, sites in Uist.
If Gasay must be developed surely it would be better to have the kind of commercial buildings which would be suited to the proposals for fishing harbour, ferry terminal and deep water terminal. Better still would be to leave Gasay alone and build a box type harbour between Rubha Bhuailte and Eilean Dubh with an entrance facing east into the Bagh Dubh. This would provide fisherment with a safer haven than that currently planned.

Anonymous said...

there was not a direct question about project fingal. there was a question about how many times brian wilson was at a storas board meeting !! which was answered !
the board/chair asked the meeting if there were any questions about the survey . they were asked questions about all sorts of matters not relating to the survey.
also they did not evade or refuse to answer any questions .FACT

Anonymous said...

as a person present at the meeting I do remember a question being asked about Project Fingal and the chairman's response was 'you tell me'
Now that the information has made it into the public domain the chairman might now decide to be more forthright in his response

Anonymous said...

as stated previously there was not a direct question about project fingal !it was added on to the question about brian wilson at the third time of asking .and he got the same reply worded differently maybe if the board is to be open and transparent the persons who are asking these veiled questions should be open also and just come straight out and ask what it is they think they already know instead of meddling in the shadows

Anonymous said...

I just don't get what all the cloak and dagger is about? Operation Fingal, I mean come on its a bloody seaweed processing factory not a secret plan to overthrow the Comhairle! And if the Trust Directors are unable to answer straight questions about it to their community while a load of soap dodging students on the mainland are in the loop...

Anonymous said...

Can't remember what source pointed me to the HIE-supported report:

but the Herald is reporting that it's not good news. Except for the film opportunities.

"Hopes that Hebridean seaweed could be the basis of a major industry in the Western Isles have been dashed by the report." (according the author, the man from SAMS, though it's not laid out so plainly in the report)


I'm confused. So is this the next great hope for the WI, or isn't it?