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

Friday, December 16, 2005

"Extraordinary rendition" - a scandal

It is the most unedifying sight in the world to see the Government - Jack Straw and Jack McConnell - trying to pretned that they cannot see what is going on.

Apparently, without detailed evidence of wrong doing, the Government cannot act.

Rubbish. Dangerous rubbish.

If the plane was flying in from Columbia, and was planning to go to Lebanon and Afghanistan, before returing to Prestwick, I suspect that the Customs boys would be all over the plane searching for drugs with or without hard facts. But in this case, it is only people who may - or may not - have done anything.

I suppose the next excuse will be that the passengers are guests on the flight, and that they haven't complained about their treatment.

The Government's attitude makes me embarassed to be represented by these chancers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Wind farms, some real experiences

We are repeatedly told that no-one likes wind farms. The level of nimbyism seems to diminsh after time, and a new study seems to prove the case.

The quote from MWT bears repeating:

Iain Macleod, vice-chair of the Moorland Without Turbines group which has campaigned against wind farms proposals on the Isle of Lewis, said a distinction must be made between the Western Isles and other parts of Scotland.

He said: "Wind farms can fit in easier with the scale of the landscape on the mainland.

"The people here on the whole do desperately want renewable energy, they want the community to be viable but wind farms are not the way to do it."

So, pray tell, what is the way to do it? This is the $64,000 question that no-one can/will answer. Why then does the Chair of MWT support community wind farms?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Alasdair opposes environmental improvement

Poor Alasdair Morrison - he can't see a coalition agreemnt without trying to wreck it. Mike Pringle's bill proposing the creation of a plastic bag tax to reduce usage was undermined by Alasdair in a fit of pique and self-promotion.

This isn't the first time that Alasdair has misused the Committee system, withness his other attempt to subvert the Public Petitions process.

It is unfortunate that a policy which has worked so well in Eire is so despised by Alasdair that he feels the need to ridicule his allies, but that says more about Alasdair than anything else.

Next time I see a plastic bag stuck on barbed wire I know who to blame.

Friday, December 02, 2005

A normal week

A few meetings this week at the Comhairle to try to keep everything in order (or be kept in order by the officers!)

There was a tour out to the new waste management plant on the Lochs Road, where the structure is going up at a very fast rate. We weren't allowed into the site due to the danger, so we spent all our time outside the fence like a bunch of schoolboys and girls. It was freezing cold, and despite a hat, jacket and gloves I was icy through when I got back to the Comhairle.

It is supposed to be enclosed by Christmas, and on target for completion - if only we could say the same about the plant in Uist. Recycling in the Western Isles will get a huge boost when this comes on stream.

We already have the segregated collection in the Stornoway area, and the recycling bins throughout the islands, now we will move to the next stage of separating biodegradable waste at source - inside the house.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Nuclear power? No thanks!

So, three years after the last in-depth review of energy policy, it is being cast aside in favour of the policy du jour.

After a long, extensive, and informed discussion the UK decided renewable energy was the way forward, and that subsidy and this was the way to meet our objectives under the Kyoto agreement.

That was last month. Now, Tony Blair is persuaded to rip all that hard work up, to cast aside informed opinion and go pro-nuclear. Why?

Getting our gas piped in from the Caspian Sea was never the brightest idea, especially as the pipeline passed through Ajzerbijan, Armeia, Georgia and Turkey and skips past Chechnya, it wouldn't take a Sage to predict trouble. On top of this, we are now relying on Qatar to ship gas in bulk just to provide our emergency reserve, when Qatar is prediciting that shortages will cause significant price rises.

Meanwhile, the UK sits with the largest energy reserves in the EU and we can't even keep our houses and factories supplied. Personally, I blame Thatcher for closing the mines and Blair for following her lead.

The UK needs a coherent energy policy, and this ain't it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

How not to do politics

Politicians are supposed to take decisions and take reponsibility for these decisions.

The alternatives are to prevaricate and to try to avoid taking any decisions until there are no options left, by letting the options expire.

Tony Blair has supported Kyoto and green energy with a vague generality of interest and a tiny modicum of effort. He has fervently tried to appear to do something (anything?) whilst avoiding any real decisions.

Now he flaunts his "green" credentials by claiming that nuclear is the only viable alternative. The sole justification is a failed energy policy caused by Government intransigence.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Stornoway Harbour

We held a highly successful meeting on the issue of tidying Stornoway Harbour, with money coming from the Comhairle, Stornoway Port Authority and KIMO. It wouldn't work without the support of the fishermen, and they are fully on board.

Our next task is to merge the cleaning of the seaborne litter brought up by fishermen with the cleansing around the inner harbour.

This has long been an important task, as far as I was concerned, andI am cglad that it is finally taking shape. I'm looking forward to seeing the improvements, with bags for boats to collect the rubbish and skips to collect these bags. this is an excellent example of the various parties working together to achieve something much better.

The Stornoway Trust need a good prodding to get them on board as well.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What we are up against

This article about wind power neatly sums up what Shetland are trying to achieve.

The big question is, "Why are they for this, and why are we against it?"

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A better wind turbine??

According to reports, there is a bigger and better wind turbine available.

If this is the case, will this impact on the proposed development in Lewis?

Will the developers want fewer turbines, or will we just produce more power and more revenue for the community?

Nuclear waste

The transportation of nuclear waste has been an issue of particular concern to the Western Isles, and now there is proposed transportation of MOx using a converted ferry via the Minches.

KIMO are opposing this, and I will be attending the Council of Ministers next year to lobby the Swedes to refuse to accept this cargo.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Alasdair Morrison

I have sent the following letter to our esteemed MSP. The contents of the original letter remain confidential -- at present.

Dear Alasdair

I refer to your letter of 12 October 2005 to Councillor Murdo MacLeod.

Despite being formally briefed by a very senior officer of the Comhairle about the
process that was to be followed, you have twisted this in an attempt to make cheap
and nasty political capital on the back of child abuse.

I did not believe that there was a level lower than the gutter, but your actions have
proved otherwise.

I would strongly suggest that you make an unequivocal apology for the unjustified
attack on Councillor MacLeod.

I am treating your comments about me as transparent puerile nonsense.

Yours sincerely

Monday, October 31, 2005

Public meeting in An Lanntair

We had a most successful and well attended meeting in An Lanntair on Saturday. The public were there in force, and the questions ranged across the full range of subjects from windfarms to transportation.

The fact that an MEP, and MP, 2 MSPs and a Councillor were all available meant that there was no hiding place from the public - which is they way it should be.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Committee week

This week has been busy with the Committee series. Friday normally brings some respite - and a chance to catch up at work. Today I had lunch and meetings with Rob Gibson MSP and Alyn Smith MEP who are on a tour of Lewis.

Jim Mather MSP and Angus MacNeil NP are also on their way for a big meeting in An Lanntair tomorrow, but the ferry from Uist has been cancelled due to inclement weather.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Stornoway waterwheel

I've just returned from the offical opening of the new waterwheel project in the Castle Grounds.

This is a fantastic project, and I am so proud to have been associated with it in a very small way. The project involves rebuilding an old mill that burnt down in 1892 and was new replaced (not in Stornoway anyway). The water powers the mill and generates energy to power the lights through part of the Castle Grounds.

It is a fabulous piece of work and we should give huge credit to the Stornoway Amenity Trust (and Tony Robson), the Stornoway Trust and to all the contractors involved in the builidng of this facility.

I'm taking my kids out there this weekend so that they can gaze in wonder at the wheel spinning.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ship to Ship Transfers

In June I attended a meeting with Fife Council about Ship to Ship transfers of oil in the Forth.

A summary of the meeting is here.

Today we find that the Minister is more interested in money than safeguarding the environment, by ensuring that transfers take place in harbour waters. The view of KIMO is that these transfers should only ever take place in a harbour with full anti-pollution protection, and never in the open sea.

Residents Association

I had to attend the Manor/Castle Ward Residents Association tonight, where there was an excellent presentation from one of my council colleagues about the Stornoway Regeneration scheme.

After that, the major issue was a large planning application, about which I can express no opinion. The views were well expressed, and the other two Councillors there took note of them.

MCRWA Sale of Work in November in Martin's Memorial.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Just back from the KIMO AGM in Shetland, where I was elected President for the next two years. This is going to prove to be a real challenge, but also an opportunity to get a lot done to improve the marine environment.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Today's agenda

There is more to life than windfarms, as I hope this blog will illustrate.

At lunchtime I met with a constituent in connection with a planning application that affects their property. As Chair of the planning committee, I cannot express an opinion or be lobied on something that may come in front of me, and that often this makes this aspect of my ward work very difficult. The constituent is now aware of their rights, and what constitutes a valid objection; as well as how the process will work.

This afternoon I attended the SNP Sale of Work where we raised over £1,000 towards fighting the Scottish Parliamentary elections.