22nd August 2018
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Bluemull Sound development at risk from ‘top-down bureaucracy’

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Shetland’s MSP has voiced opposition to new marine designations on the coastline around the isles that could prevent development and jobs.

Tavish Scott urged the Scottish government not to impose the plans in a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, insisting the exercise amounted to “top-down bureaucracy driven by the Scottish government”.

It follows concerns from companies in the Bluemull Sound area that Holyrood is seeking to designate huge sections of the coastline as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Mr Scott says there has, so far, been no consultation with people in the isles, community councils or even the SIC.

“At the very best, marine designations bring bureaucracy. At the worst they stop developments and stifle local jobs. This area of Shetland has mussel farming, salmon farming, shell fishermen and white fish boats. There are also exciting plans for the trailing of tidal generators utilising the power of the sea.

“Yet despite all this economic activity, the Scottish government has not consulted with any local people about their plans. It is as usual a top-down, Edinburgh-knows-best approach.

“The minister in this week’s debate accepted that economic factors can be recognised in the designation decision by government. But before that the process only accepts science. So Shetland faces yet another exercise in top down bureaucracy driven by the Scottish government. I want to make sure that any assessment of the Bluemull Sound area must include what economic activity takes place and could take place. I will be taking that argument back to the Scottish government.”

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36 comments

  1. ian tinkler

    Is Tavish able to do anything to support the environment? Must he continually prostitute himself to financial interests? Is his view so narrow and blinkered that he cannot see a Marine Protected Area is there to just help protect a rare and unique environment, in the interest of conserving the natural environment, its surrounding waters and the occupant ecosystems for the good of all? Will he only be happy when Shetland is a concrete wasteland and its pristine seas are dead industrialized power station? Is it not strange he is so silent the main issues, Scottish Independence, Shetland Crown Dependency, Viking energy? It is about time he grew a backbone and dared express an opinion.

  2. Colin Hunter

    If there’s one thing I know about living in the North Isles, Unst in particular, is that the people there need all the help they can get in order to make a sustainable living. All they have had over the past few years is people taking away, and this would just be another obstacle for them to overcome. There is absolutely no need for Edinburgh (Or Westminster) based politicos to justify their existence by poking their nose in where it’s not needed. God knows, we get enough of that from the gravy train riders in Brussels! The people who live in the areas around these shores depend upon them for a living and are not about to do anything which would be damaging to the environment upon which they rely for their existence. We have managed to protect our environment ourselves perfectly adequately for many years. We don’t need a bunch of trendy tree huggers who probably don’t even know where Bluemull sound is, to tell us how to look after it! We can protect our own environment perfectly well, thank you! I hope Tavish tells them exactly where to go!

  3. ian tinkler

    Where have all the sea trout gone? Colin. Where have all the herring gone.? Where have all the northern whales gone? Where have all the arctic turns gone? Why are fulmars failing to breed? where have all the sand eels gone?. Why o why are there so few cod? Where have all the natural Atlantic salmon gone? Just how long will mackerel remain? Why do skippers make millions on black fish sales whilst the fish disappear? Give me a few answers with you fast knowledge and experience. Why are honest fishermen losing work whilst a few greedy ones make millions? All a bit deep for you, Colin?

  4. Emma Debois

    Many people hear the acronym MPA and immediately the barriers go up. But people have to understand that this is a network term for various types of designation, some of which are true reserves (a real necessity if globally we are to continue to eat fish and enjoy healthy clean seas), but many of which do not limit the development of environmentally sustainable industries. Of course it may put off larger scale external investment in areas, but these sort of industries tend only to provide a few low paid local jobs and the profits disappear to the pockets of some mainland city dweller.

    People in more remote areas who wish to sustain their way of life, and even develop it, should embrace MPAs as these are one mechanism by which they can keep their islands not only a beautiful place, but with healthy seas which support the wildlife and people that make these islands such a wonderful place to live (despite the weather!). Of course if all the locals of Shetland care about is full blown, unsustainable economic development at any cost, like it appears their MP does, then why not surround the islands in fish farms, let everyone and their dog fish there and cover the island in golf courses – is it really all about the money? I hope, for the sake of these islands, that many less vocal residents of the Northern isles do not share Mr Hunter and Mr Scott’s viewpoint, as it can often just take a few unrepresentative individuals to scupper plans which are often for the wider benefit (but note it is usually the local population which reap these benefits, not the “politicos” in Edinburgh or London). I wish the Shetlanders good sustainable fortune whichever way this unfolds.

  5. David Spence

    I have very little sympathy for the fishing industry and its own self perpetuating greed on sucking the life out of the sea’s, locally and further afield. The fishing industry in Scotland and Shetland complain about the fish quota’s and the necessity to sustain fish stocks only because the selected view fishing boats (exceedingly large fishing boats) have the narrow vision of ‘ lets make the quick buck now and to hell with the long term consequences even if its illegal mentality ‘. If we are to maintain and sustain our fish stocks (not that they are ours anyway) and, to a small degree, way of life, we should look towards what Norway is doing in regard to sustaining its fish stocks and having stricter laws and heavier fines on fishing boats which breach these laws. The only reason fish farms, salmon farms, mussel farms etc are in existence is because we have already suck the life out of the sea and we are having to diversify artificially to sustain our reputed need for fish. I am in favour of preserving our environment, coastline and eco-systems within……..but if this is based on the selfish ideology of commerce then, like many things humans try to do in regard to nature, it is doomed to fail. (why do we have conservation area’s?…..oh, yes, because we have destroyed much of the surrounding eco-systems and life or transferred it into an industrial wasteland concrete jungle).

  6. Colin Hunter

    Many questions have been asked by Mr Tinkler, and I’ll try my best to answer them to the best of my ability.

    1. Sea trout and Salmon are still around, albeit in reduced numbers. It has been claimed that aquaculture is responsible for this but the increase in the popularity of angling in the past few decades cannot have helped. Many such people now practise a catch and release policy, only keeping one or two fish. Salmon rivers on mainland Scotland are now experiencing a modest increase in fish numbers. If people didn’t like to eat them they would neither catch nor farm them. Bit of a “catch 22” really.

    2. Herring and Mackerel are plentiful and the fishery is sustainable, despite the Faroese and Icelanders VASTLY increasing their share unilaterally. This argument is still rumbling on however.

    3. Cod are now on the increase according to what I have been told by a friend who is at the “White fish”. They regularly have to shovel perfectly good fish over the side DEAD because of EU rules and quotas. I assume that these are the “honest” fishermen to whom you refer. Consequently, fish is now becoming so expensive that people are not buying it. This can only lead to an eventual collapse in the market. Thanks Brussels!

    4. It is true that some of the pelagic fishermen have recently been in the news for illegal landings. They are now being brought to book over this and the courts will decide their fate.
    One of them claims that he only landed fish illegally because it was a sin to dump it back in the sea. I must admit to having a certain amount of sympathy for this claim.

    5. Regarding Fulmars, I was not aware that they were having difficulty breeding. Arctic Terns, in common with other birds which rely on sand eel for sustenance, are having difficulty. The Sand eels are no longer targeted by our fishermen, however the Danes still take them in vast quantities in an industrial fishery for use as fish meal for pig feed. Ever wondered why Danish Bacon tasted fishy??

    There are some who say that “Global Warming” is to blame for the decline in some of these species. It is not a theory I personally subscribe to, but if that is the case then surely it is beholden upon us to do what we can to reverse the trend. The building of Windfarms and other sources of renewable energy like Tidal Turbines would seem to be the way to go. Unfortunately, such developments seem to provoke objection. In fact, Tidal Turbines may work admirably in Bluemull sound, being that tidal streams of 7 knots or so are to be found there. A series of installations like that in Strangford Lough could provide a long term sustainable source of energy. However, if an MPA is forced upon us, we may never know.

    In reply to Emma Debois, you do not seem to appreciate the difficulties of living “on the edge” as the people in Unst are now forced to do, thanks to the closure of the SIC operated airport, the closure of the RAF Station and two local schools due to the subsequent drop in population, which is now almost half what it was in the ’80s. Also, in case you hadn’t noticed, the isles are already surrounded by fish and mussel farms! Golf courses? We have a few of them too, but they don’t seem to make a lot of money, so it can’t be about that! I’m sure Donald Trump will come and built us a nice shiny new one now that he’s thrown the toys out of the pram in Aberdeenshire, because somebody has had the temerity to propose an offshore windfarm that he’ll be able to see from what used to be the Menie Estate! If that’s not double standards, what is?

    It is all very well for people to come here and declare what a beautiful place it is, tell us something we don’t know for once! A nice view out of the window doesn’t keep you warm and fed on a winters night!

  7. ian tinkler

    Colin, your statement “We have managed to protect our environment ourselves perfectly adequately for many years” is manifest nonsense. Shetland had the most prolific herring fishery on Earth. A population of over 100 thousand Shetlander folk were fed well and prospered on herring, at a time when children starved and died of Rickets in Glasgow. They still were dying of Rickets when my mother was a child in Glasgow. Just who overfished those herring to the point they are now not a commercial option. Shetland had a world famous sea trout fishery based at the Clousta hotel. It was regarded as the greatest sea trout sport fishery on the planet, it attracted tourist fisher folk world wide… Now these sea trout were netted and poached to near extinction, by whom may I ask? That is over 100 thousand Shetland jobs lost in just over 100 years due to commercial exploitation and pure greed. History would not indicate Shetland folk do not necessarily look after their environment well. Many now do, but however, we still have idiots clubbing seal pups with fence posts, indiscriminate shooting, greedy black fishermen taking undersized fish, peat banks being burnt whilst birds are nesting and indiscriminate use of horrendous marine poisons at salmon farms . The few other species I have mentioned most are declining or exploited to near extinction. Do we wish to scientifically try and conserve what is left? or let commercial interests take all? That is why Marine Protected Areas are necessary, they do not stop development but allow intelligent trained specialists to assess the risks posed to the eco systems by various developments and informed decisions to be made. Or should we leave it to vested interests, greedy commercial companies or ignorant and spineless politicians make populist and stupid decisions. What a tragedy the Grand Banks off continental North America were not a Marine Protected Area a few years ago. That way the greatest cod fishery on earth would still exist and many, many thousands of fishermen would still have work.

  8. Colin Hunter

    I have heard (or rather read) some utter claptrap in my time, but that one takes the biscuit. 100,000 Shetland jobs lost! 100,000 Shetland people, well fed and supposedly destroyed the herring! It might serve you better to “bone up” on the history of the place you purport to call “home” before writing such nonsense!

    Firstly. At no time has the indigenous Shetland population exceeded 31,000 and that was in the mid 1800s. History will tell you that most of them were anything but well fed! Rickets was also to be found in Shetland. It was probably not known at the time that it was caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D and calcium. Shetland children in rural ares at any rate were probably less affected due to most crofts having a cow and fish also being a large part of the diet. “Saat Piltocks” used to feature large in my diet in the ’50s and ’60s. Also herring and Mackerel when available.

    Secondly. In the period known as the “Herring boom” the industry was not merely in Shetland, but followed the shoals around the British coast. In 1905 a census was carried out in Baltasound over one weekend, which showed a (Mostly itinerant) population of 16,000, which included gutters, curers, coopers and boats crews. I fact, there is a road in Baltasound known as “Gutter Street” to this day. This population exceeded Lerwick at that time. The Herring was cured and exported to Germany, Eastern Europe and Russia. At no time in this period did the TOTAL UK catch exceed 250,000 tonnes per annum and was completely sustainable. The total herring biomass has since been calculated at over 10,000,000 tonnes.

    Thirdly. British involvement in this fishery petered out after the second world war when the UK industry turned towards “White Fish” with large industrial trawling fleets out of Hull, Grimsby and Fleetwood. In Shetland, the boats were much smaller and were usually Seine netters or Liners. In the Herring season they used drift nets in the old way. In the 50’s and 60’s the Herring Fishery was mainly carried out by Norway, Iceland and the former Soviet Union, who between them took over 2,000,000 tonnes per annum by 1966. This is what led to the collapse of herring stocks and the eventual moratorium on Herring fishing by 1970. Not 100,000 fictitious and non-existent Shetlanders! It is no accident that the waters around the isles still provide a viable fishery, despite the efforts of the French and Spaniards!

    It may well be true that the sea trout were driven to near extinction by netting, but it wasn’t illegal at the time, unless the net was set across a burn mouth. I have never done it myself, preferring to use a fly rod, which is probably why I seldom catch anything!! I put it to you that the actual anglers probably caught as many fish as those to whom you refer as “poachers”, who were probably only trying to eke out their meagre living.

    It doesn’t matter where you go on this planet, you will always get individuals who step outside the law. It is regrettable indeed that people take it upon themselves to carry out such acts as clubbing seals, badger baiting and hare coursing. White rhinos are being killed to provide the Chinese with ground horn, which they consider an aphrodisiac. Truth is they may as well bite their nails, but the market is there, so it is met! Also Fox hunting is now outlawed, but it doesn’t seem to stop them doing it, does it? Or is it alright to dress up like an Up-Helly-Aa squad and tear through the countryside on horseback chasing a little dog?

    If there is one thing I know about the fishing, it is that our Fishermen do all they can to avoid catching undersized fish. They are not allowed to land them and they are usually shoveled back into the sea DEAD! All this means is that they cannot then grow on to marketable size and be caught another day. Ridiculous EU restrictions on days at sea and quotas are the biggest tragedy facing today’s fishermen, and leads to the waste of more good fish than most people will ever know about.

    I agree that it is a great shame that the Grand Banks fishery was destroyed by over-fishing, however, that should have been more rigorously regulated by the relevant authorities at the time. It had more to do with the aforementioned English Factory Trawlers and the English obsession with “Cod & Chips” than anything else. It is not down to Shetland or Shetlanders to police an ocean 2000 miles away.

    Lastly. I fail to see how making Blumull sound an MPA will have any impact on any of that which has gone before. It is merely about some office bound pen-pusher in Edinburgh or wherever coming up with more lamebrained schemes to justify his existence. The presence of the Armed Forces in Shetland, and Unst in particular, has probably had more of an impact on the environment than anything the Shetlanders themselves have ever done.

  9. ian tinkler

    Colin, the figure of 100,000 was not the total employed at any one time but an estimate of the sustainable jobs and food source available over the duration of the Herring and sea trout fishery on Shetland, I am sorry, if that was not well written. I did send a further note to the Times referencing this but the note was not published. You refer to the plight of poor Shetland folk living barley on sustenance rations and jobless, when in fact over the last 150 years life on Shetland, although hard, was considerably less arduous than life in the slums of Glasgow, London, Manchester or any of the “Great” cities of Britain. Food sources were a diverse and plentiful on Shetland, until over exploitation of the environment reduced that supply. Herring, Sea Trout, Sand Eel, and Cod are but a few examples of damaged supply. It is because of this overexploitation of fish species that the present somewhat ludicrous, license, quota systems and tie up protocols had to be devised. These protocols, however inane, have avoided the Grand Banks scenario in our waters. There is still however, a real and definite threat to all European fisheries. Only an ignorant and total fool could dispute that, or perhaps, a liberal politician, if he thought there was a vote in it for him! With reference to Sea trout a recent attempt to establish a viable Sea trout game fishery on Shetland was illegally netted to extinction only a few years back. With reference to job shortages on Shetland, you should try living in a UK inner city or slum; prospects may not be good here they are far worse elsewhere. Employment in the fishing industry would be far better if sensible fishery and sea management conservation policy had been implemented some 70 years back. Shetland folk are not exclusively responsible for some of the above, but they certainly are for what follows. I again reference events of the last ten years carried out by Shetlanders. Walls, multiple illegal shooting of seals, Salmon farmers poisoning Voes trying to eradicate sea lice, attempting the shooting of dunters to increase profit on mussel farms. Seal clubbing (fence post incident). Shetland Catch Blackfish (£millions) Skippers prosecuted Blackfish (£millions). A very recent attempt to set up a Sea trout game fishery was netted to extinction (first run of fish? about five years ago). With regard your armed forces in Shetland comment I think you will find from an environmental perspective sheep and rabbits have had a slightly larger impact on the environment. I take it you were joking or just being a bit perverse? The facts are there for anyone with a grain of scientific rational and intellect to follow. Do you dispute, Colin that fish stocks are dwindling, many sea birds are failing to rear chicks, Puffin, Kittiwake and tern, year on year? I would be interested to know what you would suggest is to be done to preserve dwindling fish stocks; natural food sources and repair an ever deteriorating marine environment. Government bureaucracy may not be efficient and somewhat idiotic, but what is the alternative? What is your alternative to marine designations, Crown Dependency with Shetlanders in independent control of resources perhaps? Paradoxically that would be my choice. You however frequently voice support for the very government, SNP whom are proposing these marine protection areas, how very ironic.

  10. Colin Hunter

    Well Ian, I don’t know anything about Sea trout game fisheries and illegal netting of sea trout. All I know about trout fishing was from when I lived in Unst. We used to get visiting Anglers from mainland Shetland and beyond coming to the island to fish. The local angling club eventually had to ask some of them to restrict the number of fish they were taking, so it’s not just people with nets that are a problem. One angler reportedly took over 40 in a weekend! Ironically, since I came to the mainland 14 years ago I haven’t caught one fish! Not that there aren’t any, I’m just not very good at it!!

    EU “Scientists” will doubtless tell you that fish stocks are still perilously low, however the local fishermen tell a different story with Cod in particular now recovered to the point that they cannot avoid catching them when targeting Haddock and Whiting. The resultant waste is almost as criminal as “black” landings.
    Before Britain joined the “Common Market” I can recall Lerwick being full of boats. The Scots fleet always kept the Sabbath and would put to sea late on Sunday nights so that they arrived at the grounds in the early hours of Monday morning. Many of these boats used long lines, which are far more selective that trawl nets. The problems of over fishing really only started after the other EEC countries were granted access to former British waters. Spanish fishing methods are reckoned to be particularly destructive. A friend who used to be on the Fishery Protection vessels once told me that they were forced (By the powers that be ashore) to use a “softly softly” approach to infringements by foreign fishermen which regularly landed our own men in court! So much for a common law!

    Regarding the Armed Forces. They may not have had as much impact on the Mainland, but go and have a look at some parts of Unst and you’ll see what I mean. Skaw (Lamba ness) is covered with buidings and installations left over from WW2 and some of the geos near the seaward end were used as a dump by RAF Saxavord. I haven’t been there for some years, but I imagine the bulk of it is still there. It was ironic that Unst Sailboard Club were once denied permission by the Secretary of State to place a portacabin at the Loch Of Cliff because it was too near to Hermaness, while the RAF were gaily dumping gash over the banks a few miles away!

    To the best of my knowledge it is allowable to shoot seals that are persistently raiding your cages, if there is no other way to stop them. I remember about the application to shoot the Dunters. I don’t know if they ever did shoot any, but it must be galling in the extreme, to find your mussel lines stripped bare of seed mussels before they ever had a chance to grow. The use of banned Chemicals is regrettable and I believe the people responsible have been taken to task over it. However, such infringements happen all over the Country. Witness recent discoveries of dead Eagles which were reportedly poisoned by game keepers in order to protect the Grouse………so that they could be shot for sport! Not just Shetland then!

    Some seabirds have failed to breed successfully for many years now, so it is not a recent thing. Some people blame global warming for a reduction in plankton, leading to a reduction is sand eel…..etc……etc. Whatever is causing that, and almost all the other things you mention, will NOT be put right by declaring Bluemull Sound an MPA. All that will achieve is to place yet more obstacles in the path of the people of Unst and North Yell.

    I admit to being an SNP supporter. I honestly believe that they are the best of an increasingly bad bunch. I have never trusted Labour, although I have been a trade Union member all my working life. In my memory every Labour Government yet has ended in disaster! The Tories blotted their copybook so badly under Margaret Thatcher that the people of Scotland have never forgiven them, and the Liberals, with what some see as treachery, by throwing their lot in with the Tories in Westminster have lost a great deal of support in Scotland. However the proposal to create MPAs is more likely to come have from an agency such as SNH than from the SNP or any other political party. It will pass through Parliament regardless of who is at the helm. I daresay that you do not whole heartedly support every policy of your chosen party either.

  11. ian tinkler

    It is always the same old argument trailed forward to resist measures of conservation. Exactly the same arguments you use Colin was used to resist the conservation of the Grand Banks. That is until no fish were left!! Never our fishermen always Spaniards or Europe or whatever, what a shame so many Shetland fishermen sold their licenses to the highest bidders (Spaniards?)! Using the fact that gamekeepers poison eagles as justification for salmon farmers using poison is just about sums up your and sadly many peoples approach to conservation, idiotic! You make my case for me.

  12. Colin Hunter

    Pray tell me just exactly WHAT is going to be conserved by making Bluemull Sound an MPA? It is not an area in which fishing boats operate, except a few lobster creels around the shore. To my knowledge there is only one Salmon site within the sound at Belmont, and another at Heogland which may or may not actually still be within “Bluemull sound”. There are more between Yell and Fetlar which is Colgrave Sound and another at the back of Uyea Isle, which is the one which blew away in the recent gales. That is why I say the people of Unst have enough obstacles already without any more being placed in their way.
    Regarding the sale of licences, it is my opinion that the licence should have been held by the Skipper, rather than the boat, and should have had no monetary value. I mean, I can’t sell my Driving licence or my Certificate of Competency to someone else. However the EU “experts” thought differently, and when more and more boats were going bankrupt due to low fish prices and draconian rules, the licence was about the only thing of value that the fishermen had left. The SICs property arm SLAP bought some up and leased them to boats, but I believe this fell foul of EU rules on state aid and there was some controversy about it. I’m afraid I don’t know any more than that, but I’m sure that every possible step was taken to avoid the loss of the licences.
    I did not use the gamekeepers as justification for anything, I merely mentioned that it went on, in much the same way as any other illegal thing goes on. I said the use of illegal chemicals was regrettable and that the people responsible had been brought to book, in much the same way as the gamekeepers were I imagine. Once more you are back to your old game of twisting what people say and name calling! I wondered how long it would take!

  13. ian tinkler

    Colin, the ecology of Bluemull Sound will be conserved by making Bluemull Sound an MPA. Eco tourism is perhaps the fastest growing creator of employment in Shetland at this time and a huge source of income to the more remote areas of Shetland. Conservation of marine habitats is of immeasurable importance for tourism, aquiculture and all types of fishing. I am sorry if you feel I am twisting what you say but if you keep making absurd analogies I will of course refer to them. I list a few below. You compare the brutal seal pup clubbing to fox hunting, salmon farmers poisoning whole Voes you compare to gamekeepers poisoning eagles, a commercial fishing license you compare to a driving license. In further idiotic statements you claim the Spanish fishermen are responsible for the overfishing, the English preoccupation with fish and chips resulted in the extinction of cod on the Grand Banks, The RAF did more damage to the natural environment of Shetland than a few thousand years of human occupation ever has. I am truly sorry but if you keep make ridiculous statements, digressions and claims you can expect to be ridiculed.

  14. Colin Hunter

    So, You are saying that killing a seal pup with a fence post is brutal, and a pack of Fox Hounds systematically dismembering a Fox is not? A Salmon Farmer trying to eradicate sea lice which are destroying his fish using a banned chemical is wrong, and a gamekeeper using poison to kill a protected bird because it is predating Grouse (Which are then to be shot for “sport”) is not? They are all Illegal so what is wrong with that analogy?

    I did not blame the Spanish for overfishing, I merely said ” Spanish fishing methods are reckoned to be particularly destructive”. Do you know the methods to which I refer? If you had been told of some of the things I have been told by (Now ex) fishermen about how the Spaniards fish, you would know what I mean. Also I did not blame the English outright for the demise of the Grand Banks Cod fishery, I merely said that their obsession with “Cod & Chips couldn’t have helped” (Not “Fish” & Chips), with vessels such as the 2600 tonne Factory Trawler “Fairtry” and others of her ilk taking up to 800,000 tonnes per year. I’m not defending what they did, and never have, in fact I’m not entirely sure what I feel about it, but it’s done now, and what’s done is done!

    Of course a commercial Fishing Licence is different to a Driving licence, but as far as I’m concerned, it shouldn’t be. It should just be a document issued to an individual for use in a specific area to target certain species up to a certain amount, If that individual then decides he’s had enough, the licence should be surrendered back to the authority which issued it so that they can issue a similar one to someone else with a proven track record in the industry, say, for instance, the man who was “mate” on the boat and has the relevant qualifications to become skipper. The only cost should be an admin fee and it should not be transferable between individuals for monetary gain. That is my opinion. It may be wrong and unworkable, but it can’t be any worse than the absurd scheme we now have.

    There are some who would disagree with you about the value of tourism to the isles. The people who do come, mostly only do so during about three months of the better summer weather, which can also be pretty dire, as we all know. What are we meant to do for the other nine months after they’ve gone again?

    You would agree that, for the most part, Shetland is a beautiful and “un-spoiled” place, despite thousands of years of human habitation, most of which are only noticeable by anthropologists and archaeologists? Pity about the modern houses we need to live in, and the business premises we all need to earn a living though! 60 some odd years of RAF presence on Unst has left much more noticeable scars. I invite you, once more, to go and have a look. You’ll see! You can find your way to Unst, Can’t you?

  15. ian tinkler

    Colin we are discussing Bluemull Sound with reference to MPAs. Fox hunting has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion nor do eagles, the RAF or for that matter last year’s weather forecast. The point I am trying to make is regarding your endless digressions, and I am sorry to say idiotic comparisons which have no relevance to the argument at all. The truth is without conserving what we have we will end out with nothing. Shetland folk do not have a good record for conservation nor do most peoples for that matter, however Shetland has much more to lose than most of the UK, preserving what is left has to be imperative. That is why SSSIs and MPAs are important, all resisted by SIC and Tavish Scott and you?.

  16. Mark Counter

    Colin it is not that long ago Ian told Gordon Harmer the environmental damage caused by the Total gas plant and pipeline was negligible and not worth worrying about.
    In the scheme of things having an MPA in the Bluemull Sound is negligible and going to make little or no difference to the environment. With what he has said in the past has cancelled out what he says now and he has destroyed his own argument.

  17. Colin Hunter

    BINGO! Finally!!! I was not the one who first mentioned the Grand Banks, the Herring Boom, children dying of rickets, the slums of Manchester, Glasgow and London, sand eels, sea trout in Clousta, etc etc etc! I felt that I was entering into the spirit of things by replying in kind to each point made.

    I did actually ask, more than once, just what it all had to do with Bluemull Sound, and MPAs, but……as with the Parable of the Sower of the seeds, some fell on stony ground, and it is I who am now accused of digression and idiocy! The words “Pot” and “Kettle! spring to mind! Granted, I did mention the RAF and their depredations, but at least they had something to do with Unst, which, after all, is where Bluemull Sound is!

    Reading back through all this twaddle, I get the overwhelming impression that you do not actually think all that much of Shetlanders as you appear to think we are all environmental assassins! If that is the case, Why do you live here?

    Finally, I should like to thank Mr Counter for bringing this to some kind of conclusion!

  18. ian tinkler

    Mark, what a superb example of a high value project the Total gas plant and pipeline is. The damage to the marine environment is absolutely minimal. The pipeline has a very tiny coastal foot print and once the construction phase is over no environmental maritime impact at all! I cannot see an MPA scientific assessment would have been a problem here at all. I think you are emphasizing the strength of my argument not highlighting any contradiction at all.

  19. Mark Counter

    No Ian I believe he was referring to your lack of concern to the damage to the environment and wildlife caused by the onshore plant and onshore pipeline. You seem to cherry pick your causes in a way which shows a prejudice towards Shetland and Shetlander’s. Your lack of concern for the environment and wildlife put under threat by the Total plant and your support for the Bluemull MPA shows a degree of hypocritical conflict in your argument.
    Colin is pointing out there should be a balance between what is good for the environment and what is good for the population of Unst. An MPA in Bluemull sound would tilt the balance away from an already hard hit Unst population and would serve no significant benefit to the overall environment.

  20. ian tinkler

    Please rationally explain the environmental onshore damage to the Total plant, Mark. It is all within an enclose area less than one K. The damage is in fact minimal. Far, far less than the average housing development. For such a high value project there is very little environment cost. Scientific evaluation would always clear such a project; it is a matter of balance. For research view the impact assessments online.

  21. ian tinkler

    Now, just by way of example, let us just build a tidal barrage, partial, floating, or full, such as the proposed Seven Barrages, but across Bluemull Sound. The power production would dwarf Viking… As for environmental damage well who knows, I am sure you, Colin, nor I, are qualified to hold an informed scientific opinion, however an MPA would allow time for normal scientifically research to evaluate, reject or approve such a scheme. As you, Colin, frequently claim to have a scientific background you appear very sceptical and of the scientific evaluation process and research.. The point I will try and make again is that without MPAs there is no scientific evaluation. In final reply to you, you make the claim I appear to regard all Shetlander’s as environmental assassins. That is simply not true; however a few, not only show total disregard to the environment and all creatures in it, but actually resists measures to protect that environment. I hold contempt for such folk, Shetlanders or otherwise… Colin, to quote Mark “In the scheme of things having an MPA in the Bluemull Sound is negligible and going to make little or no difference to the environment”, if that were true why are Tavish and you, getting your knickers in a twist about MPAs!.I finish with one of your quotes. Colin, about whale killing by the Faroese, “It’s not as though they are driving the species into extinction for no good reason”. Nothing twisted or out of context, just your exact words. Just pray tell me what is the good reason that justifies the extinction of whales, or any creature? Sorry about the digression but whales are at least marine creatures and would be vigorously protected in a MPA, even at the cost of the odd Shetland job.

  22. Mark Counter

    Exactly Ian the damage is minimal the same as making Bluemull Sound an MPA the effect will be minimal so why bother. If it works one way it also works the other you have just made my point for me, enough said and thank you.

  23. Colin Hunter

    I never claimed to have a “Scientific background” as you put it, Technical would be nearer the mark. I am a Marine Engineer with a Class 1(Combined Steam and Motor) Certificate of Competency, which other than University based qualifications, is about as good as it gets in the industry. I am sceptical about “Scientific research”, particularly marine based, because of their alarming ability for getting it wrong and happily ignoring what they are then told by the people “on the ground” who have to suffer the consequences of their “findings”.

    I do not think MPAs are wrong per se, just somewhere, such as Bluemull sound where I still fail to see the need. It would probably put the kybosh on a, much needed, fixed link between the isles. A bridge would probably not be allowed due to disturbance of the sea bed, while a tunnel would face problems over what to do with the spoil. It would normally be used in way of land reclamation but I imagine that would also not be allowed.
    Such a thing as a barrage across the Sound could never be built anyway because the Admiralty would never allow it. It would have to remain open as a viable navigation channel, but, were such a thing done, then you are right, the power produced would be great indeed.

    Regarding what I said about the Faroese “grind” during the discussion about Paul Watson and “Sea Shepherd”, that they (The Faroese) were not driving them to extinction “for no good reason”.
    Point one is that they have no intention to drive them to extinction because then there would be no whales to hunt. They take what they see as a sustainable catch, so that they can continue as long as they see fit.
    Point two is that they are used as food, Unlike (for instance) Rhino and Elephant which are slaughtered purely for their horn and tusk. The remains are not eaten. That is what I would term as “no good reason”. The Rhino is particularly endangered. I also recall using the slaughter of The North American Bison in that argument. The fact that they were killed in their thousands, and left lying to rot, merely to deny their meat and skin to the Indians, to starve them into submission, was also “No good reason”. Although, as you happily pointed out, Paul Watson is Canadian, Sea Shepherd is based in the USA, so it was, in my opinion at the time, a valid argument.
    The intervention of Sea Shepherd, although doubtless done for honourable reasons, was ultimately pointless, because, once they had left, the Grind went ahead anyway. The main drive of that particular argument, as I recall was not that I support the slaughter of whales for its own sake, rather the right of the Faroese people to go about their own business, in their own land, within the remit of their own laws, without let or hindrance from any outside party.
    Again, making Bluemull Sound an MPA would have no effect upon that, because it hasn’t been done in Unst, or anywhere else in Shetland for that matter, for almost 100 years. The last recorded “caa” being in Uyeasound in 1915.

    You don’t have to create an MPA to carry out research. It can be done anywhere, any time, and I’m sure that, before any major project went ahead, there would be research into it’s viability and impact carried out as a matter of course.

  24. Stuart Eunson

    “let us just build a tidal barrage”…..”power production would dwarf Viking…”

    Care to back that up with some figures? It’s easy to throw these wild statements around but just occasionally could you please try and back them up with proof?

  25. Stuart, no need for figures the average 15 year old with basic physics will explain the science. It’s called kinetic energy. Colin nothing can justify “It’s not as though they are driving the species into extinction for no good reason”. However I see no reason why an MPA should threaten a fixed link, I also see no reason why a fixed link should not be used as a base for a partial tidal barrage. A bridge incorporating generators would not necessarily threaten the environment. The science and biology would have to be investigated with special reference to marine ecology and conservation. If the area concerned was an MPA by definition that would happen. Mark please explains whatever point you are trying to make, you are writing nonsense.

  26. Colin Hunter

    I would have thought that even a first year student of the English Language would have spotted the key word in the sentence “It’s not as though they are driving the species into extinction for no good reason”. That word is NOT! it means that they are NOT doing it, they have no intention of doing it, and they never will do it! I also explained my use of “no good reason” to you, but of course, that did not meet with the approval of the high and mighty either!
    Funny that you should mention the bridge incorporating the generators, I wonder where you got that gem from? I seem to recall mentioning such a thing some time ago when you were singing the praises of the one and only tidal generator in Strangford Lough!
    Finally, I fail to see why anyone should spend any more time either attempting to justify or explain themselves to you. It appears they will simply be either accused of idiocy and digression and of writing nonsense. Seems there’s a lot of it about! It truly is akin to drawing teeth!

  27. Mark Counter

    Ian its simple even a 15 year old with basic English would explain it to you.
    If you think that the damage caused by the Total site and onshore pipeline is minimal to the environment and not worth bothering about. It is fairly obvious an MPA inflicted on Bluemull Sound is as minimal in its benefit to the environment. Therefore one balances out the other so why bother. All an MPA in Bluemull Sound will succeed in doing is inflict more hardship on an already ravaged community.

  28. Stuart Eunson

    Unfortunately Ian I don’t have a 15 year old with basic physics to explain this to me. I would appreciate it greatly if you would take the time to explain further how you plan to gather over 500MW of usable electricity. You plan a single tidal barrage in connection with a fixed link between the isles?

    How would this fixed link affect the marine environment? Would the quite severe distrubance of local tidal conditions not have a negative impact on the natural marine environment?

  29. ian tinkler

    Stuart, the physics is simple. Water is approximately 800 times heavier than air. That results in an equivalent volume of water flow (tidal current or rip current), in comparison to air flow (wind) potentially has 800 times more generating power. One Viking turbine equivalent, submerged in the sea is equal to 800 onshore wind turbines. The prototypes are already up and running and at last Westminster has realized to the potential. (Reference energy resource thttp://www.darvill.clara.net/altenerg/tidal.htmidal power). Colin, your use of double negatives in your comment “It’s not as though they are driving the species into extinction for no good reason” somewhat negates what you intended to state! For that I am profoundly relieved. I refer you to the above referenced web site that is where I got my tidal energy gem from, sorry not your original idea… Mark, I have patients whom live around Bluemull Sound, they do not complain they or their community has been recently ravaged… Incidentally where do you get your information from about a ravaged community, the Vikings left some time ago?

  30. ian tinkler

    Should be. http://www.darvill.clara.net/altenerg/tidal.htm
    not
    (Reference energy resource thttp://www.darvill.clara.net/altenerg/tidal.htmidal power).

  31. Mark Counter

    Maybe you hadn’t noticed Ian but Unst has lost a School, an airport that serviced the oil platforms and an RAF base, if that’s not ravaged I don’t know what is.
    Ian you have patients in all walks of Shetland’s life and you often repeat what they have to say,I have often wondered how they manage to say so much while you are fiddling around in their mouths. Do you have some kind of licence to interpret mmmmffff wwwmmmff hhhmmm into coherent statements and then use them to convince people you debate with you are speaking with some kind of authority.
    Oh and by the way in your answer to Stuart do you realise if you dam a tidal flow you cannot assume that the water will continue on its old path and power your turbines. Water has a mind of its own and may well go off in another direction and totally throw your calculations where they belong, in the bin.

  32. Stuart Eunson

    Sorry Ian but you’re just picking and choosing the evidence that suits your arguements here.

    While the density of salt water is roughly 820 times higher than that of air that’s only part of the answer. The calculation for kinetic energy also has velocity squared tagged onto the end. If we assume that the average windspeed in Shetland is 8m/s and the average tidal flow would be 1.5m/s you can see the effect that will have on the kinetic energy. That still leaves nearly 30 times more energy in a cubic metre of water though.

    That still sounds pretty good, however, a wind turbine can sweep a huge area to gather energy from.The AK1000 1MW tidal turbine in your link has an 18m diameter turbine compared to nearly 60m for a 1MW wind turbine. The difference in area is roughly 11 times. The size of tidal turbines is limited by water depth in a way wind turbines will never be limited.

    The kinetic energy passing the 1MW tidal tubine is nearly 3 times higher than the 1MW wind turbine yet it produces the same power. Seems to me that the wind turbine is just a bit better at it too. Tidal power will be useful however it’s not going to get rid of wind turbines that easily.

    Long story short, you’re talking mince. I fear to think how many other of your facts are so far out.

  33. ian tinkler

    • Stuart Eunson, this is a discussion primarily about MPAs around Shetland, not the Viking project nor tidal versus wind energy, however what I previously stated is a matter of scientific fact… If you had actually read the previous correspondence you would realize I only proposed ideas about harnessing tidal energy in Bluemull Sound as an example of what scientist overseeing an MPA could and would evaluate, make hopefully, rational scientifically informed decisions. That is without political and commercial pressures which so blight wind farm developments, turning some green energy projects into potential environmental disasters, for example, the ever shrinking VE project.

  34. ian tinkler

    Mark, if the maritime environment of Unst and all Shetland waters, had been protected by MPAs for the last 70 years, it would have made not an iota of difference to the closure of the School, the airport and the RAF base. It is highly probable however the fish stocks, cod, herring and sand eel would have been far more plentiful with the resultant good employment opportunities for many, many folk… I again refer you to (http://www.darvill.clara.net/altenerg/tidal.htm ); you will observe a damn obstructing tidal flow is only one of many options.
    With regard to talking to my patients, that is perhaps the most important part of my job. Truly captive audiences, over the last twenty years, at least 10.000 plus Shetlands far too close to me for their own comfort!

  35. Mark Counter

    Ian you certainly do have a captive audience as far as your patients are concerned. I would imagine your conversations have them reeling with laughter, if what you write here is anything to go by, so no need for aesthetic then.
    I don’t know what angle your argument is going of on now sounds a bit like something you have already said to Colin and he has given up so, so will I.
    You seem to have met your match with Stuart though a lot of back tracking going on there on your behalf so I will leave the two of you to it.

    Regards, Mark.

  36. Stuart Eunson

    I’m well aware that this discussion is primarily about MPA’s. However some of the statements you’ve presented here are quite frankly ridiculous in there sweeping nature with little or no supporting evidence. I merely pointed out one of these statements hoping you might refrain from such in further comments.

    On the topic of MPA’s I found this on the UK MPA Centre website with regard to MPA’s:
    “The protection afforded is aimed at reducing destruction, damage or the reduction in distribution of marine species and/or habitats.”

    How given this aim would any sort of substantial construction be allowed? If they were, what’s the benefit over the system in place already? An EIA would need to completed for any new project anyway. A large tidal power array/fixed link combination would have a much greater impact than the current setup.

    Back to one of your statements now, you state that if MPA’s had been around Shetland for 70 years… “It is highly probable however the fish stocks, cod, herring and sand eel would have been far more plentiful with the resultant good employment opportunities for many, many folk…”

    Could you tell me how an MPA around Shetland would have so dramatically increased the fish stocks and associated jobs? Would the fishing effort that was displaced outside of the MPA have no affect on fish stocks?