De­vel­op­ment at all costs

The Arran Banner - - Letters -

Sir, Last Satur­day I opened the Ar­ran Ban­ner and read that the Isle of Ar­ran Dis­tillery is up for the best brew­ery/ dis­tillery tour cat­e­gory in the Scot­tish Out­door Leisure Awards.

At the same mo­ment, I re­ceived no­ti­fi­ca­tion by post from the Scot­tish En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Agency (SEPA) that it has reached its de­ter­mi­na­tion to grant a li­cence to the Ar­ran Lochranza Dis­tillery to dis­charge up to 60,000 litres per day of mixed dis­tillery ef­flu­ent over 2 x 3-hour pe­ri­ods each day into Kil­bran­nan Sound. It is pro­posed that ef­flu­ent from the dis­tillery is trans­ported to the out­fall head by road tanker.

The sea out­fall is to be lo­cated at Rubh Airigh Bheirg, an im­por­tant ge­o­log­i­cal area, 2.5km SW of Cat­a­col on scenic, un­spoilt coast. SEPA de­cided that the ‘rel­a­tive re­mote iso­la­tion’, ‘rel­a­tively small vol­ume’ and ‘lack of pro­tected ar­eas’ rea­sons that for­mal con­sul­ta­tion with ex­ter­nal or­gan­i­sa­tions was un­nec­es­sary.

I have no doubt the dis­tillery runs bril­liant tours and tast­ings but what will their pun­ters and Ar­ran res­i­dents and visi­tors think of the dis­charge, a tanker ev­ery day spilling ef­flu­ent down a pipe by the road­side? The smell of or­ganic ef­flu­ent along a won­der­ful stretch of coast where tourists of­ten stop to look at the Len­ni­more and North Thun­der­gay grave­yard, and at the ge­ol­ogy of meta­mor­phism and the tec­ton­i­cally de­formed Dal­ra­dian rocks? It is an ideal pic­nic area.

What is hap­pen­ing to Ar­ran? Is it eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment at all costs, es­pe­cially to our pre­cious ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment, our sense of beauty as we travel the is­land, our sense of com­mu­nity? If the dis­tillery is do­ing so well, and their PR tells us that, ‘the award-win­ning Isle of Ar­ran Dis­tillery vis­i­tor cen­tre at Lochranza wel­comed a record num­ber of visi­tors last year. 104,000 peo­ple made the jour­ney to find ‘the Ar­ran Wa­ters’ in 2016 – a 93 per cent in­crease since 2012, and 18 per cent in­crease on 2015’, then come on dis­tillery and treat your waste prop­erly, on site, pro­duce power for your es­tab­lish­ment, and do not use the dis­cred­ited ‘di­lute and dis­perse’ method of no pay­ment waste dis­posal into our beau­ti­ful ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment. SEPA is set­ting a dan­ger­ous prece­dent for Ar­ran wa­ters.

Ar­ran needs some strat­egy for de­vel­op­ment, or we will lose the very pre­cious things peo­ple come here for … the coast, the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment, the sense of un­spoilt place. First the Scot­tish Sal­mon Com­pany, now Ar­ran Dis­tillery, what next?

Yours, Sally Campbell Lam­lash

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