Archive for March 2011

Harbour Master for Easdale

Well it seems Easdale island has its first harbour master! Did we want or need one?? Who was consulted or informed about the new post? Was he just appointed by the directors or was the job advertised? Were the council informed?  Who knows? Once again the Eilean Eisdeal directors fail with intent to inform this community about changes that affect us all. At this point it’s important to remind ourselves that the harbour was bought with public money on behalf of and for the benefit of the whole community, so although Eilean Eisdeal’s name is on the title deeds, we all own it, NOT JUST THE CURRENT DIRECTORS.  So what are the harbour master’s duties, what has he been authorised to do and what are his powers?

Has he been authorised to remove sea kayaks from the pontoon for instance??

Questions, questions, and no answers because Eilean Eisdeal likes to keep eveything a secret; “the community will know when we feel the time is right … for us”.

This is your harbour and your community. Tell us what you think, have your say.

Recommended for refusal

The planners have recommended refusal for planning application no. 10/02000/PP, erection of 6kw wind turbine on Easdale Island. The recommendation will go forward to a Planning, Protective Services & Licensing Committee meeting in mid-April.

What happened to the Penny Post?

Jean at Balvicar PO tells us that the Royal Mail have a Happy Spring Surprise for us in the form of staggering hikes in the price of stamps. From 4th April stamps will cost:

First class – 46p (an increase of 5p)

Second class – 36p (an increase of 4p)

First class large letter – 75p (an increase of 9p)

Second class large letter – 58p (an increase of 7p)

Special delivery items – starting from £5.45 (an increase of 40p)

40g airmail letter to Europe – £1.00 (an increase of 12p)

The cost for parcels up to 2kg will remain the same (muted cheers), but the cost for parcels over 2kg will increase by 8%.

Seems like a good plan to nip up to Balvicar PO in the next few days and stock up with enough stamps to cover all your cards for next Christmas, because no doubt there’ll be another increase before then.

You couldn’t make it up …

While idly Googling recently, one of the hacks in the Easdale People Newsroom came across the following item of interest.

On 25th March, 2009 the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy & Tourism Committee met to discuss the topic “Determining and delivering Scotland’s energy future”, and took evidence on models for financing and investing in energy projects. Those presenting evidence were:

Andrew King of Energy4All (oral submission);

Chris Cook of Nordic Enterprise Trust (written submission);

Charles Yates of Grant Thornton (oral submission).

Nordic Enterprise Trust (which isn’t a Trust) claims to be a Scottish charity (which it isn’t), and their submission referred to a model which they termed “Energy and Heat Pools”, whereby “developers … participate in projects as service providers working in partnership with Communities to achieve a common purpose of sustainable energy production and saving”.

You may be getting a little bored by now, and wondering what all this has to do with anything … but read on …

Nordic Enterprise Trust’s Chris Cook stated that NET was “seeking to identify ‘pilot’ Scottish communities, willing to establish and link Pools”.

And guess what?

Yes!

Easdale Island was cited as just such a community!

Here’s the proposal:

“Micro” Pool – Easdale

 An Easdale Pool would be open to all Easdale residents and would operate as a “micro” Community Energy utility analogous to an “Energy Services Company” or “ESCO”.

 While the Pool enables Easdale residents to achieve economies of scale for conventional energy use such as electricity and coal fired heating by aggregating purchases its principal purpose is investment in:

 (a) MegaWatts – Quarry as Battery

 Several mechanical wind pumps are installed at a cost of £250k and a micro hydro turbine is also installed at a cost of £100k. The “windmills” would be used to pump out one of the flooded slate quarries (as was historically the case) and micro hydro power will then be available to the community by letting water back into the quarry using the turbine.

 Energy need not be sold to major utilities at disadvantageous rates but could be accumulated and used locally by the Easdale Community at peak times. In addition, the windmills could also be connected to generators at peak times, if this were cost effective.

 The necessary investment of (say) £350k would come from the forward sale of “Units” in the “Pool”, redeemable in energy eg Mega Watt Hours.

 At £70 per Mega Watt Hour, sale of 5,000 Units finances the project and these would be redeemed from energy produced over time. In addition, the Community would receive Renewable Obligation Certificates (“ROC’s”).

 The proposition for Investors is direct investment in energy, and Units could even be sold at a discount to market prices to encourage investment. Investors may sell Units to other Investors or to the Pool, and Easdale-based Investors may also exchange Units for actual consumption or possibly use them as a local means of exchange.

 (b) NegaWatts

 A survey/ energy audit will be conducted and solar hot water panels and ground source heating installed where feasible. One or more “micro” coal fired boilers and hot water piping will be installed to replace individual coal fired boilers.

 The necessary investment would come from the purchase of Units in a “Heat Pool” redeemable in British Thermal Units (“Btu’s”) of heat. Occupiers would pay a “Heat Rate” payment to the Pool, and this would cover both the cost of coal consumed (with economies of scale) and repayment to Investors at the market price of Btu’s.

 The outcome is an Easdale “Heat Pool” or utility, which could be simply administered by the Water utility for a service charge.

You really couldn’t make it up, could you? Just in case you don’t believe us, you can read Nordic Enterprise Trust’s submission to the Economy, Energy & Tourism Committee HERE.

Fortunately for us all, the EE&T Committee appear to have dismissed Nordic Enterprise Trust as the dubious bunch of chancers that they seem to be (for e.g. no contact details on their website and – thankfully – no projects listed), and similarly dismissed the Easdale Island “pilot” as the hare-brained idea that it obviously was.

But … the whole thing raises a number of worrying questions, not the least of which is this:

What other schemes have been put forward on behalf of the Easdale “community” that we know nothing about?

Green Streets springs to mind, for one …

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A quick building job …

Many thanks to a reader from Luing, who has e-mailed to tell us about another Pathé Newsreel featuring Easdale. Made in 1961, and called “A House by Air”, it shows the delivery by helicopter of pre-fabricated building materials for the ferryman’s house.

Click HERE to view the film.

It seems unbelievable that it was cheaper to make dozens of helicopter flights over the Sound than to pay for a boat to deliver the materials in one go, but presumably landing difficulties made a boat impracticable – see Memories of Easdale Ferry (part 2).

As the posh-voiced narrator says, “It’s the quickest building job they’ve ever seen in these parts”!

!