Saturday, December 03, 2016

Proposed ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth - video comment from Drew Hendry MP

Huge turnout for anti ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth meeting

Yesterday evening over 240 people attended a meeting in the Nairn Community and Arts Centre where there was a presentation by the Cromarty Rising campaign group. The presentation was followed by a long question and answer session.

Discussion of the content of the meeting is very much underway on the popular Nairn Rocks and Nairn Our Town Facebook groups. You can see what is being said here and here. 

For anyone who couldn't make the meeting in Nairn and wants to find out more please have a look at the video of Jacqui Ross's presentation from the recent Cromarty Rising meeting in Inverness, it covers many of the points which were made last night.

Also visit Cromarty Rising website for more details and information.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Why should you be concerned about the Cromarty Firth Port Authority’s application for a Ship to Ship Oil Transfer Licence?

Comment from one of our readers:

"The application is for a licence to allow the transfer of oil from one ship to another. These transfers will take place at one of five anchorage points which are located, not within the Cromarty Firth, but right across from us in the Moray Firth. To give you some idea, the most northerly anchorage point is where the oil rig which has been sitting out in the Firth is located. The other four anchorage points are clustered to the south of the mouth of the Cromarty Firth in front of the South Souter. Cromarty Firth Port Authority have not consulted with communities on this side of the Moray Firth.

Cromarty Firth Port Authority propose to have an average of 48 transfers a year and with each transfer dependent on weather conditions there is a possibility that the transfers may be condensed to a shorter period during the year when the weather is better.

Although only one transfer will take place at a time at one of the anchorage points, several vessels will be involved during each transfer including tugs and 250m long tankers (for comparison, the red tankers which sometimes sit in the Firth, eg PetroAtlantic and PetroNordic, are 234m long). Each transfer will take at least 24 hours with 180,000 tonnes of oil being pumped from one tanker to the other.

There will be noise and fumes from engines and pumps throughout the operation. There will also be a 500m exclusion zone around the anchorage point in use.

Given the nature of the proposed operation the very fact that these transfers will be taking place in the Moray Firth increases the possibility of an oil spill accident happening sometime in the future.

If an oil spill occurred what effect could there be on the environment, on natural resources, on local beaches, on the local economy which is highly dependent on tourism, on the wildlife in the Firth?

As you are aware this area is a rich and varied habitat for a multitude of birds, dolphins, porpoises, seals, otters, fish, shellfish and visiting and migrating species. What impact could there be from the disturbance and noise caused by these operations?

What impact could there be to the environment from the discharge of Ballast Water and the possible introduction of Non Native Species which could be contained within this water?

It’s on your doorstep. It could harm your environment. It could harm your beaches. It could harm your lifestyle. So, should you be concerned?

At the very least go along to the meeting this Friday (2nd December) at 7pm in the Nairn Community and Arts Centre and find out more about how this proposal could affect you and what you can do about it.

Don’t leave this for someone else to do."

Join the Gurn Highland Council election think tank - your views and expertise needed!

The sound and the fury of the May 2017 elections has just about begun. Our four existing Highland Councillors will probably be standing for re-election - none of them have indicated that they wish to stand down anyway. LibDem Ritchie Cunningham recently threw his hat in the ring too by way of a letter to the Nairnshire. Others will no doubt emerge to compete for a seat on a council that is facing a cuts apocalypse - whoever we chose they will really have to fight for Nairn to make sure we don't get stuffed with more than our fair share of cuts. 

Here at the Gurn we hope to analyse all the statements and leaflets the candidates put out up to polling day once things seriously kick off in the new year. If you have specialist knowledge on any of the issues affecting Nairn that the candidates will (or will not) be talking about then share it with your fellow voters via the Gurn. 

We simply wish to help the voters make an informed choice by presenting views and information. We would also like to see the 48% turnout in Nairnshire last time round smashed and Nairn Ward 19 put at the top of the turnout league. The candidates have got a role to play here - apparently a popular refrain on the doorsteps in the recent Highland Council byelection in Ardersier was "they are all the same" - please prove this perception wrong dear candidates when the time comes. More on this initiative when the door opens on 2017. Let's help people make the best decision for our community when it comes to going to the ballot box next May. 

Marie Curie Coffee Morning Sat 3rd December 10 am in the Royal British Legion

Michael Green on Parking Charges: "Incredibly unlikely"

Michael Green was the only Highland Councillor present at the meeting of West/Suburban Community Council on Monday night in the Community Centre when the topic of the threat of parking charges being implemented in the town was discussed. 

Dick Youngson the Chair of NWSCC told the meeting: "We've always managed to resist it and avoid it in the past clearly on the basis that Nairn depends on people, depends on the parking,  because all this will do is drive people out to the supermarkets that have free parking. 

Michael Green then spoke: "I'm not sure where this has come from, the way the budget process works, everything is up for discussion and they put forward all the scenarios, everything it costs is broken down and it says what if we did this, what if we did this. 

I would suggest to you that it is very, very unlikely. It is incredibly unlikely that this will happen. It's just a scenario and it is meant to be sort of private discussions but obviously something like that has leaked out."

Michael then reminisced: "I remember going back 20 years or so when Sheena Baker and I were running the ANB and a similar thing raised its head. We led the campaign which was not too onerous because what transpired was that it would cost incredible sums of money to put in a parking system and it would generate very little. The same applies even more so there is no capital really. It's not a priority to put in traffic systems, parking systems in Nairn 

So it is incredibly unlikely and what was driving it transpired was seemingly some councillors down in Fort William who couldn't get to sleep at night with the thought of folk in Nairn getting free parking. 

It was a scenario that comes up every year and every year it is knocked back. So I would suggest the same thing will happen this year. "

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cllr Micheal Green "100% against" ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth

Nairn West and Suburban CC were briefed last night in the Community Centre by Iain Bruce of River CC on the latest developments concerning the ship to ship oil transfers proposal. Iain encouraged everyone to go to the meeting on Friday and take as many people as possible given the importance of the issue to the local environment. 

Councillor Michael Green stated that he is 100% against the proposal for ship to ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth. 

New Shop on the High Street

Beach and river litter clean-up Sunday 27th November 2016

Deveronvale 2 Nairn 2 - pictures Donald Matheson

Individual images here

Fishertown - it's a whole new generation on the go today

 A few houses on Burnt Island Street and King Street today without power and getting their electricity from generations and cables through the letter box. Holes are getting dug by Scottish and Southern energy to resolve or find the source of the problem presumably. 

Plans for A96 Nairn Bypass set to go on public display

Transport Scotland press release

Following the publication of draft orders today confirming the line of the proposed route for formal comment, a series of public exhibitions will be held, starting in Nairn on 7 December 2016.

Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown said:

“The Scottish Government has given a clear commitment to dual the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen by 2030 which will deliver around 86 miles of upgraded road between Scotland’s two northernmost cities.

“As part of our ambitious programme we have been progressing the design work for the Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) scheme and we are now in a position to publish draft Orders for this scheme – a major milestone in delivering this much-needed improvement.

“Our proposals go on public display from 7-9 December and I would encourage everyone with an interest to visit one of the venues or view the information online. “At the same time we are now undertaking design work for the western section of the route between Hardmuir and Fochabers and hope to let people see our initial options for this section next summer.

“We are working hard to progress the dualling of the A96 which when completed will help tackle congestion, make journey times more reliable and, crucially, improve road safety.”

Monday, November 28, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Christmas Lights, Song and fireworks - thousands of Nairnites seen on the High Street - video

Tremendous community feel about the event organised by Michael Green, Nairn Rotary and the Association of Nairn Businesses. So good to see thousands of people milling about in Rosebank Square and on the High Steet. We should conspire to make huge gatherings down town happen more often!

Friday, November 25, 2016

"Highland Council has washed its hands of major problems faced by homeowners on private housing developments in Inverness and Nairn."

The Press and Journal reports:

"A line was drawn under long-running issues at Wester Inshes in Inverness and Lochloy in Nairn yesterday after pressure on the council to take further action against developers." More here.

Liz MacDonald and Laurie Fraser spoke at this meeting - to hear what they said go to this webcast page click the drop down menu on item 4 and then scroll down until you see Liz's name. 
A report going before the committee stated the following on Lochloy:

"The solicitor acting on behalf of Lochloy Properties Ltd wrote to the Council on the 12/05/05 proposing that a sum of £100,000 be allocated for the landscaping of the common areas within Zones 1, 2, 3 and 4 and placed in an interest bearing account in order to purify the relevant planning condition. The agent acting on behalf of the developer would then procure quotations in respect of the landscaping, award a contract and thereafter certify payments and arrange for drawdowns from the interest bearing account. It has been confirmed by the agent that these monies were not lodged and a landscaping contract was not put in place by them. Their understanding was that a formal contract had been set up with a landscaping company when the site was under the control of Kylauren Homes for Zones 1 and 3 and that this information would have been passed to Springfield Properties when they took over the site in 2013. However, they have no knowledge of what the current arrangements are between Springfield Properties and the landscaping contractor. Zones 2 and 4 were subsequently developed by Barratt Construction Ltd who did make appropriate arrangements for landscaping.

To further complicate matters, a number of the development companies involved are no longer trading meaning that planning enforcement action would not have been possible: 

• Lochloy Homes Ltd – company dissolved (last annual accounts 2002) 
• Lochloy Development Co Ltd – company dissolved (last accounts 2003) 
• Courtallam Developments Ltd (trading as Kylauren Homes) – in liquidation.

It is therefore unclear as to what landscaping maintenance arrangements are in place, if any, in all parts of the development.

Another factor which has contributed to the issues at Lochloy is that historically the Council accepted responsibility for the maintenance of landscaped areas within housing developments provided the developer paid an adoption fee. This fee was 18 times the annual cost of the maintenance. However, around the time of the earlier planning consents granted for the Lochloy development, this changed to a multiplier of 40 times the annual cost. As a result, a number of developers refused to pay the increased adoption fee and had to look at different arrangements. Also, the planning condition used to allow for some flexibility on the type of maintenance arrangement required, therefore not all landscaping maintenance was factored and other less robust maintenance arrangements were 16 formed. However, more recently if the maintenance regime put in place was not a factoring arrangement this would be challenged as part of the planning process. "

The Council is very much of the opinion that they have no responsibility for the common areas in question:

"A sample of property title deeds within the Lochloy development was examined by a Council solicitor to establish the maintenance obligations for common areas and who was responsible for these. The title deeds have not been written in a standard manner due to the involvement of multiple development companies and different housing sites have different rules and obligations regulating the common areas. However, it has been clearly established that the Council has no responsibility for maintenance of the common areas within the Lochloy development. This information now answers the query raised by Councillor MacDonald who was seeking clarity on this point."

There's a lot more in this report and to say the Lochloy situation is very complicated is a bit of an understatement. To read all the contents of the report go to this Council webpage, download item four and scroll down to the bottom of page 13 to commence your read.

Just as with the cuts in funding that are on their way for the Community Centre and Sports Club this item will no doubt resonate all the way to the elections in May - only six months to go. 

A little bit lenticular this morning as the good run of sunsets and sunrises continues in Nairn

Click on image to enlarge

Nairn Community Councils mention in National article on ship to ship oil transfers

More here in this article on the National website: "Call for clarity over ship-to-ship oil transfers in Cromarty Firth"

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Proposed ship to ship oil transfers - videos - what two MSPs had to say at Cromarty Rising meeting in Inverness last Saturday (19th Nov 2016)

MSPs John Finnie and Kate Forbes both spoke at the Cromarty Rising meeting at the Old High Church Hall in Inverness on Saturday (19th Nov 2016). Kate Forbes indicated that Marine Scotland would be holding a meeting in the area in the near future. 

Cinema Nairn showing Wild (15) at Community Centre Friday 25th November 7.30 pm

Wild (15)

Friday 25th November
Nairn Community and Arts Centre

Telling the true story of one woman’s heroic struggle to get her life back on track, Cinema Nairn’s film ‘Wild’ on Friday (25th) celebrates the amazing scenery of the Pacific Trail, as well as an unlikely journey. Writer Cheryl Strayed’s life had descended to rock bottom after painful bereavements and relationship breakdowns. At last realising that she was self destructing, she decided to set herself the challenge of hiking the 1100 mile Pacific trail to regain her health and self respect. As a previous couch potato, this was a huge, at times painful and frightening undertaking, and Reece Witherspoon who plays Cheryl, was nominated for Oscar and BAFTA for her very sensitive and realistic portrayal of the highs and lows of the redemptive journey.

More info and trailer here on Cinema Nairn website. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Leopold Street Thunderer "Nothing for Nairn" edition hits the streets

As we go to pixel you still have a few minutes to get your edition from a Co-op near you otherwise you will have to go cold turkey until tomorrow morning. 

Nothing for Nairn then apart from cuts and the Nairnshire gets down to the nitty-gritty as the Community Centre and the Sports Club take big hits.

And there are still massive, massive cuts to come too (23% across the next two years and perhaps even more).
And if there is one thing we are getting our equitable share and more of then surely it is cuts to local services and resources? 

One of our regular readers suggested this evening in a fatalistic fashion: 

"All a ticking time bomb now. Maybe the Gurn could open an online betting service so we can put remaining cash on what service will close first. It’s saying goodbye to a lot of services that’ll never come back. The end of this society as it is."

Meanwhile we received today an e-mail from the Commission for Highland Democracy and it contained the following:

"The Commission on Highland Democracy is an independent body supported by the Highland Council to examine the current state of democracy in the Highlands, and to have conversations locally about the kind of democracy we want to have.

We want to involve as many people as possible in this, and make sure that everyone in the Highlands has a chance to take part. We are doing this through publishing information on-line, through a series of meetings across the Highlands, by issuing press releases, and by contacting regional and local media, to try and get to as many people in as many communities as possible.

Two weeks ago we launched our Call for Evidence. Through this we are trying to collect people’s views on democracy and local decision making in the Highlands, and start a discussion about the future people want in the Highlands, and how this can be achieved. We have already had a good response to this, and the issues are clearing resonating with people across the Highlands. But we want to make sure we are getting to as many people as possible and think you may be able to help with this through your networks and publications.

We issued a press release on the 8th November as this is available here: More information on the Commission is available at our website:, and the public Call for Evidence is available here: and attached. Comments can also be emailed to:, or sent by post to: Commission on Highland Democracy, Policy Team, Highland Council HQ, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness IV3 5NX."

It might be hard to argue with any readers who might suggest that there is little point in looking for Highland Democracy for Nairn as they can point to  the headline in the Nairnshire Telegraph to back up their case.

And a big blast for our councillors in the local paper's editorial too: "And it is not a great augury for Nairn's present Ward 19 squad." begins the Editor in the final paragraph, he goes on to suggest: "They might well consider their effectiveness".  A must read editorial too then, the local paper is suggesting that the political division between the Indies and the SNP is not doing us any good. Don't delay Gurnshire, those Nainshires will be flying off the shelves tomorrow morning. 

Cromarty Rising meeting in Inverness on proposed ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth - a Nairn perspective from Brian Stewart - video