WE are blessed with some of the last remnants of wilderness in Europe yet we are intent on destroying it (“Bridging the gaps for spectacular road trip across the Western Isles”, The Herald, March 7). The intent is to build a high-speed highway from the Butt of Lewis in the north to Vatersay in the south, with a promise to be one of our most spectacular road trips.

It would mean bridging the Sound of Harris and the Sound of Barra.

You report: “This would allow drivers to travel the full 175-mile stretch of the island chain for the first time, taking in some of Scotland’s most celebrated scenery.”

Island’s connected by bridges or causeways are no longer islands; ask the residents of Skye who complained of having too many visitors last year.

The ultimate goal in life is not to be able to travel from the Butt of Lewis to Vatersay at perhaps 60mph and do the journey in under three hours: tick another box; another bucket-list item completed. Wilderness is about solitude. It is about contemplation; escaping from the pressures of urban life; and offering a refuge for the soul.

It is about a painful journey on foot or on a bicycle. It is about the pleasure of a ferry trip over the Sound of Harris or the Sound of Barra.

This break up a car journey with an unusual experience giving a different perspective of life from travelling at 60mph with the kids in the back seat asking “Are we there yet?” You also report that tourism chiefs are already hailing the potential boost to visitor numbers.

The game is not about visitor numbers. It is about the quality of visitors and their experience in Scotland and how much money they spend in the economy.

We have already destroyed one of Scotland’s most spectacular road journeys, the Road to the Isles, from Fort William to Mallaig.

A road built 30 years ago bypasses Arisaig and delivers the impatient traveller to the ferry terminal for Skye half an hour earlier. Passing traffic was the only reason the residents of Arisaig knew they were part of the world. The single-track road was a challenge and each turn offered spectacular views of west-coast scenery. Now it passes in a blur, a couple of mobile phone pictures the only record of having been there.

We need to slow down and think about what we are doing. I am not condemning the residents of the Outer Hebrides to a life of isolation. There are already causeways linking most of the islands. In the past, the isolation problem was solved by moving to Glasgow.

We must stop this insanity.

John Black,

6 Woodhollow House,


CLYDE Port Authority was privatised in 1993. It then became Clyde Ports which was then purchased by Peel Ports in 2002. This purchase became one of the largest land grabs of industrial land and facilities on the west coast of Scotland.

It included port, harbour and terminal facilitates, shipyards, dry docks, engineering works, industrial land and a statutory harbour master of the River Clyde. Millions of pounds have been made selling and developing plots of land for housing and retail, plus public grants along the way.

The Clyde waterway and facilities are increasingly managed from Merseyside, including the statutory harbour master, ships, terminals, docks and pilots.

The Peel Group owns Cammell Lairds at Birkenhead and has four dry docks on the Mersey. It now manages Inchgreen Greenock Dry Dock, the second biggest in Britain.

The facilities have deteriorated compared with Birkenhead, which has first call on vessels that need to be docked.

The Scottish Government must take action to return control of the river to the public for the benefit of communities along the River Clyde.

Robert Buirds,

Campaign to Save Inchgreen Dry Dock,

12 Lomond Avenue,

Port Glasgow.