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      Uist and Benbecula News

Bureaucratic language in the context of Highly Protected Marine Areas proposals has driven a number of correspondents to to strong expressions of feeling. 

This is not the occasion to talk about "seeking opinions" or "considering objectors"; even considering "the strength of objections", they say.  This is a moment for all islanders to scream "aux barricades" and state "Non."  [To be honest, that's not quite what they said, but this is a family publication.]

Now with less than a week to go to the Highly Protected Marine Areas consultation deadline, the Uist Association of Community Councils is urging more islanders to make their views known on the “ill-thought-out” proposals.

The association, representing Uist’s seven community councils, has condemned the HPMA as an “ill-thought-out plan with no reference to the people it will affect or hurt most.”

Urging island residents to complete the online consultation, the Uist Association of Community Councils said: “As islanders, we have a proud record in the stewardship of our land and seas. The consultation itself is skewed.”

They railed against the “top-down” approach adopted by the Scottish Government, which did the administration no favours against a background of encouraging community decision-making through the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

They told the Scottish Government: “You have followed the letter of the law but not the spirit of the Act.” And they urged that the HPMA plans and the consultation be abandoned.

The association is concerned about the “potentially devastating effect” the HPMA would have on Uist communities.

In their response to the Scottish Government, the Uist Association of Community Councils has stated the HPMA proposals will threaten livelihoods not just in the fishing and aquaculture industries but in other sectors such as food and drink and engineering. Also affected will be seaweed harvesting.

The association voiced fears that HPMA will exacerbate population decline with knock-on effects on economic and cultural activities, schools and quality of life.

HPMA would also restrict or prohibit new developments in renewable energy, ports and harbours, hydrogen production, spaceport and supporting marine infrastructure.