Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Councillors fail to stop bilingual signs

gaelsignWhile some areas of Scotland are attempting to support Gaelic (the BBC has recently secured funding to begin digital services in Gaelic), other seem seem to be eager to wipe it from the face of earth.

Heading towards the north of the country, one of ‘signs’ that you have reached some of the most beautiful and isolated parts of he country is the appearance of English/Gaelic road signs (it’s a bit like arriving in North Wales, also gorgeous, but not quite so quiet, and where bilingual signs predominate).

In a bid which they claimed was based on a traditional view of the area being non-Gael, and that the signs were a waste of money, eight Caithness councillors tried to halt the bilingual signs being installed in their area, a move which was defeated by 36 votes to 29.

David Flear, former provost of Caithness, had said the policy needed to be looked at again and that people who lived in the area had traditionally been regarded as non-Gaels. Before Thursday’s meeting, he said: “Come on, let’s get real about this. This isn’t being anti-Gaelic, this is just reality and this is listening to people.

Guess the people spoke!

March 6, 2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is wind power running out of puff?

Tide powerI may not be alone in thinking that the Golden Boy of renewables is really only plated base metal.

Don’t mis-quote me, I’m not knocking wind power per se, only its greedy adoption by those who want to be seen to have Green Profile, and have taken advantage of its quicker time-to-production than the alternatives, meaning that they have lost out, and inappropriate wind power schemes have been pushed forward. Witness the growing number of protests against wind farm applications, rather than a blind acceptance that every scheme being proposed is desirable.

The tide (no pun intended) may be turning though, with the announcement in the news of a tidal scheme to be based in the Pentland Firth. Earlier this month, Dutch firm Tocardo confirmed it was planning to build a tidal energy plant in the firth, a strip of water between the Scottish mainland and Orkney, and which could eventually play a key role in helping solve the country’s energy crisis. Industry executives will be visiting the area and contacting local firms and public agencies with a view to using Caithness and Orkney as a base for future ventures, and comprise members of the British Wind Energy Association, manufacturers and developers of marine energy devices, and  consultants from the renewables industry.

Roy Kirk, of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said: “One of the main aims of the visit is to show the range of engineering and science-based companies already based in Caithness. The infrastructure here is a real asset for the developments we expect to happen. The tidal stream in the firth is certainly the best in the UK and is amongst the best anywhere in the world.

February 25, 2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

National Nuclear Archive to be created in Caithness

National Nuclear Archive drawingA four year, £20 million project has been announced for Caithness in the Highlands, to create a National Nuclear Archive holding some 30 million records ranging from digital to photographic an paper records. The facility is also to host the Wick based North Highland Archive, which has grown to to need additional storage space.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will start the project with £8 million to be invested over the first three years, and the archive will address the authorities statutory requirement to manage public records, and make them accessible. Content will comprise records detailing the history, development and decommissioning of the country’s civil nuclear programme since its beginnings in the 1940s.

A potential site has already been identified, and the NDA is working with Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The project is seen as a positive move for the area, with 20 jobs being created within the archive, the construction phase, and the eventual attraction of visitors to the area to visit the completed facility, together with its interaction with local educational bodies.

We received the following additional information:-

On the face of it this might be seen as a huge storage depot but it is far more than that.

The North Highland Archive based at the Wick library will also relocate to part of the new building. The North highland Archive has seen increasing numbers of visitors to research their family history. The room at Wick library is far too small especially in the summer when many folk appear from all over the UK and abroad looking for information. Storage is very limited and there is no space to display many of the interesting records held in cupboards. The new facility will change all that.

Apart from visitors to the council records the Nuclear Archive will see many researchers and scientist visiting to examine the material held in the Nuclear Archive. Hence the proximity to Wick airport that will see a boost in traffic.

An increase in visitor numbers will help the tourist industry in several ways. The new facility will help the local economy as it faces up to the reduction in jobs at Dounreay due to the ongoing decommissioning.

A new visitor centre at Thurso will also open in the Autumn of 2008 and part of that will be displays showing the work at Dounreay. The centre is located in the former Thurso Town Hall and is named Caithness Horizons. See more at http://www.caithnesshorizons.co.uk

Many new projects are beginning to be undertaken in Caithness under the heading of Regeneration. See more on this at http://www.caithness.org/regeneration/index.htm

Bill Fernie
Highland Councillor for Wick
http://www.caithness.org

February 9, 2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Auxiliary Units and the British Resistance

Previously thought to be void of any interesting information and accurate data, the activities of the Auxiliary Units, sometimes referred to as the British Resistance, have gone relatively unknown in Scotland.

It was particularly pleasing therefore, to come across an item originating within the Caithness Field Club, which was entitled The Caithness Secret Army in World War II, and went on to provide details of the activities of the Auxiliary Units in the north east of Scotland.

The article is essential reading for anyone with an interest in such things, and provides an account of not only the now fairly well known sabotage activities that the personnel concerned would have been involved in, had Britain been occupied, but goes on to describe the much lesser known Special Duties Section, which would have been concerned with the gathering of intelligence regarding the occupying forces. In other words, spying on them.

I’m avoiding a page link, since I’m not currently sure if the name should really be British Resistance or Auxiliary Units, but a search on either title will bring up the required page on the main site. Either way, the map on the page gives the detailed locations reported for the hides, so you can check them individually, or as a group, to see their locations on our Google mapping.

February 13, 2007 Posted by | World War II | , , , , | 2 Comments

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