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Will marine dream benefit locals?

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Will marine dream benefit locals? Empty Will marine dream benefit locals?

Post by Mr007 on Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:32 am

By Steven McKenzie BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter
Castleton Mill Ruined Castleton Mill is a feature of the cultural life that Gunn believes should be invested in

Poet and playwright George Gunn has warned that the north of Scotland could lose out over plans to generate electricity from the Pentland Firth.

He said there was "no sense of demographic involvement" and people were having to accept the project whether they liked it or not.

Thurso-born Gunn supports renewable energy but said people should have greater ownership of the scheme.

The Crown Estate and government said there would be public consultation.

Gunn's career has included working in the fishing and oil industries.

He has written more than 20 stage plays, including for radio, and ran the Grey Coast Theatre Company until it folded earlier this year due to a lack of funding.

His play Atomic City is about a community dealing with the imposition of a huge nuclear industrial complex and draws inspiration from the early days of the Dounreay nuclear plant, near Thurso.

Gunn said: "Renewable energy in whatever form is desirable.

"The problem I have with the renewable projects that are mooted for the Pentland Firth is what is going to be the local benefit? What is going to be the employment prospects for local people?"

Gunn, who lives in Caithness, said: "It was very difficult for small and medium companies to get a foothold in the Pentland Firth tendering process.

"The big companies have snapped it all up and what will happen is the electricity generated off our shores will bypass the north of Scotland and then be sold back to us at a high rate.

"The electricity should be used locally first and then, if profitable, be sold on the National Grid and the profits used to regenerate Caithness."

The far north has a previous record as a test site for new technology.

Dounreay was built near Thurso in the 1950s to lead UK experiments in nuclear power.

But while it brought new jobs to an area reliant on farming and fishing, Gunn said mistakes were made and were being repeated now.

He said: "The people are being bypassed once again as they were in the 1950s when Dounreay was put here.

"There is no sense of a demographic involvement with all of the people of the north of Scotland.

"Then there was no consultation of a meaningful nature. It was seen to be good for us and it was here whether we liked it or not.
George Gunn. Pic: Caithness Horizons Gunn has previously tackled the nuclear industry in his work

"That paternalism is apparent now I think."

He added: "The whole thing is based on models of the past - heavy industry and big is good."

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