THE SCOTSMAN Thursday 22 December 2022

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SCOTSMAN.COM @THESCOTSMAN

Outcry as wrecked barge holding ‘toxic’
gases is beached in scenic Highland bay
By ILONA AMOS
Local people are calling for
answers after a damaged
barge containing toxic and
potentially explosive gases
was beached in a scenic protected bay in the north-west
Highlands as part of a salvage
operation.
The barge, which contained
fish feed, sank at a fish farm
owned by Faroese firm Bakkafrost at Portree, on the Isle
of Skye, during Storm Arwen in November last year.
Surveys of the sunken barge
showeditcontainedgasesthat
were “toxic in composition”,
with hydrogen sulphide and
methane detected, and in the
“explosive range”.
A 500m exclusion zone was
placed around the area. The
wreck lay on the seabed until
earlier this month, when it
was raised so it could be emptied of 690 tonnes of waste
water and feed and taken for
repair or scrap.
The vessel has in recent days
been towed from Portree by
a giant floating crane, sitting
at anchor in various spots
around Loch Carron.
It has now been beached at
Reraig Bay – across the water
from the well-known village
of Plockton and on the edge of
the Loch Carron marine protected area, which is home to
rareflameshellbeds–toallow
the remaining contents to be
removed and transported to
Aberdeenshire for disposal.
Alternative options, such as
dockingatthenearbyKishorn
yard or anchoring at sea, were
considered too hazardous.
Bakkafrost has been liaising with officials from the
Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Police Scotland, Marine Scotland, Public
Health Scotland, NHS Highland, Crown Estate Scotland,
Highland Council, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service,
and the Maritime and Coast-

0Floating crane Matador3 towing the Bakkafrost fish feed barge in Loch Carron after the vessel was raised from the site near Portree, on the Isle of Skye
guard Agency, according to
documents released under
FreedomofInformationrules.
However, local communities
have been kept in the dark.
Lou-Lou Troup, who owns
one of the two houses in
Reraig, said: “I am absolutely
horrified that this stinky fish
barge has been dumped in
Reraig Bay, a beautiful place

where people walk their dogs
and collect shellfish.
“It is about 150 yards from
our house. I’m worried about
the danger of contamination
if anything goes wrong or the
weather is very bad.”
Duncan McAndrew, a creel
boat skipper who works out
ofPlocktonandspokesperson
for the North West Responsi-

ble Fishermen's Association,
said the crane, Matador3, had
been moored for a time alongside one of his fishing sites.
When passing the craft
he could smell a strong and
unpleasant odour and could
see workers aboard wearing
gas masks.
Don Staniford, director of
protest group $camon $cot-

land, has been tracking the
recovery operation. He is calling for a ban on fish farms in
Scotland.
“Salmon farming is a toxic time-bomb,” he said. “The
spreadofenvironmentalpollution from salmon farms littering the Highlands and Islands
now extends to barges leaking
contaminatedwaterandfeed.”

Bakkafrost has been
approached for comment.
A Scottish Government
spokesperson said: “The area
where the barge has settled is
outside the Marine Protected Area. The barge has been
anchored and does not pose
an explosive risk."

iamos@scotsman.com

OAP who abused teen with ex-Bay City Rollers manager jailed
By LUCINDA CAMERON
A pensioner who abused a
teenager with late Bay City
Rollers manager Tam Paton
has been jailed for more than
12 years.
John Wilson, 81, of Midlothian, was convicted of sexual
offencesspanning56yearsfollowingatrialattheHighCourt
in Edinburgh last month.

He was found guilty of
groping and harassing two
schoolgirls as well as sexually
assaultingthreeteenageboys.
A fur ther t wo victims
were adults when they were
attacked by Wilson while visiting his house.
Wilson was jailed for 12
years and nine months when
he appeared at the High Court
in Glasgow on Wednesday for
sentencing, the Crown Office

and Procurator Fiscal Service
(COPFS) said.
ProsecutorssaidWilsonwas
a known associate of Paton,
now deceased.
During the trial, the jury
heard from two victims who
– as teenage boys – were given
alcohol and drugs at Paton’s
home near Edinburgh until
they were incapacitated.
OnedescribedhowbothWilson and Paton then went on to

sexually assault him when
he was 16. Another victim
explained how, as a 15-yearold, he was left lapsing in and
out of consciousness after
becoming intoxicated.
Hewasthenputinthebootof
acaranddrivenbacktothechildren’s homewherehelived,and
wasassaultedbyWilsonandan
unidentifiedman.
Fraser Gibson, Scotland’s
procurator fiscal for High

Court sexual offences, said:
“John Wilson’s abuse of vulnerable victims was abhorrent.Hepreyedonindividuals
who were vulnerable because
they were much younger and
because they had been plied
with alcohol or drugs.
“His victims have shown
great courage and resilience
in holding this man accountableforhiscrimes.Today’ssentence should provide reassur-

ance that the passage of time
is no barrier to justice, and we
would urge all victims of similaroffendingtocomeforward.
“The prosecutors at COPFS
will rigorously pursue all
reports, no matter how long
ago the offending occurred.”
Wilson was convicted of ten
charges.
His name was added to
the sex offenders register
indefinitely.