Anyone who's ever been to Stornoway, and certainly that come off the ferry and drive into the town will be familiar with the clutter of oil tanks just past the Somerfields supermarket, facing the shrimp factory and the Western Isles Health Board offices. Now, I could be faucetious and say that recent events surrounding the WIHB have been decidedly heated and people have been kicking up a stink, but it's actually deadly serious.
Those tanks stand in the middle of the town, and if anything were to happen on a Buncefield scale, well, it doesn't bear thinking about, does it. Another few oiltanks stand outside the auxiliary powerstation at Battery Point, at the far end of Newton Street. In the middle of a residential area as well.
From my vantage point, I look across to the Fabrication Yard at Arnish. Hidden by Green Island is the auxiliary powerstation for Arnish, which has a few fueltanks standing nearby. Begs the question why that entire lot at the corner of James Street and Shell Street couldn't be located at Arnish, at a greatly reduced risk to the general population.
Another place in Lewis where large amounts of fuel are kept is the airport. Until recently, this was a major naval base with huge fueldepots underground. A jetty is available at Holm, where fuel supplies can be shipped in.
Why aren't either locations used for storing the fuel supplies, required for the island? What happened to the plans, drawn up in 1998 (Comhairle plans for airport), for the use of the airport for bulk fuel storage?