I have recently been enjoying the beauties of Tiree but I live in Chile in South America where recently many major installations for providing energy of different kinds have been carried out by foreign firms.
Without wishing to appear jingoistic, I think it is important to consider the fact that foreign firms may not have the same involvement and concern for the natural beauties of a location in which they are usually working for a fairly short-term project with immediate profits, and no residential or long term interest in the preservation of natural beauty.
In Chile a large dam was built by outside investors in an area of tourism and natural beauty. After about ten years it ceased to function well because of silt and rocks which are a natural part of the rivers there, so another is planned. The company who put in the first dam made their profits and left. A gas pipeline was next installed through the Andes from Santiago into Argentina, against great local opposition and bringing much upheaval and destruction (though more short term since it was buried in the ground). It was deemed essential to bring gas to Santiago. After less than 5 years of functioning Argentina had no gas to sell to Chile and it lies empty.
Now a tremendous hydroelectric scheme is about to begin and will certainly drain a beautiful valley – the only resource for the 6 million Santiago inhabitants who wish to leave the capital for short trips at weekends. There are said to be many incalculable probable consequences. All these schemes are funded entirely or in part by foreign investment – Spanish, North American and Canadian among others. The failure after a few years does not affect their profits which are linked to building and installation. The local opposition is often reduced by promises of jobs and investment in the locality. The fact has been that apart from a few unskilled jobs and some lavish spending to ensure local support beforehand, the main jobs are filled by labour brought in from outside. Meanwhile tourism, which is the mainstay and almost sole source of employment in these particular areas, is expected to gradually wither and perhaps die as the countryside is either ruined by drought from having the water taken from higher up the mountain valley, or covered by water in the case of dams, or by immense pylons with other schemes in areas of natural beauty.
I hope that the experience in Tiree will be a better one. I think it is important to try to find out the unexpected consequences of any major impact on a place and its environment as well as the obvious ones.
Rose Deakin, Santago, Chile
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