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"We will not sit back and allow anonymous, desk-bound environmentalists to kill our communities. "

That's the view of community organisation Harris Development Ltd. 

HDL are reacting to the proposed creation of Highly Protected Marine Areas around the islands, effectively marking an end to coastal communities as living, working entities.

Kenny MacLeod, who chairs Harris Development Ltd, is outlining their vehement opposition to the Highly Protected Marine Areas.

He tells Mairi Allan, minister for environment, biodiversity and land reform, who was appointed minister at the age of 28 by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon just days after her election as Clydesdale's new MSP in 2021, that he is "also copying it to our MSP and MP in the (vain) hope that they will wake up to the devastation this proposed legislation will cause to their constituents. 

"We will be sharing this with relevant media outlets to encourage other island and coastal areas facing the same dangers to speak up before our Government devastates them too. 

"The impact of your proposals will hit everyone living in our coastal communities, not just those who make their living on and in the sea."

This is a reaction to the current consultation being run by the Scottish Government on Highly Protected Marine Areas.  

"We would go as far as to say that this is the most insidious, odious and downright dangerous piece of policy that we have ever come across. 

"If these proposals are allowed to proceed any further, they will lead to a mass depopulation of our island and coastal communities.  The fact that in your introduction to the online consultation you refer to nature ahead of people shows just where your priorities are.

"Among the documents provided to give background information are a socio-economic report and an Islands Impact Assessment.  It is clear that these were produced by someone with no idea about the true situation in our island and coastal communities – otherwise the proposals would not be going ahead in their current form. 

"The reason that our communities are still thriving is because our fishermen and those involved in marine activities have continually practiced conservation to ensure sustainability.  They, and their families are still living here because they continue to fish in a way that means there will be stocks for their children, just as their forefathers did for them. 

"There are fisheries taking place that have been going on for over 60 years and the best catches have been in recent years. 

"No island fisherman is looking to decimate stocks and clean out the area.  Doing so would put them out of work and force them to move away.  They continue to look after their environment to ensure their children have a future to look forward to.

"It is sheer arrogance for desk bound “experts” to suggest that we are not looking after our environment and protecting our stocks. 

"The whole basis of the HPMA is that locals are clearly not doing what they should and need to be told how to look after it.  You take no cognisance of the evidence that is available of sustainable fisheries and local, voluntary measures put in place before marching in wiping out our communities. 

"This imposition of a minimum of 10% of our inshore waters being categorised as HPMAs and taken away from our communities goes against everything that we expected of our Scottish Government that was elected to look after ALL the people of Scotland, not just those who want to create playgrounds out of vibrant communities.   

"The people asked to be taken from St Kilda because they were unable to sustain life there.  Here we have the Scottish Government actively working to remove people from communities that ARE able to sustain livelihoods. 

"We, along with the local authority and similar organisations throughout our islands have been working hard to improve the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of all our communities over many years.  £milions of public money from Edinburgh, London and Brussels have been invested here and now you want to take away the living of the vast majority of our people and force them to move elsewhere. 

"And why?  Just so you can say that you have imposed HPMAs 4 years earlier than the EU?  The case for having these so called HPMAs has not been made, yet you are already planning their imposition.  And why are you unwilling to show the maps that have already been prepared showing the proposed areas that will be subjected to HPMAs?

"This shows complete contempt for the people of our island and coastal communities and tells us that you don’t really care about us.

"The steadily growing groundswell of opposition will soon be at tsunami status and rightly so.  We will not sit back and allow anonymous, desk-bound environmentalists to kill our communities. 

"The people of the Highlands and Islands that were cleared off their lands by the likes of Patrick Sellars did not have the access to media to help share the devastation that was being inflicted on them by the landowners of the day.  The world will very quickly know how our own Government acted to empty us out of our communities and turn them into playgrounds where you can only swim or kayak. 

"We urge you to immediately stop this insane proposal and instead speak to the people who are daily practicing conservation and environmental protection because they want to pass on a sustainable future to their children and grandchildren. 

"If there is an actual need (as opposed to an assumed one at present) for conservation measures, then speak to those who have been working hard at protecting their environment first.  Listen to those who have actually been working in these areas and see exactly what is happening all year round, not just from a very short snapshot taken at a particular moment that best fits with the blinkered ideology that is behind all this."