The broad white sands of Tiree, one of the most serene and beautiful sights in Britain, are being stolen by thieves to supply the building trade.
Environmentalists and local estate workers estimate that tonne upon tonne have been taken since Christmas, with contractors driving heavy vehicles down to the Hebridean sands under cover of night and loading up truckloads of the fine white grains, which are bagged and used by local construction companies.
The Isle of Tiree, a four-hour ferry ride from the mainland, is a place rich in tradition, and crofters among its 770 or so inhabitants have a legal right to take small amounts of sand for use on their land. But a building boom, fuelled by the island’s improbable status as a surfing destination, has led to much larger-scale exploitation, that could have devastating effects — Tiree is so low lying that it is known as the “land beneath the waves”.
Ross Lilley, an area officer for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), said the theft represented a long-term threat to beaches and to the island itself, if sea levels rose. “Heavy storms, like those of 2001, appear to be increasing and there is a long-term trend of sea levels rising,” he said.
More from Tiree here: Sandstorm. This piece made the UK edition of the Times, the one below about Bute didn't. But I actually went to Bute, and not to Tiree, which was a mere phone job. I give good phone.