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Ferry funding should be 'matter of priority'

A NEW report from the Scottish Parliament's rural economy and connectivity committee has ruled that the Scottish Government needs to treat the fair funding of Shetland and Orkney's inter-island ferries as a "matter of priority".

The report, which was published on Friday, said the government should "satisfactorily resolve it by the conclusion of the current consideration of the draft budget" ahead of the final budget being drawn up in February.

Jarlshof among ancient sites at risk due to climate change

Historic Environment Scotland has rated Jarlshof as a "red risk" in relation to the impact of climate change. Photo: Ronnie Robertson.THE NEOLITHIC Jarlshof settlement on the coast of Shetland’s South Mainland has been given a “red risk” rating in a study of ancient sites that Historic Environment Scotland (HES) says need urgent protection against the risks posed by climate change.

The Bronze Age broch and wheelhouses have survived for more than 4,000 years despite the sea’s best attempts to wash them away.

Bressay set for inaugural 'parkrun' event

After two trial runs, the first official Bressay 'parkrun' takes place this Saturday. Photo: John Bateson.SHETLAND has joined hundreds of other communities around the world in establishing a “parkrun” – with the first 5km running, jogging and walking event set to take place in Bressay this weekend.

Councillors' anger over funding settlement

Allison Duncan remains fuming at the Scottish Government, while SNP member Robbie McGregor pointed to constraints caused by the Tory government's cuts at Westminster.SHETLAND Islands Council members have reluctantly accepted a funding cut from the Scottish Government – but several councillors lined up to deliver a stinging rebuke to the SNP administration for “holding us over a barrel”.

A Full Council meeting was held in Lerwick Town Hall on Wednesday to formally respond to December’s draft budget, which provides the SIC with £78.8 million in revenue funding for 2018/19.

Wallabies bring Aussie touch to Burra

THERE has been an unusual sight in Burra over the last few weeks in the shape of two young wallabies which have brought a touch of Australia to the island.

The animals, which are named Ned and Kelly, were brought to Shetland from North Yorkshire by Tasmania native Dave Kok in December.

Redeveloped Penguins oil field a 'missed opportunity' for Sullom Voe, says Cooper

SIC development committee chairman Alastair Cooper.OIL GIANT Shell has announced that it is to construct the company’s first manned installation in the northern North Sea – around 150 miles north east of Shetland – to redevelop an oil and gas field.

The company said on Monday that between 300 and 400 jobs would be required to build the floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel – and once it is operational, the Penguins field installation should provide around 70 jobs.

However the use of an offshore FPSO means there will be no extra business for Sullom Voe Oil Terminal, recently taken over by EnQuest, and Shetland Islands Council's development committee chairman Alastair Cooper said it was "disappointing" - if not surprising - from a local perspective.

Power cuts in Unst, Fetlar and Bressay

The south easterly gale created some spectacular waves on Sunday like here at Grutness. Photo: Theresa NewTWENTY seven households in the Baliasta area of Unst will have to wait until lunchtime to have their electricity restored after severe southerly gales brought disruptions to island life on Sunday.

Leslie is ‘taking things back to basics’

IT'S THE second Friday of the year – traditionally the day Shetland's fire festival season kicks off in Scalloway with the first of 12 events to take place between now and the middle of March.

The honour of leading the guizers down the ranks this year fell to local man Leslie Setrice, who has gathered a squad of 22 Vikings and 11 bairns, including his three year old daughter Aoife, to mark his big day in the community.

Drive to tackle plastic waste gathers momentum

Pupils clearing up plastic litter from a beach as part of Da Voar Redd Up. Photo courtesy of Shetland Amenity Trust.NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has cautiously welcomed a UK Government commitment to do more to reduce the amount of plastic waste in society and says it could go hand-in-hand with a local initiative launched last week.

The spotlight on unnecessary plastic waste has become more glaring in recent months in the wake of high-profile publicity in the BBC’s Blue Planet programme. Even the Daily Mail, not exactly a bastion of ecological warriors, has begun highlighting the issue prominently.

Airport voices concern over wind farm plans

A map showing where the turbines could be located - but the proposals are at an early stage and could change.THE OPERATOR of Scatsta Airport says it will object to initial plans for a wind farm of up to 63 turbines in the north of Yell due to concerns over the effect the proposed development could have on aircraft operations.

Serco believes the 200MW wind farm could, in its current design, have a "significant impact" on the approach to and climb out from the North Mainland airport, with potential for communication problems with planes and helicopters.

Loganair unveils new flights & pricing strategy

Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles.LOGANAIR has announced a series of pledges for its services to and from Shetland in an effort to provide “strong reassurance” over fare prices and seat availability following Flybe’s withdrawal from the routes.

Among the pledges is as commitment to make at least 50 per cent of seats available on flights at its four lowest fares.

HIAL pressing ahead with control tower plans

The control tower at Sumburgh Airport.UNIONS and politicians have voiced renewed concern after Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) said it intends to press ahead with plans to do away with air traffic control towers at airports including Sumburgh in favour of a remote digital system.

HIAL said the remote towers and “centralised approach surveillance control programme” would mirror a successful project in Sweden and transform operations at its network of airports.

End of a short-lived era: farewell to Flybe

The last jet left Sumburgh for Aberdeen on Sunday evening about an hour behind schedule. Photo: Ivan Reid

FLYBE's Embraer 170 jet left Sumburgh Airport for the last time on Sunday evening after the budget airline decided to the discontinue its Shetland service after only four months.

The decision not only removes competition from the routes to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, but also the convenience of jet travelling.

Local crofter joins group lobbying for a new farming policy

Cunningsburgh crofter Hazel Mackenzie is lobbying for a new farming policySHETLAND crofter Hazel Mackenzie is one of the founding members of a new national lobbying organisation set up to influence farming policy post-Brexit.

The Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) will be launched at the Real Farming Conference, in Oxford, on Friday (5 January).

The group of more than 100 farmers from across the UK hope to influence rural affairs secretary Michael Gove as he draws up agricultural policy beyond 2019.

Campaign seeks to end single use plastic

Plastic found in the stomach of a fulmar. Photo courtesy of KIMO.A LOCAL politician and shop owner is calling for local shops to stop selling plastic straws and cups, and has launched a campaign he hopes will ultimately eradicate all single-use plastic from Shetland.

Ryan Thomson, who as an SIC councillor chairs the local authority’s environment and transport committee, has committed his Tagon Stores business in Voe to stop selling plastic cups and plastic straws and has already got five other local shops, from Bigton to Unst, on board.

Loganair warns of losses after Flybe battle

Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles: 'successful transition from franchise partner to operating under our own brand'. Photo: LoganairLOGANAIR has warned that it expects to make a loss in the current financial year due to its recent rebranding and the "unsustainable" competition with Flybe on routes to and from Shetland.

The airline hopes to make an announcement next week on a new fare structure for flights to the isles after Flybe withdraws from the routes from Monday.

Merry Christmas from all of us

The Shetland News team (left to right); Neil Riddell, Chris Cope and Hans J Marter. Thanks to Jane Moncrieff of BBC Radio Shetland for taking the photo.WITH just one more week to go before the bells ring in the New Year, Shetland News is looking back at another busy and eventful year.

Our online news service, which will soon be celebrating its 15th anniversary since re-launching in 2003, has again recorded a healthy growth in readership figures.

By the end of the year we will have had well over 3.6 million visits to www.shetnews.co.uk from over 700,000 individual users who called up over 7.2 million pages, an increase in the region of 10 per cent across the board.

It's Miller time on Da Street as Living Lerwick appoints new management team

Emma Miller (left) and Selina-May Miller (right) are taking on the management of Living Lerwick. Photo: BBC Radio ShetlandTHERE ARE hopes that Living Lerwick can "wipe the slate clean and start again" after the appointment of two new managers to run the organisation over the next five years.

Emma Miller and Selina-May Miller will take over the reins from Christena Irvine in mid-January as Lerwick town centre enters its second Business Improvement District (BID) term.

Shellfish industry accuses conservation group of 'smear campaign' against scallop fishery

SSMO chairman Ian Walterson.SHETLAND’S inshore shellfish industry and local marine scientists have strongly condemned what they describe as a “series of false allegations” from a conservation organisation about the sustainability of king scallops from the islands.

The Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO) and NAFC Marine Centre has accused campaign group Open Seas of a “smear campaign” after it called for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) not to renew its accreditation of scallops.

Serco contract extended to October 2019 as Yousaf seeks to take ferry contract in-house

Scottish transport and islands minister Humza Yousaf pictured with Serco NorthLink managing director Stuart Garrett earlier this year. Photo: Shetland News/Neil Riddell.THE NORTHERN Isles ferry contract will continue to be operated by Serco NorthLink until October 2019 and the Scottish Government will decide by the spring whether it will be possible to make a direct award to a public sector operator.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf announced in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday afternoon that the government intends to award ferry contracts directly to in-house operators “if certain criteria can be met and subject to the views of local communities”.

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