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Remanded on drug charges

AN ABERDEEN man has been remanded in custody after appearing in private at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Monday facing drugs charges.

Kames MacIver, aged 50, of 47 Morrison Avenue, Sheddocksley, Aberdeen, made no plea or declaration and was committed for further examination. He is expected to appear in court again next week.


 

60 jobs lost as Whalsay Fish goes bust

A SHETLAND fish processing factory is to close its doors permanently with the loss of up to 60 jobs after the local authority called in administrators.

The demise of Whalsay Fish Processors was described as “a huge blow” to the island community of Whalsay, where many families depended on the work available at the plant.

The processing plant was mothballed early this summer after the company had been struggling for many months to source whole frozen salmon to keep the workforce busy.

The unusually harsh winter has been blamed for reduced salmon growth rates and a steep rise in raw material prices, which resulted in the small business being pushed out of the market.

Shetland Islands Council on Thursday decided to call in a £625,000 loan they had invested in June last year forcing the company into administration.

Of the loan, £85,000 has been paid back leaving a balance of £540,000, secured by the specialist processing equipment in the plant.

SIC development committee chairman and Whalsay councillor Josie Simpson described the situation as a “complete and utter disappointment”, but added that the local authority had no other choice to allow staff to get the £171,000 of redundancy pay they were due.

He said the department and management at the processor had worked very hard over recent months to find a way forward for the processing plant which had been part of the island’s economic fabric for the last four decades.

And he vowed that he would work “tirelessly” to find a new tenant for the factory building, which is owned by Shetland Leasing and Property (SLAP), a company wholly owned by the Shetland Charitable Trust.

Owner of Whalsay Fish Processors, local businessman Frank Johnson, was not available for comment on Thursday, but in a statement, a company spokeswoman said the company had been brought down by the unusually cold winter of 2009/10.

“The untypically harsh cold winter reduced biomass and salmon growth all across Europe. In response farmers in Norway reduced harvesting volumes by half for January February and March of this year. 

“Prices soared and salmon availability dropped. Whalsay Fish Processors, like so many other companies in the processing sector, has been adversely affected.

“This is really regrettable after all the positive effort by so many to see the business through to a new future. The cold winter is the single factor in derailing the business,” she said.

SIC abandons Round Britain race

SHETLAND Islands Council has pulled the plug on sponsoring the Round Britain and Ireland Race, which it supported to the tune of almost £100,000 during 2006 and 2010.

Sponsoring the internationally recognised race cost just over £44,000 this year, resulting in a “tangible” benefit to the island economy of £58,000, according to the council’s economic development unit.

At the SIC’s development committee on Thursday, councillor Rick Nickerson argued for continuing the sponsorship at the next race in 2014 as this was a good way of marketing Shetland to an audience in the south of England.

But the clear majority of councillors at Thursday’s development committee meeting agreed with councillor Jonathan Wills who said times were hard, and the council could not afford to sponsor the event.

Fetler whimbrel is oldest on record

ALMOST a quarter of a century after it was first ringed on the Shetland island of Fetlar, a whimbrel has been found breeding less than one kilometre away.

The bird is now believed to be the oldest known surviving ringed whimbrel in the world, more than doubling the typical eleven year lifespan and surpassing the previous longevity record of 16 years, held by a whimbrel ringed as a chick in Shetland in 1979, but unfortunately shot in France in 1995.

It was identified earlier this summer by the unique colour ring combination on its legs, which was fitted in 1986 when the bird was a nesting adult, during a detailed study on the ecology of the whimbrel by Durham University.

It is thanks to these colour rings that RSPB researcher Allan Perkins was able to not only age this whimbrel but also learn that it was still returning to the same breeding location many years later.

Dr Murray Grant, principal conservation scientist with RSPB Scotland, said: "I first came across this bird 24 years ago during my PhD research on whimbrel in Shetland. It was probably at least two or three years old then, as that's when these birds normally start breeding, so it is a great surprise to learn that it is still revisiting Fetlar after so long.

“However, my pleasure at learning of this record-breaking whimbrel is tempered by the fact that we've only found it because of our research into their population decline on Shetland.

“When I first encountered this bird there were some 80 pairs of whimbrel breeding on Fetlar, now there are probably fewer than 25. Sadly, it seems that this level of decline is typical of the rest of Shetland, which holds a vast majority of the UK population."

Shetland holds 90 per cent of the UK whimbrel population of just 250 pairs, a figure that has halved over the last 20 years

In response to this alarming decline RSPB Scotland has initiated new research on the species.

Dr Grant continued: "Whimbrels are fascinating wading birds, migrating from their African wintering grounds each spring to breed in the most northern parts of Scotland, and other sub-arctic lands such as Iceland and Finland.

“Unfortunately, just like their larger, more familiar cousin - the curlew - their numbers in the UK are falling rapidly.

“The reasons for these very rapid decreases aren't clear but we hope that our study of the species, which has started this year, will help us understand the difficulties they face."

Viking say this is as good as it gets

VIKING Energy say their revised planning application for a smaller wind farm is the final version that will be presented to the Scottish government’s energy consents unit.

The developer has spent a whole year answering the wide range of concerns raised following their initial planning application published on 20 May last year.

That plan, for 150 turbines producing 540 megawatts of electricity, generated a welter of objections from a wide range of individuals and organisations, including three of the main consultees – Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the bird charity RSPB.

Almost everyone said the project was too big and called for it to be scaled back, which Viking Energy have done.

The 150 turbines are down by 23, the final footprint is down from 252 hectares to 104, the output is down from 540MW to 457. The cost has also been reduced from £800 million to £685 million, but the income remains the same.

Shetland Charitable Trust stands to gain £23 million a year, £12 million will go on land rent (one of the main beneficiaries being the SIC), £2 million worth of business every year will enter the economy, while £1 million a year will go to affected communities. Over its quarter century life Shetland should receive almost £1 billion, and that, they say, is a conservative estimate.

The turbines that have been dropped were the “low hanging fruit”, in the words of Viking project officer and shareholder David Thomson.

All eight windmills planned north east of Voe, around Collafirth, have gone. These were the ones which would have had the most impact on birds and peat, as this area had the best quality peat moor of the entire site.

Others have been picked off here and there to minimise visual impact and the potential damage to breeding bird populations, or because they were going to be the least productive in terms of energy generation.

The company claims to have addressed every concern raised by every objector, though not necessarily to everyone’s satisfaction.

They have worked with the main consultees who were not happy with the methodology they had used to come to their findings, and say that at least everyone should be happy with the way they have reached their conclusions.

“Every single aspect of the project has been considered and reviewed, and even things that were not identified as issues or problems have had work done on them in some cases, like noise,” Mr Thomson told a press briefing on Wednesday morning.

“We have done an extremely thorough job. Nothing that was raised has not been addressed or dealt with as far as we can,” project co-ordinator and local councillor Allan Wishart added. “I am confident we won’t have another avalanche of objections.”

They have reduced the wind farm’s size, but they can not go further. “We need to have a critical mass to justify the connection to the mainland, to make an adequate contribution towards helping climate change and producing enough units of electricity to provide a potential return to investors,” Mr Thomson said.

“I think we have gone absolutely as far as we can to maintain a viable project,” Mr Wishart added.

But those potential investors, especially the banks from whom Shetland Charitable Trust will be borrowing their 45 per cent of the construction cost, are hungry to get involved in what is seen as a “no brainer” as far as fat profits are concerned.

The wind farm design could still change thanks to the advance of technology with the 145 metre high 3.6MW Vestas turbines they have planned to use already being superceded by more powerful machines. That could mean still fewer turbines or more power being generated by the same number.

However one thing the new plan does mean is that there should be around 150MW of spare capacity on the 600MW interconnector that the project depends on. That will almost inevitably open the door to a plethora of new applications for individual, community and commercial renewable schemes.

Mr Thomson is keen to point out that Shetland’s has some of the best wind, wave and tide conditions for generating electricity in the whole world. It is also a lot cheaper to build a renewable power plant on Shetland than offshore – Viking would cost an extra £130 million if it was at sea.

Visual impact has been perhaps the main concern for the wider Shetland public who do not relish the thought of spending the next 25 years staring at huge whirling windmills when they stare out of their home or car window, let alone go for a walk on the hills.

Birds and peat have been the major source of contention though, with genuine fears that the project will have a disastrous effect on important bird populations and at the same time generate more carbon than it saves by not burning fossil fuels.

The company is very confident it has addressed the bird issue, so much so that they claim their plans to improve habitat will mean some species such as whimbrel, merlin and red throated diver will see their populations increase as a result of the development.

A huge part of the work carried out over the past year has been focussed on ornithology, leading them to conclude that the overall impact will be “not significant”.

As for the carbon payback period, the company says they have abandoned the standard practice of assessing this by looking at standard government advice and guidance, instead carrying out their own detailed analysis of the land in question.

What they discovered was that the peat on the site was in such poor condition that more than 67 per cent was emitting carbon into the atmosphere, due to climate change, sheep grazing and poor drainage. “It’s a well documented fact that the central mainland of Shetland is suffering from massive peat erosion,” Mr Thomson said.

While last year their best case scenario for carbon payback was 2.7 years, their worst case scenario is now less than one year.

They say their figures have been checked by the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute and will be independently reviewed by SEPA, however they are so confident that Mr Thomson believes if they include their habitat management plans there could even be “a negative carbon payback period”.

Mr Wishart said that when he joined the council in 2007 he had many questions about Viking Energy’s plans before he became a company director and then its project co-ordinator, giving up his seat on the charitable trust to take on the paid position.

“Now I think it is one huge opportunity for Shetland. We simply can’t miss this because my fear is that if we don’t involve ourselves as a community, the resources here are so good they will be exploited by others.

“Given the interest from the European Investment Bank and other supporting banks who want to get involved in this because of the absolutely amazing return, I am completely relaxed about this.”

It has taken seven years to take the project to this stage and people will have until 19 November to send their comments to the government’s energy consents unit. The council will have a further four weeks to respond.

Viking hope to win planning consent from the Scottish government early next year and be putting the whole project out to tender in the spring.

If that happens the islands might see the beginnings of a “windrush” as other people try to soak up the spare capacity on that interconnector, which also has to be given planning consent along with a converter station at Kergord.

SIC recruits help with revamp

Shetland Islands Council has secured the services of a local government consultant to help implement its improvement plan as extra staff are redeployed to help new chief executive Alistair Buchan with revamping the authority.

Nigel Stewart retired earlier this year after more than 40 years experience in local government, most recently as director of corporate services with Argyll and Bute Council.

There his responsibilities included governance and political management arrangements, on which he has provided training courses over many years.

He was a member of the council’s strategic management team and its monitoring officer, clerk of the peace and returning officer for parliamentary and local government elections. 

Mr Buchan said: “Following members’ endorsement of the improvement process at the last SIC meeting, we have secured the services of Nigel Stewart, a highly respected and experienced former local government director to look at the committee structure, systems and other aspects of governance and decision making within the council. 

“Three members of staff have also joined the executive office from education and social care for an initial period of up to six months to help provide a dedicated and enhanced business support service to me, the convener and members.”

Carmichael wants rid of Crown Estate

NORTHERN isles MP Alistair Carmichael has called on the government to remove control of the seabed from the Crown Estate.

His comments come one day after his Liberal Democrat colleague, Scottish secretary Michael Moore, announced that the Crown Estate would allow the sale of reclaimed seabed to Lerwick Port Authority.

Mr Carmichael, who is the Liberal Democrats’ senior whip in the Westminster coalition government, welcomed the Crown Estate move and described it as “a policy U-turn”.

However he added that as Scottish secretary, Mr Moore had the power to direct the Crown Estate Commissioners and called on him to go one step further and remove the seabed from their control altogether.

On Monday the Crown Estate said that while it retained ‘a general disposition against the sale of the seabed’, proposals for individual sales of reclaimed land would be considered on a case by case basis.

Prior to his appointment as a government whip, Mr Carmichael had long campaigned against the Crown Estate’s stance, which meant port authorities, marinas and fish farms have all been forced to pay substantial rents into the government’s coffers.

On Tuesday he said: “It is not right that port authorities like Lerwick should be expected to pay substantial annual rent on top of the significant investment they have made in developing the seabed for commercial use.

“This is money that should be retained in our local economy to support jobs and services. Since his appointment as Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore has taken an active interest in this issue.
 
‘The actions of the Crown Estate have a big impact on the economy of the Northern Isles and I am pleased that we are now finally in a position to help ensure that the commissioners work with local authorities instead of ignoring their concerns, as was too often the case in the past.
 
‘The Secretary of State for Scotland has a power to direct the Crown Estate commissioners. I hope that he will use that power, or at least the threat of it, to get across to the commissioners that they can no longer ride roughshod over the needs and wishes of island and coastal communities.
 
‘Using his power of direction should only be the start of this. Ultimately I would like to see control of the seabed removed from the Crown Estate and given to the communities who rely on it.’

Government backs community renewables

THE SCOTTISH government has announced it will help communities and rural enterprises to develop green energy schemes with a new loan fund.

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead told the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference , in Edinburgh, that communities across Scotland could reap huge benefits from energy production.

Unveiling plans for the new fund, Mr Lochhead said it would be available to help prepare renewable energy projects before they applied for planning permission.

Mr Lochhead said: “There is potential for nearly 900 megawatts of electricity being produced from wind turbines at some 340 sites, about 23 MW of hydropower and about 800 MW of biomass heating capacity across 460 installations.

“On the heat side alone, this equates to a 300 per cent increase on the 155 small and medium scale systems currently operating in Scotland.

"The scope to enhance revenue to communities and landowners is equally significant with one 2.5 MW turbine providing a net return of £4.8 million over a 20 year period.

"This government is determined that communities should share in the opportunities opening up before us and we will be consulting shortly on a range of options to ensure these benefits are secured for the people of Scotland."

The initial business case for the pre-planning loan fund is outlined in a report prepared by the Scottish Agricultural College and Community Energy Scotland.

The government hopes the new fund will lead to new development partnerships and aid investment in a wide range of low carbon energy projects throughout the country.

The report should become available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Business-Industry/Energy/Energy-sources/19185/Resources/20646

In brief for 29 September 2010

Cash for training

SHETLAND Islands Council is setting up a new grant scheme to help local businesses access funding to improve the skills of their workforce.

The new Shetland Business Growth Training Scheme will be set up by the council’s economic development unit with the help of £85,000 from the European Social Fund.

It will help part-fund short training courses and cover most economic sectors, according to SIC head of business development Douglas Irvine, who said it will fill a gap in the market.

“This scheme will enable businesses to access training opportunities which may not have been previously possible and encourage them to consider the benefits of a better skilled workforce.

“During the current economic climate, giving local businesses the opportunity to invest in skills development will also help them remain competitive and sustainable,” he said.

Interested businesses should contact the council’s Business Gateway service on 01595 745945.


More folk, less litter

THIS year’s annual spring clean of Shetland’s beaches and roadside verges saw 4,191 local people take part, at 19 per cent of the population its highest ever turnout.

Altogether 215 groups took part in Da Voar Redd Up from all over Shetland, including charities, community groups, businesses, families and individuals.

More good news was that the amount of rubbish collected had fallen by 10 tonnes to 44.8 tonnes, less than half the 90 tonnes collected in 2004 and 2006.

Shetland Amenity Trust chairman Brian Gregson thanked all the volunteers, saying: “Their efforts make a huge difference to the natural heritage of Shetland, by clearing the bruck left by the winter storms and thoughtless individuals, and by removing materials which present hazards to our wildlife.”


Short story prize

SHETLAND’S literary magazine The New Shetlander is holding a competition for the best short story up to 3,000 words in length as part of its Yule celebration.

Entries for the competition can be in English or Shetland dialect and should be submitted without the writer’s name by email or post to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   or New Shetlander, Market House, 14 Market Street, Lerwick, no later than 28 October.

First prize is £100 with £50 going to the runner up, and the winning stories will be published in the Yule edition. The editors said they hoped for a good response.


Singing Kettle

MORE than 1,000 tickets have already been sold for the Singing Kettle’s Pirate Party at the Clickimin Leisure Complex next month.

The last few tickets for the 7 October performance by the popular children’s entertainers are on sale from the Clickimin or on 01595 745555.

The Pirate Party Show is billed as a one hour singalong for the whole family full of nautical nonsense and fantastic songs like “Drunken Sailor, Over the Irish Sea and Eelly Alley O”.


Serpentine drama

SERPENTINE Drama Group will perform six 10 minute plays at the Lerwick library on Tuesday 5 October. The plays, written by members of the cast, were originally presented at this year’s Wordplay event. 

The plays have now been collated into a book produced by Playback Productions. “Directions - short plays with Shetland roots” will be launched as part of the evening’s drama.

The library doors will open at 7pm and the performances will begin at 7.30pm.  Admission is free and the organisers have said they would love to see people attend.


Rugby delays ferry

FERRY operator NorthLink have said they will delay the northbound departure of the ferry on Saturday 27 November to accommodate islanders returning home after the Scotland v Samoa rugby test match being played at Aberdeen’s Pittodrie stadium.

The decision was taken after the company was approached by the Scottish Rugby Union and the Orkney Rugby Football Club and follows a similar approach taken two years ago when Scotland played Canada.

The match will end just after 4pm so NorthLink have extended the check in time by 45 minutes to 5.15pm. “Hopefully, that gives fans enough time to get across town and on board,” chief executive Bill Davidson said.

Forbes Hogg, president of Shetland RFC, said: “I see this agreement between the Scottish government, NorthLink Ferries, Scottish Rugby and the people of Shetland and Orkney as an inspired and enlightened approach to this unusual situation.

“In Shetland, rugby is still a growing sport, and giving us the chance to promote the game, to see an International match and still travel home the same night is a real boon, especially for the youngsters, “ he said.


Architect award

A PRIVATE house in Nesting has won a design award for Scalloway-based architects Redman and Sutherland.

Grunnabreck, built on the exact dimensions of a Viking longhouse looking out over the Bay of Skellister, won the new build category in Inverness Architectural Association (IAA) Design Awards for Orkney and Shetland.

The architects were also commended for their redevelopment of Anderson’s Buildings, on Scalloway’s Main Street, converting it into 11 flats and a crèche; and a new house at Upper Sound, in Lerwick.

Also commended were Jim Sutherland and Bernie Redman’s former employer Richard Gibson Architects for the renovation of Harbour House and the new public yoilets in Lerwick town centre.

Grunnabreck will now go into the regional final to be held in November where the best projects from the highlands and islands will be entered.

The public are being invited to submit their nominations to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Litter fishing

THE FISHING for Litter campaign which began life in Lerwick harbour is now to be brought in to all north east Atlantic countries.

The OSPAR Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment has adopted the Fishing for Litter programme where fishing boats bring in to port any sea borne rubbish they collect in their nets.

The scheme has already been implemented throughout Scotland, the south west of England and the Netherlands.

However a move to set a target for a 40 per cent reduction in marine litter by 2020 was deferred for two years after being blocked by environment ministers from the UK, Spain, Denmark and Iceland.


Power plans

SCOTLAND will produce as much power from renewable sources as it consumes by 2025, according to first minister Alex Salmond.

Addressing the Scottish Low Carbon Investment conference on Tuesday, Mr Salmond also unveiled the renewables industry’s ‘route map’ for offshore wind.

“I’m confident that by 2025 we will produce at least 100 per cent of our electricity needs from renewables alone, and together with other sources it will enable us to become a net exporter of clean, green energy,” Mr Salmond said.

“Indeed, on the basis of the Offshore Valuation study, by 2050 we could be producing as much as seven times our domestic power needs through offshore renewables - positioning Scotland as the clean, green energy powerhouse of Europe.”

The conference was looking at how to secure an estimated £200 billion of private investment into offshore wind.

More information about the conference is available at http://www.slciconference.com/

Missing man found safe and well

NORTHERN Constabulary said this morning (Wednesday) that missing man Darren Priest had been traced safe and well

On Monday, police put out an urgent call to the public to help them finding the 25 year old from Lerwick who was believed to have travelled by ferry to Aberdeen the previous Tuesday, and not been seen since.

Drilling ban would be harmful – says Lyon

SCOTTISH MEP George Lyon has described a decision by the European Parliament’s environment committee to call for a moratorium on deepwater drilling in European waters as a “knee-jerk-reaction”.

The environment committee adopted a moratorium with 46 votes in favour, eight against and three abstentions. The full parliament will debate and vote on the resolution in early October.

Speaking after the committee’s decision on Tuesday, the LibDem politician said any ban would have a detrimental impact on Scotland.

"This is a knee-jerk reaction. Safety standards are far higher in the North Sea basin than in the Gulf of Mexico and to introduce a moratorium on new drilling does nothing but harm European interests.

"After the Piper Alpha disaster and the subsequent Cullen Enquiry, platform safety standards in the North Sea are the best in the world.

"The UK is the only significant producer of oil in Europe with the fields off the West of Shetland among some of the most promising areas for development. To introduce a blanket ban across Europe will have a disproportionate effect on Scotland.

"The UK industry is far from complacent when it comes to safety. Procedures and practices are constantly reviewed and changes implemented when necessary,” he said.

But the move was welcomed by the Norwegian environmental organisation Bellona.

Its spokesman Eivind Hoff said: “Bellona welcomes the decision of the committee and now waits for the existing legislation on liability and security to be updated and completed.

“This draft resolution sends a strong message also to non-EU countries such as Norway that the potential consumers in Europe do not want oil or gas produced irresponsibly.”

Meanwhile, environmental campaigners from Greenpeace have stopped their protest at the drill ship Stena Carron, around 100 miles north of Shetland, after the oil company was granted a second interdict, on Tuesday.

Campaigner Leila Deen, on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, said on Wednesday that the interdict was currently studied by the organisation’s lawyers after it had been served on the head office, in London, in the morning.

She said the Esperanza was now in the vicinity of the Lagavulin prospect where the Stena Carron is expected to start drilling a wildcat well in 500 metres of water, once Chevron receives the nod from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Wind farm plan cut by 15 per cent

PLANS for one Europe’s largest onshore wind farms to be built on Shetland have been considerably reduced to meet concerns of objectors.

The main consultees and many islanders objected last year when the original plans for a 150 turbine wind farm to be constructed on the hills in Shetland north and central mainland were published.

Viking Energy Partnership (VEP), a joint company owned by Scottish and Southern Energy and Shetland Charitable Trust, has spent a whole year addressing those concerns.

They submitted their final plan on Wednesday, which goes out to consultation for six weeks from 8 October.

VEP chairman Bill Manson said: “We have listened to what people have said and we have put a massive amount of time and effort into making changes to address concerns.

“The wind farm is now smaller, more compact and has a much shorter carbon payback period.”

Viking now propose erecting 127 turbines which will generate 457 megawatts, down by about 15 per cent from their last proposal. The area covered by the final development is less than half of the size of the original, at 104 hectares.

Despite the reduction in size, the company believes the £685 million project will still make as much money as the previous plan which would have cost £800 million to complete.

The decrease in development costs and interest charges, coupled with the ever increasing cost of energy, should still yield a return to the community owned Shetland Charitable Trust of £23 million a year.

Viking say the construction phase, due to last from 2013 to 2017, will employ 174 people, while the wind farm itself will employ 42 full time staff with a further 23 employees filling support roles.

The total income for the Shetland economy is conservatively estimated at £930 million across its prospective 25 year lifetime, generating £38 million a year for the islands in profits, rents, business and direct payments to affected communities, estimated at around £1 million a year.

The biggest change to the wind farm’s footprint is the removal of all eight turbines from the Collafirth area, one of four zones laid out in the original plan published on 20 May last year.

The number of turbines in Delting is down from 33 to 24 turbines, Kergord has one fewer at 46 and Nesting would see 57 turbines, five less then previously envisaged.

The company said they had taken out the turbines that would produce the least energy and have the most impact on habitat, birds and landscape.

The total construction area is down from 314 hectares to 232 hectares, with the final wind farm only taking up 104 hectares as opposed to 252 hectares in the original plan.

Access tracks will be converted into single track roads when the wind farm is built, and their total length is down by 14 kilometres to just over 100km, with two junctions removed at Setter, near Voe, and Newing, in Nesting.

The company said the most work had been done on bird surveys with a great deal of effort in mitigating the impact on the most rare species, red throated divers, whimbrel and merlin.

They say that their plans to improve the habitat around the wind farm will more than mitigate the impact of the turbines, and should lead to an increase in the most endangered bird populations.

They also promise a major archaeological heritage project in the area and an archaeological clerk of works will be employed full time on site, supported by professional field staff and specialists where required.

The biggest surprise however is Viking’s claim that they have reduced the carbon payback time from a worst case scenario of nearly 15 years to less than one year.

They say they have taken a detailed look at the area in question and discovered that two thirds of it is eroded and damaged peat that is already emitting carbon dioxide and harming the atmosphere, which they would reinstate.

The addendum was presented to the 23 trustees of Shetland Charitable Trust on Wednesday morning, with further presentations to the community groups supporting and objecting to the wind farm plan taking place in the afternoon.

Break dancing at the Garrison

A LEADING Scottish break dancer will be performing and running workshops during a three day visit to Shetland next month.

Tony Mills was born in Orkney 31 years ago, but this will be his first visit to Shetland during which he will perform “a dynamic double bill of dance solos” choreographed by himself.

“Growing up in Orkney, I never got the chance to visit Shetland. I’m proud and excited about showing my solos there and that I can finally make the trip,” he said.

He will present ‘Watch iT!’ and ‘Such a Bloke’ at Lerwick’s Garrison Theatre on 13 October after spending two days running dance workshops for secondary school pupils aged 12 to 17 at the same venue. These will be at 1-3pm on Monday 11 October and 10-12am and 1-3pm on Tuesday 12 October.

A further one off workshop for adults aged 17 or over will be held on Monday evening at 7-8.30pm.

John Haswell, of Shetland Arts, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to work with a major figure in the dance scene. Shetland Arts is delighted that he has agreed to undertake these workshops to complement the performances in Shetland.”

The workshops will be free to attend but there are only 16 places available so anyne wishing to take part should book as early as possible by calling Shetland Box Office on 01595 745555.

Tickets for the Garrison show cost £10/£6 and area available on the same number.

You can see Tony Mills perform at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CKqW5SJu74

Lochhead speaks for UK on mackerel

SCOTTISH fishing minister Richard Lochhead has welcomed the strong stance taken by the European Union on an international agreement to manage the north east Atlantic stock of mackerel.

The gesture of European unity comes after Iceland and Faroe earlier this year unilaterally increased their mackerel quota to 130,000 and 85,000 tonnes respectively.

On Monday the EU was given a mandate by member states to try and reach a satisfactory agreement with the two island states on mackerel. Europe also signalled that it will not be a soft touch during the talks and will adopt a tough negotiating stance.
 
For the first time Mr Lochhead was able to address the European Council on behalf of the UK, insisting on a strong message in support of what is Scotland’s most valuable fishery.

Mr Lochhead said: “The council was unanimous in its condemnation of the actions taken by Iceland and the Faroes and it is quite clear that the reputations of both countries are at severe risk.

“We all recognise that it is in our interests to resolve the situation as soon as possible and reach an agreement, otherwise the rich mackerel stock will be endangered.

“However, Scotland was at the top table today for the first time to make the case that a deal must not be signed at any price and anti-conservation behaviour must not be rewarded.”

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott added: “I took the Secretary of State for Scotland to meet the Shetland Fishermen's Association to discuss the current problems facing the industry.

"Faroese and Icelandic fishermen are putting the future of the mackerel fishery at risk through their irresponsible actions. The European Commission has got to stand tall and take every possible action to end this crisis.

"It's right that the Scottish fisheries minister speaks for the UK in this instance.  This did not and would not have happened with a Labour government."

Swinney says SIC’s on the right track

SCOTTISH finance secretary John Swinney is confident that Shetland Islands Council is taking the right steps to reshape the local authority following damning criticism from the Account Commission.

Mr Swinney was in Shetland on Monday to be briefed by the council leadership on the SIC’s improvement plan. Mr Swinney also hosted an hour long independent budget review meeting with members of a number of local organisations.

Following a two day hearing in June, the Accounts Commission described Scotland’s most northerly local authority as poorly led and badly divided with a haphazard approach to business.

The SIC has been ordered to implement a sweeping improvement plan, the initial outline of which has been prepared by new chief executive Alistair Buchan.

As part of the improvement plan the council will restructure its committees to work more effectively with individual departments and will review its senior management structure.

Mr Swinney said: “The council has been given a very clear message by the Accounts Commission.

“I expected the council to respond positively to that report, and the council has done that by the formulation of its improvement plan and is now taking steps to make sure that that is implemented.

“I welcome the fact that the council is taking that course of action and there has to be, of course, a report back to the Accounts Commission on the success of the council in addressing these concerns.”

After meeting the finance secretary in Lerwick town hall, chief executive Alistair Buchan said:

Rowdy fishermen fined after brawl

TWO Peterhead fishermen were fined a total of £1,600 after resisting arrest following a fight with door staff at a Lerwick night club in the early hours of Sunday.

Appearing from custody before Lerwick Sheriff Court on Monday, Jamie Reid, of 4 Waterside Place, pled guilty to assaulting door staff at Posers’ nightclub, while William Buchan admitted assaulting a police officer at the nearby Hillhead car park.

Both also admitted struggling with two police officers and resisting arrest.

The court heard how the trouble started when 40 year old Reid was told he could not leave Posers with a can of beer in his hand. His response was to assault the door man and pull him down to the ground.

The struggle continued in the Hillhead car park, when further assistance was called in after Reid’s 19 year old crew mate William Buchan got involved by assaulting one of the police officers who had been summoned.

Both were eventually arrested, charged and kept in the cells until Monday’s court hearing.

Defence solicitor Tommy Allan said both his clients had acted out of character and had already apologised to the police officer who sustained some minor injuries from the struggle.

Neither had any great recollection of what had happened and felt ashamed, he said.

The court also heard that their boat had meanwhile left Lerwick harbour on another fishing trip

Honorary sheriff Malcolm Bell fined them £800 each.

Moore backs drilling as protest goes on

ENVIRONMENTAL pressure group Greenpeace continued their protest against deep sea drilling on Monday in front of the drill ship Stena Carron.

As Scottish secretary Michael Moore defended the UK’s stance on deepwater drilling during his visit to Shetland, Greenpeace sent more volunteers to swim in front of the 228 metre vessel as it was steaming ahead 100 miles north of Shetland

The activists said that they would continue to halt the progress of the Chevron-operated ship for as long as they can.

Greenpeace want the UK to stop drilling for oil and gas in the deep north east Atlantic following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

But on a visit to Lerwick harbour, Mr Moore said drilling for oil west of Shetland would continue.

“Greenpeace has a long established position on deepwater drilling. The government takes a different view.

“We believe that we continue to examine our opportunities and options around the UK waters and we will continue with the licensing round and continue to look at drilling in the context of a very strict safety and environmental regime.

“Ever since the Gulf of Mexico disaster we have been working very closely with the UK industry, looking very carefully at the safety regime.

“Inspections have been increased and we are confident that by continuing strong partnership working, we can maintain our strong record in British waters that has been a feature of the last decades.

Second court order against Greenpeace

OIL company Chevron has been granted a second court order to stop environmental pressure group Greenpeace from continuing their protest against deep sea drilling north of Shetland.

On Saturday Greenpeace were forced to abandon their occupation of the Stena Carron drilling ship just outside Lerwick harbour after five days during which they took up residence on the ship’s anchor chain.

The huge vessel immediately set sail for the Lagavulin oil prospect 160 miles north of Shetland, even though it has yet to receive a licence to actively explore the area.

Undeterred, Greenpeace activists set about stopping the Stena Carron from reaching its destination by entering the sea in front of the ship in diving suits and kayaks on Sunday.

However on Tuesday the Court of Session in Edinburgh granted Chevron another interdict, this time to prohibit Greenpeace and its activists from “impeding the

progress of the Stena Carron or taking any steps to block its path in any way or to otherwise interfere with Chevron's lawful operations in its licensed blocks in the Shetland region”.

The company said they were now trying to serve the interdict on Greenpeace at their London headquarters and on those on board the organisation’s support vessel Esperanza.

In a statement the company said: “Chevron condemns the actions of Greenpeace in impeding the Stena Carron from going about its lawful business north of Shetland and having allowed its supporters to put themselves in danger by swimming in the path of the drillship and forcing it to a standstill.

“Chevron is concerned for the safety of those involved and, while we acknowledge and respect the right of Greenpeace to express its views by peaceful and lawful action, we deplore the recklessness of their actions so far and urge Greenpeace to respect the interdict granted by the court and cease these activities immediately.”

These liners just keep getting bigger

JUST before daybreak on a beautiful Shetland autumn morning the largest cruise liner ever to visit Lerwick harbour dropped her anchor at Breiwick.

The arrival of the 290 metre liner Grand Princess rounds off a successful summer season for Lerwick Port Authority, with 48 cruise ships entering the port during the last five months.

The 2,300 passengers on board the Grand Princess will push the number of cruise passengers visiting Shetland this year beyond the 30,000 mark for the first time.

The 108,806 gross tonne vessel arrived from Bergen, in Norway, this morning and is due to leave Lerwick later this afternoon bound for the Faroe Islands as part of a 14 day cruise that will take it across the Atlantic for the start of the season in the Caribbean.

Port deputy chief executive Victor Sandison said: “Today marks the end of a very successful cruise liner season here at Lerwick. We welcomed this year a record number of passengers, and also a record tonnage of cruise ships, and of course the Grand Princess is the biggest ship that we have welcomed to date.”

Preparations to make next year’s season even more successful are already well under way with many bookings for 2011 already confirmed.

Mr Sandison said the port authority was keen to be ahead of the game in what is seen as a major growth area of the tourism industry across the globe.

“The cruise traffic we see is very important to the port, value wise about £1.8 million to the Shetland economy. We are very keen to support this growing market and provide the facilities the largest ships require.

“Next year, of course, we already have 44 cruise ships due here at Lerwick, and we are also looking at increased tonnage and more passengers as well.”

The vessels are getting even bigger than the Grand Princess. The port authority confirmed that they will welcome two more record breakers next year, the 113,651 tonne Crown Princess on 7 June and the 114,500 tonne Costa Pacifica four days later.

Greenpeace still surround Stena Carron

ENVIRONMENTAL campaign group Greenpeace claim to have stopped the huge drilling ship Stena Carron in its tracks for the third day running.

Stena Carron left Lerwick harbour on Saturday after serving a court order on Greenpeace forcing them to abandon their protest attached to the vessel’s anchor chain.

However when the ship was 100 miles north of Shetland on Sunday morning Greenpeace campaigners entered the sea from their support ship Esperanza and swam in front of it.

When the ship sailed through the first wave of swimmer, a second wave swam out and penned the ship in. The ship has not moved since as Greenpeace maintain their cordon on a rota basis.

The ship is just nine limes away from its destination, the Lagavulin oil prospect where Chevron want to drill an exploratory well in 1,500 metres of water.

One of the swimmers, Ben Stewart, was in the team that swam in front of the ship until midnight on Monday.

Speaking on Tuesday morning by satellite phone on the Esperanza he said: "It's getting tiring being out there but we're determined to keep going. It's a bit scary to paddle away beneath the huge bow of that ship, it's the size of a skyscraper on its side, but every day we keep it here is a day less it can drill for oil in deep water.

“We need to go beyond oil, we have to invest in clean energy otherwise there'll be BP-style disasters hitting the coastlines of Europe and the fight to beat climate change will be lost."

The swimmers are spending four hours in the water before resting for eight hours then going in again. They are wearing immersion suits to keep warm and lifejackets to stay safe.

Greenpeace is threatening legal action against the UK government in an effort to stop the granting of new permits for deep water drilling.

Last month Greenpeace lawyers wrote a 'letter before action' to ministers as a precursor to seeking a judicial review of the decision to push ahead with new deep water drilling before the lessons from the BP disaster have been learned.

A ban on deep water drilling is being considered by the European Parliament's environment committee on Tuesday.

Environmentalists are concerned that the committee may block the move and could also weaken measures to reduce emissions from vans in a separate resolution today.

Meanwhile oil giant Chevron, who are operating the Stena Carron, appealed to Greenpeace to end their protest.

“This latest act is extremely dangerous and once again demonstrates that Greenpeace is willing to put its volunteers at risk by entering the path of the Stena Carron while the vessel is in transit,” the company said in a statement.

“We hoped that Greenpeace would continue to respect the interdict granted by the court, which prohibits the activists from returning to the Stena Carron, but this gesture shows no regard for the law and for the safety of all involved.”

Largest cruise liner due on Tuesday

THE LAST cruise liner to visit Lerwick harbour this summer is also the largest the Shetland port has ever welcomed.

The 108,806 gross tonne Grand Princess is due to arrive at 7am on Tuesday when she will anchor in Breiwick Bay. The largest to date had been the Costa Magica (102,587 gross tonnes) which called twice in 2009.

Her visit brings to an end a record breaking cruise liner season with around 30,000 passengers arriving on 48 ships.

Lerwick Port Authority said that for the first time ever the overall tonnage of cruise liners had broken through the one million tonne mark.

With around 2,200 passengers on board, Grand Princess, one of eight on maiden calls to the port this year will be en route from Bergen, Norway, to Torshavn, Faroe, on a trans-Atlantic repositioning cruise.

Lerwick Port Authority’s deputy chief executive Victor Sandison said: “It’s been another milestone cruise season, and not just for the hat-trick of new records reflecting increased activity and the valuable contribution to the Shetland economy.

“We have also continued to develop our visitor facilities and the trend to larger vessels continues to be seen in the already high level of bookings for 2011.”

There are already 44 cruise ships – a total of 1,477,493 gross tonnes  -  booked for 2011, including two more record breakers, the Crown Princess (113,651 gross tonnes) due on 7 June and Costa Pacifica (114,500 gross tonnes), scheduled for 11 June.

Both will be on maiden visits, as will another five of the vessels currently lined up.

And a visit by Crystal Serenity to Lerwick will coincide with the spectacular Parade of Sail day when participating vessels in the Tall Ships Races depart for Stavanger on 24 July 2011.

Shetland in line for broadband boost

A broadband project and a scheme to support training for people working for small and medium enterprises in Shetland are among the recipients of European funding that will be announced by Scottish finance minister John Swinney when he visits the islands today (Monday).

The Shetland Fibre Optic Network which plan to connect the islands to a recently-laid fibre optic cable between the Faroe Islands and the Scottish mainland is to receive £367,500 towards a project that will cost in excess of £1 million.

The cable is expected to significantly improve broadband connections.

Meanwhile the Shetland Business Growth Training Scheme, based at the council’s economic development unit, has landed a £85,500 grant.

Mr Swinney said: “In order to maintain the fragile economic recovery that is underway we have ensured that European Structural Fund allocations are directed towards projects that can help build sustainable economic growth.

“This is particularly good news for residents and businesses in Shetland, where the fibre optic cable will greatly enhance broadband connections.

“This award builds on the Scottish Government’s efforts to improve broadband services across Scotland and to realise its undoubted social and economic benefits.”

The allocation of £453,000 towards two Shetland projects is part of a £2.3 million funding package that will also benefit projects in on the islands of Coll and Gigha, a housing association in Campbeltown and the colleges in Inverness, Thurso, Morey and Stornoway.

The finance secretary is in Shetland on Monday where he will be quizzing the council leadership on its progress of improvement after the damning Accounts Commission report, which was published in August.

Mr Swinney will also meet the council’s fixed links working group which is keen to explore ways of funding its ambitious £300 million programme to build tunnels to Unst, Yell, Whalsay and Bressay over the next 20 years.

Finally, Mr Swinney will host a budget review meeting with representatives from the local authority, NHS Shetland and the business community to discuss the anticipated budget challenges of the next years.

He said: “Scotland’s budget is forecast to shrink by 3.7 billion pounds in real terms over the next four years because of Westminster cuts.

“In these meetings, we are seeking views from communities across the country to ensure our spending is in line with what matters to people across Scotland.

“The feedback we receive, along with what we already have from cabinet meetings around the country and our regular and ongoing engagement with groups and organisations from across Scottish society, will ensure we can bring forward the best possible budget in November.”

Protesters leave anchor chain

GREENPEACE’s occupation of the drilling Ship Stena Carron, off Shetland, came to an end on Saturday afternoon, when the bright yellow survival pod hanging from the vessel’s anchor chain was removed by the campaigners.

The eco warriors claimed that their five day protest had been a huge success despite a court order that forced an end to the direct action.

They had started their protest on Tuesday morning as part of their campaign against deep water drilling for oil which, they claim, should be banned as a consequence of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in the Gulf of Mexico.

On Saturday afternoon, activists from Greenpeace’s support vessel Esperanza removed the pod, weighing half a tonne, once the two activists inside it had climbed down the Stena Carron’s anchor chain.

They then used a dinghy to tow the pod back to the Esperanza.

Oil company Chevron had been granted an interdict on Friday afternoon threatening the protesters with huge fines or custodial sentences should they not end their protest.

On Saturday, police officers watched as members of the environmental pressure group reported the all clear to the master of the Stena Carron at around 3.45 pm. There were no arrests.

Speaking afterwards, Leila Deen, one of the Greenpeace protesters, said the protest on the Stena Carron’s anchor chain was over but the campaign against deepwater drilling would continue.

“We are definitely continuing our legal action against the government, and the Esperanza will also continue the campaign but at the moment it is not clear where we are going next.

“The protest here in Shetland has been a huge success. We managed to stay on the anchor chain for 100 hours, which is probably Greenpeace’s longest ‘in-position occupation’.

“We made our point and we have managed to draw global attention to the fact that deepwater drilling is happening.”

The Stena Carron left its position off the north of Bressay last night and headed for the waters to the northwest of Shetland with the Esperanza following her.

Chevron seeks interdict

OIL COMPANY Chevron is seeking a court order to remove the Greenpeace protesters from the anchor chain of the Stena Carron, off Shetland.

The environmental pressure group said on Friday afternoon that an interdict granted from the Court of Session in Edinburgh would force the protesters to come down or face huge fines or custodial sentences.

The eco warriors started their protest on Tuesday morning when climbers scaled the Stena Carron’s anchor chain and prevented here from leaving her position.

Greenpeace claimed the 228 metre vessel was about to leave for the west of Shetland to drill for oil in the Lagavulin field, 160 miles northwest of the isles.

Chevron has said the protest was reckless and called on the group to stop interfering with their lawful business.

On Friday, one of the protesters, Leila Deen, said: “Chevron claims it is seeking the court order because it needs to move the ship away from the coast in rough seas for safety reasons – in other words, the company claims its ship can’t hold its position.

“They want to use the same ship to drill for oil in even rougher seas, where a deviation of a few metres in their position risks disaster. In reality our protest was always entirely safe, while deepwater drilling is reckless and dangerous.”
 
Meanwhile, the pressure group has vowed to continue their protest against deepwater drilling despite a setback at the negotiating table.

On the forth day of the occupation of the anchor chain, environmental ministers meeting in Norway decided not to consider a moratorium on deepwater drilling, as originally proposed by Germany.

Instead, ministers agreed on Friday to wait until the final report on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is being presented to US president Obama, in January.

Greenpeace described the decision as a “total victory for the oil industry”.

Speaking from within the ‘survival pod’ suspended from the Stena Carron’s anchor chain around nine metres above the wave, activist Timo Puohiniemi said the protest would continue for as long as necessary.

By Friday afternoon the Finnish activist had already spent 52 hours in the two diameter large fibreglass construction.

He said: “I will stay here as long as necessary. I will come out here and take my pod with me voluntarily if the they say that they would stop drilling for oil in the deep sea. Hopefully I don’t need to spend the rest of my life in here.

“We are running out of oil. People don’t realise that running out of oil means that we are looking for it in more remote areas which makes it even more risky. Finding new oil makes the situation only better for maybe 20 or 30 years, and that is not worth the risk.

“We need to put our efforts and investments into clean and renewable energies, because oil has come to its end already because of its impact on climate change.”

Greenpeace to end occupation

GREENPEACE has confirmed on Friday afternoon that they are to end their protest at the drill ship Stena Carron on Saturday after oil company Chevron served a court order on the protest group.

The interdict forces the eco warriors to come down from the anchor chain they have occupied since Tuesday, or to face huge fines or even custodial sentences.

One of the campaigners, Leila Keen, said they had no option but to end their protest against deepwater drilling.

“We have decided to comply with the court order. The cost of challenging the court order would be phenomenal and Greenpeace doesn’t have that kind of money.”

She confirmed that the group would bring down the bright yellow survival pod, suspended from the anchor chain, within the next 24 hours.

She added: “We are definitely waiting until Saturday and police are happy with that.

“We think that it is a shame that the court have granted the order because, clearly, it is based on some spurious facts.

“Chevron based it all on the fact that they may need the anchor chain to hold the Stena Carron in position.

“That is crazy considering that this ship is designed to go into the wilds of the Atlantic Frontier and hold position so that they drill for oil.”

She said the decision to comply with the court order and take the survival pod down would not mean that the protest against deepwater drilling was over.