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Builder hospitalised after crane fall

A CRANE driver had a lucky escape on Thursday when his vehicle toppled on a building site in Lerwick on Thursday lunchtime.

The man was taken to the town’s Gilbert Bain Hospital with suspected broken ribs. A spokeswoman for the hospital said he was in a stable condition.

The accident happened when steel beams were being moved before assembly at the site of the council’s new social work headquarters, at the North Ness Business Park.

The £6 million project is being built by local construction firm Hunter & Morrison and financed by SLAP, the property arm of the Shetland Charitable Trust.

SCT financial controller Jeff Goddard said the Health and Safety Executive had been informed and an investigation to find out what exactly went wrong had been launched.

He expressed regret that a construction worker had been injured on a site owned by SLAP and added that everybody at the trust hoped his injuries were not too severe.

It appears that the man half fell and half jumped from the cab when his crane, the size of a large cherry-picker, started to topple.

He managed to escape by rolling under a trailer before the crane crashed down upon it. The steel beam the crane had been carrying hit the ground and fell over onto the crane.

“It was a small mobile crane that fell over and the beam that it was carrying came down on top of the crane.

“As far as we can tell, the man fell out of his cabin and rolled under the lorry itself.

“SLAP takes its safety obligations very seriously. As it happens we had a site visit there this morning, where all the health and safety people confirmed they were happy that this was a very well run site.

“As far as we can tell, it was an unfortunate accident. There is no suggestion that procedures had not been followed. It shows that building sites need to be treated with respect and that things can go wrong,” Mr Goddard said.

Significant drugs bust in Lerwick

A FORTY seven year old man and a 34 year old woman are in police custody in Lerwick after police officers seized heroin, amphetamine as well as money from two houses in Lerwick, on Wednesday evening.

Police in Shetland described the seizure as “significant”.

A spokesman for the force said:

“These seizures are as a result of determined action from the police to act on information provided by the public.

“The disruption of drugs misuse and supply on Shetland continues and can only progress with support and information provided by the community.”

A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal.

In brief for 26 August 2010

Peerie problem

SHETLAND Islands Council’s harbour board is to reassess how to prevent Whalsay’s Peerie Dock from crumbling into the sea.

Restoring the historic dock has been on the board’s capital wish list for many years, but increased pressure on its budget has now forced members to take a fresh look at the problem.

Councillor Rick Nickerson said more imaginative ways of attracting outside funding via the rural development scheme (SRDP) or lottery funding should be investigated.

A full historical rebuild could cost as much as £900,000 based on figures quoted two years ago.

Board member Jim Tait suggested filling in the pier “to preserve what we have at the moment” while non- council funding streams are investigated.


Dredging delayed

WORK to dredge the channel into Scalloway harbour will be delayed after Shetland Islands Council received no tenders within the £3 million budget earmarked for the project.

A deeper channel should attract new business to the west side port, allowing larger oil support and anchor handling vessels into the harbour.

The council also hopes to provide deeper berths as part of a separate project.

The harbour board heard on Wednesday that dredging was now not expected to begin before the end of the financial year.


Robust response

SHETLAND Islands Council is wondering who is responsible for responding to environmental activists challenging the UK’s stance on deepwater drilling for oil.

Councillor Rick Nickerson raised the question during a meeting of the harbour board when he asked how the SIC would respond to Greenpeace should the environmental pressure group choose to protest in the waters off the isles.

He asked: “Has this been considered? Rather than just react, it would be useful to have a robust response.”

His sentiments were echoed by chairman Alastair Cooper who asked the same question and tasked infrastructure executive director Gordon Greenhill to come up with an answer for the next board meeting.


Extra sessions

AS the Sovereign Shetland conference gets under way on Thursday, organiser Stuart Hill said that additional evening sessions had been arranged to allow those unable to take time off from work to participate in the proceedings.

He said: “Those sessions will be a repeat of the main topics of the daily programme to ensure folk are able to get the information. No tickets are needed for these extra sessions.”

The Sovereign Nation of Shetland conference has attracted a number of local, national and international speakers, and will be held in the Shetland Museum and Archives between Thursday and Saturday.

Back in jail after fighting police

A SHETLAND man who was arrested for struggling with police officers just two weeks after being released early from a four month jail sentence is back behind bars for the rest of the year.

Dale Henry, of 66 Nederdale, Lerwick, was jailed for four months in May after failing to turn up for a community service order imposed for an assault in Lerwick’s Wheel Bar in April last year.

The 28 year old was released early from that sentence on 19 July but was back in the cells on 1 August after a violent scene at a house in Lerwick’s Haldane Burgess Crescent.

The court heard that four policemen went to a house in Lerwick’s Haldane Burgess Crescent after reports of a fight, and had to use CS gas when Henry struggled violently with them.

Appearing from custody on Wednesday, Henry admitted resisting arrest at the house, causing a breach of the peace in a police vehicle and assaulting an officer at Lerwick police station by grabbing him by the throat.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said Henry’s life was controlled by drink and drugs. That night, he said, he had been fighting with his sister’s fiancé at the house to see if he was “of sufficient good character” to marry her when the police arrived to arrest him.

Mr Mackenzie said: “This was a violent struggle indeed, a number of police officers were involved and were required to use CS spray to maintain full control of him.”

During the hearing it emerged that a complaint has been submitted about the police officers’ behaviour that night. Defence agent Tommy Allan said that some witnesses had described them as “heavy handed”.

Mr Allan added that Henry’s family and friends were worried about his health and welfare as well as his consumption of drugs and alcohol and asked the court to consider registering him for a drug treatment and testing order.

However jailing him for a total of 246 days, including the remaining 48 days of his previous sentence, Sheriff Graeme Napier said Henry was showing no ability to stay out of trouble and such an order at this stage in his life would not be worthwhile.

Boots embezzler pays a high price

A FORMER shop assistant at Boots chemist in Shetland admitted embezzling almost £4,000 over a nine month period when she appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

The court heard that 30 year old Jacqueline Riise, of Lonabrak, Gunnista Road, Bressay, had pilfered small amounts of cash instead of putting it in the till.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said she was “shocked and stunned” when she realised the amount she had taken amounted to £3,748.83.

The money was taken between 3 September 2008 and 18 June 2009 when Riise’s family were experiencing financial difficulties, and she had built up debts which she had kept secret.

Since then she had signed an agreement to pay back more than £5,000 to a loan company in exchange for them settling the debt with Boots, though Mr Allan said she had done so without seeking legal advice and on the false understanding that there would be no criminal proceedings.

Sheriff Graeme Napier deferred sentence for one year for Riise to be of good behaviour and to hear how the repayments were going.

Big investment in small harbour

LERWICK Boating Club and Lerwick Port Authority have joined forces to upgrade a young club members’ training facility as part of a £650,000 programme of improvements at the town’s small boat harbour.

The project will provide a larger wooden boat deck for junior sail training, including a new launching ramp to enhance safety for all users.

Around 40 young members participate in sailing and rowing organised by the Royal Yachting Association affiliated club. The deck is also used by members as a landing facility and boat park for their craft.

The deck project has attracted grants of £100,000 from the Scottish Government Town Centre Regeneration Fund; £50,000 from sportscotland, and £10,000 from The Crown Estate.

Lerwick Boating Club commodore Andrew Anderson said: “The new boat deck will improve safety for launching and recovery of boats, especially for junior sail training.

“This, along with the enlarged boat storage and the ability to carry out training on the boat deck, will enhance the club’s future training plans and the opportunity to attract national and international sailing competitions.

“It also provides the ability to cater for the ever-increasing size of the local Flying Fifteen class fleet and keeps sailing in the heart of the old town.”

The port authority will build and own the deck as part of the wider improvement programme and lease it to the club at a non-commercial rental.

The overall project also includes the second phase of replacing the small boat harbour’s 100 metre plus wall along with a walkway doubled in width and the introduction of seating and new railings.

 Work is now underway and will be carried out by local firm Tulloch Developments, who last winter completed a similar £150,000 first phase.

Port authority chief executive Sandra Laurenson added: “The overall programme will bring a range of benefits from a fit-for-purpose replacement wall protecting the shore to improved training facilities, safety, amenities and access.

“Rather than simply replacing the structure with a functional wall, we recognised its popularity with the public as a walk and sitting area and decided to improve its attractiveness.

“It will also be an excellent vantage point when the Tall Ships Races return in July next year.”

Seaweed firm welcomes tariff ruling

A PIONEERING Shetland seaweed business has welcomed news that the new wind turbine at the centre of their expansion plans will be eligible for the government’s new feed in tariff (FiT).

Margaret and Michael Blance, of Böd Ayre Products, have spent £83,000 on a 20 kilowatt wind turbine to provide under floor heating in a new drying room where they intend to produce edible seaweed.

However the couple were told that because they had received money for the development under the Scottish government’s rural development programme (SRDP) they would not be eligible for the upper rate of 24p per kw hour.

They wrote to Shetland MSP Tavish Scott who told them on Tuesday that the UK government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change had finally published its ruling on the issue.

The ruling states that the upper limit FiT of 24p will be granted to anyone who does not gain more than 200,000 euros over three years from a combination of grants, low interest loans and the FiT.

Mr Scott advised people affected by the ruling to check with energy regulator Ofgem before making a final decision on their project, but expressed confidence that the ruling would help most people who had received SRDP funding towards small wind turbines in Shetland.

“This therefore seems to be good news for people wanting to harness Shetland’s wind with a small wind turbine and good news for contractors wanting to supply and erect them,” he said.

Mrs Blance said she was “kind of chuffed”, but said she would remain sceptical until she had contacted Ofgem.

“I am hoping it is going to be a positive result, but we have had so many knock backs that you end up being wary until you see it in writing,” she said.

At the end of next month Böd Ayre Products hope to be selling a new range of edible seaweeds dried in their new factory using the new turbine, which they hope to be operational shortly.

The company started researching their business 10 years ago and is currently involved in a research programme into potential health applications of seaweed.

Meanwhile northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael he would continue to make the case for people who had adopted renewable energy systems before July 2009 to be given access to the preferential tariff rates.

“Government should be encouraging people in Orkney and Shetland and elsewhere to make the greatest possible use of our natural resources,” he said.

“We have always spoken about getting the widest possible range of people involved in renewable energy. This was one of the most obvious ways of encouraging this.”

In brief for 25 August 2010

Unsafe offshore

THE HEALTH and Safety Executive has launched a new inspection initiative for aging oil and gas installations after new statistics show an increase in major injuries.

More than half of fixed oil and gas platforms have exceeded their original design life or soon will, the HSE says.

Last year saw 50 major injuries compared with 20 the previous year and an average of 42 for the previous five years. No workers were killed for the third year running, and the number of dangerous occurrences had fallen by 34 to 443.

However hydrocarbon releases were up by more than a third, leading the HSE to call for the industry to “up its game”.

Head of HSE’s offshore division Steve Walker said: "This year's overall health and safety picture is simply not good enough. The industry has shown it can do better and it must do in future."


Mackerel meeting

THE EU will be meeting with the Faroese and Icelandic government early next month to make headway in the row over mackerel quotas, according to Scottish fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead.

Mr Lochhead said on Tuesday that he had been assured by EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki that both Scotland and the UK would be closely involved in the process of finding a resolution to the dispute.

The Scottish industry is up in arms about the two countries’ unilateral increase of their mackerel quotas, while Faroe is furious about a cargo of mackerel being turned away from Peterhead by protesting fishermen recently.

There have been calls for all products from the two island groups to be banned from the EU and for Iceland’s application to join the EU group of nations to be refused.


Cullivoe commended

CULLIVOE primary school has been commended by the school inspectorate HMIE two months after escaping the SIC’s closure hit list under the Blueprint for Education.

An inspector visited Cullivoe primary school, on Yell, last June, and described much of its work as “very good”, notably the improvement in performance, learners’ experience, meeting learning needs and the school curriculum.

Improvement through self evaluation was considered “good”, but was described as an area where further work could be done.

The learning climate was supportive and encouraging, staff engagement with the Curriculum for Excellence was healthy, with a strong team spirit and leadership from the head teacher Claire Lawson.

Shetland Islands Council’s services committee chairman Gussie Angus said: “The report's high praise for the head teacher and the children reflects great credit on all involved in this healthy educational environment.”


Belting up

SHETLAND police reported just two fixed penalties being issued to people failing to wear seatbelts during the force’s nationwide day of action on speeding and seatbelts.

Throughout the Northern Constabulary bailiwick there were nine people caught speeding and 30 without seatbelts.

Road disruption

PART of Lerwick’s Esplanade will be closed between 30 August and 17 September while work on improvements to the small boat harbour continue with the placement of pre-cast wall units.

The upper Gremista road will be closed between 27 and 30 August to replace a culvert over the burn of Gremista, with traffic being re-routed on the lower Gremista road.

The B9075 in north Nesting south of the Billister junction will be closed for up to two weeks from 23 August following the peat slides earlier this month.


Bog benefits

A SCIENTIFIC study into the environmental value of peatbogs has published its first draft.

Scientists have dubbed peatlands “Cinderella habitats” saying that they “shine as modern ecosystem heroes”, but had a reputation as “dirty, smelly and a useless waste of space”.

Restoring damaged peatland  could bring significant carbon savings and vital improvements to wildlife and water management.

The UK Peatland Programme’s Commission of Inquiry into Peatland Restoration published its initial findings at

A consultation on the findings runs until 20 September prior to a conference at Durham University on 28 and 29 September.

Whitefish fleet up against the wall

SCOTTISH fishing industry leaders are calling for a freeze on any further cuts in the days vessels can go out fishing amidst fears that some whitefish boats are on the brink of going out of business.

They say Europe’s cod recovery plan needs to be revised urgently as the fleet is unable to absorb any further effort reduction.

Under the current management plan, the number of days vessels can fish are being reduced year on year to allow cod stocks to recover.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said on Tuesday that their members were unable to take any more and now want the Scottish government to intervene in Brussels on their behalf.

An SFF delegation is to meet Scottish fishing minister Richard Lochhead in Aberdeen on Wednesday to make their case.

They urge the Scottish government to commission a socio-economic impact study to be used as “vital evidence” in negotiations with the European Commission.

SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: "To put it bluntly, our whitefish fleet can't take any more and there needs to be an urgent rethink of the rules.

"We have carried out our part of the bargain by co-operating with these regulations but the Scottish and UK governments must play their part in the partnership by recognising that if such measures are causing unacceptable damage to the fleet, then they must press for modifications to the regulations.

"We are now seeing a recovery in the cod stock and it is essential that the long-term plan for cod is revised so as to ensure that fishing vessels don't go to the wall."

Mr Armstrong added that in the run-up to the crucial end-of-the-year negotiations the federation would also be pressing for a review of the current catch composition rules and other “ill-fitting or inappropriate regulation that is currently bedevilling the industry”.

The SFF also hopes to meet with the new UK fishing minister Richard Benyon shortly.

New SIC chief calls for patience

SHETLAND Islands Council’s new chief executive has warned councillors of the danger of “fragmentation” as the embattled authority tries to pull itself together after a damning report from local government watchdog, the Accounts Commission.

Speaking at his first formal public meeting in Shetland, Alistair Buchan told the SIC’s audit and scrutiny committee on Monday that he was determined to pull together an integrated package of measures to help the council move forwards.

However he made it clear that he would not be rushed into coming forward with proposals for restructuring the council, as members lined up to present a wish list of changes they want to see implemented.

Mr Buchan has been seconded from Orkney Islands Council for two and a half years to set the SIC on an even keel after nine months of turmoil under his predecessor David Clark that culminated in a two day hearing by the Accounts Commission in June.

The commission’s report, published last week, said the council had “serious problems” with leadership, vision, strategic direction, financial management and accountability and was managed in a “haphazard” fashion.

Mr Buchan told members on Monday that having spoken to other councils “in similar circumstances” he had learned that there was “a real risk” of being deflected from the main goal of reorganisation by focussing too early on individual areas of strategy.

“I am very worried about the potential for fragmentation; we can’t take any of these issues in isolation, they need to be viewed in the round and I can’t stress that point sufficiently,” he said.

“I am being accused of being coy and being a bit slow in coming forward to address some of these issues. The sole reason for that is I am determined to make sure that we have a sensible and coherent set of plans and strategies.

“Governance…is a big and a very important issue and I would like to assure the committee that I am working as hard and fast as I can to take plans forward.”

Nevertheless councillors made it clear they wanted to see an end to the “cumbersome” services committee that controls 80 per cent of the council’s budget, covering education, social care and housing.

Lerwick South member Jonathan Wills called for “a detailed, logically argued proposal” from the council leadership on alternative strategies, looking at what is done on other councils and considering splitting the roles of political leader and civic head.

Dr Wills was also backed by several councillors who said they had full confidence in SIC head of finance Graham Johnston, whose department was criticised in the Accounts Commission report.

Shetland South member Allison Duncan went further and called for Accounts Commission chairman John Baillie and his “cohorts” to apologise to Mr Johnston for their criticisms.

The commission said the fact that the council’s external auditors Audit Scotland had qualified the SIC’s accounts for the past four years “indicates weaknesses in the finance department and its appreciation of the importance of good accounting practice to public accountability”.

Chris for Commonwealth Games

A SHETLAND fencer has been selected to represent Scotland in the Commonwealth Games that begin in Melbourne, Australia, next month.

Christopher Rocks is the second fencer from the islands to represent their country in the Commonwealth Games following in the footsteps of Kate Manson, who was at Kuala Lumpur in 1998.

The 22 year old will be fencing in the main epee event after winning a series of competitions in Scotland and coming fifth in the challenging Bill Hoskyns open epee tournament held in England last month.

His coach Andy Alderman said it was “a great achievement” and came after two years of very hard work.

“From a coaching point of view this is well deserved because he has been the leading epeeist in Scotland and he comes home regularly for training and focussed on what his skills are.

“It’s great for me and the club and it also proves that if people are willing to work hard and the coaching skills are there, being in Shetland is not a disadvantage.”

Duncan outraged by council house damage

VANDALISM, break ins and police raids have cost Shetland Islands Council more than £75,000 in repairs to council houses over the past five years.

Councillors have been told that indirect costs associated with crime-related damage to council houses could push up the final bill to between £600,000 and £2.7 million since 2005.

SIC housing spokesman Allison Duncan told the SIC’s audit and scrutiny committee it was “despicable” if council tenants were causing so much damage to their homes, and the best place for them would be a cave.

He was advised by housing staff that there was no evidence to suggest tenants were responsible for all the damage to council property, while one fellow councillor described his remarks as “illiberal”.

A new computer system has allowed SIC staff to calculate the cost of all kinds of damage to the council’s 1,880 homes.

The figures show that four per cent of homes could expect to be damaged in any one year and that an average of 75 insurance claims were made each year.

The overall cost of damage that was not re-charged to tenants came to almost £300,000 over five years, £220,000 of which was non-crime related.

However safety and risk manager Sandra Pearson said that last year 91 per cent of damage was crime related, including nine break ins, 46 cases of vandalism and 16 police drug raids.

Meanwhile a comprehensive repair and maintenance programme had reduced non crime related damage by 80 per cent, she said.

Ms Pearson said the council needed a long term strategy to change public behaviour through community education, suggesting the council look at following the example of road safety education which begins amongst infants.

She said some people thought the council was “the faceless holder of a bottomless purse” and the message had to go out that everyone needed to work together to reduce expenditure. “Every pound wasted on needless repairs we can’t spend on service provision,” she said.

However councillor Duncan wanted to take a hard line approach. “This is needless damage being done by vandals. I think it’s despicable to say the least when tenants are destroying council property when others would give anything to get a council house,” he said.

He said six houses had cost the council between £1,000 and £5,000 in repairing damage, one house costing £4,387.98 even after recharges, where the tenant has been asked to pay for damage.

One householder had been recharged £3,434, including the cost of repainting, replacing doors and a worktop.

“People who do that type of damage should not have a house…the best place for them is in a cave,” he said.

SIC head of housing Chris Medley pointed out the council has a responsibility as “the landlord of last resort” and had to house people “with a whole range of social problems” and said the answer was teaching people life skills.

Councillor Duncan’s suggestion that council tenants be asked to pay a deposit of up to £2,000 to cover the cost of any damage, which would be returned once they left, was not pursued after legal and bureaucratic questions were raised.

However Mr Duncan said he was looking for solutions to a problem that caused him great concern.

Meanwhile the council is discussing with the local police area commander David Bushell about ways the amount of damage caused during police raids can be reduced.

Infrastructure executive director Gordon Greenhill said that Edinburgh City Council worked with police on raids, providing them with keys or joiners who could remove doors more sensitively than the rams used by the officers of the law.

More than twice as many raids on council houses were carried out in Shetland last year than in any previous year since 2005.

Salmon deaths trigger joint inquiry

ANIMAL welfare charity Scottish SPCA is leading an investigation into the death of up to 6,000 farmed salmon at a fish farm in Shetland.

On Saturday SSPCA inspectors raided Hoganess Salmon on Shetland’s west side, acting in concert with the police, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage and the government agency Marine Scotland.

Hoganess Salmon operates from the shore base at Burrastow, near Walls, and grows around 3,000 tonnes of salmon over an 18 month cycle.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: "I can confirm that the Scottish SPCA is leading an investigation into alleged fish poisoning in the Shetland Islands, working with SEPA, Scottish Natural Heritage, Marine Scotland and the police.

"This investigation is currently ongoing therefore no further information is available at this stage."

A SEPA spokeswoman also confirmed they were involved in “an ongoing investigation into an alleged fish mortality incident in Shetland”.

Hoganess Salmon is part of the Lakeland Group which is owned by Norwegian firm Marine Farms ASA, who have fish farming operations in Shetland, Argyll, Spain, Belize and Vietnam.

Lakeland’s managing director Willie Liston said problems arose when the company was carrying out a controlled treatment for sea lice at one of its 16 cages in the area on 15 August.

He said that between 5,000 and 6,000 fully grown salmon, weighing an average of 3.5kg each, had died and the company had immediately launched its own investigation into what happened.

SEPA became involved after dead fish started to be transported to the dump in Lerwick last Thursday, he said. SSPCA and SEPA inspectors visited the fish farm on Saturday morning.

Mr Liston said: “The investigation revolves around a higher level of mortality than we would have expected in one cage while doing a sea lice treatment. I don’t know when that will be finished but we should know something within the next 10 days.”

He said there were different treatments for sea lice and this had been “a gentle bath treatment”.

The cage had been enclosed in a tarpaulin and the treatment had been applied using “one of the latest technology workboats to look after the welfare of the fish”, allowing the dosage to be more finely measured.

The Lakeland Group is certified by the English animal welfare charity RSPCA under its Freedom Foods label, which guarantees that animals are farmed to the highest welfare standards.

Lakeland say their policy is “to farm its fish with due respect to preserving the environment and consideration of animal welfare”.

Locked up and fined for racial slur

AN OFFSHORE oil worker was fined £700 at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Monday after he admitted racially abusing a local chef.

The police were called to Scalloway Hotel on Friday evening to help with efforts to eject 26 year old Robert Andrew Laurenson, of Briars Cottage, Hamnavoe, for his drunken behaviour after he had ignored requests to leave the premises.

When the police arrived Laurenson spotted a staff member and shouted racial abuse at him.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said that his client was in a bad mood because he was being thrown out of the hotel and immediately regretted “blurting” out his comments.

Mr Allan said that Laurenson had not been able to apologise at the time, but had since contacted the hotel management to say he was sorry.

He added that the accused’s father and wife had visited him in the police cells over the weekend “neither of whom were best pleased with him”.

Minor injuries after road crash

A WOMAN driver was taken to hospital in Lerwick and treated for minor injuries after a two vehicle road accident on the B9074 at Scalloway at 6.30am on Saturday. Police are carrying out investigations into what happened.

Also at the weekend:

- at 5pm on Friday a lorry shed its load in the Tingwall area;

- two men were arrested for fighting outside a pub in Lerwick at 11.30pm on Saturday, resulting in a report to the procurator fiscal.

Police are also seeking the owner of a blue 125cc motorbike that was stolen from Lochside, in Lerwick, where it was advertised for sale.

The bike has been recovered and two teenagers have been charged with theft, but anyone with information about the bike is asked to get in touch with Lerwick police station on 01595 692110.

Builders close down CAB for a week

NOISY builders are forcing Lerwick’s Citizens Advice Bureau to close its doors unexpectedly for the next week while their headquarters are reclad.

Shetland Islands Council has contracted a local building firm to re-harl the rear of the voluntary sector’s headquarters at Market House after problems were detected on the building’s exterior.

Workmen turned up on Wednesday and the CAB staff promptly departed, saying they could not work under those conditions.

CAB manager Les Irving apologised to disappointed clients, but said they would continue with their after hours services on Tuesday and Thursday evenings between 5pm and 8pm and on Saturday mornings from 10.30am until 1pm.

“Apparently the harling has been an issue for a long time but we didn’t know the builders were coming until the back end of last week and we didn’t have a start date until they turned up,” Mr Irving said.

SIC building services manager David Williamson said it was not a very big job and he was surprised that no one had been in touch with his department to say there was a problem.

“Stripping off the existing harling is a noisy operation and I would hope it is finished fairly quickly,” he said.

Anyone wishing to contact Shetland CAB can telephone the usual number at 01595 694696 and leave a message and a staff member will eventually reply.

In brief for 20 August 2010

Speed concerns

POLICE in Shetland have expressed concern after six drivers were caught breaking the 20mph speed limit outside the Sound primary school in Lerwick on Thursday.

The local force carried out high profile traffic patrols during the day including speed checks outside the Lerwick school and reported they had also stopped two people who were not wearing seatbelts.

A police spokesman said: “It is concerning that such a high number of speeding offences have been detected in one day outside schools when 20 mph speed restriction zones have been specifically implemented to ensure they safety of our children.”


An ‘oscar’ for Briggs

SHETLAND sheep breeder Richard Briggs has been awarded a Gold One Star Award
at this year's Great Taste Awards 2010, the ‘oscars’ of the food world which features more than 6,000 different products.

A panel of industry experts, including fine food retailers, chefs, restaurant critics and food writers, tried a sample of Mr Briggs' seasonal lamb and confirmed it worthy of a gold prize.

Mr Briggs, who crofts at Cuckron, Stromfirth, said he was delighted at winning the award. "As a producer, it is always really useful to have feedback comparative with other products that are supplied to the speciality food market.  

"This award is a third party endorsement of great taste and helps reinforce the positive comments that food writers have made about Shetland lamb."


Long commute

A GROUP of 16 are taking the scenic route to work this Friday, travelling from Edinburgh to Glasgow via Lerwick by yacht.

The Big Commute is a 775 mile yacht race with two adult crews taking each other on in their identical 72ft Challenge yachts to raise funds for Ocean Youth Trust Scotland, which works with under privileged young people.

Lerwick’s Tall Ships Race co-ordinator Fiona Dally said: “We are delighted to welcome the Big Commute crew to Shetland during their important fundraising campaign. We wish all the sailors the best of luck and look forward to meeting them in Lerwick."

The race starts at Leith at 8pm on Friday and they will leave Lerwick on Tuesday for the Clyde Estuary.

More woes for Whalsay ferry

THE CAPACITY of an already overstretched ferry service in Shetland is likely to be cut even further this winter to meet safety regulations introduced after the Estonia disaster in 1994 when 852 people died.

The people of Whalsay have grave concerns about the future of their council-operated transport links with the Shetland mainland.

The current two ferry service is unable to cope with rising demand and plans to enhance it  have been deferred while the authority investigates building a five mile tunnel to the isle.

Now the council has said the eight year old ferry Linga must almost halve the number of passengers it carries before being modified to meet new European rules to prevent passenger vessels sinking if they suffer damage to their hull.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is looking at designs by a team of naval architects that would improve the Linga’s buoyancy in the engine room and at the stern.

However the work can not be carried out until April when the boat is booked in for annual maintenance and the new rules come into force on 1 October this year,

Shetland Islands Council have been told the MCA will probably allow them a derogation to continue using the ferry, as long as they reduce the number of passengers from 95 to 50 until the improvements are carried out.

SIC marine superintendent Colin Reeves said that the service should not be badly affected as the number of passengers barely reached 50 during winter months and the number of vehicles would not be affected.

“The impact will be relatively small, we will only have problems when there is a function like a wedding when a lot of people have to travel at one time,” he said.

“If it comes to it we might be able to put on the Hendra as an additional service. That might depend on crew availability and will depend on cost, but it’s only likely to be a fairly rare occurrence.”

However Whalsay residents are not happy with the news. One said: “Does this mean that we can only have our social functions in the summer? I am sure there will be more than 50 people that will want to go to Up Helly Aa for instance.

“The fact is the choice is being taken away from us, and it’s when the choice is taken away that you start to think it isn’t very fair.”

Mr Reeves stressed the new buoyancy regulations only concerned safety once a vessel had already been holed.

The Linga was one of the first boats to be launched when the new rules were brought out in 2002. The Polish built vessel suffered a series of problems after it came into service.

Man cleared over bottle in bag assault

A SHETLAND man accused of severely injuring another man in an assault walked free from Lerwick Sheriff Court on Thursday after being found not guilty.

Shaun Strachan, of 4 Burnside, Lerwick, had lodged a special defence saying he had acted in self defence when he struck the complainer over the head twice with a carrier bag containing a bottle.

After a two day trial it took the jury just under an hour to deliver its majority verdict.

CCTV evidence of the incident showed how 44 year old Mr Strachan bought a bottle of port and some cigarettes from the Scalloway Meat Company shop on the evening of Saturday 10 October last year, when he was engaged in conversation by three other customers.

The initially light hearted encounter turned sour and then aggressive as all four left the shop.

At this stage the complainer lashed out at Mr Strachan, who in return grabbed the man's hand and retaliated by striking him twice over his head with the carrier bag.

The complainer was severely injured after the bottle broke with the first strike, blood and port splashing across the shop floor.

Neither party disputed the retaliation had taken place, but procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie argued that the severity of Mr Strachan's actions was unreasonable and therefore constituted an assault.

Defending, solicitor Gregor Kelly said his client was a quiet and private man whose reaction to the threat he encountered was a "spontaneous defensive reaction”.

The court heard from four crown witnesses, detective sergeant Lindsay Tulloch who investigated the case, and the two men and one woman who were in the shop with Mr Strachan.

The complainer accepted in court that he had assaulted Mr Strachan and had paid a fiscal fine for the assault.

Meanwhile fellow witness Brian John Adamson had to be reminded several times that he was in contempt of court for changing his story during his evidence.

After the trial he was called back into the dock to explain his actions. Speaking on his behalf, defence solicitor Tommy Allan said his client had difficulties remembering all that happened on the night of 10 October and was also nervous being in court.

Sheriff Graeme Napier eventually let him off the hook.

Utnabrake plans back on the table

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a 120 property development in Shetland will be re-considered by the islands’ planning board next month, nine months after the original application was deferred.

In January plans for a social housing scheme north of Scalloway to be managed by Hjaltland Housing Association, incorporating a health centre and a business park, were held back due to environmental concerns.

Since then local building firm JHB Ltd, which was behind the development worth up to £20 million, has gone into liquidation and the local government ombudsman has been called in to investigate delays in the planning process.

Now Shetland Islands Council’s head of planning Iain McDiarmid has confirmed that the plans for the Utnabrake development would be submitted to the next meeting of the planning board.

“We fully intend to get the application on the planning board for the first of September,” Mr McDiarmid said.

John Halcrow, of JHB Ltd, said that the application was still alive and that he hoped it would be discussed at the next meeting of the planning board.

Meanwhile Bryan Leask, of Hjaltland Housing Association, said that they were still very keen to see the Utnabrake development go ahead. “We think it is a very good site and considering the demand for housing in the area, it is very much needed.”

Mr Leask added that they had been approached by another building contractor who was interested in developing the site.

In brief for 19 August 2010


SHETLAND coastguard’s search and rescue helicopter was scrambled on Wednesday morning to fly 80 miles into the north Atlantic to collect an oilworker on the semi submersible drilling rig Borgsten Dolphin who was suffering from breathing problems.

The chopper took off at 7.35am and had delivered the man to a waiting ambulance at Sumburgh by noon, as the cloud was too low for the aircraft to land at Lerwick.


Developing Spurs

Lerwick Spurs football club is sending out a questionnaire to everyone with an interest in the club to obtain their views on how the club should grow.

The club will base its future direction on the responses it gets to the document, and is keen to get people to complete it by the end of this month.

It is also designed to establish support for the operation of the club, whether it be coaching, fundraising, organising events or simply providing transport for the players from time to time.

Details about how to access the questionnaire online are available from Margaret Goodlad on 07919 364847 or by emailing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Hard copies can also be sent out in the post.


Grant funding

SHETLAND Islands Council and Shetland Charitable Trust have granted almost £115,000 to local community groups, public halls and individuals during the months of June and July.

The largest grant of £45,357 came from the council to help with the £138,000 cost of replacing the roof on Fair Isle’s public hall.

Mid Yell public hall also received £1,000 towards the cost of sanding and recoating its wooden floor and Scalloway Youth Centre Trust were given £3,360 to carry out essential repairs to their building.

Essential maintenance to the causeway at Bressay marina, which has eroded so much that heavy vehicles can not use it, will be carried out by the local boating club with help of a £616 grant from the SIC, while Cullivoe marina gets £258 to improve its moorings.

The charitable trust is helping Sandveien Neighbourhood Centre with much of the £1,750 cost of new cladding, doors and windows , and providing £412 towards a new glass washer for South Nesting public hall.

The trust is paying £1,500 of the £5,700 cost of producing two more talking books in the Shetland dialect after a successful pilot project, and put £2,769 towards the £7,268cost of staging the alternative music and arts festival Vunk Fest.

Mackerel row heats up

THE WAR of words over Faroe’s controversial decision to triple its mackerel quota escalated after a Faroese fishing boat was stopped from unloading its catch at Peterhead this week.

The Jupiter tried to land 1,150 tonnes of mackerel, but was blocked by a group of local fishermen in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

On Wednesday the furious Faroese foreign minister Jørgen Niclasen wrote to Scottish first minister Alex Salmond calling on him to take urgent steps to stop future blockades.

He said the “relevant local authorities” failed to let the boat through on legitimate business, and the Jupiter’s catch is now headed for Faroe where it will have to be turned into fishmeal.

However speaking from Norway after meeting that country’s foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre, Mr Salmond made it clear that Scotland had no sympathy for Faroe’s plight.

Faroe caused outrage when it unilaterally increased its mackerel quota to 85,000 tonnes, following the example of Iceland who intend to catch 130,000 of the valuable species this year.

During a trade mission to Norway, Mr Salmond said Faroe and Iceland’s actions could devastate the sustainability of the mackerel stock and undermine Scotland’s credentials as the first large-scale mackerel fishery in Europe to be accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council.

The first minister said: "Scotland and Norway are in complete agreement that the governments of the Faroe Islands and Iceland have acted irresponsibly and are threatening global mackerel stocks by awarding such excessive quotas.

"The EU and Norway are strongly aligned on this issue having committed to a ten-year deal on mackerel management and shares in January 2010.

“This partnership will be absolutely vital in tackling Iceland and the Faroes in an effective manner that sends out a strong message to others that while responsible and innovative fisheries practices will be rewarded, those who don't take conservation seriously will be dealt with in an appropriate manner.”

Mr Salmond called on the two island countries to be brought to task and any reduction in the mackerel quota for other countries could have “huge consequences” for the Scottish industry.

He praised European Union fishing commissioner Maria Damanaki for publicly denouncing the move and for calling for the matter to be raised in talks about Iceland joining the EU.

In his letter to Mr Salmond, Mr Niclasen said that any difference of views can only be resolved through a shared commitment by Faroe, the EU, Norway and Iceland to “ensuring sustainable fisheries management through international agreements reached at the negotiating table”.

Faroe has complained about being excluded from the EU-Norway talks on mackerel that led to an agreement where both sides agreed a quota in excess of scientific advice.

Theatre in a fish tank

SHETLAND Youth Theatre is to undertake its most ambitious challenge so far when 30 young actors perform a work by a leading Scottish playwright in a huge outdoor fish tank.

The youth theatre group has performed in many unusual locations over the years, including a motor garage and the ruins of a castle, but this month’s show at the former shore station at Lerwick’s Ness of Sound is their most adventurous yet.

More Light is by Bryony Lavery, whose highly acclaimed boxing play Beautiful Burnout is enjoying a successful run at Edinburgh’s National Theatre of Scotland. It is set in the tomb of China’s first emperor and focuses on the concubines who were buried alive alongside him.

It is the companion piece to Lavery’s Red Sky, which the theatre group took to the National Theatre in London after performances in Scalloway and Edinburgh.

Director John Haswell described it as “a beautiful play that examines how a group of young women discover a sense of liberation and empowerment in the most appalling of circumstances”.

Explaining the choice of venue, he said: “The play is both epic and intimate. As it is set in a tomb, the company wanted to perform in a venue that embraced the audience in the alien surroundings.

“The old fish tank at the former shore station is hugely exciting. It is a massive space with a fascinating acoustic. The cast will be in the tank for the whole length of the production with the audience on the outside looking in.

“There is a sense of the audience being voyeurs as they witness the women’s situation, and also of being archaeologists looking into the past.”

The cast of 30 young actors have been working intensively for several weeks on the production, while stage designers have been hard at it to ensure that the shore station is ready for the event.

More Light will be performed on four nights between Thursday 26 August and Sunday 29 August. It lasts 90 minutes and the able-bodied members of the audience will be standing outdoors throughout so are asked to wear suitable clothing.

Tickets are priced £8 (£6 concessions) and are available from Shetland Box Office on 01595 745555.

“All we need now is some good weather” said a member of the company

A diplomatic tour of the isles

THE FULL impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on plans for deep sea drilling off the west coast of Shetland remains to be seen, according to the Scottish environment minister.

During her three day visit to Shetland this week, part of a series of summer tours around the country, Roseanna Cunningham wanted to focus on more local issues, aquaculture and the islands’ natural heritage.

But how we use our natural resources for food and energy production is a debate currently affecting many communities, and Shetland in particular.

Deep water oil drilling has fast become a controversial issue, the Deepwater Horizon escalating it to global concern and provoking Greenpeace into confronting the oil industry on the matter.

Ms Cunningham believes that only when the cause of the US disaster has been established will its full impact on future plans for the industry be determined.

She considers, however, that the incident should be seen as a “challenge” and people should focus on solutions rather than problems.

Oil production is only one way in which the sea may be used as an energy resource, she said, and it may come into conflict with the future development of marine renewables.

She wants to ensure that people work to establish the optimum use of the sea, minimising conflicts between different developments and managing them well.

During her stay in the isles, the minister was far more interested in how the sea was used to produce food rather than energy.

She visited the fast expanding Blueshell Mussels business in Brae and the innovative NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway, holding meetings with salmon farming trades body Shetland Aquaculture and touring the busy Lerwwick Fish Traders processing factory at Gremista.

She is optimistic about the industry’s future in Shetland in spite of recent setbacks, such as last year’s outbreak of Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA), the disease that has devastated the salmon industry in Chile

She believes the industry has learned its lessons and is working towards changes, such as joint management agreements, that mean the outbreak off Scalloway is “highly unlikely to happen again”.

Despite being soaked by heavy downpours, the minister was impressed by the islands, in particular their strong sense of identity and self sufficiency, brought home by the cultural sites of Jarlshof and Old Scatness, the natural wonder of Hermaness, and Scotland’s first community-owned allotments at Mossbank.

She was reluctant to step into the row about plans for a community-owned wind farm in the isles, though she was very aware of the debate. Not hailing from Shetland or living here gave her no basis for personal opinion, she felt.

She preferred to see local people handle the debate, and like other renewable energy projects the outcome should be what is “the best solution for community”.

And finally, her thoughts on the current campaign for a Sovereign Nation of Shetland and its up and coming conference at the end of the month?

With a fine flourish of political diplomacy, the SNP minister insisted it was a debate that she looked forward to hearing more about.

City man stole heroin from friend

SENTENCE on an Aberdeen man who admitted possessing heroin with intent to supply was deferred until early September when he appeared before Lerwick Sheriff on Thursday morning.

Nicholas Stokes, of 35b Menzies Road, Aberdeen, was found with eight grams of the Class A drug when he was searched by police officers at a house in Sandveien, Lerwick, on 28 August last year.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie told the court that the heroin had a potential street value of just under £1,000.

The court heard how the 48 year old had been travelling with a friend from Aberdeen to Shetland to visit friends.

Mr Mackenzie described the accused as a "pathetic individual" who appeared to have stolen the heroin from his friend.

He said: "If there would have been any supply that would have been to his friends, I would describe it as a self help group."

Sheriff Graeme Napier interrupted, saying that "self destruction group" would be the a appropriate term.

He deferred sentence until 9 September for reports to be prepared, and warned Stokes that he might go to jail.