News / 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.

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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 http://www.iucn-uk-peatlandprogramme.org/commission.

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

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