In brief for 27 September 2011

OFT to look into fuel costs

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has said the Office of Fair Trading will consider investigating fuel prices in the isles.

The LibDem politician met with OFT representatives in Edinburgh on Tuesday.
Afterwards, he said Irish company DCC who own Scottish Fuels and deliver petrol, diesel and heating oil to Shetland should open up their books.

“The OFT can investigate an abuse of a dominant position. So where one company effectively has a monopoly and we are all paying through the nose because of that monopoly, the argument in favour of an investigation is overwhelming,” he said.

 

Fuel poverty on Unst

LERWICK North councillor Caroline Miller has called on the SIC to make a priority of tackling fuel poverty after learning that half of all households on the island of Unst are spending more than 10 per cent of their income on warming their homes.

It has been estimated that around a third of all households in Shetland could be regarded as fuel poor, but a more detailed study carried out on Unst has shown the figure to be as high as 49 per cent.

Mrs Miller reminded councillors that the SIC had a police of eradicating fuel poverty by 2016.

She also welcomed Monday’s announcement that the Scottish government will give Shetland Islands Council £200,000 to help insulate homes.

 

iPads to save paper

SHETLAND Islands Council may follow NHS Orkney’s lead and provide councillors with iPads to save printing and paper costs.

North Isles councillor Laura Baisley has asked officials to investigate if such an investment would result in potential savings and improve efficiency.

Speaking at a meeting of the Audit and Standards Committee, she said that for Tuesday’s two council meetings she had received exactly the same papers twice.

 
Hairst marathon

SHETLAND’s first ‘Hairst’ marathon and half marathon on Saturday has been hailed as a success after 17 runners set off in sunny conditions with a fairly stiff southerly breeze.

Russell Gair romped home in a time of 2:55:51, while Charlotte Black set a personal best of 3:12:32.

Full Results: Marathon – 1. Russell Gair; 2. Charlotte Black; 3. Arwed Wenger 3:23:45; 4.  Herluf Jacobsen (Faroe) 3:28:00; 5. Richard Ingrey 3:29:57; 6. Maurice Arthur 3:4005; 7. Henrik Kolleskov (Faroe) 3:47:27; 8. Juergen Kurtz 3:47:47; 9. Ian Davidge 3:49:22; 10. Ivan Field (East Kilbride) 3:55:34; 11. John Anderson 4:07:05; 12. Irene Walden 4:19:02; 13. Friorikur Blahamar (Faroe) 4:26:10; 14. Tim Ash 4:29:32; 15. Tracey Regan 5:02:52.

Half Marathon – 1. Bill Adams 1:28:02; 2. Neil Arthur 1:28:25; 3. Norrie Lyall 1:29:39; 4. Alexis Smith 1:53:24; 5. Amanda Bristow 2:02:19; 6. Aoife Williamson 2:03:51; 7. Janet Davidge 2:09:24; 8. Carol Jones 2:10:17; 9. Michael Mann 2:13:55; 10. Val Farnworth 2:18:14.

 

Northern studies talks

THE POPULAR series of lectures by the Centre for Nordic Studies continues this autumn.

Dr Robert McColl Millar from the University of Aberdeen will visit on Friday to deliver a lecture on ‘The Roots of the Shetland Dialect’.

On 28 October, the university’s Caroline Wickham-Jones will deliver her lecture ‘First Links with Scandinavia? Environment and People in the Northern Isles 8,000-6,000 years ago’.

The final lecture will be on Friday 25 November by Dr Stephen Harrison of University College, Dublin.  Dr Harrison will give an overview of the type and distribution of Viking age burials found in the northern isles in his lecture, ‘Viking Graves in the Northern Isles.’

All lectures will be held in the Shetland Museum and Archives auditorium, with a 7.30pm start, and are free to attend. Tickets are available from the foyer desk or by calling 01595 741562.

 

Mullay hosts photo walk

Local photographer Ben Mullay is organising the Shetland leg of what has been described as the largest global social event for photographers.

The Worldwide Photo Walk 2011 takes place on 1 and 2 October and is expected to attract tens of thousands of photographers worldwide.

Last year more than 30,000 photographers took 6 million images in over 1,000 locations over a single day, Mr Mullay said.

The Shetland leg will take place at Michaelswood, in Aith, on 1 October between 11am and 1 pm. To register, log on to www.benmullay.com

 

Total drop Tobermory

FRENCH oil giant Total has stopped exploring the Tobermory gas field north of Shetland blaming the government tax hike on oil companies.

Senior vice president for northern Europe Patrice de Vivies said they would not stop projects already under development, such as Laggan-Tormore and the new Shetland gas plant.

However he said the company would have invested more in the region were it not for the tax increase from 50 per cent to 62 per cent on oilfield profits.

 

Fish like rigs

OFFSHORE oil and gas platforms could be serving as friendly habitats for commercially important fish species, Aberdeen’s World Conference on marine Biodiversity heard on Tuesday.

Marine biologist Toyonobu Fujii from Aberdeen University;s Oceanlab said studies showed a variety of species such as cod, haddock and saithe gather in substantial numbers around more than 500 structures in the North Sea.

Dr Fujii said: “We still don’t know exactly why they are gathering there. It could be because there are more feeding opportunities or possibly because they provide places for them to shelter or hide.

“But if they are using these habitats as nursery or spawning grounds then the implications of the physical presence of these structures could be important since such biological mechanisms strongly drive the future population dynamics of the fish.”

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