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News round-up / Fish farm moratorium, Shetland Youth Theatre and new water rates

HIGHLANDS and Islands Green list MSP John Finnie has reiterated his call for a moratorium on new fish farms ahead of a debate by the parliament’s rural economy committee into salmon farming in Scotland, on Wednesday.

Finnie, who is the Scottish Greens’ rural and island communities spokesman said that a temporary ban on new developments would give the industry and its regulators the time to control environmental pollution, high fish death rates and the impact of farmed fish disease on wild fish.

The committee has already come out against such a moratorium saying that there is insufficient evidence to justify such a step.

Disagreeing with this view, Finnie said that in his view all the evidence gathered by the inquiry pointed towards the need for a moratorium.

“In my view there is plentiful evidence that a moratorium is justified, to give the industry and regulators time to control environmental pollution, high fish death rates and the impact of farm fish disease on wild fish,” he said.

“Approving a ‘precautionary approach’ sounds good but in reality gives control to businesses and a government agency with little public trust.”

CELEBRATING its 25th anniversary, Shetland Youth Theatre is planning to bring Shakespeare’s The Tempest to the stage later this year, but is first offering a series of workshops to help develop the skills required to participate.

Over the years there have been major Shakespeare productions in Shetland – Romeo and Juliet performed in Leask’s old garage, Macbeth in Scalloway Castle and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Walls community garden.

A spokesperson for Shetland Arts said many people were terrified of Shakespeare whose plays are perceived as difficult and incomprehensible but who actually was a storyteller for the masses not the elite.

“So to start the project Shetland Arts will be running a series of workshops designed to make Shakespeare accessible to young people,” she said.

The series of workshops are booked as a block and will allow participants to further develop their drama skills. They are on:

Sunday 24 February, 2pm – 5pm, Garrison Theatre
Sunday 3 March, 2pm – 5pm, Mareel Auditorium
Sunday 10 March, 2pm – 5pm, Garrison Theatre
Sunday 17 March, 2pm – 5pm, Mareel Auditorium

Tickets are available in person from Mareel, by phone on 01595 745500, or online at www.shetlandarts.org

HOUSEHOLD water charges in Shetand will remain among the lowest in Great Britain in the coming year.

Scottish Water on Thursday confirmed that an increase in household charges is again being limited to 1.6 per cent across all council tax bands – around £6 a year for the average household, providing stability in charges for customers.

It means the average Scottish Water household charge in 2019/20 will be £369 – around £1 a day.

Between 2015 and 2021, Scottish Water is investing over £3.5 billion in projects throughout Scotland to enhance the infrastructure of the country’s water and waste water services and to “ensure customer experience levels remain high.”

Chief executive Douglas Millican said: “We are absolutely focussed on continuing to deliver water and waste water services for our customers which are among the best value in the UK.

“In delivering 1.38 billion litres of drinking water to 2.5 million homes and 153,000 businesses, our water is at the heart of daily life in Scotland.”

He said Scottish Water was investing more than £600 million annually in its network – to make sure it is “robust and resilient” for decades to come.