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News round-up / Extra funding for NHS Shetland, new regional NFU advisor, fuel poverty bill and call for Viking public inquiry

NHS SHETLAND has secured an extra £1.2 million in government funding to help close the deficit in the current financial year.

Chief executive Ralph Roberts said the one off allocation has been made in recognition of the additional costs of funding primary care in Shetland.

The health board has been plagued with high costs for locums filling vital health posts on a temporary basis.

Welcoming the extra funding Roberts said discussions with the government on future settlements were ongoing.

“The Scottish Government have accepted we need to continue a discussion about the funding level we receive for primary care, compared to our actual costs,” he said.

“We were able to persuade the Scottish Government that comparing the actual costs we incur in providing primary care [GP services] in Shetland our allocation for this element of the budget was inadequate.

“It is fair to say that the formula for primary care funding is relatively complex and this therefore required detailed work by our finance team to show why this was the case.”


LORNA Scott has been appointed as NFU Scotland’s first regional policy advisor for Shetland.

NFU Scotland regional advisor for Shetland Lorna Scott. Photo: NFUS

The new part time role has been created to give island farmers a stronger voice within the union and to improve the understanding of island specific issues many farmers face in politically uncertain times.

Scott, who farms at Keldabister in Bressay, previously worked for the National Trust for Scotland and now runs her family farm in Shetland after moving back to the isles last August.

She said her role was to ensure that Shetland’s unique circumstances were better represented nationally.

“We have got a much higher rate of crofting in Shetland, as well as ongoing issues with less favoured areas support,” she said.

“And as we go through the Brexit negotiations, we have to make sure that farming and crofting in Shetland is represented in the NFU so that they can be pushed forward to the political leaders.”

A similar part time role has also been created in Orkney, which has been filled by Kerry Omand from South Ronaldsay.


HIGHLANDS and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has called for the new Fuel Poverty Bill to better reflect the particular needs of remote and island communities.

The bill, which had its first reading in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, will establish a better definition of fuel poverty more aligned to income poverty, and sets a target of reducing the number of households to no more than five per cent by 2040.

Fuel poverty in Shetland has been calculated to be at just over 50 per cent, increasing to two thirds of all properties on the outer isles.

Halcro Johnston said:“The Highlands and Islands is the area worst affected by fuel poverty in Scotland and rural properties, particularly homes that are off the main gas grid, are among the most likely to be fuel-poor.

“Despite this, the bill as it stands does not reflect the needs of remote and rural communities. The Scottish Government had received a body of evidence that showed it needed to go back and look again at this legislation.”


A SCOTTISH charity that campaigns to conserve wild land has again called for a public local inquiry (PLI) into the planned Viking Energy wind farm in Shetland.

Following Wednesday’s decision by Shetland Islands Council to raise no objection to the developer’s application to increase the size of the 103 turbines planned to be built in the central mainland, the John Muir Trust said any development of this magnitude need to be properly scrutinised.

The trust’s head of policy Helen McDade said: “The John Muir Trust has a number of members on Shetland and has long supported the stance of Sustainable Shetland to protect the landscape, wildlife and ecosystems that will be damaged by this giant development.

“We are naturally disappointed at today’s decision but remain convinced that any development on this scale should be properly scrutinised at a public local inquiry.”