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News round-up / SMUHA bans blackface, nearly 3,000 folk furloughed, offshore wind lease, food and drink funding

The burning of the galley - Photo: Mark Berry
The burning of the SMUHA galley back in 2013. Photo: Mark Berry

THE SOUTH Mainland Up Helly Aa has become the latest fire festival to confirm the ban of ‘blackface’ in squads.

It follows a letter from 20-year-old Ellie Ratter, who recently wrote to every Up Helly Aa committee calling on the practice to be banned.

“The SMUHA committee have always been committed to an open and inclusive festival, without prejudice and against any form of racism,” the South Mainland Up Helly Aa committee said.

“In addition, the SMUHA committee have unanimously decided that future SMUHA festivals will not allow squads to participate with any acts involving ‘blackface’.”

The Delting and Bressay festivals have both already confirmed bans. Cullivoe and Lerwick festivals have said ‘blacking up’ will not be tolerated, with the issue due to be formally raised at their next meetings.

AROUND 2,700 people in Shetland have been furloughed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The figure covers the period from 20 April to 31 May.

A scheme for self-employed people has also supported 600 people in Shetland, with a total of £2 million given out.

Scottish secretary Alister Jack said: “The UK government is doing whatever it takes to get Scotland, and the whole of the UK, through the coronavirus pandemic and ensure our economy can get back on track.

RENEWABLE energy developers have until 5 August to register their interest in a huge area to the east of Shetland that has been designated as one of 16 potential areas for ‘deep water wind technology’ around Scotland’s coast.

The Crown Estate, the body that owns and manages the seabed, has just launched the latest round of offshore wind leasing.

The area for potential development to the east of Bressay and Whalsay is 270 square miles in size and between 15 and 35 miles from shore.

Other large areas designated for development are to the east and west of Orkney, off the Western Isles as well as along the Scottish mainland’s east coast.

Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said offshore renewable played a major part in achieving the government’s target of being net zero by 2045.

SHETLAND Food and Drink has secured £1,500 from a VisitScotland fund designed to help groups during the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 81 membership organisations have been successful in applying for the Tourism Destination and Sector Support Fund, which was launched by the national tourism organisation last month.

Shetland Food and Drink manager Claire White said: “Shetland Food and Drink is delighted to have successfully applied for funding from the VisitScotland Tourism Destination and Sector Support Fund.

“As many member businesses face an uncertain future, revenue of this type is important in helping the islands cope with the Covid-19 aftermath.”