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News round-up / Swan funding, ferry timetable change, salmon export taskforce and Boris Johnson’s visit to Scotland

Swan under sail.

THE SWAN Trust has been awarded £17,800 from a national fund which supports the recovery from the impact of Covid-19.

The trust that runs the local tall ship Swan will use the Historic Environment Recovery Fund grant to make the historic vessel is ready for reopening to the public, such as putting relevant Covid-19 measures in place.

Chairman David Goodlad said the trust was grateful for the funding that would enable the organisation to ensure the Swan was ready to welcome passengers again, as soon as restrictions allow.

“Being unable to sail at all in 2020 was very disappointing and we very much hope to be back out on the water again this year, providing life changing sail training experiences for our youth and the wider public,” he said.

Sumburgh Lighthouse meanwhile received more than £70,000 from the same Covid recovery fund. See our separate story here.


FROM next Monday (1 February), inter-island ferry services in Shetland will move back to the standard winter timetable, the council has confirmed. 

The local bus services which connect with ferry services will also be reinstated to normal timetables.

Ferries can be booked by calling 01595 745804, or online at https://ferry.shetland.gov.uk/  The booking office will again be open six days a week, from Monday to Saturday, 8am to 5pm.

However cash payment for ferry fares will still not be accepted. This will be reviewed on a monthly basis.

Chairman of the council’s environment and transport committee Ryan Thomson said: “We feel that we can now return to a normal winter timetable, recognising the need to balance essential travel with the risks to operation of services overall.

“However, if we see another local Covid-19 spike we will have to consider restricted timetables again. Passengers and local businesses should be prepared for that possibility.”

Shetland continues to be in level three of coronavirus restrictions, and ferries and buses should should be used for essential travel only.


SSPO chief executive Tavish Scott. Photo: SSPO

THE SCOTTISH Salmon Producers’ organisation (SSPO) has called for the creation of a cross-border government taskforce to iron out the export problems experienced by seafood businesses this year.

Since the introduction of new checks, rules and bureaucratic regulations at the start of year – brought about by the end of the Brexit transition period – seafood exporters have had to endure delays, cancelled orders and lost customers.

The organisation’s chief executive Tavish Scott said: “Our customers in Europe need to know they can rely on our salmon arriving on time and, at the moment, that we cannot always guarantee that.

“We need to sort these problems out and the best way is not to apportion blame but to get all the experts round the table – from Scotland and the UK – to work out what really needs to be done.”

“It seems such a shame to damage a lengthy historic relationship for the sake of red tape and we need as much help as possible during an already difficult time as it is.”

Scottish fisheries secretary Fergus Ewing welcomed the call and said: “There are multiple factors at play here so it is essential we bring in experts and businesses with first-hand experience of what is going on so a systems-wide approach can be taken to resolving the issues.”

In January, around 3,100 tonnes of whole, fresh/chilled salmon worth £23 million is exported to the EU. Losses by the industry during the first week of the year amount to around £3 million.


WITH prime minister Boris Johnson due to visit Scotland this week in a bid to save the union, several politicians have suggested that he might be breaking strict Covid-19 rules which allow travelling for ‘essential work’ only.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael was one of them, suggesting that his appearance north of the border was the best that could happen to the governing SNP – describing him as the “most effective recruiting sergeant the nationalists could dream of”.

“The current guidance is clear that people should not travel except for essential work,” the Orkney and Shetland MP said.

“If the Prime Minister is intending to travel then he had better have a real reason and some real work to do – not just staged photo shoots.

“When the Prime Minister came to Scotland last summer, he posed for the cameras with Orkney crab and promised good times ahead. If he’s determined to visit again, he should meet with those same producers to apologise for breaking his promises and wrecking their access to vital European markets.”

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021