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Also in the news / MP seeks farming commitment, import concern, broadband outage, oil call and more…

ISLES MP Alistair Carmichael has called on the governments at both Westminster and Holyrood to demonstrate a clear commitment towards the country’s farming and crofting sector.

Following a meeting with the president of the National Farmers’ Union Scotland Martin Kennedy, the Orkney and Shetland MP said that at a time of labour shortages there was a need for greater stability for agriculture and the role farming and crofting has to play in tackling climate change.

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The meeting came as prime minister Boris Johnson refused calls in parliament to take action on labour shortages in the farming industry following Brexit and the pandemic.

“It is disappointing that Boris Johnson refused to offer concrete support for farmers when he was given the opportunity in the chamber this week,” Carmichael said.

“When this prime minister starts to claim that there will be no food shortages this Christmas, people will be forgiven for thinking that they should start to stock up. Farmers and food producers need more than hot air.”

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MEANWHILE, Scottish rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon has written to the UK Government expressing concern at the decision to alter and delay further importing stages of the Border Operating Model.

In the letter the secretary highlights the lack of consultation with the devolved nations, giving Scottish ministers no involvement in something that has material impact on Scotland and its food and drink industry.

Gougeon said the UK Government’s approach to EU exit had resulted in problems across Scotland’s economy and, in particular, for food and drink and rural businesses.

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She has called for meaningful engagement on the introduction of customs and controls to protect animal, plant or public health from the importation of goods from the EU to the UK, and warned that Scottish ministers may use devolved powers to protect the interests of Scottish agriculture, food and people.


SOME properties in and around Lerwick lost their broadband connection on Thursday afternoon.

A spokesperson for BT said the issue was cleared around 3.20pm following a hardware change at Burray in Orkney.


SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart has called for new support for the Northern Isles to help reduce the demand for fossil fuels.

During a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the future of North Sea oil and gas this week, which focused on the North East of Scotland, the MSP emphasised that without a real reduction in fossil fuel demand, it would not matter whether more oil and gas projects were licensed or not.

“Oil and gas has played a central role to livelihoods in Shetland for a long time. But now, with the pressing needs presented by the climate emergency, the islands are looking to the future,” she said.

“Many people still work in the oil and gas industry, and haven’t yet been presented with the opportunity to switch to something more sustainable.

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“Equally we must do what is right for future generations. We must reduce our use of fossil fuel demand, but you cannot do that overnight.

“I would like to see a new Northern Isles Just Transition Commission, to help ensure that the islands are not forgotten.“


HIGHLANDS and Islands Green MSP Ariane Burgess has claimed that schools in Shetland would get 15 additional teachers over the course of this parliament as a result of the co-operation agreement between her party and the SNP.

Funding would also be provided to make those posts permanent, resulting in almost 5,000 additional teachers across Scotland compared to pre-Covid levels, she said.

“The additional 15 teachers locally will be critical to delivering the post-Covid recovery plan for our young people,” she said.

“Even before the pandemic, Scotland’s teachers had some of the highest workloads and longest overtime hours in Europe, but over the last eighteen months they have gone above and beyond to support our young people.

“Increasing the number of permanent, full-time teachers is essential to bringing that workload back under control and making teaching an attractive, rewarding profession.”


YOUNG accordionist Victoria Byrne-McCombie and writer Isla Jamieson will have their work performed alongside Nordic Viola in the Sagas and Seascapes programme at Shetland Museum and Archive’s Boat Hall on Saturday.

Victoria’s piece Cumliewick Shore was one of the winning entries in Nordic Viola’s recent international Seastories Competition, which saw entries from around the North Atlantic region and was supported by the William Syson Foundation.

Nordic Viola’s founder Katherine Wren discovered Isla’s poem You are Unique Shetland last year via Isla’s mum Katherine. She said she was immediately struck by Isla’s writing and asked if she could keep the poem for a future performance.

Nordic Vola’s Sagas and Seascapes concert celebrates Shetland’s cultural and geographical connections with the Norse world and includes the live premiere performance of Aud by Irish composer Linda Buckley.

The programme also includes music by Orkney resident Gemma McGregor, Faroese composer Kári Bæk and Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen as well as traditional music by Shetland’s own Margaret Robertson and folk songs from Iceland arranged by Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson.

Further details about the concert can be found here.

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