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Also in the news / Energy price concern, space planning update, short films wanted and more…

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has called for an emergency budget from the UK Government following news that Ofgem expects the energy price cap to rise to around £2,800 in October.

It represents an £800 rise following a major hike in April due to rising wholesale costs.

Carmichael warned that the government must treat the rise as a “once-in-a-generation crisis” and enact an emergency budget immediately to prevent millions of families falling into fuel poverty.

Head of regulator Ofgem Jonathan Brearley told MPs today (Tuesday) that the price cap, which is currently set at £1,971, will increase due to continued volatility in the gas market, which he called a “once in a generation event not seen since the oil crisis in the 1970s”.

The price cap limits the rates a supplier can charge for their default, standard tariffs. Those on fixed-term contracts are not affected.

Carmichael said: “To put this into some perspective, a £2,800 price cap would represent almost 10 per cent of the UK median income.

“The thing about median incomes is that half of the population make less than that, particularly in the rural communities which struggle most with heating challenges.”

THE THREE main planning applications for the SaxaVord Spaceport have now been given the green light by the Scottish Government.

The government has confirmed it will not call in plans for a launch and range control centre at the former Valhalla Brewery building and a new section of road at Northdale.

It comes after the government also green-lighted the main plans for the spaceport launch site at Lamba Ness.

SaxaVord CEO Frank Strang said the control centre and road were the “final two pieces of the planning jigsaw”.

“With the preparatory works underway, we can look forward to a busy summer of construction work and ultimately to reaching our goal of the first UK vertical rocket launch later in the year,” he said.

SHETLAND Arts is again on the lookout for short films to show at the Screenplay Film Festival.

This year the festival runs from 30 August to 4 September, and local film makers will once again be the stars of the show at the Homemade screening.

Screenplay director Kathy Hubbard said: “As usual we are looking for films no longer than four minutes, in any genre, made by makers of all abilities and ages, the main stipulation being that you must be a Shetlander by birth, residence, or in higher education.

“The films must be suitable for a general audience, and there will be a selection process. Every year we get a huge variety, and we always look forward to seeing what will arrive.”

As with previous years, Shetland ForWirds will be donating a cash prize for the best film in Shetland dialect.

For information on how to enter people can contact Hubbard on 0787 672 7059 or email at kathy.hubbard@shetlandarts.org. Alternatively people can access the details from the Shetland Arts web site.

SHETLAND Islands Council has launched a consultation asking the public for their views on the best places to make free period products available.

Scotland became the first country in the world to make period products free for everyone when MSPs backed a bill in 2020.

The act means that local authorities are now responsible for making sure that free items such as tampons and sanitary pads are available to all those who might need them.

Before the scheme is rolled out in August, the council wants to hear from anyone who uses sanitary products, who may use them in the future, and those who collect them on behalf of others.

The consultation asks where people would like those products to be made available, how people would like to obtain them, and the type of products that may be wanted.

People can access the consultation here. Anyone who would prefer a paper copy should contact June Jones on 01595 744955. The survey will close at midnight on Sunday 12 June.