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Also in the news / NorthLink beer, empty housing call, pre-payment meters and more…

NorthLink's Tanya Sim (left) and Vikki Grant.

SERCO NorthLink Ferries is celebrating its tenth anniversary by launching its own craft beer.

The company has run the Northern Isles ferry service since July 2012.

It has now teamed up with Lerwick Brewery to create ‘Magnus IPA’, which is now available for purchase exclusively on board the NorthLink ferries.

It is a sweet IPA with “subtle notes of tropical fruits and opting for a royal blue can with a sweeping wave design”.

Serco NorthLink Ferries’ customer service director Billy Robb said: “We wanted to do something special to celebrate the anniversary, and what better to toast to 10 years than with our very own NorthLink beer.

“It’s extremely important to us to support businesses which are local to the islands that we serve – it’s why so many of the products for sale on board our ship are from Shetland and Orkney-based suppliers – so working with the fantastic team at Lerwick Brewery was a no brainer.”

THE SCOTTISH Empty Homes Partnership has joined forces with Salmon Scotland to call for more vacant properties in Shetland to brought back into use.

Analysis shows that almost shows five per cent of homes in Shetland (558) were long-term empty in 2021, with around 400 of those having been empty for longer than a year.

Earlier this year the salmon industry proposed that licence fees and seabed rent should be reinvested into affordable housing in rural areas. There is now a focus on bringing empty homes back into use.

Shaheena Din, national project manager for the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, said: “The figures show that empty homes are very much a problem in Shetland, with over 550 long-term empty properties that could be brought back in to use, increasing supply and providing a boost for the local economy.

“We support the campaign by Salmon Scotland to raise the issue of housing in rural areas and hope that action can be taken in Shetland that will help address the concerns of their members.”

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ORKNEY and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael has backed a bill to abolish higher standing charges for customers on pre-payment meters – and to require energy companies to provide social tariffs for low-income households.

The bill has been sponsored by a cross-party group of MPs and aims to reduce the disparity in energy costs for those on pre-payment meters and to re-introduce lower cost tariffs as a safety net for those in most need.

Speaking after the bill was introduced, Carmichael said: “I am glad to back this bill which would address a longstanding inequality in energy costs.

“Families on pre-payment meters pay some of the highest rates for their energy, particularly due to inflated standing charges, and so it is only fair that we take measures to reduce that imbalance.”

A LOCAL sea shanty group has received funding from the Dementia Inclusive Singing Network.

The Shalder Singers feature members from all across Shetland.

They plan to host a fundraiser in February to mark their first anniversary, and a sea shanty concert is planned to coincide with the Tall Ships visit next summer.

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