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Also in the news / Fuel u-turn, New Life response, Shetland Noir cards, cabinet reshuffle and more…

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has welcomed news that the government will perform a U-turn to allow organisations like Shetland Heat Energy and Power (SHEAP) to make use of tax-rebated fuel following representations to ministers.

In April 2022 the government removed entitlement to use rebated fuels in most sectors except agriculture, rail, and non-commercial heating.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael. Photo: Shetland News

Organisations such as SHEAP, who generate electricity and heat primarily for supply to non-commercial premises, but also supply a small number of commercial purposes, were therefore no longer eligible to use rebated fuel.

While SHEAP primarily generates heat through burning un-recyclable waste, backup fuel is also required to maintain supply.

Following representations by Carmichael, the government has announced that it will re-extend entitlement to use rebated fuels to machines used primarily (at least 75 per cent of output) to provide heat and electricity for non-commercial premises.

“Denying access to rebated fuel for an organisation like SHEAP made no sense at the time or since so I am delighted that the government has changed course,” the MP said.

The science building at the old Anderson High School. Photo: Shetland News

LOCAL church New Life Shetland has responded to Shetland Islands Council’s statement in its ongoing planning appeal.

It said the council, acting as the planning authority, “wholly failed to support their reason for refusal which itself was framed contrary to the careful, considered and professional advice of their officers”.

The appeal relates to a refusal of change of use consent by councillors on the planning committee last year for the science block at the old Anderson High School in Lerwick.

The church criticised the council’s view that there could be “planning risk” if consent was given for the science block but an application regarding a temporary carpark was later refused.

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The SIC previously said the reason for the decision taken by councillors, which largely related to concerns over traffic management, was “valid” in the determination process.

CARDS enabling entry to all events at the upcoming Shetland Noir festival are now on sale.

Among those on the line-up at the Shetland Arts event are Richard Osman, Val McDermid and Elly Griffiths.

Shetland Noir will take place between 15 and 18 June. Cards are said to have limited availability, but individual tickets will go on sale in April.

Meanwhile Screenplay cards will go on sale from Friday (31 March). The film festival is taking place in September for the last time with Kathy Hubbard, Mark Kermode and Linda Ruth Williams at the helm.

Cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the islands Mairi Gougeon will keep her job after the latest cabinet reshuffle Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

MAIRI Gougeon has kept her role as rural affairs, land reform and islands secretary in the Scottish Government after new first minister Humza Yousaf picked his cabinet.

In other areas of relevance to Shetland, transport minister Jenny Gilruth has been picked to become education secretary, meaning the transport post will change hands.

With a replacement hospital in Shetland proposed, the health brief will now be overseen by Michael Matheson.

NATURESCOT and partners are putting in place measures to try to reduce the risk of avian flu for Scotland’s seabird colonies this summer.

Among the actions taken include preparing guidelines for access to high-risk seabird islands, developing targeted biosecurity measures and ways to minimise disturbance to birds – such as disinfecting footwear and restricting access to certain areas when necessary – that can be practically implemented and still allow access.

NatureScot’s deputy director of nature and climate change Eileen Stuart said: “A huge amount of work has been going on in the background with a wide range of partners to prepare for the return of our seabirds across Scotland.

“While we cannot predict what the impact of the virus will be this summer, these preparations will ensure that we can take swift coordinated action if necessary to give our seabirds the best possible chance.”

ORKNEY and Shetland’s Lib Dem parliamentarians have reminded dog-owners to take extra care while walking their pets during lambing season and calving season.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said: “Even if you don’t expect your dog to cause a problem, it is still vital to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and keep your dog under control.

“The fear animals experience from being chased, or even just from dogs being in the same field, can have devastating impacts, including causing miscarriages in pregnant ewes.”

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