Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 499

Issue # 499                                            Week ending Saturday 13th April 2019

Oh Deer, What Can the Matter Be? Prickets From the Ben Use Our Pitch As A Lavatory by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Because of our dodgy weather here in the north of Scotland particularly, you can sometimes get all sorts of happenings which can halt a football match. How often have we heard of postponements due to the pitch being waterlogged? Then, of course, you get the odd pitch invasion, sometimes the team coaches can get stuck in traffic and, with the bigger games, Bovril shortages. There can be all sorts of medical emergencies too and wasn’t it only last week that a game at Lossiemouth was stopped because referee Paul McAvinue began to feel a bit moby dick and brought his tea back up in the centre circle for all to see. Poor guy. And poor anyone who slipped in it later on.

And if you were around in 1982, you may remember Erika Roe. The young bookshop assistant got excited at a rugby match between England and Australia at Twickenham Stadium and she ran onto the field. She must have been very absent-minded because she somehow neglected to put on a nice, warm vest. That seemed to cause mayhem and officials ran around to try to catch her and, presumably, give her a loan of a jumper. However, Ms Roe ran about waving some kind of patriotic flag which some people thought was her brassiere. Personally, I doubt that. It was early January and she would have been far too cold to indulge in summertime beach activity of that sort. She later admitted to having had a toddy too many. Easily done, m’dear. It was January.

However, what delayed play at Fort William FC’s Claggan Park ground on Saturday in their clash with Nairn County was an unfortunate series of calamities. First of all, the pitch was pretty much waterlogged. That happens in the west of Scotland. Then the ref got stuck in traffic. Well, that usually is a problem in places more-populated than Lochaber but we can understand it. The third reason is a new one on me. A herd of young deer had descended on the pitch, probably from their stomping ground on the side of Ben Nevis, and spent hours there. They probably had a good feed of heather and grass beforehand because, before they scarpered, they left a lot of, er, pellets behind them. Yep, the match was delayed while the Fort officials did a clean-up.

I bet some of them wished they were somewhere else. Like the nation’s sweetheart, Lorraine Kelly, who was recently told by a court that she can be in two places because she is two people. The court case was about a tax bill to decide if she was an employee or a person contracted to be something else - the happy, smiling face that is Lorraine Kelly, the brand. And, apparently, she is that. However, grumpy she may be in real life, she is employed to be the brand. Yep, officially there are two Lorraine Kellys.

Some of us have thought that for some time. As I may have mentioned here before, I think one of these Lorraine Kellys is not a TV star at all but a super-efficient purveyor of information about arrivals, departures and delays at Stornoway Airport. When she is working away as the happy, smiling face of Highlands and Islands Airports, for some reason Lorraine uses the name Janet Smith. Ach, what am I thinking - that’s probably for tax reasons. They are quite alike. What other explanation can there be?

Is this Janet Smith, appearing as Lorraine Kelly, or is this Lorraine Kelly appearing on her days off from ITV as Janet Smith? The court has said there are definitely two Lorraine Kellys. Could their lordships and ladyships be wrong? Is there a third Lorraine Kelly who is alive and well and pretending to be Janet Smith? That’s probably it. I had better do a little research about this to see what I can discover about Lorraine Kelly. I am just looking up to see if I can find out anything about her husband. He is ... oh, my goodness. His name is Steve Smith. Is Janet on shift at the airport at the same time as Lorraine is on the box? I was only kidding at first. But could they, maybe, just maybe, be ...

That earlier yarn about the deer doo-doos in Fort William reminds me of the two deer hunters from Harris I heard about recently. Two of them had been out on the hill with their guns and bagged themselves a fair-sized stag. They were dragging the beast back to their pick-up. Then one of them piped up to the other: “I have just thought of something. It would be much easier if we drag the deer in the other direction. Then the antlers won’t dig into the ground.” His fellow hunter agreed and said it was worth a try. So they set off again and after a while, the second hunter said: “You know, Angus, you were right. This is a lot easier. But there’s just one problem. Now we’re getting further away from the pick-up.”

How Much Water Should You Drink A Day
Whether you’ve had fatigue or even dry skin, you’ve probably been told to drink more water as a cure. But this advice comes from decades-old guidance… and may have no scientific basis.  In the early 19th Century, people had to be close to death before deigning to drink water. Only those “reduced to the last stage of poverty satisfy their thirst with water”, according to Vincent Priessnitz, the founder of hydropathy, otherwise known as “the water cure”.  Many people, he added, had never drunk more than half a pint of plain water in one sitting.  How times have changed. Adults in the UK today are consuming more water now than in recent years, while in the US, sales of bottled water recently surpassed sales of soda. We’ve been bombarded with messages telling us that drinking litres of water every day is the secret to good health, more energy and great skin, and that it will make us lose weight and avoid cancer.  Commuters are encouraged to take bottles of water onto the London Underground, pupils are advised to bring water into their lessons and few office meetings can commence without a giant jug of water sitting in the middle of the desk.  Fuelling this appetite for water is the “8x8 rule”: the unofficial advice recommending we drink eight 240ml glasses of water per day, totalling just under two litres, on top of any other drinks. That “rule”, however, isn’t backed by scientific findings – nor do UK or EU official guidelines say we should be drinking this much.  Where did it come from? Most likely, it seems, from misinterpretations of two pieces of guidance – both from decades ago. In 1945 the US Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council advised adults to consume one millilitre of liquid for every recommended calorie of food, which equates to two litres for women on a 2,000-calorie diet and two-and-a-half for men eating 2,500 calories. Not just water, that included most types of drinks – as well as fruits and vegetables, which can contain up to 98% water.  In 1974, meanwhile, the book Nutrition for Good Health, co-authored by nutritionists Margaret McWilliams and Frederick Stare, recommended that the average adult consumes between six to eight glasses of water a day. But, the authors wrote, this can include fruit and veg, caffeinated and soft drinks, even beer. Water is, of course, important. Making up around two-thirds of our body weight, water carries nutrients and waste products around our bodies, regulates our temperature, acts as a lubricant and shock absorber in our joints and plays a role in most chemical reactions happening inside us.  We’re constantly losing water through sweat, urination and breathing. Ensuring we have enough water is a fine balance, and crucial to avoiding dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration can become detectable when we lose between 1-2% of our body’s water and we continue to deteriorate until we top our fluids back up. In rare cases, such dehydration can be fatal.  Years of unsubstantiated claims around the 8x8 rule have led us to believe that feeling thirsty means we’re already dangerously dehydrated. But experts largely agree that we don’t need any more fluid than the amount our bodies signal for, when it signals for it.  In a healthy body, the brain detects when the body is becoming dehydrated and initiates thirst to stimulate drinking. It also releases a hormone which signals to the kidneys to conserve water by concentrating the urine.  “If you listen to your body, it’ll tell you when thirsty,” says Courtney Kipps, consultant sports physician and principal clinical teaching fellow of Sports Medicine, Exercise and Health and UCL, and medical director of Blenheim and London Triathlons.  The myth that it’s too late when you’re thirsty is based on the supposition that thirst is an imperfect marker of a fluid deficit, but why should everything else in the body be perfect and thirst be imperfect? It’s worked very well for thousands of years of human evolution.”  While water is the healthiest option since it has no calories, other drinks also hydrate us, including tea and coffee. While caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, research indicates that tea and coffee still contribute to hydration – and so do alcoholic drinks.  There’s little evidence suggesting that drinking more water than our body signals for offers any benefits beyond the point of avoiding dehydration.

Scottish Economy 'Moving Closer to EU'
Scotland's economy has been growing more interlinked with that of the European Union as a whole since the Brexit referendum.  That's according to a report by the Fraser of Allander Institute, which updates an analysis carried out for the GMB union and published in November 2017.  That previous report showed 144,000 jobs are linked to demand from the European Union for Scottish exports.  That relates to £14.9bn-worth of goods and services sold to the other 27 member states.  The update, published by GMB on Monday, shows a further 9,000 jobs are tied to that trade.  The biggest growth sectors for EU exports have been in petroleum and in food and drink.  The report also emphasises how much more exports of services have grown, up 98% since 2002.  By contrast, manufacturing exports are nearly 80% more valuable than services (£8.9bn, to £5bn), but only 3% higher than they were 17 years ago.  Exports were given a fillip after the June 2016 vote, when the value of sterling fell.  The price of oil has also risen significantly since 2016. At the time of the referendum, a barrel of Brent crude oil was trading below $50. After a surge in price last year, it fell during winter, and ended last week above $70 for the first time since November.  In other work carried out by the Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University, Brexit could have the effect of reducing employment by between 30,000 and 80,000 jobs in Scotland over the next decade.  Gary Smith, Scotland secretary of GMB, commented on the most recent report: "Let's be clear that for Scotland, the best Brexit would be no Brexit at all, but in the absence of that, there needs to be an honest analysis of our future prospects."  He said the report's findings "are the hard facts facing Scotland, so this week we should not entertain any nonsense from Brexit cheerleaders about 'taking back control' or a 'jobs first Brexit' - even at the eleventh hour, the very least those driving us over the cliff-edge can do is tell the truth". The "jobs first Brexit" is the slogan used by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Mr Smith has been critical of the leadership's approach to Brexit and its potential economic effect. The union secretary said the "price of political failure will likely be measured in divestment, redundancies and closures across Scotland - a new era of economic and industrial decline that will take hold over the next few years and take a generation from which to recover". Other findings in the update from the Fraser of Allander Institute are that there remain few overall, significant differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK in its exposure to the effects of Brexit - except that some sectors have a bigger role in the Scottish economy, including drinks manufacturing and fisheries.  The authors of the report say the eventual outcome of Brexit will depend on future policy responses of government, and the opportunities that may arise to export to non-EU markets.  They advise government, trade unions and businesses to develop contingency plans for different outcomes.

Atmosphere is Electric As Ullapool Welcomes Chance to Check Out New Breed of Vehicles

People living in a Wester Ross community showed their interest in being part of the coming "electric vehicle revolution" by checking out four- and two-wheeled modes of transport at a special come and try day.  The Let's Go Electric event was put together by Ullapool Community Trust in partnership with Home Energy Scotland and saw the offer of test drives in a Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Kona booked solid for the four-hour duration of the session. Test rides on electric bikes were also be available, with bikes being supplied by Square Wheel Cycles of Strathpeffer. The event at the Macphail Centre also allowed visitors to find out more about charging points, pricing and government grants.  Ullapool Community Trust director Amanda Barry-Hirst said: "It was a great success. Both cars were fully booked for test drives. Local residents were very enthusiastic with several test driving both cars. The e-bikes were very popular too, with many rides throughout the day."  She added: "There’s no doubt that the electric vehicle revolution is coming, and we are keen to be part of it. While charging points remain a challenge, particularly in our less populated area, if there’s enough demand then supply will surely follow. This event is just one of many activities our community is involved in that will move us towards embracing a more sustainable future”. Last year, six Scottish regions were ranked amongst the top 20 in the UK for used electric hybrid sales. This trend towards electric north of the border is reflected in the Scottish Government’s pledge to phase out new petrol and diesel cars by 2032 – eight years ahead of the UK Westminster Government.

Ruler of Dubai in Planning Row Over Inverinate Estate

The billionaire ruler of Dubai's proposals to build a lodge on his Highlands estate have drawn objections from people living near the site.  Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum owns Inverinate Estate and its existing properties in Kyle of Lochalsh.  The new nine-bedroom building is needed to accommodate large groups of immediate and extended family and friends, according to planning papers. Concerns have been raised about the large two-storey lodge overshadowing a bungalow about 20 metres from the site, close to the shores of Loch Duich.  Objectors argue that there is plenty of land elsewhere on the estate, which already has a large country house and a 14-bedroom holiday home serviced by three helicopter pads, for the development.  Two other new properties are being built on the estate. The estate had withdrawn a previous application for the new lodge, before resubmitting the plans with the site moved further away from the bungalow.  Documents attached to the application for full planning permission submitted to Highland Council say the lodge would be of a design and construction "sympathetic" to the local area.  The bungalow close to the proposed site has been Roddy Macleod's family home for more than three decades. Mr Macleod said his home would be overlooked by 18 windows,  "It's a monstrosity that's going to spoil the area completely, and it will certainly kick the hell out of my house.  Behind me here is a vast estate. To build this house right up against mine is completely out of context with every other building in the area."  Mr Macleod added: "I am not going to be squeezed out. This has been my home for 35 years and I am not going to go for them."  Loch Duich Community Council has raised an objection to the plans.  Chairman Donald Macintosh said the sheikh and his family were popular visitors who contributed to the area and generated local employment, but he added that there were concerns about the location of the planned lodge.  He said: "It is great to work with him and it is quite exciting when they come and it gives the whole area a buzz.  "It's great when they visit, it is just this particular development is just too close to Mr Macleod's property."

The Families Who Took on A Housing Giant
It took seven families two years, but a group of homeowners in Scotland has taken on a housing giant in order to have their "crumbling" new-build homes repaired. It's part of a broader, UK-wide issue - this is their story.  Sheila Chalmers moved to Peebles with her husband 10 years ago.  Her three-bed home was one of 250 built by developer Taylor Wimpey on a new site in the Scottish borders.  For eight years, life went on as normal. Then something strange started to happen.  Overnight, families at the top end of the estate started to vanish. But there were no for sale signs and no-one new was moving in.  "It became almost a ghost street," she says. "Houses were empty. People were disappearing."  Sheila later heard that the properties had been bought back by Taylor Wimpey after problems were discovered. The owners had signed non-disclosure agreements so they could not speak out.  Taylor Wimpey confirmed it did buy back a "small number of homes" to start with.  It later sent a letter to all the remaining residents, saying that some houses did have a problem with the mortar holding together their bricks.  Sheila thought she did not have anything to worry about, but she went outside and checked anyway.  Patches of mortar were clearly eroding, she says, and in other places it could be scraped out with a fingernail.  She paid for assessments by two different structural engineers, who both said the house needed extensive repair work, though Taylor Wimpey said its own inspections found that was not the case. Mortar is made up of two key materials: cement and sand. The more cement in the mix, the stronger the mortar, though the more brittle it can be.  The family paid to have their laboratory tests on the mortar carried out by a specialist firm.  The results suggested that there was far more sand in the mix than you would expect for a home in that area, although Taylor Wimpey says the type of chemical test used was "not appropriate" and the results could not be relied upon.  Our investigation in 2018 found similar complaints about weak mortar across at least 13 estates in the UK all built by different companies.  Three doors down from Sheila, live Pete and Jill Hall with their 13-year-old son.  Like Sheila, they first learned about the problem two years ago when Taylor Wimpey were buying back the individual houses.  They paid for their own tests, which showed only one in eight samples taken from their home met industry guidelines, although again Taylor Wimpey says the test used was "not appropriate".  "On the garage the tests came back showing it was just sand," said Pete.  A video filmed by the family after a rainstorm clearly shows the mortar on the back wall falling out when a screwdriver was run gently along it.  In the end, seven core households became involved - passing on details to a wider community group on the estate. The families worked together to build their case, paying for their own structural surveys and using Freedom of Information laws to demand internal documents from the local council. They made handmade signs and protested outside the showroom of another Taylor Wimpey estate in the area.  In 2017, they presented their findings to Taylor Wimpey's lawyers, saying that they would go public if their properties were not fixed, demolished or bought back. They were surprised at the response.  The families' solicitors received a letter back saying they had decided not to report the group to the authorities under the Proceeds of Crime legislation. "It was accusing us of bribery, effectively," said Pete. "It took me about 10 minutes to stop laughing. But it was intimidation, a threat." By then, Pete and Jill had hired their own engineers to examine the house. They recommended that the couple should stop using the garage because it was at risk of collapse, although Taylor Wimpey denies that there was a structural problem. The couple bought a giant shipping container, covered it with warning stickers and left it on their front lawn.  That, they say, got Taylor Wimpey's attention and - two years down the line - an agreement has now been reached for their home to be fixed. "It falls short of where we think a full repair should be, but they have said it's that or nothing - so we have accepted it," Jill says. In December 2018, Taylor Wimpey sent out letters saying all 130 houses in the estate built with the weaker mortar would now be offered "remediation" work.  Taylor Wimpey said it "sincerely apologises" to the all the homeowners affected, is "fully committed to resolving matters" and has "a clear plan in place to remediate affected homes".  "This is a localised issue and falls short of the high-quality standards we uphold," it said.  The firm has now apologised to Sheila and, even though its own inspections found a full repair is not needed, said work to replace the mortar in her home will start this summer. It will refund the £16,000 she has spent on legal costs and technical reports, most of which she had to borrow. Repair work on Pete and Jill's property, which may involve the demolition of the garage, is due to start in mid-July.  Both families say the fight has been time-consuming, stressful and put them off ever buying a new-build home again.

Archaeological Dig of Early Whisky Distillery in the Cabrach
Archaeologists have begun excavating one of Scotland's earliest legal whisky distilleries. Blackmiddens was one of the first small-scale whisky farms to be granted a licence to produce the drink following the Excise Act of 1823.  Its ruins are in the Cabrach, on the border between Moray and Aberdeenshire.  The dig aims to record the "character and extent" of the distillery and its relationship with an adjacent ruined farm steading.  The Cabrach Trust is leading the dig with support from Forestry and Land Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland.  The trust was established to preserve the history of an area notorious for illegal whisky distillation and smuggling before the introduction of the Excise Act.  Ancestors of local resident Joan Harvey were involved in smuggling illicit whisky to Aberdeen before the legal distillery was set up.  The 66-year-old, whose ancestors farmed at Blackmiddens, which lies between Rhynie and Dufftown, said: "I was always told that my great, great uncle was the head of the gang at the time. Stories about their adventures were passed down my family.  Apparently my great, great grandfather had a white stallion and when the excisemen were billeted locally he would ride his white horse, alerting everyone that the excisemen were there so that the whisky smugglers could go to ground." She added: "I was also told that, one time, the excisemen were trying to catch the smugglers and had set up barricades all around Aberdeen.  My great, great uncle hired a horse-drawn hearse and loaded the coffin with whisky. When he reached the excisemen, they all took off their hats as a mark of respect for the dead, and the whisky went through."  Anna Brennand, chief executive of the Cabrach Trust, said the area was a place of "many secrets".  She added: "For decades local farmers secretly distilled whisky and smuggled it away under the noses of excisemen. Then, when the law was changed to make small-scale whisky production profitable, Blackmiddens was one of the first farms to take advantage of this." Blackmiddens would have had a small 180 litre (40 gallon) still compared to whisky stills today which hold many thousands of litres.  Whisky production at the farm stopped just eight years after it began and the site fell into ruin.

Eilidh Macleod: Memorial to Manchester Terror Attack Teenager
A sculpture is being created in memory of a teenager from the island of Barra who died in the Manchester Arena attack in 2017.  Eilidh MacLeod, 14, was one of the 22 people killed by a terrorist's bomb following an Ariana Grande concert.  Her friend Laura MacIntyre survived but was badly injured.  Eilidh was a member Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band and the life-size bronze sculpture will feature a young female bagpiper with her pipes at rest.  The young woman will be reaching out a hand to a young boy who is also learning to play the instrument.  The design, created by Sussex-based artist Jenna Gearing in consultation with Eilidh's family, is intended to reflect the teenager's "love of music and her willingness to support others in the island community where she grew up".  The sculpture is to be placed in a newly-created memorial garden overlooking Vatersay in Barra next year.  London-based Ardonagh Community Trust donated funding to the memorial, which forms part of the work being done by the Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust.  Eilidh's father, Roddy, said: "As a family losing Eilidh in such a cruel way was truly horrific.  We could never adequately thank all the individuals, the communities and Eilidh's friends who gave us so much love and support in our time of need and indeed continue to do so, especially when they were hurting too.  Forming Eilidh's Trust and working together with Jenna along with family and friends on Barra has been an uplifting and positive experience for us all."  Suzanne White, of the Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust, said: "Our intention for the sculpture of a young female piper is to ensure that Eilidh's life and her legacy are celebrated appropriately.  The design has really captured her spirit and created a striking memorial to a very special young girl." Artist Ms Gearing said she felt "incredibly privileged" to be part of the efforts to remember Eilidh and the "strength, unity and resilience" shown by all the families and communities caught up in the Manchester attack.  She said: "I endeavour to do Eilidh's family justice and my hope is that the sculpture created will provide a place for reflection and to serve an endless reminder of the wonderful girl that remains so fondly in our hearts.  The young lady looking down at the young boy kind of symbolises adults passing on their wisdom to children, and the child looking out to sea is almost like looking at one's future.  It came about from a story the MacLeods told me of how Eilidh was meant to be teaching her young sister to play the bagpipes that year. That story really resonated with me and I wanted to encapsulate some of that." Eilidh and her friend Laura both attended Castlebay Community School in Barra.  The two friends were attending the Ariana Grande concert with thousands of other pop music fans, having travelled to Manchester for the event with members of their families.

Artists Draw on Scotland's Neolithic Past
Artists have drawn on Scotland's Neolithic past to create a series of new illustrations. The artwork, which includes a tribe and a guide to building a ceremonial timber circle, is for a free education pack called The First Foresters.  It has been created by Forestry and Land Scotland, formerly Forestry Commission Scotland, and Archaeology Scotland.  The artists were guided by European Neolithic artefacts for their drawings.  The artefacts included axeheads made of a green stone called Alpine jadetitie. Archaeologists and artists also drew inspiration from research of Ötzi the Iceman, a man whose 5,300-year-old corpse was found frozen in an Alpine glacier between Austria and Italy in 1991.  Matt Ritchie, of Forestry and Land Scotland, said: "To populate our Neolithic wildwood we turned to archaeological reconstruction artists Alan Braby, Alex Leonard and Alice Watterson.  Alan produced the bulk of the illustrations, including a fantastic image of a decaying timber circle being enclosed by an earthen henge, and a fabulous 'how to build a timber circle' instruction sheet. Alex Leonard illustrated our tribe, using a fact sheet style to explore our characters and the supporting archaeological evidence."

Scotland's Shellfish 'At Risk' From Invasive Species From Japan

Scotland's shellfish industry is at risk from a tiny invasive species from Japan thought to be spreading with the help of climate change, researchers have warned.  Schizoporella japonica is a primitive but prolific orange-red sea creature found at a quarter of Scottish ports.  While most invasive species move from south to north, S. japonica is a rare southward-spreading threat.  It has been found in fewer than one in 10 harbours in England and Wales.  University of Edinburgh marine researcher Dr Jennifer Loxton told BBC Scotland's Landward its spread is likely to have been enabled by climate change.  As sea ice recedes in warmer seas, more shipping trade routes are being used, and with them cold-resistant species such as S. japonica can spread.  "I stumbled on it completely accidentally up in Orkney back in 2010," Dr Loxton said. "For most of us, not really much of a problem at all, it's just an irritant that you've got to scrape it off your boat, but the one thing that we are worried about is with aquaculture, in particular mussels and oysters because it can decrease the value by growing on their shells. And in some cases if it really gets going, it can even smother mussels."  Even in small numbers they can reduce the price farmers can get for shellfish while larger colonies can impact shellfish weight and survival.  The orange growths that can been seen on hard surfaces are made up of thousands of individual bryozoan animals that build a collective skeleton colony.  The aquatic invertebrate animals are likely to be "hitchhiking" their way around the UK by encrusting ship hulls and tagging along on marine industry infrastructure such as floating components of marine energy equipment and aquaculture nets.  "It has such a really wide temperature tolerance," Dr Loxton said. "Where it lives in Japan, the water freezes over in the winter, then gets really, really warm in the summer. So this one can take pretty much anything that's thrown at it.  We think it's come from the boats which have come through the northern waters across from Canada.  It's also, we think, moving around with some of the industry that we do here in Scotland, so fish farms but also renewable energy industry, so we've been finding it on wave and tidal turbines."  Researchers have been working with councils in highly affected areas such as Orkney, and their data is helping schemes such as the Dornoch oyster restoration project take action to minimise the risk of invasion and safeguard marine habitats.

Comhairle Leader Makes the Case for A Larger Cable to Connect Western Isles Energy to Mainland Grid

Representatives of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have met with OFGEM officials as part of a ‘Final Needs Case’ consultation on a new interconnector to the Western Isles.  OFGEM has stated that they are ‘minded’ to recommend a 450MW cable whilst the Comhairle, developers and SSE have all made the case for a 600MW cable, which would offer more capacity for exporting electricity from renewable energy schemes in the Islands.  The Comhairle outlined a robust case to OFGEM including projected figures of the amount of energy likely to be produced through renewable schemes in the next few years. OFGEM are also meeting with Developers during the consultation. Councillor Roddie Mackay, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said: “There are three windfarm schemes already consented and contracted - LWP Stornoway Wind Farm, Uisenis, and the FORSA Druim Leathann Windfarm.  However, there is every indication of further schemes currently in the pipeline which will produce a substantial amount of electricity.  We presented evidence to OFGEM of a demonstrable need for 530MW which, without reference to future needs, is sufficient to warrant a 600MW interconnector.  The cost difference of installing a larger cable is in the region of £27m or 4.5% of the costs but if it is done at a later stage it would cost substantially more. Our estimates are that a new supplementary 150MW cable would cost around £270m so it is in the best interests of consumers to ‘future proof’ the means of exporting electricity from the Islands and install the bigger cable.”  The Comhairle also highlighted the risks of installing an undersized cable including the end of the Community Owned Energy Sector, the loss of Offshore wind potential in Europe’s area of best resource and the impact on the auction competitiveness of the LWP and FORSA schemes which would be more economic on a 600MW cable.  Mr Mackay added: “The Comhairle has been committed to renewable energy schemes in the Islands and has supported community projects through Community Energy Scotland. The Comhairle has arranged a meeting with OFGEM with representatives from the community projects currently in the system as well as our partners at Community Energy Scotland.  I am confident that the Comhairle will wish to continue that support but there must be a way to market for the electricity produced otherwise they will simply not go ahead.  The Comhairle calls on OFGEM to recognise the robust case that has been made and to recommend the larger cable.  We believe that the additional evidence presented to OFGEM today enables them to keep the 600MW option on the table.”

Large Victoria Cross Collection Goes on Display to Highland Public At Highlanders' Museum At Fort George, Near Ardersier
An impressive collection of 16 Victoria Crosses has gone on public display for the first time at the Highlanders’ Museum at Fort George, near Ardersier.  The medals, which are the highest military recognition of acts of extreme bravery carried out under direct enemy fire, were awarded to men fighting for Highland regiments.  Until now, only replicas have been displayed while the real VCs – crafted from the bronze of a gun captured in the Crimean War – were stored in a vault.  But they have now gone on display alongside the recipients’ remarkable stories following an unveiling ceremony attended by some of the descendants. Donald Cameron of Lochiel, Lord Lieutenant of Inverness, who performed the ceremony, described the collection as “remarkable”.  “I think it is a reminder to this generation of how brave our forebears were and what we owe them,” he said. “I think the story boards have been put well together so we can understand the individuals’ bravery.”  Guests included six members of the Edwards family from Lossiemouth who attended in honour of Alexander Edwards, a sergeant with 6th Seaforth.  He was awarded the VC for leading a charge against a machine gun despite being badly wounded during action near Ypres in July 1917.  David Edwards said he wanted to recognise the achievements of his great uncle who was killed in action in Arras in March 1918.  “His body was never recovered but we have visited the place where the battle was,” he said.  David’s brother William said: “When you see the horrors, you realise what has happened and that these men came home on leave knowing they had to go back to that, to the front.” Also present was Marjorie Buntin, the great niece of Robert McBeath, a lance corporal with 5th Seaforth, who was 18 when he was awarded the VC for conspicuous bravery during the Battle of Cambrai on November 20, 1917.  He was born in Fraserburgh but brought up in Kinlochbervie after his unmarried mother gave him away. Following the outbreak of World War I, he joined the Army at 16 after lying about his age. After the war, he emigrated to Canada and joined the North West Mounted Police but was shot and killed while on duty in 1922.  It is only in recent years that Mrs Buntin, of Dundee, discovered his story. “This is the first time I have seen the real Victoria Cross,” she said. “It is a very proud moment.”

Ravenscraig Regeneration Gets £66m Boost
Money for new roads and transport infrastructure has been approved by Glasgow City Region leaders as part of the redevelopment of the former Ravenscraig steelworks site.  The eight councils involved have agreed to allocate an additional £66 million for the Ravenscraig Infrastructure Access (RIA) project.  City Deal cash, along with an additional £29.7m from North Lanarkshire Council, will be used to upgrade roads from the M74 at Motherwell through Ravenscraig to the M8 at Eurocentral and onward past Airdrie on a new link road to the A73 south of Cumbernauld.  The transport infrastructure project, part of the wider Pan-Lanarkshire Orbital Corridor, is vital to the overall development of the Ravenscraig site, according to councillors. They estimate the revised proposals for redeveloping Ravenscraig could create more than 6,500 jobs and boost the economy by £360m a year.  At 455 hectares, Ravenscraig is one of Europe’s largest brownfield regeneration sites and accounts for 13 per cent of the Glasgow City Region’s vacant and derelict land.  Ravencraig Ltd’s new masterplan for the area will be considered by the council in the coming weeks and includes proposals for 3,000 houses, five primary schools, a town park and more than 110,000sq m of office, industrial and retail space. Paul Kelly, depute leader of North Lanarkshire Council, said: “The regeneration of Ravencraig is of major strategic and economic importance to North Lanarkshire and the wider area.  The £201 million Pan-Lanarkshire Orbital project represents the biggest single roads and infrastructure investment in North Lanarkshire’s history, and our focus must be on those projects that will attract investment to the area and be of the greatest economic benefit to our communities.”  Scottish Government Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The Scottish Government has committed to invest £500 million in the Glasgow City Region Deal in pursuit of long-term, sustainable economic growth.”

Last Updated (Saturday, 13 April 2019 04:17)