Local News for Wednesday 24th May 2017

Transocean foots Coastguard bill
The owners of the oil rig which grounded at Dalmore last summer have forked out £400,000 to help meet the costs of the biggest multi-agency emergency response operation in island history. Transocean, who owned the rig Transocean Winner, paid the money to the Maritime Coastguard Agency after last year’s huge operation, involving paid teams of response workers and volunteer teams from Western Isles coastguard. Transocean Winner grounded at Dalmore last August during storm winds, and spent two months under repair and recovery before being taken away from Lewis onboard the heavy load carrier Hawk. The drilling platform has since been decommissioned and scrapped in Turkey.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 24th May 2017

Local News for Tuesday 23rd May 2017

Dedicated RNLI crewman on honeymoon shout
A dedicated member of Stornoway RNLI Lifeboat crew interrupted his own wedding weekend to respond to a shout on Saturday. Stornoway Coastguard alerted the RNLI team to a kayaker in trouble in Broadbay and, even though the lifeboat was stood down before launching, crew member DK Macdonald had already turned up for the job – the day after his marriage to Kathleen Maclennan. The wedding itself was an RNLI family affair, as Kathleen is the daughter of Stornoway RNLI Branch Chair John J Maclennan and Stornoway Lifeboat Ladies Guild member Ishbel,. The wedding on Friday was celebrated with a reception at Lews Castle, and the RNLI flag flying from the castle’s tower. The kayaker who got into trouble on Saturday made it to shore safely.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 23rd May 2017

Local News for Monday 22nd May 2017

Aline woodland vandalism – call for information
Trustees of the Aline Community Woodland in Lewis are asking for information from anyone who saw anything suspicious at the site over the past week, after finding the children’s playpark cabin vandalised. The woodland in South Lochs is maintained and run by volunteers, with 636 hectares of woods and lochs, threaded through with walkways and a woodland playpark. Volunteers found at the weekend that the walls of the playpark cabin had been kicked and damaged. A spokesman said:  “This is a public amenity created through the hard work of a small voluntary group for the benefit of children and their parents. If you saw anyone acting suspiciously please let us know so that we can track down the culprits.”

Read more: Local News for Monday 22nd May 2017

Local News for Friday 19th May 2017

 Food Standards justifies salt company action
Hebridean Sea Salt ‘deceived customers’, according to Food Standards Scotland, who have taken the unusual step of issuing a press statement about an ongoing case. The Lochs-based company has ceased to operate after queries were raised about the provenance of the gourmet sea salt, said to originate from pure Hebridean waters, and sold through national chains including Marks and Spencers and Sainsburys. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has been leading an investigation into the company, and in a statement released yesterday, a Food Standards Scotland spokesman said: “We would not normally disclose the details of an active and ongoing investigation. However, given the coverage of this case, we believe it is now in the public interest to disclose the issues that are under investigation. This is not simply a case of mis-labelling. Investigations discovered that over 80% of the salt found in Hebridean Sea Salt did not originate in the Hebrides, but was imported table salt. It is Food Standards Scotland’s view that, whilst this is not a food safety issue, deception of consumers on this scale is not acceptable and could damage Scotland’s well-deserved reputation for high quality, authentic food and drink products.” Hebridean Sea Salt’s premises in industrial units at Habost, Lochs have closed and the product has been recalled from supermarket shelves.

Read more: Local News for Friday 19th May 2017

Local News for Thursday 18th May 2017

Eriskay testbed for new broadband fix
Households in Eriskay have been selected to take part in the first commercial pilot of new technology to increase the speed of fibre broadband over very long phone lines. Long Reach VDSL is being tested by Openreach, building on trials in Lewis last summer. Broadband speeds tend to slow over long distances, so higher power levels are being tested to increase the distance over which broadband can be delivered. If the Eriskay test proves successful, the test households will keep the higher speeds for the foreseeable future.  Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “Being able to test new technologies like this in a real-life setting is a crucial step before we can deploy them on a much wider scale. I hope people in Eriskay will see real improvements in their broadband speed as they help us find an answer to the challenge of delivering faster, fibre broadband over longer lines.”

Read more: Local News for Thursday 18th May 2017