Local News for Tuesday 13th March 2018

Stones commemorate island tragedy
201 stones will be laid in Carn Gardens next Friday, to commemorate the lives lost in the sinking of the Iolaire on January 1st 1919. The stones have been collected from the home villages of each of the sailors lost when the vessel sank at Holm, while bringing men home at the end of the First World War. The centenary of the tragedy is being commemorated by a number of events and memorials between now and January 1st 2019. Each of the 201 stones will be incorporated into a unique memorial in Stornoway town centre planned by Stornoway Amenity Trust, who have been working with The Nicolson Institute and Stornoway Historical Society on the Iolaire Memorial Project. The memorial will be close to the Town Hall and will consist of a slate engraving on a wall and a cairn built with the significant stones. A bench donated by Stornoway Port Authority will also be put in place nearby. The plan to include stones from the home village or town of all victims was devised by pupils of The Nicolson Institute who have spent the last few months working on those collections. Stones have now been collected in villages all over Lewis, Harris, Berneray (North Uist) and also from the home towns of the 20 victims who were not from the Isles, including from the Isle of Wight, Liverpool and elsewhere in the UK. The new memorial will be unveiled at 11am on March 23rd by descendants of some of those lost in the Iolaire.

More debate on proposed connection
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, held two consultation events at the Caberfeidh Hotel in Stornoway yesterday, to discuss proposals to provide a transmission connection to the Western Isles. The project’s been on the table for over a decade, but financial barriers, changes in government policy and the readiness of renewable developers across the Western Isles have all contributed to delays in the transmission connection. SSEN’s proposal would see a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) subsea transmission link connecting from the Western Isles to the main UK transmission system enabling renewable generation access to the whole national market. SSEN says they are currently trying to find the ‘tipping point’ that justifies their investment – the point at which the cost of the investment is exceeded by the benefits of the renewable energy supplied to energy consumers. Yesterday’s meetings included opportunities to view SSEN’s plans for a submarine electricity cable between Arnish on Lewis and Dundonnell on the Scottish mainland, ahead of SSEN submitting a full planning application to Marine Scotland in June this year.

School bus talks ‘welcome’
Stornoway North councillor Gordon Murray has welcomed a new consultation on school transport in the Laxdale area which starts this week. Councillor Murray said: “This is positive news for those parents in Newvalley, Marybank, Benside and Bakers Road who have battled for the reinstatement of the school bus to the Nicolson Institute. I hope that the leader and the director of education will listen to their pleas and reinstate the buses so that children from these areas can travel to school without worrying about the traffic and inclement weather. To hear stories of children turning up to school drenched is not acceptable.”

Innovation for businesses
Free workshops are taking place this month in Harris and Barra with a focus on how businesses can benefit from innovation. Co-Innovate encourages research and innovation by small to medium enterprises in some of the most fragile areas of western Scotland. The first workshop will be held at Tàlla na Mara, Isle of Harris on 20th March. Jamie McGowan, owner of Essence of Harris will speak about how innovative new ideas helped him grow his business. A second workshop is at Castlebay Community Hall on 29th March. Donald Murray, Co-Innovate programme manager at HIE, said: “These workshops will explain how the programme can benefit businesses in the Outer Hebrides. It can help businesses identify opportunities for growth and create a vision to make it happen.”

Leverburgh clean-up
The village of Leverburgh is planning a massive clean-up ahead of the arrival of their new Shannon class RNLI lifeboat in April. A skip is being brought to the pier so that everyone can join in getting the gardens, streets and harbour cleaned up ahead of the summer season and before the shiny new lifeboat arrives. People are being invited to clean rubbish out of ditches, verges and gardens and to use the skip between 10am and 4pm on Saturday 14th April. A spokesman for RNLI Leverburgh said: “This is a great chance to clear all the rubbish that's been blown about by the winter gales - and to spruce the place up in time for the Shannon's arrival the following weekend!”