Local News for Wednesday 21st March 2018

More flights for Barra – Minister
Barra is to get extra flights throughout the summer months, according to an announcement yesterday by Scotland’s Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf. There will be 22 additional return flights from Glasgow to Barra in May and early June and up to 40 additional return flights from late June to October, subject to discussions with the people of Barra. Mr Yousaf said: “We have consulted with the community of Barra to see how we can improve air services and address capacity concerns over the summer months. The majority of extra flights will be created by moving a bank of rotations from the winter timetable, while still meeting demand during that time of year. This will create more capacity during the summer and reduce the number of empty seats across the year. We are also providing around £18,000 in additional funding to bring in the additional Barra flights in May and June. We are committed to supporting our remote communities and these improvements to our iconic air links will help do that.”

Memorial unveiling on Friday
The first new memorial to commemorate 100 years since the sinking of the Iolaire, off Holm on January 1st 1919, is to be unveiled on Friday. Pupils of The Nicolson Institute including vice-head boy and girl Steven Morrison and Aisling Smith and third-year pupil Ruth Mackay will help to unveil the cairn of 201 stones, each commemorating one of the victims of the wreck. Ruth has family ties to two of those who passed away on the Iolaire, which hit rocks and sank as Great War servicemen were returning on leave to the islands. The memorial has been planned by the Stornoway Amenity Trust together with the Nicolson Institute, and will be unveiled in Carn Gardens, next to the Town Hall, on Friday at 11am. A slate engraving and a bench form part of the memorial, and the ceremony will include speeches, poetry, songs and pipers. Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles Donald Martin, Nicolson Institute rector Frances Murray and Amenity Trust chair Charlie Nicolson will also be present.

Eagle death from ‘fight with another bird’
A golden eagle which was found dead in Barra last week died of wounds inflicted by another bird, according to Police Scotland, but the public should continue to report any dead bird they find to help build a picture of what threatens the birds. The death of the eagle, found by people in Barra on the afternoon of Monday, March 12th, was ‘non-suspicious’, according to the police. Wildlife crime officer Constable Daniel Sutherland said: "This bird succumbed to injuries which are consistent with being inflicted by another eagle. Due to the death being reported promptly, the eagle was recovered for testing and it was quickly established how the bird had died. Building up a picture of the natural causes of death of birds is very useful. I would encourage anyone who finds the remains of a bird of prey to contact Police Scotland on 101 to report any concerns."

Earth Hour darkness on Saturday
For the ninth year running, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will participate in World Earth Hour this coming Saturday. Last year more than 10 million people in the UK, 172 countries and 7,000 towns and cities, took part in switch-off of lights, which included landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and the Eiffel Tower. At 8.30pm on Saturday, the Comhairle will switch off the lights at the War Memorial on the outskirts of Stornoway. In 2011, Scotland became the first country in the world to have all its local authorities participating in Earth Hour, something that was applauded globally. This record will be maintained this year again, with all Scottish local authorities committed to taking part.