Local News for Wednesday 28th March 2018

Shiants project up for award
A conservation project which rid the Shiant islands of rats has been shortlisted for an international environmental award. The Shiant Isles Recovery project has been listed as one of seven finalists in the conservation category of the European Commission’s Natura 2000 awards for 2018. The RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and the owners of the Shiants, the Nicolson family, worked with volunteers over six months of winter to eradicate the rats, which had colonised the islands and threatened the future of numerous ground-nesting seabirds. The project has been described by the European Commission as: ‘a resounding success’. They said: “There have been no signs of rats on the island for 18 months. This project is an excellent example of meticulously planned conservation intervention, allowing an impressive conservation gain: the successful and sustainable recovery of the breeding populations of over 150,000 pairs of seabirds, including some 63,000 pairs of puffins.” Winners are being selected by public vote, and you can vote by following the link on our Facebook page before April 22nd. The winners of the award will be announced at a ceremony in Brussels in May. http://natura2000award-application.eu/finalist/3172

Pre-season clean-ups
Barra and Vatersay are in the midst of a week-long clean-up campaign, to get their beaches and townships ready for the summer season. Children from Eoligarry School are leading the efforts to lift wind-blown plastic and other rubbish, and township volunteers have been asked to organise clean-up gangs to clean up their township. Bin bags, litter pickers and bag hoops are being made available from Buth Bharraigh in Castlebay, who have organised the event and plan to hold more clean-ups throughout the year.

Meanwhile Leverburgh people are being reminded that a big community clean-up is planned for Saturday April 14th, when a skip will be placed on the pier for the collection of rubbish from gardens, verges and ditches around the village.

Shelter offer advice to tenants
A Shelter Scotland team will have a stand in Cromwell Street in Stornoway today from 11am, offering free advice to people on housing issues. The charity have partnered with Scottish Government to spread the word about the new Scottish Private Residential Tenancy (PRT), effective since December. Under the new rules there have been changes including that rent and repair issues can now be heard and resolved by a tribunal, and local authorities can apply to cap rent increases. Shelter Scotland say they are getting out and about to make sure that people know how the changes affect them, and welcome anyone with questions to approach them today.

100 years of RAF celebration
The Stornoway Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association are to join with 1731 (Isle of Lewis) Squadron Air Cadets in commemorating 100 years of the Royal Air Force this weekend. On 1st April 1918, the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps were merged together to create the world’s first independent air force, the Royal Air Force. Since then 100 years of aviation development and progress has seen the RAF become the state of the art defence force that it is today. On Saturday at 11am the RAF ensign will be raised in Perceval Square where it will remain flying until Monday. Saturday evening sees an RAF Association dinner for members to remember their own time in the RAF and the sacrifices made by many in the line of service. The remembrance and celebrations continue on Sunday morning when RAFA and 1731 Squadron Air Cadets take part in a church parade at the Salvation Army citadel Bayhead. The service at The Salvation Army begins at 11am on Sunday and anyone is welcome to attend.