Local News for Thursday 20th September 2018

LABOUR MSP QUESTIONS FERRY ISSUES
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant has asked why it has taken so long for Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for the Islands is to address a Forum on the Western Isles Ferry provision.

Rhoda Grant, MSP said, ‘Whilst I welcome the news that Paul Wheelhouse will eventually address questions on this severe issue, I am perplexed as to why he did not address it during his recent visit.

This visit comes on the back of the sustained pressure from many stakeholder groups including Outer Hebrides Tourism, CNES, the Business community, Islanders and Scottish Labour. Only last week I challenged the Minister to be transparent on the funding fiasco surrounding the MV Loch Seaforth.’

Rhoda Grant, MSP concluded, “every time a new ferry is commissioned it results in millions of pounds being spent having to accommodate the design of the boats.

Against all opinion and advise SNP Ministers decided on a single large ferry for the Stornoway route rather than 2 smaller ferries which would have fitted the existing port facilities and provided resilience to other routes during planned maintenance. Surely if the advice had been heeded we would not find ourselves in this Perfect Storm.”

FUNDING BOOST FOR TOURISM
The search is on for 10 major new projects that showcase the outstanding local scenery, wildlife and culture of the Highlands & Islands.
The new Natural & Cultural Heritage Fund, led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) will support projects that encourage visitors to experience more of the unique nature and culture of the Highlands & Islands.
The fund also aims to benefit communities, with the projects it supports helping to retain local jobs and services. £5m is available from the fund, with each project to receive at least £250k.
The funding comes through the Scottish Government’s European Regional Development Fund programme, with match funding from other sources bringing overall investment to more than £7m.
Throughout the rest of 2018, SNH will be promoting the Fund at events across the Highlands & Islands and meeting with prospective applicants to discuss potential projects.
The funding round will open in early January 2019 and close late April 2019. Decisions on the successful projects will be announced in early summer 2019. Further details about the Fund can be found on the SNH website.

YOUNG REPORTERS COMPETION OPEN
Young people from across Scotland are being encouraged to take part in the Young Reporters Scotland initiative, organised by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful. The initiative supports young people to develop their skills in journalism and share their views on the environment as part of a nationwide competition.
Young Reporters Scotland encourages anyone aged 8 - 26 to utilise their journalistic talents and give their environment a voice - using photography, film and writing - inspiring young people to increase their knowledge and awareness of environmental, social and economic issues and providing them with a platform to express their views.
The initiative is calling out to all young people, teachers, schools, youth groups, colleges and universities to get involved.
For Young Reporters of school age, their work can also provide evidence to support their school’s application for an Eco-Schools Scotland Green Flag.
Further information and educational resources on Young Reporters Scotland can be found at: http://www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/yrs