Local News for Monday 15th October 2018

The ambitious Hebridean Dark Skies Festival, programmed by An Lanntair, will take place at An Lanntair itself and across the Isle of Lewis from 8-21 February 2019.
Guests will include the Sky at Night’s Chris Lintott, international science presenters Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest, and Scotland’s astronomer royal John Brown.

It’s a two-week programme of stargazing, talks, family activities, film screenings, workshops and much more, with events at An Lanntair, Gallan Head, and the Calanais standing stones.

Many astronomical sights can be seen from the islands by the naked eye including the Orion Nebula, the Milky Way Galaxy, and the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, can also be seen in one of the very best spots in the UK for watching this natural wonder.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, the festival will close with a screening of First Man, the acclaimed new film starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.
The programme for the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival launched recently and more information can be found online at www.lanntair.com/darkskies.

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has called on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to provide reassurance to the crofting community of Lewis and Harris, following a report that came before the Comhairle’s Policy and Resources committee recently which outlined proposals for the sale of the current Stornoway abattoir site to a developer and the, apparently unplanned, relocation of the service.

SCF board member, Donald Mackinnon said ‘The Stornoway abattoir is central to crofting in Lewis and Harris It is of great concern that the Comhairle would consider selling the site without concrete plans in place for how the service will be provided in the future. Before any discussions begin about the sale of the current site assurances must be given to the crofting community about where a new facility will be located and how its construction will be funded.

Mr MacKinnon continued; ‘Without an abattoir facility in Stornoway, crofters in Lewis and Harris would be faced with a two-and-a-half-hour ferry trip, followed by a 45 mile road journey to get their livestock killed in Dingwall. For the vast majority of crofters this would simply be an unfeasible prospect.’

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the recent announcement that the Tourism Outer Hebrides 2020 project has been awarded more than £240,000 from Round 1 of the Rural Tourism Fund.

The project will develop an island-wide network of facilities and infrastructure to improve visitor experience, including car parks, campervan service points, electrical hook up points and signage.
The £6 million Rural Tourism Fund was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in October of 2017 in response to the tourism boom across rural Scotland.

Alasdair Allan commented:

‘The announcement is very welcome. we need proper infrastructure in order to cope with increasing tourist numbers.
‘Round 2 is still open for applications with the closing date for expressions of interest on 31 October. I would urge any local groups with ideas for projects to express their interest before this date.’