Local News for Thursday 3rd May 2018

Cruise ships replace war ships
As operation Joint Warrior draws to a close today, the Minch will become busy with cruise ships rather than warships for the rest of the season. Due into Stornoway today is the German liner Hamburg, which will berth at pier no. 3 at lunchtime with up to 400 passengers, predominantly German, and an international crew of 170 on board. NATO submarine activity continues this morning off Lewis and the Uists, but the Norwegian, Belgian, Dutch and Danish battleships involved in the last part of Joint Warrior will then be heading off as the exercise closes.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 3rd May 2018

Local News for Wednesday 2nd May 2018

Lewis Wind Power plans ‘mega-turbines’
Energy firms EDF and Wood are exploring potential changes to the consented 180MW Stornoway and 160MW Uisenis wind farms in the Western Isles. The Lewis Wind Power partners are considering either larger turbines within existing parameters or a fresh planning application for taller machines in a revised layout. The changes might increase the chances of consent in the UK Contracts for Difference auction in spring 2019. If the change in design is chosen, tip heights at Uisenis could go to 200 metres from 150 metres, while the Stornoway dimensions would increase to 187 metres from 145 metres. Lewis Wind Power announced their intention on Monday, as they met with representatives from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish Government. They said they were "in the very early stages” and might have to seek fresh planning consent for larger turbines and a revised layout. The news has been met with outrage by some, who have been comparing the height of the turbines to those built in the North Sea – far higher than any structures that exist on land in Scotland. Blogger Katie Laing, who writes as ‘Hebrides Writer’, says there are no onshore turbines of this magnitude anywhere in the UK. She quoted Calum Macdonald, developer of Point and Sandwick Trust's Beinn Ghrideag scheme, who said: "The proposed new turbines are the same size as the gigantic offshore turbines that are now being built in the North Sea. They are out to sea for a good reason which is that their enormous size is thought to make them unacceptable anywhere onshore, far less near a town like Stornoway or near an iconic location like Loch Seaforth. If EDF and the Council are giving any serious consideration to this new scheme, the first thing they should be doing is not talking to SNH and SEPA but talking to the crofters whose land it is."

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 2nd May 2018

Local News for Tuesday 1st May 2018

Lido is best newcomer
Stornoway’s Lido café has been named the best newcomer in the Scottish Entertainment and Hospitality awards, announced on Sunday at Merchant Square in Glasgow. The café, opened one year ago in premises recently vacated after a complete refit, was recognised in a public vote as the best in Scotland. The owners said: “We couldn't be more proud of what we've achieved in under one year of opening. Thank you everyone.” The Lido makes pizzas and cooks locally-sourced ingredients from scratch, offering sit-in and take-away options and special-diet choices at their premises opposite the Town Hall on Cromwell Street.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 1st May 2018

Local News for Monday 30th April 2018

Mosque to open May 11th
Stornoway’s new Mosque will officially open for Friday prayers on May 11th, becoming the fastest-built place of worship ever in the Western Isles. The formerly derelict store building on James Street was granted planning permission for conversion to a Mosque in September last year, but work was delayed as the small Muslim community, resident in the islands since 1945, did not have the resources to get the project under way. After a call from a friend in Lewis, Leeds businessman Aihtsham Rashid launched a crowd-funding appeal just one month ago, appealing for £50,000 to get the building fitted out and prepared for use. Donations are now approaching £90,000 and the appeal also led to volunteer workmen, materials and other donations both locally and internationally. Mr Rashid said “Humbled is not the word any more. I am speechless at the support from around the world.” Just four weeks after starting, the finishing touches now being put to the new building, which provides space for children’s activities, prayer and socialising including at weddings and funerals. The building will be opened to the public on Friday May 11th with food and celebrations after prayers, and in good time for the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan on the evening of May 15th.

Read more: Local News for Monday 30th April 2018

Local News for Friday 27th April 2018

Ferry problems ‘kicked into long grass’ - Comhairle
The Chairman of the Comhairle's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has called for government intervention in the crisis over ferry services to the islands, claiming that Transport Scotland and CalMac Ferries Ltd have "kicked complaints into the long grass" in the hope that they may just go away. Cllr Uisdean Robertson referred Islands and Transport Minister Humza Yousaf MSP to a period of unprecedented disruption to ferry services across the Clyde and Hebrides network, with services cancelled and a warning from CalMac that more trouble will recur throughout the summer. The call comes as CalMac admitted the troubled vessel MV Clansman will have to return to dry dock for more technical repairs in June. CalMac were trying to reassure customers that, despite unavoidable disruption, passengers could trust their ferry journey to all 26 island destinations to run. Cllr Uisdean Robertson said, "I have personally been inundated over the last several weeks by a huge amount of complaints regarding the levels of service, the extent of disruption and the lack of effective communications by CalMac. The non-availability of a single vessel, the MV Clansman, has had wide ranging implications across the network. The lack of resilience and spare capacity in the fleet is unacceptable and must be dealt with by the Minister as a matter of urgency.”

Read more: Local News for Friday 27th April 2018