Local News for Tuesday 23rd August 2016

CalMac will ‘transform experience’
Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne are promising to ‘transform the experience’ of ferry travellers, after concluding the contract process for Clyde and Hebridean ferry services. The company has signed formal contracts with Transport Scotland and Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) to operate ferries and harbours on the west coast of Scotland.In May CalMac was announced by Transport Scotland as the successful bidder and it also won a separate, but linked contract to deliver harbour operations at 24 ports on behalf of CMAL. Managing Director Martin Dorchester said: "Now that the contracts have been signed we can start to share information with staff and customers about our ambitious plans to transform the experience of ferry travellers during the lifetime of the contract."

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 23rd August 2016

Public access to view rig refloat attempt

Arrangements are in place for people who want to spectate tonight as the first attempt is made to refloat the oil rig, Transocean Winner, from the rocks at Dalmore where she has been stuck for over two weeks. Two tugs are already connected and standing by at Dalmore, while a further tug is standing by in Broad Bay. A Coastguard spokesman said that the refloat could start as early as 5pm, with the incoming tide due to peak at 10.30pm – the exact time of refloat will depend on conditions at the time, including the effect of buoyancy tanks on the rig.
Because there is expected to be intense interest in the operation, people are being asked to comply with the safety precautions put in place at the site this evening. Drivers coming to spectate are being asked to park on the verge where directed, the westside circular road being reduced to a single lane to allow for parking. Traffic will be allowed through the area in escorted convoys at a safe speed. Anyone not wishing to see the operation is asked to stay away from the road this evening, as through traffic will be affected. Dalmore village road will remain closed and police will manage traffic arrangements along the road.
People are being strongly discouraged from trying to get to clifftop viewing points, since rain and wind will once again make these routes hazardous, and the refloat could be taking place up to and after dark, adding to the diificulty of maintaining public safety. Anyone going to spectate is also asked to wear sensible clothing and footwear, to reduce the risk of injury.
A spokesperson for WIEPCG said: 'We completely understand that people will want to see this happen tonight. All we ask is that they do it safely and within the limits that we're putting in place. People wanting to watch the re-float operation are being asked to make sure they follow the plans, advice and instructions being put in place so they can do it safely”.
Exclusion zones covering air and sea space around the rig remain in place with drones, aircraft and boats not involved in the operation liable to prosecution if they breach the exclusion. If the refloat is successful, the rig will be towed to Broad Bay and, during the tow, an extended exclusion zone of 1000 metres will apply.

Local News for Monday 22nd August 2016

First try at rig refloat tonight
The grounded oil rig Transocean Winner could be towed off Dalmore beach on the rising tide late this evening, if everything goes to plan. Rig owners and salvors said an operation to remove diesel and other contaminants over the weekend had gone well, with 200 tonnes of diesel oil, plus small amounts of base oil and brine, transferred from the rig onto the supply vessel Olympic Orion. No pollution has been reported or observed. Salvors hope to establish buoyancy in time for high tide at around 10.30 tonight. Using two tugs, they’ll pull the rig free, hoping that sharp rocks don’t pierce any of the tanks. If the operation proves successful, the rig will be towed round to Broad Bay, where it will stay until it is stable and fit to be towed or transported to a suitable repair facility. Should tonight’s attempt not be successful, there are two further high tides on Tuesday morning and evening when they could make further attempts. Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention said: 'Good progress is being made in this operation. The plans for the refloat are in place, although this is dependent on the Salvage team being able to recover enough buoyancy to enable the rig to refloat safely.'

Read more: Local News for Monday 22nd August 2016

Local News for Thursday 18th August 2016

Full report to come from rig owners and salvors
Tonight’s meeting at Carloway Community Centre will give local residents the first chance to hear what is planned for the salvage of the grounded rig Transocean Winner, as owners, salvors and other agencies open the floor to questions. The Secretary of State’s representative Hugh Shaw said yesterday that they were continuing to look at options to refloat the rig, and to transfer fuel from below-the-water tanks. A dedicated helicopter is now stationed at Stornoway and made three trips yesterday to carry salvage equipment and living supplies. So far, it is estimated that over 200 people are responding to the incident from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Transocean, Smit Salvage and Briggs Environmental. Hugh Shaw said: “We are making steady progress, due to the response from all involved. We fully appreciate the support that we have been getting from the local community and its leaders, as well as all those who live and work on the island.”

Read more: Local News for Thursday 18th August 2016

Local News for Wednesday 17th August 2016

Air exclusion round grounded rig
A new exclusion area covering the air around the grounded oil rig at Dalmore beach has been put in force – any aircraft or drone not involved in the operation that breaches that zone will be prosecuted. Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State’s Representative (SOSREP) for Maritime Salvage & Intervention said: ‘The exclusion zone has been put in place for the safety of the operational aircraft working at the scene and also for the teams carrying out their surveys and assessments. Our priority there is to make sure the operation is not compromised.’

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 17th August 2016