Local News for Wednesday 13th September 2017

Harris contract brings Gaelforce home
A firm which grew from a one-man operation in Stornoway is to return to the Western Isles with an installation contract at Tarbert Marina this month. Inverness-based Gael Force Engineering will be installing their unique floating concrete breakwater at the new marina development in Tarbert, nearly 25 years after the firm was founded by MD Stewart Graham in Stornoway. Two SeaHaven breakwaters have been manufactured for the installation, together with 100 metres of pontoons, designed to last 30 years in all sea conditions. Gael Force was founded in 1983 as a maker of fishing creels and pots, and now has bases in Inverness, Forres, Stornoway, Glasgow, and Plymouth, from where they supply customers all over the world.

Bring Crown Estate to islands – MSP
The Crown Estate should be moved out of Edinburgh and relocated to one of the Scottish islands, according to Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart. Mr Stewart wants the Scottish Government to decentralise the organisation and move it to one of the Scottish islands. He said: “This Government is known for its centralising policies so it would be a bold move if it promised to relocate jobs to one of our islands. I know that the Orkney Islands are already keen on the idea of there being a base there and no doubt the Western Isles and Shetland would also welcome the relocation of such jobs and services. As the organisation deals with so much foreshore it would seem like a logical move.”

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 13th September 2017

Local News for Tuesday 12th September 2017

Twitchers’ Barra excitement
A tiny bird blown off course by winds over the Atlantic has got bird-watchers in a state of excitement, and generated a mini tourism boom in Barra. The American Redstart was spotted on Wednesday last week in sycamore trees behind the church at Eoligarry, and was still there yesterday, to the delight of over 100 twitchers from all over the world, who descended on the island at the weekend. Barra airport café posted pictures of Traigh Mhor crowded with five privately chartered planes, although other spotters took the slow route by ferry to see the small bird, which was first identified by Barra islander Bruce Taylor. It’s only the sixth time the bird has ever been seen in the UK.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 12th September 2017

Local News for Monday 11th September 2017

Major exercise at Stornoway Airport
Emergency teams from all services were involved in a major exercise at Stornoway Airport on Saturday, testing effective working between teams on a simulated major incident. As well as fire, police and ambulance officers, Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team and the MCA duty officer AC18 welcomed what they called: “Great training with partner agencies and a major test of interoperability and incident command.”

Read more: Local News for Monday 11th September 2017

Local News for Friday 8th September 2017

Transocean Winner report
The Marine Accident Investigation Bureau has released their report into the grounding of the oil drilling platform Transocean Winner on Dalmore in Lewis last summer. They conclude that poor weather information, a worn tow line and inadequate assessment of the conditions by the master of the towing vessel all contributed to the incident. MAIB said that the tug ALP Forward was incapable of controlling the tow in the high winds and seas experienced. Voyage planning did not consider the effect of high winds on Transocean Winner and the master’s attempts to maintain control of the tow placed strain on a tow line which was already in poor condition. After the tug lost the tow, the Stornoway-based UK Coastguard investigated alternative tugs and called the emergency towing vessel Herakles, then at Kirkwall in Orkney some 12 hours from Lewis. It was unable to arrive at the accident site before Transocean Winner grounded, but MAIB said that it was very unlikely that it would, in any case, have been able to provide any practical assistance. MAIB said: “The effect of the wind on Transocean Winner led to ALP Forward being incapable of controlling the wind and tow in the severe weather conditions. The planning of a passage so close to the coast left little sea room for the tug and tow to drift. When ALP Forward lost control of the tug and tow, it was very likely that Transocean Winner would have grounded even if the tow line had not parted. The tow line was in a generally poor condition, (but) it is quite possible that a new tow line would have also parted under the same circumstances and conditions”.

Read more: Local News for Friday 8th September 2017

Local News for Thursday 7th September 2017

E. Coli scare in Tolsta water
Householders in Tolsta were told this week to boil all their water, after a routine test by Scottish Water revealed the presence of E. Coli bacteria in the Tolsta Village Service Reservoir. The reservoir serves 218 properties. Scottish Water said they consulted with NHS Western Isles before putting a boil notice in place, directly advising the households affected. They said drinking and cooking water should be boiled before use, but that the water is safe to use once it has been boiled. Bottled water was also provided to customers, which was to be used until they received the all-clear by letter. A Scottish Water spokesman said: “We are continuing to investigate the cause of this failure. Tolsta Service Reservoir is being inspected and further sampling and laboratory analysis is taking place. We would like thank customers for their understanding and patience and apologise for the inconvenience while this notice is in place.”

Read more: Local News for Thursday 7th September 2017