Niece of SNP former leader Donald Stewart tweets

Interesting tweet from Shona Angus.

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Point Power gets the green light

What is claimed will be Britain’s largest 100% community-owned wind farm being developed by Point and Sandwick Development Trust now has funding in place to make it a reality.

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The 9 megawatt wind farm is now being built and it should be in proper production by February next year. It will generate enough energy for over 6,000 homes and its gross turnover is estimated at about £3 million a year. Over the next 25 years the expected profit is estimated to be £50 million net.

The total funding package for the scheme, currently being built at Beinn Ghrideag near Stornoway, is £14.6 million and 90% of that is funded by borrowing at commercial rates. The funders are:

Santander Bank –                          £10.4m loan
Scottish Enterprise REIF fund – £2.2m loan
Social Investment Scotland –      £600,000 loan
The Big Lottery –                          £900,000 grant
Social Investment Scotland –      £500,000 grant

Point and Sandwick development manager Calum MacDonald, the former Labour MP, said: “This is a breakthrough project for community energy both in terms of its size and its financing structure. It will transform the prospects of some of the remotest and most marginal communities in Britain.
“We are very grateful for the fantastic support we have received from our technical and legal advisors, SgurrEnergy and HBJ Gateley, and from our key funding partners, Santander Bank, Scottish Enterprise REIF fund, Social Investment Scotland and the Big Lottery. We are also grateful for the early seed funding and vital support we received from Community Energy Scotland.”

Mr Macdonald hoped their success will encourage other communities in Britain to think big. He said that with the right support from Government and from the private sector, there was no limit to what can be achieved by community enterprises in the renewables sector.

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Vodafone signal problems?

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I don’t suppose anyone else is having problems with Vodafone?

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Islands’ MP refuses to discuss his Icelandic language lessons

The MP for the Western Isles is refusing to answer questions over newspaper claims that he spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash on Icelandic lessons.

Angus Macneil lists Iceland as one of his countries of interest and is understood to regularly visit but there is widespread bewilderment and anger from political opponents and members of the public at his decision to make taxpayers meet the bill.

A rumour currently doing the rounds in the islands is that Mr Macneil has been secretly positioning himself as Scotland’s first ambassador to Iceland in the case of a Yes vote next week.

Claims about the Icelandic language lessons have been published twice in the last week in the Daily Record. The paper said the cost of the lessons, which was said to be more than £2,300, was subsequently claimed by Mr Macneil as parliamentary expenses.

Various members of the islands’ Labour Party have insisted it was unacceptable that Mr Macneil was showing contempt for electors by refusing to answer questions on the reasons for his unusual alleged expenses claim.

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Mr Macneil on a trip to Rwanda

One of them said: “It is perfectly understandable that Angus would want to look around for a new job. He would hopefully make a better ambassador to Iceland than he has done as MP for Eilean Siar. If there is a Yes vote next week, he will soon be out of work so it is right that he prepares for that. What we don’t understand is why he thinks the taxpayers of the UK should pay for language lessons to help him get another job.
“If that is not actually what he’s doing, then you would have thought that any MP would have felt a moral duty to be open and honest about what reasons he had for making us pay that considerable sum.
“The fact that Angus Macneil is currently refusing to answer media questions means people are entitled to think he really does have something awful to hide. Pressure should now be put on him to put that right – or get out.”

In emails sent to Mr Macneil and his staff on Thursday afternoon, he was asked if the newspaper reports about him claiming expenses for Icelandic lessons were true and, if so, when he lodged the claims and when the lessons were actually taken.

He was also asked why the lessons were thought necessary, and whether he shopped around to get a better deal on the price. He was also quizzed on whether he planned to learn any more languages in connection with his other regular foreign trips to, for example, Gibraltar, where an ongoing territorial dispute with Spain is affecting many aspects of life.

More than 24 hours later, there was not even an acknowledgement from Mr Macneil or his office to the enquiry.

Posted in Labour, politics, Scotland, Scottish, snp, Western Isles | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

The Sky News megamix

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Cause of Pathfinder sinking is discovered

Pilot boat 6

The barge-borne massive crane from Weldex, owned by Doug McGilvray of Borve House Hotel and Garynahine Lodge, plucks the Pathfinder from the bottom

A recently-acquired harbour tender was found sunk at Stornoway yesterday (WED).

The Pathfinder, which was due to be converted into a pilot boat to escort the many large cruise ships which visit the Western Isles port, had been on duty the day before to welcome Princess Anne to the opening of Lochmaddy harbour on North Uist.

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Sad sight of the sunken Pathfinder

Last night investigations were thought to have already found the fault which caused the sinking.

Captain Angus Smith, the chairman of Stornoway Port Authority (SPA), took the Pathfinder to the marina opening with other harbour bosses. However, yesterday morning he was shocked to discover she had sunk at the pontoons in the inner harbour.

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Princess Anne with the ill-fated Pathfinder (in foreground) the day before the vessel was found sunk

A request was sent for a crane to BAM Nuttall, the main contractors who are upgrading the terminal for the new ferry Loch Seaforth which is due in service before the end of the year. They used a massive crane from Inverness company Weldex, which was mounted on a barge, to lift the Pathfinder. She was allowed to drain before being put upright and was due to be put on a hardstanding.

SPA chief executive Jane Maciver confirmed that an investigation into the cause was being carried out. She also said that the Princess had not stepped aboard the boat although she had been photographed beside her.

Meanwhile, a reliable source said last night: “There was concern that a sea-cock had been inadvertently left open as that would have caused the Pathfinder to sink. I’m sure Capt Smith would have been concerned about that.
“However, I know the cause has already been established beyond doubt as a faulty shaft gland. The main thing is that no one was hurt or worse but everyone will be satisfied that it was not human error that caused the loss.”

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Pathfinder is hoisted high enough to be drained

The 31-foot boat was acquired by the SPA in June to eventually be modified to replace the ageing pilot vessel Portrona. There was no word from the authority last night on whether the Pathfinder was now beyond repair.

Posted in maritime, Stornoway, Western Isles | 7 Comments

Druggie with weapon nabbed at Stornoway ferry terminal

A police operation at Stornoway harbour last night (Tuesday) resulted in a man being arrested for possession of an offensive weapon and drugs.

Detectives have confirmed the arrest of the 24-year-old at 9.15pm at the ferry terminal was part of an operation to stop the supply of drugs to the islands. A report is going to the procurator fiscal.

Anyone else with information about local drug dealers can pass information anonymously on 0800 555111.

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The road to Bayble Pier

Here is that video for the lady I met at An Lanntair and for the lady in Somerset.

To donate to Motor Neurone Disease Scotland, set the number 70070 as a Contact in your phone. Then to send £5, just text ICED14 £5 to 70070.  Or to pay by card, just ring 0141-945-1077It is that easy. You may want to donate £10 for each completed challenge. To learn more about Motor Neurone Disease, keep watching this blog.

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Mystery over Bhaltos Outdoor Centre plans – letter

Dear Editor

Approximately a year ago, the local press published a letter in which I expressed concerns about the ongoing delays in starting work on the proposed new Bhaltos Outdoor Centre in Uig Lewis on which, I’m led to understand, a time limit of the current financial year has been imposed for spending the available funding.

I also predicted that there would be further delays because the £1.2 million allocated by the Western Isles Council considerably underestimated the construction costs associated with the type of building proposed, the facilities to be provided, the numbers to be accommodated and the nature of the site; an opinion based on comparisons with the costs of similar projects in other locations. It’s also worth noting that the comhairle are contributing only a third of the actual money, the balance being made up of grants from various funding bodies.

At that same time a local newspaper carried a report in which no such concerns were raised by a comhairle representative, who instead confidently predicted an October start to construction work for completion by late summer 2014. Regrettably, my own prediction was the most accurate – to date, not a sod of turf has been removed from the Bhaltos site

The last news was in January when the architectural plans for the Bhaltos Outdoor Centre were put on public display. On seeing those rather futuristic designs, my own thoughts at the time were that the comhairle would have to employ a troupe of magicians to bring the project to fruition within the £1.2 million price tag quoted. Shortly afterwards, as if by magic, those plans disappeared from the drawing board.

With the clock ticking towards the spending deadline, there has been little subsequent information put into the public domain about this long-awaited project. This letter allows the comhairle to publicly respond with a progress report on the latest developments by answering the following questions: 

  • Why were the Bhaltos Outdoor Centre plans withdrawn?
  • Have those plans now been redrawn?
  • What effect will such redesigning have on the projected visitor accommodation numbers?
  • Is there sufficient time available to complete the project within the imposed time frame?
  • If so,what is the revised timetable for construction work?

These updated details are asked for and on behalf of anyone with an interest in the future of the Bhaltos Outdoor Centre but who feel excluded from the information loop.

                                                                         Yours sincerely

                                                                        Iain M Macdonald

Posted in council, Lewis, Western Isles | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Tong man’s toupée stays firmly on top

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