Local News for Thursday 25th August 2016
Rig finds safe anchorage in Broad Bay
The damaged oil rig Transocean Winner reached safe anchorage in Broad Bay at last yesterday afternoon, much later than anticipated, but without major concerns. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the rig was secure on her anchors and that rig owners Transocean intend to carry out further work to assess its condition before deciding on next moves. During the moves slow progress on the 54 miles between Dalmore and Broad Bay, verification aircraft flew over the route and said that no pollution was detected in Broad Bay or along the track from Dalmore Bay. A small leakage of diesel described yesterday as ‘a light sheen’ was broken up by counter-pollution boats.
While salvors check the sea bed for debris or damage, the temporary exclusion zone remains in place at Dalmore Bay. There is now also a 1000m exclusion zone at Broad Bay. Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvation and Intervention said: “The tow has taken longer than anticipated. We have been clear from the outset that we would not compromise the operation in any way so I am delighted that the 54 mile transit has been successfully completed without incident.”
Cash for E-sgoil from Minister’s visit
The visit to the E-Sgoil in Stornoway by Deputy First Minister John Swinney yesterday brought welcome news of a cash injection. The e-Sgoil allows secondary pupils across the Western Isles to access more curriculum subjects through online classes. Mr Swinney yesterday announced £550,000 in Scottish Government funding and £150,000 from Bord na Gaidhlig to develop the initiative. The initial focus of the e-Sgoil – which will be based in Stornoway – will be on delivering Higher and Advanced Higher courses, Gaelic Medium Education, vocational skills and initial teacher training. Match funding will come from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: "We want to deliver a world class education for every child in the country and we have committed to improving the use of digital technology through our digital learning and teaching strategy. The new E-sgoil is an excellent example of how we can do this for pupils living in rural communities. Once the e-Sgoil is up and running in the Western Isles, the intention is to share the resource with Orkney and Shetland. This exciting and innovative development will help transform the way education is delivered in rural communities, by providing equal opportunities for pupils through a shared education resource across local authorities."
Welcome for Islands Bill promise
And the announcement by the Scottish Government’s Islands Minister, Humza Yousaf, in Stornoway this week that an Islands Bill will be brought forward during the next 12 months met a warm welcome from islands councils. Cllr Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar spoke on behalf of the Our Islands Our Future campaign, saying: "Together with our colleagues in Orkney and Shetland we have worked closely with the Scottish Government with the aim of bringing forward an Islands Bill for the benefit of island communities in Scotland. I am delighted that we are now in a position where the Bill is imminent. This will form the basis for island-proofing in future legislation and policies and the creation of a National Islands Plan. The whole basis of the Our Islands Our Future campaign has been to empower island communities and this is a practical and meaningful next step in that process." Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan. Dr Allan said: “The proposed Islands Bill will devolve an unprecedented level of decision-making powers to island communities such as ours. While there is widespread agreement about the need for islands to have more of a say over public services locally, we must also be sure that this means powers for communities and not just for councils.