Local News for Monday 2nd October 2017

Heavy weather
The Western Isles is under a Met Office severe weather warning for strong winds, with heavy rain also set to continue today. The yellow ‘be aware’ warning in force until 23.55 tonight indicates that strong winds from the northwest are likely to affect transport, with the possibility of short term power interruptions, too. Gusts of 50-60 mph are likely to develop, with gusts of 70 mph possible over parts of northern and western Scotland and high ground. Winds are expected to peak across western Scotland in the early hours today. In addition, frequent heavy showers are likely to affect parts of western and northern Scotland.

Ferry disruption is expected, with Mallaig Lochboisdale ferries already cancelled for today and the disruption to yesterday’s timetable likely to have knock-on effects. Some services are on yellow alert for disruption or cancellation at short notice today.

Runrig sell-out and more gigs hint
Tickets for the farewell concert by Scottish supergroup Runrig sold out within minutes of going on sale on Friday morning – and it’s led to hints from the band that at least one more gig might be planned. Runrig’s Last Dance concert at City Park Stirling next August was an instant sellout, and the band posted on Friday: “We appreciate that some fans were unable to get tickets and have been left disappointed. We are exploring other possible options, so more of our fans can join us one last time. We will have more news next week.” They also expressed their disappointment that tickets were being offered by touts for re-sale almost as soon as the ticketline opened, saying: “We are aware of some tickets being offered at exorbitant prices on various sites. The band and the promoters would like to stress how much we utterly deplore the blatant exploitation and greed by these sellers. Neither we nor the promoters have any control over this, and we share your feelings of anger and disappointment.”

HebCelt lined up for another award
And it was announced on Friday that Hebridean Celtic Festival's Runrig-headlined line-up in 2016 has put it in line for another major award. Last year's event has been shortlisted in the Best Cultural Event or Festival category in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA). HebCelt won the title once before, in 2014. The 21st HebCelt was the most successful in its history. An estimated 18,000 people – by far the event's highest audience – generated £2.2 million for the local economy and helped safeguard 40 tourism-related jobs. The 2016 HebCelt has already been confirmed as a finalist in both the Festival of the Year and Cultural Event of the Year categories in the annual Scottish Event Awards. Also shortlisted in the HITA awards on Friday was the Isle of Harris Distillery as a finalist in the best visitor attraction category.

Scotland Minister confirms power talks
Scotland Office minister Lord Ian Duncan visited Lewis and Harris on Friday, and brought confirmation that the UK Government is committed to progress both on the much-delayed interconnector to the islands, and on prices for island renewables. Lord Duncan met Comhairle leader Cllr Roddie Mackay, who afterwards said: "The meeting with Lord Duncan was very positive. We discussed the future of island renewables and I was heartened by the Government's clear commitment to support the Scottish Islands. Lord Duncan outlined a timetable that should allow islands projects to complete in a Contracts for Difference Auction in early 2019 as well as confirming that the Government was committed to supporting and funding the interconnector.” News of progress was welcomed by Islands MP Angus MacNeil, who said: “This confirmation that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is still committed to an auction in the first quarter of 2019, combined with the news from BEIS that they will be submitting the case for islands renewables next week, is a further step in the right direction. It still keeps us on track for the auction in the first quarter of 2019 which is what is important for the development of islands renewables.”

Island team cup chance
Lewis and Harris Select football team are through to the semi-finals of the Football Times Cup, after an unexpected win on Saturday against Golspie, 2-3. The semi-final against St Duthus FC will be played on October 14th in Tain, kick-off at 12.45pm.