Local News for Friday 20th October 2017

New rules for mariners
Three new codes of practice for seafarers are coming into force on 23 October, which will improve safety for everyone in the fishing industry. The codes introduce new safety requirements, adopt technological developments and address recommendations from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch. Some of these were made by MAIB in their report following the sinking of the fishing vessel Louisa, off Mingulay, with the loss of three lives. Monthly emergency drills, liferafts for specific vessels, radar reflectors and bilge alarms, are all specifically named, as well as fitting of carbon monoxide monitors, EPIRBs and personal locator beacons with built-in GPS. David Fenner from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) said: “We have worked hard with all those connected with the fishing industry on these Codes. This is all about reducing the risk of serious accidents and deaths. Even one death is one too many. The new requirements for liferafts, EPIRBs and Personal Locator Beacons are being phased in so if your vessel is already registered as a fishing vessel, you will have until 23 October 2019 to comply. This will allow you to apply for funding from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to claim back up to 60% of the cost.”

Read more: Local News for Friday 20th October 2017

Local News for Thursday 19th October 2017

Re-think on tourism info needed
Outer Hebrides Tourism is calling for a re-think on information for visitors to the islands, after VisitScotland announced that Visitor Information Centres (VICs) in Barra and Lochmaddy will close at the end of this month. Lochboisdale VIC closed last year and VisitScotland is still to decide whether Tarbert or Stornoway information centre will survive as the last remaining tourist office in the whole of the Outer Hebrides. Outer Hebrides Tourism says that physical information centres in the Western Isles remain popular, and could be replaced by an alternative network of centres if VisitScotland closes them down. In a statement yesterday OHT said: “A single ‘hub’ may not be the right solution for a 150-mile chain of distinct islands with unreliable mobile signal coverage. This does not mean we cannot have a thriving and attractive network of information centres across the Outer Hebrides, helping visitors understand our islands, its heritage, get the most from their stay and put something back into the local economy. These could be co-located with existing tourism businesses, run by the industry or by adapting Visit Scotland’s proposals to better suit local circumstances.”

Read more: Local News for Thursday 19th October 2017

Local News for Wednesday 18th October 2017

Ferry passengers’ storm ordeal
Passengers on board the MV Loch Seaforth endured seven hours at sea in wild conditions on Monday, when their crossing from Stornoway was badly affected by the weather. The 2pm crossing was unable to berth at Ullapool as heavy sea conditions made it unsafe to come alongside. Instead, the master took the vessel along the more sheltered side of Loch Broom and into the lee of the Summer Isles. She was eventually able to dock at Ullapool at 9pm and set out for Stornoway again at around 10pm, arriving into Stornoway early yesterday morning. Wild sea conditions once again kept her in port at Stornoway until yesterday evening.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 18th October 2017

Local News for Tuesday 17th October 2017

‘Puncture’ may have caused plane swerve
A punctured tyre could have been the cause of an incident at Stornoway airport on Sunday, when a Glasgow-bound Flybe flight swerved off the runway and onto the grass before listing to one side. Fire crews rushed to the site, but nobody was hurt and the plane was later removed from the runway. The aircraft was yesterday awaiting engineers’ inspection. 29 passengers and three crew were on-board the Eastern Airways plane and were offered alternative flights and accommodation for those who needed it.

No change to constituency boundary
The parliamentary constituency of Na h-Eileanan an Iar will, as expected, remain unchanged under new proposals for boundary changes published by the Boundary Commission for Scotland today. The Western Isles, and the other Scottish island constituency of Orkney and Shetland, are the only two to be unaffected by revised proposals for United Kingdom Parliament constituencies. An eight-week public consultation process starts today. The UK Parliament has decided to reduce the number of constituencies from 650 to 600. In Scotland this means that 59 constituencies will be reduced to 53. Na h-Eileanan an Iar and Orkney and Shetland) are defined in the legislation and will not be subject to change.

Back to normal after weather
Ferry services are returning to normal timetable today after a day of delay and disruption yesterday as gales affected the islands. The impacts of ex-hurricane Ophelia skirted the islands, with the strongest winds felt across Barra and Uist.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 17th October 2017

Local News for Monday 16th October 2017

Ophelia storm impact plans
The effects of ex-hurricane Ophelia are due to be felt in the Western Isles later today, although the Met Office yesterday removed the north-west of Scotland from the area covered by severe weather warnings.

Read more: Local News for Monday 16th October 2017