Local News for Wednesday 20th September 2017

Labour tries to push forward interconnector
Scottish Labour is putting pressure on the UK Government to put more effort into an interconnector for the Western Isles, to help build a future for renewable energy in the islands. Lesley Laird MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, has written to the Scottish Secretary urging the UK government to bring forward plans to build the interconnector. Ms Laird has argued that, given there is widespread agreement on the benefits of the proposal, the Conservative government should begin the construction process immediately. She said: “On my visit to the Western Isles last month, I heard first-hand the benefits this interconnector could bring to the community. It would bring huge economic and environmental benefits to the people of the Western Isles, with independent experts estimating it would add over £400 million to the local economy. It is vital that the Tories stick to their manifesto commitment, and they must begin construction of the interconnector as soon as possible.”

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 20th September 2017

Local News for Tuesday 19th September 2017

Bid to bring back forests
Climate change and hardy survivors of the islands could be the key to bringing back forests to the Western Isles. A new project headed by Horshader Community Development Trust is looking to save seed from surviving native trees and to plant them as part of a project called Hebridean Ark. David Mackay of the trust, who’s been planting trees himself for over 25 years, says deforestation started with the Vikings chopping down trees, and was also spread by the need of the population for space to grow crops. But now, he says: "We're trying to bring back trees that have always been here, they're part of the Hebrides. The genetics of these trees have a timeline going back 2,000 years on the islands - they're hardy, like the people here." Species which could re-establish include rowan, birch and juniper, all of which have surviving examples in isolated spots around the islands.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 19th September 2017

Local News for Monday 18th September 2017

No wolves in Lewis – official
Wildlife rescue workers have responded angrily to a report of wolves in the Castle grounds, which they described as ‘sensational and reckless’. The Western Isles co-ordinator of British Divers Marine Life Rescue, David Yardley, used Facebook to slam the Sun newspaper’s report of ‘wolves howling’ in an area described as ‘forest’ opposite Stornoway. A Stornoway Hotel manager had reported the eerie sounds and went to the press with his story, although numerous local sources confirmed the sounds as seals calling in the harbour. David Yardley said: “We confirmed the sounds as grey seals and made this clear to him. We've notified the coastguard and the grounds keeper in the past as to what they were, after receiving a number of calls to an animal in distress. These actions cause confusion among the public that we as BDMLR are required to respond to. The day we don't respond could be the day someone loses a pet. “

Read more: Local News for Monday 18th September 2017

Local News for Friday 15th September 2017

Body recovered is missing tourist
A body recovered in the Valtos area, while emergency services were searching for a missing tourist last month, has been confirmed as that of German national Torsten Kulke. Police said that there were no suspicious circumstances and that a report would be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal. The 48-year-old was reported missing from his home in Germany on Monday, July 31st , having travelled to the Western Isles. His body was discovered on Saturday, August 12th following extensive searches which involved coastguard volunteers and other emergency services over several days. Inspector Jane Nicolson of Stornoway police said: "Our thoughts remain with Mr Kulke's family and friends at this very sad time. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the members of the public who assisted with information, as well as the various partner agencies who helped with the search activity."

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Local News for Thursday 14th September 2017

RNLI fundraiser cycles the isles
Tobermory RNLI crew member Rose Skelton is to swap Mull for the Western Isles over the next week, as she sets out to cycle from the Butt to Barra to raise funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Rose has followed in her grandfather’s footsteps as an RNLI volunteer, and hopes to call into the three Western Isles’ RNLI stations along her route – starting at Stornoway RNLI on Saturday to cycle to the Butt at Ness and back, before heading south on Sunday to call at Leverburgh RNLI station along the way, and arrive at Barra RNLI on Wednesday or Thursday of next week. She said: “This is a ride I have always wanted to do, but have never been much of a hill cyclist (there are some steep hills!), nor have I ever cycle-toured alone. I will carry my tent and food with me on my bike, and sleep wherever I end up!”

Read more: Local News for Thursday 14th September 2017