Isles Views 23.01.09

Yell water supply

During most of 2008 contractors FLJ have been working in Yell installing a new pipeline, a distribution main, through the isle to link each district.

To date the north sector has been completed but the piece between Mid Yell and Burravoe remains. This will be done when plans have been firmed up and the necessary consent obtained. Yell currently has three separate sources of drinking water – at Burravoe, Mid Yell and Cullivoe.

Scottish Water wants to have a single water scheme for the whole isle because water treatment has to conform to new, higher standards and to install three new treatment plants would be far too costly. Hence the new pipeline.

The plan was to use the Loch of Kettlester in Burravoe as the source and water from Burravoe would be piped and pumped to all parts of the isle.

Some folk living in the area had strong objections to the plans and a petition was circulated in opposition. One bone of contention was that, to be viable, the water level has to be raised by 750mm. This would alter the shape of the loch and it would flood forever the so-called “broch in the loch”, an archaeological site linked by a causeway.

To allay fears and to make the public aware of what was planned Scottish Water held an open day in Burravoe last September. This event was well attended and many, if not all, were re-assured and felt more comfortable with the plans.

However, more serious difficulties with Kettlester Loch have emerged. When it came to testing the quality of the raw water it was found to contain a level of dissolved metals that is far higher than expected. This would mean that the proposed membrane process, i.e. non chemical treatment of the water, would not, in itself, be enough to purify the water.

It would mean the introduction of a coagulation process up front. This, in turn, would mean that a pipeline would have to be laid to the sea to get rid of the waste extracted from the water. Alternatively the waste could be tankered off the isle. This extra treatment process is something that Scottish Water is keen to avoid.

While the Kettlester plan is not quite dead it is highly unlikely that it will go ahead. Therefore Scottish Water is looking for another source of water that can serve the whole of Yell. They are currently testing samples taken from Gossa Water. This loch is the biggest and deepest in Yell and it is situated west from the head of Bastavoe.

The quality of the samples taken from Gossa Water seems promising, and testing will continue in the summer, but it has become the favourite to be the source of Yell’s drinking water. The loch itself does not need to be altered in any way, it has plentiful water and, in terms of cost, it would be much the same as Kettlester.

A site has to be found for the treatment works somewhere near the head of Bastavoe. Also required will be a 70,000 gallon treated water storage tank. This would be situated north of Bastavoe, perhaps close to the old hill road to Cullivoe. A pipeline would take the raw water from the loch to the treatment works.

At this stage there are no plans to lay an access road to Gossa Water. Project manager Raymond Aitken said there were a number of environmental issues to consider. This will form part of the application to SEPA in due course for an appropriate licence after consultation with relevant bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage.

Mr Aitken stressed that discussions had to take place with the landowners and grazing committees concerned with the area in order to obtain consent for the plans. He wants Yell folk to be kept fully informed of the progress and when the plans are further progressed he will organise another open day.

Youth clubs

As we reported at the time the youth clubs in the North Isles offered a delivery service for Christmas cards. This went really well and Lesley Gray, one of the youth workers, would like to thank all who used the service and donated a total of £1,500 to the youth clubs. All the youth clubs are up and running after the festive break and new members are welcome.

The Yell Youth Cafe has plans to reproduce and update the local telephone directory for Yell and Fetlar. Copies of the old directory from 2006 will be put in the local shops, which gives everyone the opportunity to check, alter and add any new numbers, mobiles and e-mail addresses.

Broadband investigated

The provision of the broadband service in North Yell and some other places is poor and unsatisfactory to many. However, the lack of capacity in exchanges is being considered at very senior level within BT.

The 21st Century Network (21CN) will see those inadequate exchanges upgraded to provide a full platform broadband service but they warn that this will not happen for some time to come.

In the meantime BT head of Scottish affairs Ian Shanks is investigating whether anything can be done to increase capacity in the telephone exchanges, including Gutcher. Mr Shanks will report back to Yell Community Council.

Regatta of 1956

The late Jim Jamieson of Cullivoe was a man of many parts and wide interests, and was particularly interested in photography and cine films.

When his son Danny, the former head teacher at the Mid Yell Junior High School, moved to Edinburgh to become a civil servant he had a big problem in dealing with all the things that his father had collected over the years.

Danny’s small flat in Edinburgh could not accommodate more than a fraction of it. His sister Marjory and her husband Dod came to the rescue and offered to store at least some of it. Dod is an artist and when he was converting the loft area of their house in Aberdeen into a studio he took a closer look at the things that Danny had given them.

Among the items he found a cine film and when it was viewed it turned to be a film shot on regatta day in Cullivoe in 1956. Dod has it put on a DVD and it is a wonderful record of the folk who were there on the day. It is grainy and frustratingly short but it makes fascinating viewing not least because so many of the folk are now, alas, dead and gone. Some others are very hard to identify.

Maybe the most curious feature on the film is what appears to be a game or competition where a number of men are astride a long heavy pole. The object of this exercise is far from being obvious. I would be glad to hear from any reader who can remember this or knows what it was all about or what it was called.

Lerwick festival with an Unst flavour

The big Up-Helly-A’ in Lerwick has added interest for the North Isles this year because the Guizer Jarl Stephen Mouat is an Unst man. He has spent a big slice of his life in Lerwick but his father was a native of Unst and the family lived in Baltasound.

The Unst connection does not end there because Stephen’s father-in-law is also an Unst man – George Jamieson, who used to be headmaster at the Anderson High School. George and former AHS janitor Henry Henderson were both seen in a Lerwick supermarket sporting luxurious whiskers, and that tells its own story.

In fact if any Unst man or ex-Unst man is seen to have a beard it is a fair assumption that he has been drawn into the Jarl’s Squad. We all wish Stephen, his squad and the entire festival every success.

Lawrence Tulloch


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