Times Past 24.07.09

25 Years Ago

So far the oil industry has not paid a penny for 10 years of use of the Sullom Voe terminal. A land lease has not been signed because the industry and the council, which owns the land the terminal is built on, cannot agree on a value.

In the absence of a land lease, a license allows the industry to operate the terminal. The licence is renewed annually and at a resources committee meeting last Friday some councillors were in favour of refusing to issue a new license when the present one expires in November.

Mr A I Tulloch leads the council’s group negotiating with the industry and he told the meeting that the oil industry would be prepared to pay £300,000 a year for the lease. But the council thought this figure “ridiculous”, he added. After the meeting Mr Tulloch had said that independent consultants had estimated the site value at between £50m and £100m a year depending on how much oil was handled at the terminal. But the industry’s view was to value the site as “bare land” rather than as an oil terminal.

At the meeting Mr Bill Manson complained that the council’s negotiating group was too private. He and other councillors not on the group did not know what was going on.

Mr Edward Thomason said the group’s meetings had to be held in private and that other councillors would be fully informed when it was thought appropriate.

Now the council’s negotiating group has asked for an interim payment towards the debt, but Mr Malcolm Green, director of finance, told the meeting that the industry’s response was not encouraging.

The negotiations were a long, slow process said Mr Thomason. He pointed out that the council was not dealing with one oil company but over 30 companies which were in partnership. Mr Thomason also commented that this was the first time in two years there had been any public debate on the land lease.

Capt Gordon Walterson recalled a lone voice in the council chamber 10 years ago. Mrs Joan McLeod had not wanted access to Sullom Voe without a land lease. Capt Walterson thought time was proving Mrs McLeod right. Mrs McLeod suggested refusing to renew the operating license when it expires in November.

50 Years Ago

Plans for the production for a “Shetland Book” for use in local schools are proceeding slowly, but quite satisfactorily.

At a recent meeting of the sub-committee handling the production Mr A.T. Cluness was welcomed as editor, and he expressed his happiness with the assignment.

Mr Tom Henderson has been invited to contribute something on Shetland birds and another suggestion is that there should be a section on biography, to include people such as Arthur Anderson, Sir Robert Stout, Sir Watson Cheyne, Laurence Williamson etc.

Mr Cluness wondered whether the section on language and literature should be included with the other contributions in a single volume or whether this section could be included as a separate volume together with music and song. Various committee members gave their views on this point, but no definite decision was taken.

In a preliminary discussion about illustrations it was suggested that pictures by local photographers might offer suitable material, while other names were mentioned in connection with line drawings.

It was suggested that the most convenient size for the book might be 8½ “by 5¼ “.

Finally it was noted with satisfaction that the first contribution had actually been received and this was on place names by Mr John Stewart.

100 Years Ago

The herring fishing – One will almost search the annals of the Shetland herring fishing in vain to find a week towards the end of July which yielded such poor results as the week now closed. There has been a famine all over the islands. The week opened badly. At Scalloway and the south stations there was no fishing, while at Unst the total landing was very small. At Lerwick the first day showed an average of 2 crans, or 640 crans for 320 boats. Wednesday and Thursday showed slight improvements, but there has been nothing approaching fishing, and curers and fishermen alike are anxiously waiting and hoping for a change in the luck. The total (estimated) catch for the islands now amounts to 175,000 crans, against 337,700 crans at the corresponding date last year, being a decrease of 162,700 crans.

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At the end of last week a strange fish was found washed ashore near Burravoe, Yell. It had a long pointed snout, with deep-cleft mouth and teeth numerous and fine. The body resembled that of a whale. No one in the locality recognised the fish, and the head was cut off and sent south to one of the Fishery Board naturalists, who identified it as the head of a dolphin. That fish is very rare in these waters.


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