View from the Scord

Harbour activity

There were bumper whitefish landings once again in Scalloway harbour, with a near record 3,639 boxes landed in the week to Friday. The week started with landings from four boats totalling over 850 boxes and the week progressed with consistently good landings each day. The highest single landing came on Wednesday from the Ocean Way with 595 boxes. All the week’s landings came from local boats with the exception being the Scarborough-registered Our Pride which landed 49 boxes on Thursday. The local vessels were the Comrades, Radiant Star, Valhalla, Venture, Alison Kay, Fertile, Ocean Way,/i>, Fairway, Guiding Light and Mizpah.

It was also a busy week for mussel harvesting with around 60 tons of shellfish brought ashore for process and onward shipment.

Salmon cage re-building in the Muckle Yard has also been frenetic during this period with 14 of the re-assembled 80m cages being launched for Scottish Sea Farms. The Ronja Setter also continues to operate for the company from the port, harvesting salmon from sites in other areas while the Scalloway area lies fallow until restocking begins in a few weeks’ time.

Prominent once again in Scalloway harbour and approaches last week was the Swedish-registered survey vessel, the Triad. Her presence has caught the eye of many in the surrounding area as she has systematically covered much of the harbour approaches and was a particular subject of interest on Sunday last as her crew turned their focus to the inner harbour. Her proximity to shore during this survey work has raised many an eyebrow and never so much as when within the confines of the harbour.

The vessel carries highly detailed surveying equipment and can operate into depths of less than four metres. The Triad is accompanied in this current survey work by the smaller craft Ping, which is comparable to a smallish motor cruiser, though carries similarly hi-tech survey equipment and can reach the shallows that even the Triad cannot. It is thought that the combined results of the two vessels have already been worthwhile and yielded significant changes to existing admiralty charts for the area and official notification of these is expected via the standard “Notices to Mariners”, in due course.

Other irregular visitors to the harbour last week were the survey ship Fugro Meridian, which called in to change captains and shelter for a time, and the Banff-registered fishing vessel Seagull, which lay in to mend nets before returning to sea.

Back in business

The Scalloway Health Centre was back in business this week after the electrical problems that caused it to close for most of the previous week were finally resolved.

The temporary closure of the practice meant that patients from the whole practice area, ranging from Whiteness to the south end of Burra, had to travel to Lerwick for emergency appointments and prescriptions.

The problems came about after the power cut that struck all of Shetland last Monday morning. The Scalloway Health Centre, like all similar facilities, has a back up generator but in the aftermath of the power cut a series of short-circuits in the building’s electrical system resulted in electrical items ceasing to function and smoke appearing in places, in particular the server room where the main computer equipment is located. The Fire Brigade was called and could confirm that although the smoke was alarming, the risk had become minimal and it was now a matter of repairing the damage caused by the fault.

These repairs meant that the building was left without heat, light or electronic equipment and meant that nothing could be done there until repairs could be completed.

To ensure continuity of service, Dr Jamieson and two of the staff immediately relocated to the Lerwick Health Centre and Dr Malcolm increased home visits for those unable to get to Lerwick. Boots the chemist also assisted in providing emergency prescriptions to patients. And district nurse Joyce Henderson gallantly provided limited nursing services from the freezing cold building towards the end of the week using mobile equipment. These measures meant that service was provided throughout the upheaval and the inclement weather even assisted to some extent by reducing the number of people travelling and requiring attention.

The electricians were working in the building for all of last week, making extensive repairs and once basic power was restored the IT technicians could start to re-instate the computer equipment upon which a modern medical practice is reliant.

The staff of the Scalloway Health Centre would like to extend thanks to all those who helped out during this time, notably the Lerwick practice for accommodating Scalloway staff and patients, Boots for handling prescriptions and the electricians and IT staff for pulling out all the stops to get the building back in service.

Willis Duncan, speaking for the Scalloway practice, said: “Everybody pulled together to make sure we were able to open again as quickly as possible. We are grateful to everybody for putting up with the upheaval while the whole thing was sorted and to Lerwick Health Centre and Boots for helping out at such short notice.” The Scalloway Health Centre was back to full operation on Monday this week.

Turbine power for Bridge-End

The Bridge-End Outdoor Centre has gone green and now boasts its very own wind turbine to provide heating for the building. The £33,000 wind power project, partially funded by the SIC, means that not only will the building have an endless source of sustainable power, but a percentage will be sold back to the grid whenever possible and will help toward the building’s other running costs.

After a period of delay over the Christmas and New Year period engineers from Orkney firm Brian J Rendall Electrical Ltd managed to travel to Shetland to complete the installation and connection. The turbine mast was erected a week past Monday and the fitting of the inverter and other electrical equipment continued throughout the week despite the severe weather and by Friday the work was finished and power being generated.

The turbine itself is an Eoltec Scirocco and is rated at 6Kw output power. In the first few days after installation it was recorded to be providing this quantity of output power in favourable winds. The design has been used in a number of locations in Orkney prior to now and is reputed to have survived severe wind speeds where other makes have not. It is built to withstand speed of up to 135mph, which should be more than an enough capability for the low lying location between the hills that are present on either side of the outdoor centre. The turbine head is particularly compact and relatively unobtrusive for the level of output it provides. A spokesman for the outdoor centre said they were “happy with the installation” and commended the engineers for working in the snowy conditions and, as to the heat and power the turbine will provide, it was prudently stated at this early stage that “time will tell”.

The Bridge-End Outdoor Centre is available to hire for groups for any beneficial or educational activity and can be booked through the West and Central Mainland Community Office in Scalloway. Phone (01595) 745303 for more information.

Community spirit wanted

The Burra and Trondra Community Council is seeking a new member and it would be delighted to hear from any community spirited individual from the Burra and Trondra area. The council has been a member short for some months and decided at its meeting on Monday night that the time had come to seek applicants. Community council involvement is said to be very rewarding and provides a direct means to become actively involved in helping to liaise between the community and other organisations, not least the SIC. More information can be found at the Hamnavoe shop, where an advert will be placed, or from the community council clerk Joyce Adamson on (01595) 859426.

Other items discussed at the meeting mostly revolved around the allocation of funds to worthwhile causes in the area and their next meeting was set for April.

Whose wall?

The collapsed wall between the Fraser Park and the community garden in front of Gibblestone house caused much debate when the Scalloway Community Council met on Monday night this week. The short section of the substantial wall has been cordoned off for public safety in the meantime, but after much discussion it remained unclear as to who should effect a repair of the wall, with the surrounding ground owned or managed by up to four different organisations.

Further investigations were set to ensue to try and resolve the matter.

A number of issues that have now become long-standing and unresolved were also discussed, with the issue of road safety on the Mill Brae being foremost among them. Representatives from the SIC have previously informed the Scalloway Community Council that a completely new road and pavement layout was required and would be forthcoming in the long term, but community council discussions revolved around the necessity to ensure it was safe for pedestrians in the intervening time, with the footpath in constant use. It was noted that snow clearing on the pavement had been more quickly attended to than in previous years.

Aside from several more recurrent items, the deferment of the decisions on both of the two planning applications for the Utnabrake housing development drew some lively discussion. The planning board deferment of these decisions was much publicised recently when building contractors JHB attributed the potential downfall of the business to the outcome of this decision. After discussion of this and various related issues the motion was raised to “await with interest the outcome of the next planning board decision on the applications”. This motion was carried and the meeting continued on to other subjects.

The Blueprint for Education consultation was discussed briefly and it was agreed that a representative of the SIC’s schools service should be invited to the next council meeting, on March 15th. It was also noted that representatives of the health board wished to meet the community council and this would take place in April, so the Blueprint could be given due consideration at the March meeting.

Mark Burgess


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