Peat consultation, memorial masonry course, NorthLink joins Tall Ships, decarbonising agriculture and more …

SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart is encouraging island residents to take part in the Scottish Government’s Ending the sale of peat in Scotland consultation.

The government is proposing to stop the sale of peat in stages, beginning with the retail horticulture sector, then a general ban.

Wishart said: “Peat is still cut and used for domestic use in Shetland. Any proposals must ensure that peat for domestic use is not affected, and households are not left without heating.

“Views on how these proposals will impact residents are important so I would urge anyone with an interest to complete the consultation.”

Over a third of Scotland’s land area is peatland and is estimated to store around 1.8 billion tonnes of carbon. Degraded peatland is a net source of carbon emissions.

The consultation is open until 12 May and can be found here.

An example of a memorial stone that has been braced and made safe. Photo: SIC

A TRAINING course is being held in Lerwick in the coming weeks in a bid to boost the number of memorial masons in Shetland.

Participants on the three-day course will learn how to dismantle unsafe memorials and how to prepare and re-erect memorials, ensuring they are stable and secure.

The hope is that the training course will increase the number of local memorial masons to install new memorials and carry out repairs to existing memorials in Shetland.

The course costs £499 per person and leads to the SQA’s Fix and Secure Memorial Masonry award, which would then allow individuals to apply to Shetland Islands Council to undertake memorial works in burial grounds.

The course will take place from Tuesday 4 April to Thursday 6 April, based at Islesburgh Community Centre and the Knab Cemetery in Lerwick.

For more information or to register, people can contact the council’s burial services team on 01595 744853 or

FERRY operator NorthLink has come on board as one of the sponsors for this summer’s Tall Ships event in Lerwick, offering discounted fares to participants.

The scale of the four-day event, taking place from 26-29 July, means a significant volume of production equipment as well as people will need to be transported to Shetland and NorthLink is also supporting that effort in its role as official transport provider to the event.

The event’s project manager Emma Miller said the organisers were very thankful to have secured NorthLink’s assistance.

The company’s marine superintendent Amber Johnson added: “I’m really pleased that NorthLink is supporting the event. It is of massive importance for Shetland to have so many folk coming to visit our islands and enjoy the magnificent Tall Ships spectacle.”

UNISON, along with other local government unions, and the employer’s body COSLA, have written to deputy first minister John Swinney calling for additional funding for councils from the Scottish Government.

COSLA and the trade unions say that despite the £100 million additional funding recently announced for local authorities, “councils continue to be under significant financial pressures”.

UNISON Scotland’s head of local government Johanna Baxter said: “We know that councils still face huge gaps in their budgets.

“We are concerned that they just don’t have enough money to make a decent pay offer and that we are heading towards a repeat of the bad days of last year.

“Why wait until industrial relations are at breaking point before the government comes up with extra cash to prevent industrial action?

“Surely it’s better to get around the table and start these difficult discussions now. If we don’t, we fear we’re heading towards the industrial difficulties we faced last year, and nobody wants that.”

NFU Scotland is inviting farmers and crofters to a webinar to discuss the best ways of decarbonising farms and crofts through reduced energy use and increased usage of renewables.

The online gathering next Monday (6 March), starting a 7pm, will discuss the sector’s response the Scottish Government consultation on its energy strategy.

The union’s climate policy manager Kate Hopper will lead a 30-minute session on the energy strategy and on the specific questions on how to reduce energy use and improve the installation of renewables and off grid systems.

“We need members to help us identify the best ways to ‘decarbonise’ Scottish agriculture and reduce energy use on farms, and what support, advice and skills they may need to deliver this,” she said.

“We also want to look in detail at the opportunities and barriers to developing renewable energy, and the potential impacts of renewable energy development on land use and agricultural production.”

Farmers and crofters can sign up for the webinar here.  The full energy strategy can be found here.

Shetland News