Iain MacIver has been elected to the Crofting Commission representing the Western Isles.
He received 1069 votes.
2128 votes were cast in total in the constituency, with 1059 going to Alasdair MacEachen, the only other candidate standing.
Iain MacIver has been elected to the Crofting Commission representing the Western Isles.
He received 1069 votes.
2128 votes were cast in total in the constituency, with 1059 going to Alasdair MacEachen, the only other candidate standing.
Problems affecting the local community as a result of the growing deer population were presented in clear terms at a public meeting on South Uist last night (6th March 2017).
Uist Deer Management Group introduced its draft Deer Management Plan for the islands, which is currently out for public consultation, at Talla an Iochdair yesterday evening.
Feedback on the plan was invited from local residents.
Several individuals who have suffered from Lyme Disease spoke about the condition and the sometimes harrowing effect it has had on their lives.
Deer host and disperse ticks as they travel and are held responsible by some for the abnormally high incidence of diagnosed Lyme Disease on Uist.
Numerous people spoke about the danger deer represent on roads, with it suggested that many collisions are likely unrecorded.
Crofters also highlighted the number of deer now marauding on to croft land. It is noted within the draft Deer Management Plan that efforts to minimise the impact deer are having on crofters – both on South Uist and North Uist – have largely been considered ineffective.
Uist Deer Management Group was formed eighteen months ago. Its membership includes local landowners Stòras Uibhist and North Uist Estate.
Last year, the group appointed Linzi Seivwright to produce a Deer Management Plan for the islands. Linzi is founder of Caorann Ecological Services, a leading consultancy offering extensive expertise in deer management planning.
Introducing the draft plan at the public meeting yesterday evening, Linzi Seivwright said: “Don’t see this as an end point, it’s really just the start of deer management on Uist.
“Deer management is an ongoing, evolving process.”
Through various actions, the plan sets out how the estates can potentially reduce the size of the respective herds while maintaining numbers conducive to the operation of sporting and meat processing enterprises.
Linzi went on to explain the function of deer management groups established across Scotland. Each group considers how best to meet the objectives of its members while at the same time managing deer sustainably.
More than 1000 deer were counted at the last foot count on North Uist during April last year. Just 517 deer were found in a similar count conducted in 1991.
Less historic data is available for South Uist Estate, but a helicopter count conducted in 2015 found an estimated 778 deer on South Uist and Benbecula. Red deer were first introduced to South Uist in 1975, when a small number was transferred over from Rum.
With numbers evidently on the rise on both estates, deer have become a major problem, entering gardens and grazing on croft land.
Deer are furthermore considered a significant hazard on roads and are believed by some to be responsible for the high incidence of diagnosed Lyme Disease on Uist.
Linzi explained that deer management is a balancing act between protecting an iconic species with apparently considerable economic value, with the negative impacts on traffic, agriculture and possibly public health.
However, the economic value of sporting enterprises was brought into question at the meeting, with it suggested that a stag shot in season could just be worth between £450 and £1000. However, it was said that other added on benefits, including venison sales and accommodation, would have to be factored in order to calculate the economic value of sporting businesses.
Meanwhile, Uist Deer Management Group has formed a subgroup focussed on Lyme Disease, which has recommended the exclusion of all deer by whatever means from areas of human settlement. It remains unclear how this objective will be achieved.
NHS Western Isles is hosting two events this month on South Uist to inform on ticks and Lyme Disease. See here for more information: http://www.ampaipear.org.uk/coming-ticks-lyme-disease-awareness-sessions/
Feedback gathered at the public meeting is to be fed into the draft Deer Management Plan. Further comments can be emailed to Uist Deer Management Group chairman Uisdean Robertson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or secretary Philip Harding (email@example.com) until the consultation closes on 12th March 2017.
Members of the community are being offered opportunities to grow food for themselves and their families in allotments, greenhouses and polycrubs through a new project led by Tagsa Uibhist.
‘Grow Your Own Community’ will aim to teach people more about the links between growing food, avoiding food waste and acting on climate change, at the same time strengthening social cohesion and developing a low carbon future for Uist.
Tagsa Uibhist won a grant of £128,411 from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund to set up the project. ‘Grow Your Own Community’ will run for one year, beginning on 1st April 2017 and continuing until 31st March 2018.
Activities planned as part of the project include providing young families and social housing residents with low carbon community growing facilities and developing a carbon literate network of horticultural trainers, volunteers and a Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Worker. It is also planned to deliver a practical community workshop programme on how to use and re-use local waste materials for food growing purposes.
In addition, ‘Grow Your Own Community’ will work to achieve a significant CO2e reduction in food miles by working with local organisations and businesses to increase outlets for locally grown potatoes, and by increasing capacity in the islands crofting community to produce and promote machair potatoes as a highly-prized, island grown product that uses traditional knowledge and practices, as well as locally harvested seaweed as a low carbon fertilizer.
‘Grow Your Own Community’ offers free support to help people learn how to grow food for their households, as well as supplying information on reducing food waste and climate change.
CALL FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST FROM THE COMMUNITY:
‘Grow Your Own Community’ would like to hear from residents in the community who would be interested in having a polycrub installed near to where they live so that they can learn to grow food almost on their doorstep.
‘Grow Your Own Community’ is looking for the following:
‘Grow Your Own Community’ will provide the following:
Laura Donkers, Project Leader said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for even more local people to benefit from the food growing project that has been running for the last two years. Now we will be able to develop more ‘Grow Your Own Community’ hubs across the islands, and increase the supply of machair grown potatoes through the ‘Potatoes for Schools’ initiative that encourages crofters to grow extra potatoes for use in the islands schools’ canteens.”
Peter Keiller, Chair of Tagsa Board of Trustees said: “Tagsa Uibhist is delighted that the Climate Challenge Fund has recognised the success of the Local Food for Local People project by awarding a further years funding. Our aim is to further extend the project into all areas of our community, to bring people together and engage everyone – the young, the old, the disabled and disadvantaged, in realising the potential to increase local food production in Uist. This project is an important part of Tagsa Uibhist’s vision of building a vibrant, strong and caring community where we work together to look after each other.”
Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful commented: “Climate change impacts all of us and we need collective action to tackle it, so we were delighted to have supported so many communities from across Scotland in preparing applications for the latest round of the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund.
“We congratulate all those community-led organisations awarded Climate Challenge Fund grants and look forward to working with them as they implement their projects.”
The Climate Challenge Fund is £9.97 million in 2017-18, with the Scottish Government contributing £9.09 million to the fund, while £0.88 million comes from the European Regional Development Fund. Since the fund launched in 2008, £85.8 million has been awarded. Keep Scotland Beautiful, an environmental charity, manages the fund on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Last week, the Scottish Government ordered that all poultry and captive birds must be kept indoors for 30 days, if appropriate and practicable, after an alert over avian influenza. Here, North Uist based veterinary epidemiologist Selene Huntley explains why the lockdown in place until 6th January 2017 is essential…
So we have all been told by the government to move our poultry indoors. Not an easy feat for some, especially for those of us that are new to keeping poultry and therefore don’t have a ready-to-go system in place. I am rather more used to giving this sort of advice to curb animal disease, rather than taking it myself, so thought I could impart some of my knowledge to any fellow newbie backyard poultry owners out there of why this measure, although inconvenient, is completely necessary.
The reason for these stringent requirements is that a strain of bird flu virus has been steadily marching across much of Europe and beyond over recent months, leaving wild birds dead in its wake and resulting in compulsory slaughter of infected commercial flocks on the continent in an attempt to prevent it from spreading amongst domestic poultry.
Should this strain, known as H5N8, arrive in the UK, it would be bad news for the commercial poultry industry and backyard poultry alike. At the moment, the most likely source of infection is wild birds of any species, with the highest risk coming from migrating birds, hence the reason why your birds need to be tucked in safely inside even before it arrives on our shores, if indeed it does. There is no point in closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, as they say.
This strain of bird flu is a different strain to those that are usually associated with human disease and is therefore currently assigned as low risk to humans. That said, flu strains are notorious for mutating so it’s always necessary to be cautious and keep good hygiene measures when handling poultry.
This is not the first time that poultry owners have been asked to take this action, nor will it be the last. If you are thinking of keeping poultry, it’s worth sparing a forethought as to how you would house your birds for these occasions when they do need to be kept indoors. So how can you house your birds practically in an emergency? Ideally you would keep them in their chicken coop, if big enough, or you could keep them in their coop as usual at night and perhaps move them into cages in a garage or shed during the day so that they have bit more room to move about (extra-large dog crates with some of your usual chicken bedding in would do the job for a handful of hens, although a bit messy).
We are lucky in that we have a garden shed which we have hurriedly converted to a more spacious hen-house for a month. For anyone considering moving birds into your own home as a makeshift solution, this is not an option, least of all your kitchen, as poultry can carry some harmful bacteria that you really don’t want to consume with your afternoon tea and biscuits!
There will be some of you who genuinely have nowhere to move your poultry. The government stipulates that in these cases, all possible measures be taken to ensure that birds do not come into contact with wild birds (and this includes their droppings). In these cases, as an absolute minimum, runs would need to have a solid roof to prevent wild bird droppings from falling into the coop and have small-aperture chicken-wire walls such that no small birds can get in or out. However, this sort of approach is a bit ‘leaky’ as there is the potential for small critters such as mice and voles to move infected droppings in on their feet. It may sound far-fetched but these are feasible ways in which this virus could spread.
Whatever approach you use, it is also necessary to implement strict biosecurity measures such as disinfecting shoes (for example in a foot bath) when entering or leaving the run or area around the coop, keeping disinfectant fresh and at the correct concentration and making sure no vermin can get access to poultry feed or water.
These regulations are to be implemented for 30 days, until 6th January 2017, but please see the Scottish Government website and the DEFRA website for up to date information.
Selene Huntley worked as a vet in practice before becoming interested in the ‘bigger picture’ of animal disease, subsequently working as a veterinary epidemiologist in government and academia. She currently works freelance from her home in North Uist.
Rhoda Grant MSP has said she is pleased that CalMac has been consulting on the possibility of sailings between Lochboisdale and Oban being introduced in this year’s winter timetable with consultations also being held for the summer 2017 timetable.
Mrs Grant raised the matter with CalMac after having been approached by a number of constituents from Uist who wanted to see some sailings re-introduced on the route, primarily for the transportation of livestock.
Mrs Grant said: “The introduction of all year round sailings from Lochboisdale to Mallaig were long fought for and very welcome when they were introduced, as too were the increased sailings between Barra and Oban. This however had a knock on impact on the Lochboisdale to Oban route and left people very frustrated that what they had gained in the one hand was taken away from them in the other.
She continued: “I raised the matter with CalMac and I am pleased that they have listened to the views of many people in the community and are consulting on this issue. I very much hope this will lead to some services being re-introduced on the Lochboisdale to Oban route. Uist was beginning to become very inaccessible with flights being reduced and then losing this sailing. We need to reverse this and make the area as accessible as possible for the travelling public.”
Crofters are being asked to take part in an academic study focussing on how people and organisations can successfully work together to manage geese…
Chris Pollard is a second year PhD student at the University of Stirling researching goose management across Scotland. Having spent time in Orkney last summer talking to those involved with and impacted by increasing goose numbers, he will be continuing his research in Uist during August.
He explained: “Part of my data collection includes speaking to as many crofters across the islands as possible about the uncertainties surrounding goose management techniques.
“As such, I am aiming to get in touch with crofters who could spend up to thirty minutes with me, either individually or in small groups. Anyone willing to get involved should get in touch via an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text me on 07899976667.”
Chris is funded through the National Environment Research Council. More details about his wider work can be found at www.stir.ac.uk/natural-sciences/staff-directory/postgraduates/chrispollard.
Kildonan Museum will this weekend host a very special book launch, as the self-penned memoirs of a South Uist crofter, sailor and soldier are finally published.
Donald MacDonald (1897-1985) was a veteran of the Great War and fought at the Battle of the Somme. He travelled the world before serving in the Merchant Navy during WW2 and finally returning to raise a family in South Uist.
His self-authored book – From Small Lochs to Great Lakes – will be launched at Kildonan Museum on Saturday 9th July at 7.30pm.
Donald was one of ten children from a humble crofting and fishing family in South Uist. His story spans almost nine decades during the most turbulent times in modern history.
Enlisted at sixteen years of age into the Cameron Highlanders, he fought and was wounded at Givenchy, the Battle of the Somme and at Arras. His memoirs recall with candor the horrendous conditions of the trenches and battlefields.
He wrote: “In a heavy bombardment with death and desolation around you, your heart pounding like a piston, thinking the next shell would be yours, you thought the end of the world had come and when the shelling stopped, the brave little skylark rose high above us with her sweet song of hope and courage, you felt there is a God.”
After training as a diamond cutter, Donald’s inter-war years saw him traverse the Atlantic to find work farming in Canada, in the car factories of America and as a sailor on the Great Lakes until the profound impact of the Great Depression forced him home.
He served in the Merchant Navy and as a rigger on the Clyde shipyards during WW2.
After returning home, Donald’s story charts momentous moments in island life from ‘salvaging’ whisky from SS Politician and the introduction of road access. It also deals plainly with the struggles of setting up house in Locheynort in appalling conditions of isolation, on very poor land.
“You cannot hold time or season back. Although you are supposed to be your own master on a croft, in reality you are not. You must conform with the season at hand, in order to obtain the benefit you are looking for. Your master is the season, disregarding it and you need not expect a pay packet.”
When widowed at 57 years of age with six children all below the age of 10 years old, MacDonald persevered to keep the family unified. Thanks to the help of the children’s aunt looking after the youngest, the six children were able to grow up together on the island.
“Bringing up five children on your own was a hard task. People were kind and help in looking after them was offered many times but I felt it was important that they stayed with me and that I reared them myself. Although those times were hard, we got through them.”
MacDonald wrote his memoirs whilst in his 80s before his death in 1985. The original handwritten manuscript was painstakingly transcribed and typed by a family friend in the late 1980s but only digitised a number of years ago, which allowed it to be edited by his daughter Peggy to form this unique record of a remarkable life.
To order the new book or for further information please visit: http://www.lochstolakes.co.uk
Stòras Uibhist has appointed a new Chief Executive.
Dr Fraser Quin, 51, is presently Chief Executive of the Eric Liddell Centre in Edinburgh, a charity working in the dementia care sector, and also offering befriending services for carers.
He has extensive experience in running his own business, and in 2000, he set up and developed a company, Kidzcare Limited, which he subsequently sold in 2014. Previous to that he was a senior lecturer in the Scottish Agriculture College.
Dr Quin has a PhD in Environmental Economics from Edinburgh University. He is a keen motorcyclist, and other hobbies include keeping fit, running, and walking his dogs.
Angus MacMillan, Chairman of Stòras Uibhist, said: “We are delighted to attract someone of the calibre of Fraser as Chief Executive. He has a unique blend of business, third sector, and public sector skills, which will be essential in delivering our ambitious plans for the further development of the estate.”
Dr Fraser Quin stated: “I am absolutely thrilled to be offered this unique post, and look forward to meeting the community in South Uist at the forthcoming AGM on 16th June.”
Dr Quin will formally take up the post of Chief Executive of Stòras Uibhist in July.
Just two names have been put forward for election to the board of Sealladh na Beinne Mòire – the community company that owns South Uist Estate – this year.
Longtime board member Stephen MacAulay has been nominated again, alongside Sebastian ‘Ian’ Paterson – General Manager of Carnan Stores – who is standing for the first time.
However, there are currently three vacancies on the board of Sealladh na Beinne Mòire, meaning that the number of nominations received falls short of requirements.
Existing directors Stephen MacAulay and John MacMillan were required to stand down as part of the rolling process that ensures all directors stand down over a period of three years. Hector MacLeod resigned as a director earlier this year.
However, even though only two individuals are nominated for the three vacancies, an election will take place nonetheless.
Sealladh na Beinne Mòire’s Articles of Association require that elected directors must be elected by full members in a secret ballot.
Angus MacMillan, Chairman of Sealladh na Beinne Mòire said: “It is unfortunate that we have only two candidates for the three vacancies. This is the first time we have not had a contest for the important role of director of the community company.
“Sealladh na Beinne Mòire’s board will have to review how we can encourage more people to come forward to participate in this work, and identify how best we can fill the remaining vacancy.”
Completed ballot papers need to be received by Electoral Reform Services no later than Wednesday 8th June for counting. Confirmation of the election will be announced immediately following the completion of the count and presented to the membership at the AGM later in June.
Further information on the process for filling the remaining vacancy will be sent out to members in due course.
Candidates for election and accompanying statements:
Nominee – Stephen John MacAulay
Proposer – John Angus O’Henley; Seconder – Alistair MacAulay
“I would firstly like to thank all who supported me throughout my time as a Sealladh na Beinne Mòire director. I have thoroughly enjoyed the past six years. During that time, I have had the opportunity to be part of many ambitious projects that have come to fruition. In particular, Lochcarnan Windfarm, Lochboisdale Harbour and the establishment of the Sealladh na Beinne Mòire Community Fund.
“While the larger projects done to date are a great achievement for our community, I am particularly motivated to improve ongoing issues such as marauding deer, improved drainage and social and economic regeneration across the estate area.
“If re-elected I will continue to work hard with existing and new directors and staff to continue the good work done over the past years on behalf of the local community.”
Nominee – Sebastian Paterson
Proposer – Archie MacLean; Seconder – Michael J MacDonald
“I am standing for election to the Board of Sealladh na Beinne Mòire to offer assistance in shaping and achieving the company’s democratic social and economic vision to realise the community’s right to buy sustainable land development ambitions.
“Whilst not native to South Uist I have had a home here since 1980 and as a crofter and General Manager of Co-Chomunn an Iochdair recognise the importance of ensuring that traditional island occupations are appropriately represented and supported, in conjunction and in balance with innovative enterprises.
“In terms of contributory skills, knowledge and experience to the board, through my career to date I have held senior executive management appointments in the public, private and cooperative enterprise sectors. I am formally trained, qualified and experienced in a broad range of business disciplines and hold a Master’s degree in Strategic Project Management. Additionally, I have considerable knowledge of corporate governance, in particular that relating to social enterprises.”
Ready to clock up some serious road miles for 1 Million Miles for Ellie? North Uist Agricultural Society (NUAS) is organising a tractor rally for Saturday 28th May and hoping for a strong turnout of vehicles of all colours, ages, shapes and sizes…
Whether you are planning to take part or spectate, here are all the details you need…
Anyone interested in entering a tractor is asked to get in touch with NUAS right away so organisers can ascertain how many vehicles are likely to take part. NUAS can be contacted on email@example.com
All tractors are advised to arrive at Hosta Showground no later than 9.30am on the day of the rally.
If participants would like to leave their tractors at the showground the evening before the rally, they are more than welcome to do so.
For tractors travelling south of Clachan it will be possible to join the rally at Clachan.
To avoid congestion, tractors will start off in groups of four and about five minutes apart.
Reminders of the event will be posted in local shops and on the radio to make other road users aware there are likely to be a lot of tractors on the road.
There will be three stop-off points around the island, at Clachan, Lochmaddy Pier and Taigh Sgìre Sholais. People are very welcome to gather at the pit-stops to show their support.
Prizes will be presented for:
Furthest Travelled Tractor
Best Turned Out Tractor
Best Dressed Tractor Driver
It is hoped to have lorry tractor units on the showground for visitors to view.
An award will also be presented for the Best Lorry Tractor Unit. As there is limited space on the showground, it would be helpful if those hoping to attend with units would get in touch.
To keep people entertained whilst waiting for tractors to return, there will be soup and sandwiches, homemaking, an arts and crafts area for children, gate hanging competition, sheaf over the bar, nail in the block, guess the weight of the dumpling, and a raffle at the showground.
Anyone willing to donate a raffle prize or home baking, or available to help as a steward at any of the stop-off points please get in touch.
For more information contact Joan Ferguson on 01876 580 327 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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