£20,500 from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise will enable the Meanish Pier development project to take a step forward.  

The slipway, pier and surrounding area of land at Meanish were taken into community ownership in 2013 by the Glendale Trust.  Plans were put in place to develop the area to meet the needs of the local community and bring the area back into use. Plans including, visitor moorings, safe walk ashore access to the water, improved parking and improvements to the slipway were developed through detailed community consultation by the now Chair of the Crown Estate Scotland, Amanda Bryan who carried out the initial community consultation work on behalf of the local community.

Since then volunteers have secured a Local Management Agreement for Loch Pooltiel as well as planning approval from the Highland Council for the proposed improvements. A new head of terms has also been negotiated with Crown Estate Scotland for the proposals.

The Meanish Pier Working Group made up from members of the local moorings association, community council, Glendale Trust and boat operators have agreed to work with Kames Fish Farm Ltd Oban who were granted planning permission for the production of salmon or trout in the local Loch Pooltiel.  Kames as part of the planning process have offered to work with the community group, and using their expertise and resources deliver much needed infrastructure and subsequent wider benefits to the area.

The award from Highlands and Islands Enterprise will provide funding for the professional services required to formalise agreements between Kames and the community group.

Stuart Cannon Managing Director of Kames said I look forward to working and co-operating with the community and Glendale Trust to the mutual benefit of all that participate. We hope that the deep-water moorings will provide a safe anchorage for passing yachts, men and women who wish to stop over for a night or two to enjoy the fine foods that the local area produces along with appreciating the fine scenery from land.

The floating walkway will provide continuous access for small boats, canoes and small vessels to the shore, no matter what state the tides are.

These facilities and perhaps improvements to the pier and the slipway, should allow the community to generate more activity and jobs.

Local boat operator and Glendale moorings association secretary, Greg Lane spoke positively about the proposed improvements: “This will be a much needed improvement and enable boat users easier access to the moorings at all states of the tide."

Karen Redfern director of the Glendale Trust made clear: “the Trust understands the importance of our role as owners of the pier, slip and surrounding land at Meanish in our negotiations with Kames.  We are pleased that the HIE funding will enable the Trust to secure the professional services that will formalise agreements moving forward and ensure they deliver the maximum benefit to the local community and area users.  We look forward to demonstrating that community organisations can work successfully with commercial operators and ensure all parties including the environment can benefit.”

Jennifer Macpherson, development manager at HIE’s Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross team, said: “The redevelopment of Meanish Pier and the surrounding area is an important growth project for the community of Glendale, having been part of its Community Growth Plan for a number of years. Our assistance for this project ensures that the community benefit is maximised from a commercial operator leasing a community owned asset. We look forward to seeing more benefits being realised following the valuable work of the HIE-funded Local Development Officer employed by The Glendale Trust.”

A casualty with leg injuries was assisted from Sconser Golf Course earlier in the week.

Portree and Kyle Coastguard Rescue Teams were tasked to assist the Scottish Ambulance Service.  The casualty was transferred to the Helimed for onward transport to hospital.

A man from Portree, who had been reported missing, was located.

Matt Wollacott, last seen in Glasgow, was found "safe and well," say police.

The police thanked all those who had assisted in locating Mr Wollacott.

The Highland Council has rejected a request to transfer land at the Storr to the Staffin Community Trust.

Staffin Community Trust proposed to use the land to create a car park and public toilets.

The council said the current plan would leave it with the burden of funding maintenance of surrounding land.

Despite having refused the Trust’s Asset Transfer Request in its current form, the Council remain optimistic that a partnership approach can still deliver the substantial improvements required at the site and have extended an invitation to continue dialogue with the Trust towards a solution.

Eilean a' Cheò Ward Members Councillors Finlayson, Gordon, MacDonald and MacLeod have backed the decision taken by the Council’s Asset Management Project Board on the 5th September.

Speaking on behalf of the Ward Members, Chair, John Gordon said:  “We are supportive of projects that help improve much needed infrastructure, for the benefit of local communities and improved visitor management.  In relation to the specific request at the Storr, however, Member support would require guarantees that this is delivered through a mechanism that does not separate any Council capital investment and revenue generation from the responsibility of the management and maintenance of the Council owned site in its entirety.  Members would also require that it protects the wider public benefit and interest in perpetuity and protects the Council’s financial interests.”

Members hope that a solution can be found that protects and enhances the natural heritage assets at this nationally important site while supporting economic benefits for the Ward and beyond.

The council stated their reasons for the refusal included: "The proposed disaggregation of the car park from the remainder of the site would separate the revenue generating potential of the site from the burden of management and maintenance. The lack of reinvestment in the wider site would be detrimental to the integrated management of the site for wider, sustainable public benefit. The proposal would therefore have a negative impact upon the ability of the Council to deliver its functions."

Police are searching for a missing man.

Matt Wollacott, aged 31, is from Portree and was last seen in Glasgow.

Police have asked members of the public to contact them on 101 with any information.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has welcomed the Scottish Government’s plans to bring derelict properties back into use as affordable homes. 

Kate Forbes MSP believes that the measure – coupled with better connectivity that could bring more jobs to the Highlands – will help boost rural communities that have been trying to reverse the trend of depopulation.

The announcement was made in the Scottish Parliament chamber by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as she announced the Programme for Government. 

Kate Forbes MSP said: “Depopulation of Highland communities continues to be one of the greatest barriers to economic growth – and people are our greatest resource – with their ideas, their families and their commitment to rural communities

“While previous action by the SNP in government has focused on empowering Scotland’s rural communities, the plans announced for the coming session appear to go even further and expressly put repopulating the Highlands at their very heart. 

“Central to that ambition will be providing more homes across rural Scotland, not just by building new homes but by bringing vacant properties back into use.”

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch continued: “Across my own constituency you see myriad buildings which once served a useful purpose and now sit idle. 

“A single sprawling estate alone might have half a dozen farmhouses, an assortment of byres and steadings, a scattering of cottages, a gatehouse or two or even an old mill all sitting empty.

“But while an abandoned croft house might be a haunting sight on a picture-postcard Highland hillside, for me it should provoke a less wistful, more pragmatic response: let’s turn these houses back into homes. 

“It is not a situation unique to the Highlands. From the Borders to Barra, from Aberdeenshire to Ayrshire, thousands of properties lie derelict – some in an advanced state of decay, but many still wind and watertight and in relatively good nick. 

“It’s time to bring them back into action to provide much needed homes for young people in rural Scotland. 

 

Skye Camanachd won the Marine Harvest Valerie Fraser Cup for the first time with a storming 6-1 win over Lochaber in the final at An Aird.

A good sized crowd gathered for this show-piece occasion and there was a children’s banner parade ahead of throw up with Ardnamurchan Primary School judged to have the best display.

This 3pm throw up was a repeat of the 2016 final when four-goal Kirsty Delaney helped Lochaber to a 4-2 victory. This was the first time the sides had met since that day and Skye captain Lorna MacRae, who scored both her team’s goals twelve months earlier, was to play a key role.

After the disappointments losing out in the final to Glasgow Mid Argyll in 2014 and Lochaber last year, Skye tasted Valerie Fraser Cup success for the first time and Iain Fraser from sponsors Marine Harvest presented the trophy to captain Lorna MacRae.

Lorna MacRae also deservedly collected the player of the match award from sponsor Peter Gow.

The sides have still to meet twice more in the league this season with the title destination still in the balance.

Iain Kennedy was the match referee.

Skye Head Coach Robbie Gordon spoke after the match. “The girls played really, really well,” he said. All the things we have practiced at training paid off today. Our movement was good, our passing was good and our shooting was good. Everybody played their part and we were dominant in every area of the park. It’s not every day you win a Camanachd Cup and these girls have worked really hard and they deserve every bit of it.”

Skye captain Lorna MacRae added: “After last year’s performance, we knew what we had to do today. This is the biggest competition to win so it’s great to get this success under our belts and now we’ll concentrate on trying to win the league again.”

Four overnight closures are planned on the A83 Ballachulish Bridge.

Maintenance works worth over £400,000 are to be carried out starting later this month.

The work will commence on Monday 11 September and is estimated to last for seven weeks.  The four overnight closures are planned in late October.

The maintenance works involve replacing the bridge expansion joints in the bridge deck, ensuring the structure continues to function safely for many years to come.

Temporary traffic lights will be in place continuously during the works and a temporary 30mph speed limit in place to keep road workers and motorists safe during the improvements. 

To allow teams to access the bridge joints in the centre of the carriageway, four overnight road closures are required to ensure that the work can be completed safely.  These are scheduled for October (dates to be confirmed), between 10pm and 6am.  Further information will be shared in advance to inform all relevant stakeholders of the planned closures.

The dates for the closures will be scheduled to avoid clashing with any traffic travelling during the Royal National Mòd in Lochaber. 

During the four overnight closures, light vehicles will be diverted via the B863 to Kinlochleven, adding an estimated 30 minutes to the journey.  Due to the width of the B863 carriageway and the presence of a weak bridge, this route is unsuitable for HGVs so they will be diverted via Spean Bridge, Laggan and Perth.  Alternatively, HGVs will be stacked at either side of the bridge until the closure is lifted at 6am.  Consultation with the Road Haulage Association, Freight Transport Association and local hauliers has been carried out to ensure they are made aware of these restrictions, and instead encourage them to travel outwith the closure hours or find an alternative route once dates have been confirmed.

 

Andrew Lennie of The Printing Press Bar & Kitchen in Edinburgh claiming the crown has won Talisker’s Race to Skye competition.

Six finalists took part in four different challenges for the opportunity to work as a brand ambassador for Talisker for the next year.

The first challenge took place at Blair Athol distillery in Pitlochry, where the finalists were tasked with creating a whisky highball using Talisker, with huge differences in the entries.

The most unique entry came from Charles Roche of Scout, who recreated the smell and taste of wet rock and moss with his combination of rock, oak, pine, lavender, rock and rain, and Talisker 10yo.

Andrew used the power of storytelling, having written a story about a walking experience from the perspective of his Uncle Joe to bring his mix of Talisker 57 North, plum sake, Campari, peach bitters and jasmine tea to life.

Andrew stated: "’m really surprised and obviously very pleased."

Andrew has won the opportunity to work as a brand ambassador for Talisker over the next year.

"Whisky might be part of Andrew’s repertoire as a bartender, but it’s also personal passion; he brought Talisker to life in unique ways,’ said Diageo Reserve whisky ambassador, David Sinclair.  "He’s a natural story teller. I’m excited to be working with him over the coming year, to continue his personal legacy with Talisker and the Race to Skye competition.

"I think any opportunity to take bartenders to the Isle of Skye, to the home of Talisker, really brings it home what a unique spirit Talisker is.  What backdrop could give more inspiration than having the Cuillin Mountains on one side and Loch Harport on the other?  Whisky experiences don’t get much better."

Staffin's Dugald Ross has received recognition for his dedication to finding and preserving dinosaur bones and footprints.

Mr Ross received the Mary Anning Award from the Palaeontological Association (PA) earlier this year.

The award was open to all those who are not professionally employed within palaeontology but who have made an outstanding contribution to the subject. 

A PA spokesman said: “The award was made to recognise Dugald’s nomination to palaeontology on Skye, particularly his role in the discovery of dinosaur fossils and footprints (including Scotland’s first, as well as fossils of early mammals, not to mention his establishment of the museum in Staffin.”

Palaeontology academics, including Dr Stephen Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh and Dr Neil Clark at Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum, travelled to Staffin earlier this summer to present the honour.  

“Dugald Ross is a remarkable guy,” stated Dr Brusatte in the PA newsletter. “For decades he has collected dinosaurs and other fossils on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, taking time out from his busy life as a builder and a crofter.  A self-taught fossil hunter, he has published numerous academic papers and is Scottish Natural Heritage’s point man for safeguarding fossil sites on Skye.

"As a teenager he even started his own fossil museum, the Staffin Museum, by rebuilding the ruins of a one-room schoolhouse and filling it with bones, teeth, ammonites and other specimens from across the island."

The full report from the newsletter can be read here.