The deadline for entries to the fifth annual Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year competition is imminent.

Entries to the Scottish Nature Photography Awards 2014 close on Sunday, November 30, 2014.

Photographers can enter images taken in Scotland into categories that encompass wildlife, landscape, botanical, abstract and environmental photography.

Judges will select winners for the titles of Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2014 (for professionals and amateurs), Junior Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2014 (for ) and Student Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2014 (for students undertaking a photography element in their course).

An exhibition of winning images will go on tour in 2015 and winning and shortlisted images will be published in a Portfolio Yearbook.

Full details about the competition and prizes are on the website www.scottishnaturephotographyawards.com.


NHS Orkney have confirmed that the county’s High Dependency Unit (HDU) is to be relocated to within the acute ward at the Balfour Hospital, due to staffing issues.

Despite a number of recruitment campaigns, NHS Orkney claim it has not been able to bring staffing up to full complement in its current HDU area.

In order to maintain the current service Cathie Cowan, chief executive has asked her lead hospital consultant, Dr Paul Cooper, and the HDU senior charge nurse, to work with staff to relocate the service in the acute ward. Combining the acute ward and HDU service, will, they say, enable the areas to be more effectively staffed.

Dr Cooper said that the HDU services in the Balfour Hospital would continue to be provided at the same level of quality but relocation was necessary to overcome the recruitment issues.

Dr Cooper went on to say staffing shortages in specialist areas such as HDU are a UK wide issue and that he is working with Ms Cowan to ensure service continuity.

Mrs Cowan confirmed that a targeted recruitment drive will begin again in the new year.  She expressed disappointment that NHS Orkney has not been able to recruit fully to all vacancies, despite a number of recruitment campaigns. Bank and locum medical staff have therefore been used to maintain a high quality and safe hospital service.

A Pelamis wave energy device off Orkney.

A Pelamis wave energy device off Orkney.

Wave energy technology developer Pelamis Wave Power Limited is to go into administration, it was announced this afternoon, Friday.

The company have been involved in testing its distinctive red and yellow devices at EMEC here in Orkney for a number of years, with the machines also being based at Lyness while not undergoing trials.

A statement on the issue said: “The directors of Pelamis regret to announce that they have been unable to secure the additional funding required for further development of the company’s market leading wave energy technology. As a result of this the board has reluctantly moved to appoint an administrator to assess the options for securing the future for the business and employees of Pelamis.”

The statement went on to say: “Pelamis is the world’s most advanced wave energy technology and company. It recently received a strong endorsement of this leading position from independent consultants following a series of due diligence exercises. This work included detailed assessments of the onward commercial viability of the technology and designs. The combination of over 350 man-years of experience in the team, some 15,000 hours of real grid connected test data and intensive parallel R&D work gives Pelamis a unique platform from which to develop and demonstrate the viability of its technology for commercial deployment at scale.

“The directors and employees of Pelamis are dedicated to the success of this revolutionary technology, and are committed to working with the administrator when appointed, the Scottish and UK Governments and any future partners to ensure its success.”

In August Pelamis Wave Power celebrated the 10th anniversary of the world’s first offshore wave power generated to the national grid.

Following installation of the prototype Pelamis machine at the European Marine Energy Centre the first electricity from offshore waves was generated to the UK grid in August 2004.

At that time this was described as a major achievement for Pelamis and the whole wave energy sector, and demonstrated the feasibility and potential of harnessing the power of ocean waves.

In the ten years that have followed that milestone, Pelamis has continued to lead the sector, notched up a string of further world firsts, and set new records in electricity generation and operational capability.

Action from Orkney rugby club's last home game against Highland — a 33-8 victory.

Action from Orkney rugby club’s last home game against Highland — a 33-8 victory.

Orkney’s rugby first IV take on league rivals Strathmore RFC at Pickaquoy tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, kick-off 1pm.

The home side are currently fourth in BT Caledonia League Division 1 after six outings this season, but have two games in hand over the top three teams Glenrothes, Gordonians and Highland.

Strathmore, who have played seven, are currently in fifth.


The unmanned Monday opening of the Garson recycling centre in Stromness has come to an end by the council due to illegal dumping, including of hazardous waste.

As a trial, the site has opened on Mondays since September last year, on an unmanned basis.

However, the OIC have said that due to a number of littering and fly tipping instances – including illegal dumping of hazardous waste – during the unmanned opening times, the council has no option but to end the trial for public health, and safety and environmental protection reasons.

Darren Richardson, the OIC’s head of roads and environmental services, said: “The Garson site has been open on Mondays on an unmanned basis since September 2013. We did this on a trial basis, but there have been a number of litter and fly tipping incidents during times when the site was unmanned, including the illegal dumping of hazardous waste.”

He added: “Unfortunately, it means that the council has been left with no option other than to end the trial to ensure public health and safety and the protection of the local environment.

“The council will look to review this position in future if appropriate resources and control measures, such as CCTV, could be put in place. In any event the council must satisfy the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, who approve the licence conditions to operate the site.”

Liam McArthur MSP

Liam McArthur MSP

Speaking in a Scottish Parliament debate on Food and Drink, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has encouraged the Scottish Government to do all that it could reduce transport costs for isles based businesses.

Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said: “The success of Scotland’s food and drink sector has been genuinely impressive in recent years.  Orkney’s businesses and producers are very much at the heart of this success.

“The Scottish Government deserves credit for its food and drink strategy, but there are ways in which they can support continued success in the future.

“Island-based businesses face higher costs than most, not least in terms of transport and energy.  That is why the Cabinet Secretary needs to rethink the exclusion of Orkney from RET and isles businesses from the air discount scheme. Both these decisions work against attempts by the local food and drink sector to meet demand nationally and internationally.”

He added: “Nicola Sturgeon has talked about a different approach and being a First Minister for all.  This change in tone is very welcome.  I hope now it will lead to a willingness to introduce more fairness in the government’s transport policy.  What better way to start off 2015, the Year of Food and Drink”


Police Scotland has acknowledged the eight-month custodial sentence given to 26-year-old Graham Findlay, from Kirkwall, following his conviction for four counts of lewd, indecent and libidinous behaviour towards boys, aged between seven and 13, and a charge of sexual assault against a 16-year-old male.

Detective Inspector Scott MacDonald said: “This case came to light following a report from one of the victims which led to significant inquiries being carried out by local officers supported by officers from several specialist departments within Police Scotland.

“Further victims were subsequently identified which revealed a pattern of behaviour which helped build a picture for the inquiry officers of the scope of his sustained offending behaviour.

“The courage of the victims of this case should be commended not only in coming forward to report these offences but also for the courage shown in giving evidence at the jury trial at Kirkwall Sheriff Court. This action has resulted in the conviction of Graham Findlay.”

Det Insp MacDonald added: “It is hoped that this conviction will give other victims of similar sensitive crimes the confidence to come forward safe in the knowledge that their case will be sensitively and thoroughly investigated.”

Local area commander, temporary Chief Inspector Gordon Deans said: “As part of Police Scotland, the Orkney Command Area will actively pursue anyone engaged in the perpetration of sexual offences against vulnerable victims by utilising the support of specialist teams within the wider policing structure.

“This will ensure that we, as a service, focus on keeping people safe as well as safeguarding Orkney.”

Alistair Carmichael MP.

Alistair Carmichael MP.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has called on Ofcom to review postal competition to tackle companies who “cherry-pick” cheaper delivery routes.

His comments come after the Royal Mail CEO Moya Greene highlighted the problems faced by the firm as private sector delivery companies exclusively deliver urban mail routes, undercutting the Royal Mail.

Speaking yesterday, Wednesday, Mr Carmichael said: “The warning issued today by the Royal Mail must be taken seriously by Ofcom.

“The 2011 Postal Services Act awarded Ofcom with powers that they never had before to protect the Universal Service Obligation by charging a levy to the companies who cherry-pick more lucrative areas.

“Ofcom have a duty to move forward with a review of the postal market and see whether or not to use these new powers.”

Mr Carmichael added: “This is not a consequence of privatisation. It is a consequence of the postal market being opened up to full competition which has been the case for 10 years.

“The SNP claims to be defending a re-nationalised Royal Mail but we know that these claims are hollow. Last year they were forced to admit that they had diverted £24 million from the Royal Mail to private provider TNT. I would advise them to send a note-to-self to do better. But this would just add to the profits of TNT.”


Kirkwall has been announced as one of three locations set to host the Scottish Parliament in the coming year as part of the next series of Parliament Days.

Initiated by the Parliament in 2012, Presiding Officer the Rt Hon Tricia Marwick MSP says she wants to see even greater focus on engagement with people across Scotland supported by more Parliament Day visits.

Parliament Day in Kirkwall is set to take place on Monday,  June 8, 2015 with the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee.

The Rt Hon Tricia Marwick MSP said: “The Scottish Parliament belongs to all the people of Scotland and Kirkwall offers the Parliament a great opportunity to hear from the community about issues that matter to them.”

Parliament Day invites people to see the Parliament first-hand, be it “official” business, or on a less formal level, and helps the Parliament to listen to local people.

As part of Parliament Day Kirkwall, the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee will hold a formal sitting on Monday, June 8, as well as meet with a range of local people, organisations and businesses.

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