Thursday, 26 February 2009

Arnish Fabrication Yard

The revolving door scenario at the Arnish Fabrication Yard continues. Later this year, the industrial site will reopen to manufacture windturbines for the better part of 2009. The machines are destined for a marine windpark off the coast of Cumbria, northwest England. The Arnish Fabrication Yard has had a number of operators in the past few years, none lasting much longer than a year at a time. At one point, the site was closed down whilst turbine towers were still being made. As a result, the intermediate product was shipped to Denmark for completion - and one of the towers was lost overboard in a force 9 gale on return. It presently provides a habitat for marine life at the bottom of the North Sea.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Back from cyberspace

Well, we made it over in one piece. Restoring the header pic was no problem, so many thanks to Les and Jay for pulling this one off. Even putting in the old URL (with hyphen) neatly redirects to the new link. Excellent.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Bus services

On 27 March 2009, bus services in the Western Isles will undergo a number of changes. This is the result of a tendering exercise. Like the schools debacle, this process has been conducted in a way which has left many people less than happy. So much so, that the tendering has had to be extended for a number of routes, and arrangements having to be put in place to ensure continuity of service on the Point route - a renewed tender has had to be issued for this route. More on this shambles on Hebrides News. That site is also the source for the following information on changes on routes and operators in Lewis.

West Side Circular (Stornoway - Callanish - Carloway - Shawbost - Barvas - Stornoway and vice versa) will be taken over by Maclennan's Coaches
North Lochs (Ranish) will be tied into the out-of-town route to Newvalley, with buses going via the Cearns, Laxdale and Newvalley to Marybank, from where the Lochs road (A859) will be rejoined. Operator: Grahams
Melbost and the airport will be served by the Point buses, whoever these are operated by.
South Lochs will be taken over by Peter Maclennan
Town Circular will be abolished.

Last week, the Scottish Government threw out the Comhairle's school closure plan as incompetent.
I'll go so far as to say that this bus tendering exercise can be described in similar terms.

Mysterious twists and turns

MV Clansman left Stornoway for its normal run to Stornoway this afternoon, but did a very strange turn-about at around 2.15pm, some 20 minutes after departure. This is the trace on AIS Stornoway. Anyone got any clue as to what went on?

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Lost in the moor

A man who had become disoriented on the moors near the Pentland Road in the centre of Lewis was located safe and well during the night. As darkness fell on Friday evening, he contacted the Coastguard by mobile phone saying he had lost his bearing in mist and fog near the Pentland Road. Coastguard teams searched the area on foot during the night. Once the helicopter became available after a medical emergency near Inverness, its crew located the man by the light on his mobile phone at 2 am.

I have visited that part of Lewis several times on foot my self, but would not have done so yesterday because it was drizzling. When I was doing long walks, back in 2005, I would venture out in all weathers - but not to the moors with visibility as poor as yesterday. However, fog and mist can catch anyone out, and I'm glad this person was finally located safe and sound. Just a few images of the area to indicate the terrain.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Carnage in Stornoway

This afternoon, a long-fingered resident of Stornoway found himself at the receiving end of a case of "from the frying pan into the fire". After being forcibly removed from his home on the seafront, he ended up losing his life on the mean streets of the town. The pink resident had been extricated by parties unknown, reported to be wearing white or grey, using a long, yellow implement to gain access to his home. This had been done without prior warning, just as the unfortunate was enjoying mussels for lunch. Struggling madly, he managed to gain freedom from the grasp of his captors, but fell whilst crossing a street near his home. Unable to get out of the way of traffic, he was run over and killed instantly.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Not exactly electrified

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Gravir in July 2007"]Gravir in July 2007[/caption]

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has granted planning permission for an electricity converter station with associated infrastructure to be built at Gravir, South Lochs. The station will be the exit point for all power, generated by large scale windfarms in Lewis, which will be taken across to Dundonnell on the mainland, thence to Beauly and finally to Denny near Stirling in Central Scotland.

Locals (one of them here on IB) have been fiercely opposed, and even the local councillor was not in favour. Concerns have been voiced over the impact of the scheme on the landscape and the infrastructure. Other councillors have heaped praise on this imminent monstrosity as part of the economic salvation of this island.

Why this could not go to the substation at Arnish is a mystery.
Why this could not be part of the Eishken windfarm, is a mystery too.
Yes, I know the reasons why: a pylon line would be required from Lochs to Arnish.

Once more, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has not exactly represented the views of its populace.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

43 hours late

Returned to Lewis yesterday (Wednesday), delayed by snow, airlines and incompetence. Was supposed to have returned on Monday evening. Had an interesting  crossing on MV Clansman, I think they need to order more crockery to replace that smashed on yesterday's 3 crossings. Mind you, on the MV Isle of Lewis those not suffering from seasickness would have come off with a mighty migraine what with all the banging out that boat does in a heavy swell. I am told that the regular boat will be back in 2 weeks from now.

For now, your intrepid observer has resumed his post.