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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 13th May 2000
Issue No 179

Russia Asks For Scottish Advice

One of Scotland's leading land reformers has told Russia's top economists that land reform in the former Soviet Republic should be based on the Isle of Eigg.

Alastair McIntosh, a fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology in Edinburgh, recently returned from a week long trip to Moscow to advise on reshaping Russia. He surprised economists when he said the way forward was community ownership similar to that which secured Eigg from feudal ownership. Mr McIntosh also used the example of the Stornoway Trust, on Lewis, as well as land reform being developed by the Scottish Parliament. He also said that spirituality was needed in reshaping land ownership. "It is fair to say that these eminent economists had never heard of Eigg or Stornoway - but they have now. They were interested in what had gone on there," said Mr McIntosh. Mr McIntosh had been called in by economists and theologians in the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian Orthodox Church to advise on land reform in the former communist state. The invitation came last year after Mr McIntosh defended the Carbeth Hutters - a group of 160 low income tenants, many of whom faced eviction from their huts - at Stirling Sheriff Court on the grounds that "God owns Scotland's land". "The problem with communism and capitalism is that they both lack spirituality," said Mr McIntosh. "Spirituality can help bring community into economics. Russia is in economic chaos but there is a deep resurgence of spirituality. There are orthodox churches springing up all over the place. "The Russians were excited that a developed country like Scotland could recognise that community is central to land ownership." Mr McIntosh has been invited to return to Russia for further meetings.

Lighting up the Island

A remote island in the Inner Hebrides has finally entered the 21st century after winning a battle for its own electricity supply. For years the scattered community on the tiny isle of Muck relied on small diesel generators for its heat, light and power. Basic household chores were made virtually impossible when the generators frequently cut out, leaving the 37 islanders unable to enjoy even simple luxuries like boiling a kettle or making toast. Now, as the island finally gets its own round the clock power supply from two specially built wind turbines, the average electricity bill for each islander is likely to tumble by more than 60 per cent. The 236,000 cost of the French designed system was funded by Highland Council, local enterprise company Lochaber Ltd and other agencies as well as a 95,000 Lottery grant. After a series of tests, the wind turbines were switched on last month. Islander Anne Smith, who lives at Pier Cottage said: "Having constant electricity is a novelty. We still find ourselves going downstairs to the bathroom in the night, carrying a torch and forgetting for a minute that all we have to do now is throw a switch."

Close Inspection

A businessman's proposal to restore the ancient clan seat of the Macdonalds of Clanranald is soon to come under official scrutiny again after a long drawn out argument on whether it should be made habitable or remain ruin. Ayrshire born former pilot Lex Brown bought ruined Castle Tioram in Moidart, Lochaber, for 100,000 and has been campaigning for the past two years for permission to make it habitable for the first time since 1715. Mr Brown says he is willing to carry out conservation work estimated at 3 million to secure the building which is deteriorating badly, to build a residential flat for himself within the walls and worldwide headquarters for Clanranald, and to guarantee public access. He bought the ruin from a Californian Scot. Although his scheme is backed by Ranald Macdonald, captain of Clanranald, it has come under fire from Historic Scotland and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

Highlands are Tops

The Highlands have come out on top as the most popular short break holiday destination in Scotland in a new survey. Commissioned by the Scottish Tourist Board to promote their recent campaign "Yours to Discover", Scots voted by 39 per cent that the Highlands was their favourite place for a short break in their own country. The Western Isles came second with 11 per cent. David Noble of the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board said the result of the survey was excellent news for the area's tourism operators as they gear up for the new season. "It underlines the variety of what our area has to offer people from all walks of life," he said. "We will be putting our own resources into supporting and matching the campaign because it is vital that we convert this popular interest in actual visits."

Island's Bridge Vote

An island population is to be balloted to see whether it wishes to press for a fixed link - a bridge or causeway - to the mainland. The link would be built across the narrow waters of the Cuan Sound which separates Luing from its neighbouring island of Seil, which is already linked to the Argyll mainland by bridge - the picturesque, humpbacked "Bridge over the Atlantic". Island debate has intensified in recent years over a fixed link to replace the current ferry service with some seeing it as an important asset for local industries such as fishing and farming, and others wishing the island to remain an island. Community council secretary Richard Demery said they had written to MPs, MSPs and MEPs over the issue. "We were encouraged by responses that, if the community wanted abridge, then we ought to be able to find a way of providing it. "So we decided that the best way in which we could decide whether the community wanted a bridge was to have a secret ballot."

Mod Gets a Boost

A three year sponsorship deal will take the Royal National Mod on to greater heights, Minister for Gaelic Learning Alasdair Morrison said recently. Announcing the sponsorship deal from the Royal Bank of Scotland in Inverness, Mr Morrison said: "I am delighted that a funding package has been secured for the Royal National Mod, which is Scotland's oldest arts festival and the premier event in the Gaelic calendar. "This sponsorship deal removes the need for fundraising over the next three years and will help broaden the appeal of this great celebration of Gaelic music and culture. "An Comunn Gaidhealach, the Gaelic development body who oversee the Mod, should be congratulated for their efforts in making the festival a more professional event."

Village History Book

A history of two Black Isle villages has become a popular read after laying undiscovered for half a century and then survived a flood. Nearly half of the 1,000 published copies of the written record on Fortrose and Rosemarkie have been sold in just one month, nearly 50 years after being compiled by the Chanonry Womens' Rural Institute. Despite passing through the hands of about 20 different WRI secretaries, it lay forgotten about among old minute books, attendance records and other memorabilia. It was only discovered last year by the then president of the Chanonry WRI, Anne Fiddes, who was clearing up the mess left by a flood at her home in Fortrose. "I had been drying off various bits of paper on the rafters and came across it and thought it was interesting," she said. The book has not been updated as buildings and geography have remained unchanged, although motor transport had transformed village life. Betty MacDonald, Chanonry's WRI president, said: "We wanted to do something to mark the millennium and we decided that the old exercise book, written with the charm of that era, would be our project."

Charity Event

A Highland based charity which matches voluntary organisations is set to extend its work after a large donation. The money to be used over 3 years by Volunteer Centre Inverness is from Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland, one of the UK's largest grant making trusts. Established in 1994, the group collects and give information on volunteering and helps choose the activity suited to volunteers.

Political Roundup

Gaelic Officer Wanted.

The Scottish Executive is under renewed pressure to appoint an officer to oversee the development of Gaelic. The Scottish Parliament has advertised for an employees to deal with the use of the language in parliamentary business. An appointment is expected to be made soon. However, Highlands and Islands MSP Winnie Ewing has said there has been no such move from the Executive. She called for a commitment to creating a Gaelic Officer post.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Some rain in the West a.m. Bright in the East. Locally heavy rain later. Wind light to moderate South Easterly. Temperature 12c to 16c.
Saturday Night
Locally heavy rain. Misty. Winds moderate to strong Easterly. Temperature 8c to 12c.
Bands of showers across the region. Bright with sunny spells. Moderate North Westerly winds. Fairly mild.
Mainly dry. Fairly cloudy with limited sunshine. Light Southerly breeze. Mild temperatures.

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This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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