Mar 242017
 

With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.

European Beaver (Castor fiber)
July 2010

Conservation charity Trees for Life is seeking support in raising £15,000 for a project aimed at bringing beavers back to the northwest Highlands.

The charity’s Bring Back the Beavers appeal will fund site assessments, work with local communities, and beaver habitat restoration work such as tree planting and natural regeneration.

This will enable Trees for Life to prepare for a formal application for a licence to re-establish beavers in the Highlands.

“Beavers were a key native species of the Caledonian Forest before being hunted to extinction some 400 years ago. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to bring them back,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Founder of Trees for Life.

“We are asking the public to help us pave the way for beavers to come home to the Highlands – improving the region for other wildlife, and providing a tourist attraction to boost the local economy.”

Last November, the Scottish Government announced that European beavers were officially accepted as a native species in Scotland.

Trees for Life has been preparing for the return of beavers for more than 25 years. This has involved creating suitable habitat by planting aspens and willows along loch shores and riverbanks. In 2015, the charity commissioned an expert survey of some of the key sites where it works, which confirmed that these locations could support beavers.

Beavers are superb ecosystem engineers. They create and manage wetland habitats ­– benefitting insects, fish, bats and birds. Their small dams help regulate water flow. Their felling of trees provides dead wood that benefits many organisms, and stimulates regeneration by causing new shoots to grow from tree stumps.

Beavers cannot colonise the northwest Highlands on their own, as the Great Glen is a natural barrier to beavers from the existing populations in Argyll and Tayside. So the only way to be sure they will return to the region will be to give them a helping hand.

In Europe, 24 countries have reintroduced beavers, with significant benefits. The official Scottish beaver trial in Argyll also showed substantial positive results, both for the local ecology and from increased tourism.

The Scottish Government has recognised that some residents may be concerned about the possible impact of beavers on their interests, and that this requires careful management.

Any surplus funds raised by the Bring Back the Beavers appeal will be used by Trees for Life to fund other activities to help restore the wild forest habitat.

For more details and to support the appeal, visit www.treesforlife.org.uk.

Pictured: European beaver © Laurie Campbell (N.B. One-time free use with this story; please delete image afterwards and for any future use contact Laurie Campbell www.lauriecampbell.com)

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Mar 242017
 

With thanks to Lisa Marley Press.

An award-winning Aberdonian wildlife filmmaker, hailed by renowned naturalist Mark Avery as ‘gifted’, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to produce a new documentary following an experimental human wolf pack in the Scottish Highlands.

Lisa Marley (25), from Westhill, has created an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to make the film, Project Wolf, which will highlight Scotland’s studies into reintroducing species and restoring ecosystems, known as rewilding.

The film will follow the activities of charity Trees for Life’s Project Wolf – a human wolf pack – as it investigates the environmental impact of reintroducing wolves to the Caledonian Forest in Glen Moriston, near Loch Ness. By recreating the behaviours of natural predators, the charity hopes to discover how this would affect the movements and grazing of red deer, in an effort to restore plant life and allow new growth to thrive.

Wildlife and conservation enthusiasts can donate to the campaign at www.indiegogo.com/at/projectwolf until April 19 to help bring the film to the big screen, in exchange for a series of perks ranging from guide books and gift cards to production credits and invitations to film festivals.

Lisa says,

“I have always been interested in rewilding. The idea of reintroducing species to an ecosystem in order to restore natural balance is inherently fascinating. It allows us not only to examine the interactions of flora and fauna, but also to evaluate our own relationships with nature.

“Trees for Life’s work in the Highlands is at the forefront of rewilding study in Scotland, and its work with a human wolf pack allows for a unique perspective on the issues surrounding rewilding. By following the wolf pack’s movements, and interviewing the key figures involved in the project, I hope to allow a greater understanding of the importance of this work.

“Project Wolf is something of a passion project for me: it’s a wonderful story that I feel is important to tell, and I’d love to be able to do that in my own way. But I can’t do that alone, and I hope that the wildlife and conservation communities will share my enthusiasm for learning more about this incredible project.

“By donating via Indiegogo, those with an interest in rewilding can help spread the word and bring the issue to the attention of a much wider audience.”

Alan Watson Featherstone, founder of Trees for Life, believes that the film will help to raise the profile of rewilding and bring it to the public’s attention. He says,

“Project Wolf is an innovative project run by Trees for Life, using enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers to patrol the edge of the native Caledonian Forest, to disturb deer that are grazing on native tree seedlings, preventing their growth.

“It seeks to mimic the natural disturbance effect of missing predators, such as the wolf, and has the potential to be replicated in many parts of Scotland (and elsewhere), greatly assisting the process of forest restoration.

“This film will play a crucial role in communicating the value, importance and effectiveness of the project, so please support it with a donation – you will be directly helping the recovery of the Caledonian Forest.”

Lisa’s last film, Red Sky on the Black Isle, also continues to make waves both in the film and wildlife communities.

Translated into multiple languages and screened around the world, it picked up the Little Audience Prize at the Raptor Filmz Short Scottish Film Festival last year.

This weekend it will be screened at the inaugural Wild Film Festival Scotland in Dumfries, and will be shown at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York in October.

The Project Wolf campaign runs on Indiegogo until April 19. For more information, and to donate, visit www.indiegogo.com/at/projectwolf

To follow Lisa’s progress, follow Project Wolf on Facebook at www.facebook.com/projectwolffilm or follow Lisa on Twitter @procuriosity

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Mar 172017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

A leading north-east legal firm has launched a year-long fundraising drive for a charity which uniquely supports fishermen and their families as part of its 175th anniversary celebrations.
Established in Aberdeen in 1842, Mackinnons Solicitors is known for its long-standing expertise in fishing, shipping and marine law, and this year its partners and employees will raise money for The Fishermen’s Mission.

Headquartered on Carden Place in Aberdeen’s West End, Mackinnons also offer legal services for residential property, personal advice, wills and estate planning, commercial property, business and corporate matters, renewables, employment and dispute resolution.

The firm also has offices in Cults and Aboyne and its experienced team of solicitors provide professional, pragmatic, bespoke advice for clients, whether they are multinational corporations, local businesses or individuals.

Keith MacRae, senior partner at Mackinnons, said:

“We are very proud to mark the firm’s 175th anniversary and have several special events planned throughout 2017 for our clients and business contacts to enjoy.

“While it is important to acknowledge our long and successful history, we are also looking confidently to the future with a young and dynamic team which possess an impressive wealth of experience and expertise in their specialist fields.

“We have a long tradition of working with, and supporting The Fishermen’s Mission which provides emergency support and care to fishermen and to their families.

“We have always encouraged our team to participate in fundraising events, whether for one of the firm’s nominated charities or one that they personally feel passionate about and we look forward to working with The Fishermen’s Mission and raising as much as we can for them this year.”

As well as providing legal services, Mackinnons also provide consular services and assistance to Norwegian and Danish citizens and businesses in the north-east of Scotland.

Keith MacRae is the Honorary Norwegian Consul and Danish Vice Consul and Mackinnons property administrator Fiona Stevenson is the Honorary Norwegian Vice-Consul in Aberdeen.

Mr MacRae said:

“Consular work is an extra service for Norwegians and Danes in the north-east of Scotland and is something a little bit different which adds an extra dimension to what we can offer.

“The firm’s worldwide scope has increased our involvement with the offshore, shipping and commercial community over the last 30 years to the extent that the majority of our partners spend most of their time engaged in sea related or commercial legal work.

“Our Marine Law practice is the most experienced in Scotland with a team of Marine Law and Admiralty specialists who routinely deal with all aspects of marine law, providing our clients with focused, practical and commercial solutions.

“Their wealth of expertise allows us to respond swiftly and we also offer a 24/7 emergency response service for clients facing marine and offshore accidents and emergencies. This means we can arrive, advise and assist our clients immediately, when that advice and assistance is most required.

“Alongside that we have developed a very successful private client and property practice which delivers high quality legal services under the leadership of our Partner Pat Gray. We put our clients’ needs at the heart of everything we do and are proud of the longstanding connections we have with so many of those who instruct us.

“While shipping law and private client advice may seem quite different, our principles remain the same – to provide experienced and specialist services to all of our clients. This is echoed by our business law and employment teams.”

For more information about Mackinnons Solicitors and its range of legal and financial services, please visit: www.mackinnons.com

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Mar 062017
 

By Red Fin Hall.

After the most one sided, losing game Aberdeen have had for ages, if not ever, against Hamilton last week, The Dons return to Pittodrie to face Partick Thistle in this cup game.
The visitors are on a good winning run at the moment, whilst Aberdeen have lost only 2 of their last 12 games.

It was inevitable Derek McInnes had to change the starting line up for this tough match as the home side have injury problems, with Mark Reynolds out for a good few weeks, as is Ryan Jack.

But Jonny Hayes makes a return, as does Jayden Stockley. Both started the game, as did Peter Pawlett.

It’s been 96 years since the Glasgow club won the cup, whereas it has been 27 years since it came north to Pittodrie. Too long for a team of Aberdeen’s stature. Hopefully this game, their 400th Scottish Cup game will seem them take a step closer to rectifying this statistic. And having lost only one of their home games in all competitions this season, and with all the home teams getting through, they were the favourites to do so.

The pitch was not in great condition as the referee, Craig Thomson got the game under way.

Partick had most of the possession in the first couple of minutes, with Andrew Considine having to be sharp to turn the ball out for the first corner of the game.

From the forthcoming goal kick, the ball went upfield to Stockley, who has scored against the visitors in the last two games. This time, however, he was sufficiently blocked from getting a third. Within the next minute he was back in defence clearing a corner.

Moments later the Dons were on the attack with a good run from Graeme Shinnie. He found Adam Rooney who tried to curl the ball into the top corner, only for it to be saved by Tomas Cerny, with Pawlett running in. 

Abdul Osman was the first player to be penalised after a deliberate body check on Hayes. 

Thistle were awarded a free kick in the 12th minute, When Kris Doolan went down under pressure from Ash Taylor just shy of the home corner flag. Although it was clear to all that the defender never touched him.

McGinn had as shot for goal in minute 14, but it went more than marginally over. Aberdeen were beginning to get more into the game now, but still needed a bit of calmness to break the deadlock.

With just about a quarter of the game gone, a thunderous shot from Niall McGinn from the edge of the box was turned round for a corner by the keeper.

A wild McGinn effort ended up stuck on the roof of The Merkland Stand

A clever move from McGinn after receiving a pass from Shay Logan saw him put a low ball into the box, with Stockley and Adam Rooney lurking, but it was well cut out by Cerny.

The game was stopped in the 32nd minute when Pawlett and Liam Lindsay went down after a clash of heads. Fortunately both were able to continue.

McGinn was causing problems for the Thistle defence, winning a corner after some good link up play with Stockley. From the resultant kick, Rooney headed just over. A minute later the same player headed just over again after The Dons were awarded a free kick for a deliberate hand ball.

Chris Erskine had his name taken by the ref for high feet when he caught Logan on the head during another physical challenge.

A wild McGinn effort ended up stuck on the roof of The Merkland Stand just a few minutes before half time. Some poor touches from Aberdeen players, on a pretty atrocious surface, which has a greater percentage of mud over grass, doesn’t help the game flow.

Just on 43 minutes, a move from Stockley to McGinn, then a neat ball to Shinnie, Captain in the absence of Reynolds, on the edge of the D, saw him receive the ball with one foot, turn and fire the ball low into the net with the other.

1-0.

With no further scoring in the one minute the referee had added on for stoppages, the half time score remained 1-0.

No changes were made by either team as the second half commenced.

The half was barely a minute old when Pawlett was body checked and a free kick was awarded to the Dons. From the kick, Considine got on the end of the ball, stretching out his foot, but the keeper, who was having a good game, made another brilliant save.

it was the Partick Player who came off worse and had to receive treatment

A fantastic touch by Stockley in the Partick box, to an in-running Pawlett, saw the Aberdeen number 16 shoot into the side netting. The tall English striker went down with an injured shoulder on minute 53, but after some treatment he was able to rejoin the play.

The Home team were fair stepping up to the mark now, to try and put this game to bed, and some excellent work by Pawlett saw Rooney having another effort on goal.

A great longish pass from Logan to Rooney on the right wing, saw the forward try to dribble the ball along the bye-line. A corner was his only reward, and Ash Taylor could only head the ball over the bar from the corner kick.

A great run from the unusually quiet Hayes on he left side, saw his ball eventually reach the ever keen Stockley. He gathered and turned quickly causing Cerny to get down and prevent the relatively soft shot from ending up in the back of the net.

With 59 minutes having passed the visitors made the first substitution when Erskine left the field of play and Ade Azeez joining in.

Pawlett was taken out of the game by Daniel Devine for a free kick to Aberdeen on the 67th minute, but and a yellow card. At the same time Osman left the field after falling awkwardly too. Both players were able to continue though.

Niall Kewon for the visitors was the next to get treatment after bashing into the back of Stockley’s head, and suffering a nose bleed. Partick, playing the hard physical and game, were suffering more than the victims of their tough challenges.

Aberdeen made their first change in the 74th minute when the lively Pawlett was replaced by Anthony O’Connor, perhaps with a view to just seeing the match out and ensuring that their name is in the hat for the semi final draw.

With 13 minutes left, McGinn, despite getting pulled by number 15, managed to get a decent cross over, which Cerny got a hand too.

Thistle made another change, when Kevin Nisbet replaced Doolan.

Loan signing, Ryan Christie replaced McGinn

Aberdeen followed suit, by taking off Rooney, who wasn’t at his best, and the more pacier Miles Storey took over in the second forward role.

He immediately got on the end of a pass from Hayes and earned a throw in to the Dons, which Logan took, just in line with the away 18 yard line.

Osman was finally given a yellow card after cynically chopping down Hayes. From the free kick, a magnificent one, O’Connor headed the ball onto the crossbar. So close to number 2.

With minutes to go, Aberdeen, who got the toughest of the 4 quarter final games, are content to just keep the visitors at arm’s length.

Loan signing, Ryan Christie replaced McGinn with just 2 minutes left to play. This happened during the stoppage for Partick to take a corner that Logan had needlessly conceded. Joe Lewis made crucial save to snatch the ball out of the air to set up another Abereen attack.

Five additional minutes to the game were signified by the fourth official. With only one of them gone, Thistle were awarded a free kick just outside the Aberdeen box, on the left side.

Osman headed just over the bar, much to Aberdeen’s relief. But the away fans, plenty of them, thanks to their club providing free buses for them, must be disappointed that it took so long to have a proper effort on the goal.

Devine was then shown the red card when he bundled Stockley into the hoardings. 

Referee Thomson blew for full time just as Hayes was chasing the ball that was hoofed upfield towards the empty Thistle net, because all the away players, Cerny included, were up in the Dons box trying to get the equaliser.

It certainly wasn’t a pretty game, but AFC march onto the last four of this ancient cup competition, and deservedly so.

Final score 1-0.

Shinnie was awarded Man of the match. His elder brother got the same yesterday for Hibs in their win over Ayr United.

Celtic, after beating St Mirren earlier on today, and The Rangers, who romped to victory over a hapless Hamilton yesterday, made up the other three teams in the draw
which ended up with Celtic v The Rangers and Hibs v Aberdeen. Ties to,be played 22nd April.

Next home game v Motherwell, next Saturday.  11-03-17.

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Mar 022017
 

Aiblins – New Scottish Political Poetry. Reviewed by Duncan Harley

Conceived on the back of the September 2015 post-referendum conference Poetic Politics: Culture and the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, One Year On at the National Library of Scotland, Aiblins is an anthology of recent work by a diverse range of poets all with connections to Scotland.

Co-edited by Katie Ailes and Sarah Paterson the publication presents as a snapshot of the myriad issues concerning Scotland’s poets today.

The poems are written in many styles and address topics as diverse as Indyref and the decaying remnants of Empire.

With a foreword by Professor David Kinloch and an after-word by New Generational poet Robert Crawford, the collection is firmly book-ended. While David reflects on the contribution Scottish poets are making to the “tumultuous, rapidly evolving nature of contemporary Scottish politics” Robert presents the bard’s dilemma: No poet should be obliged to engage with politics. All poets should be free to do so.

Hugh McMillan’s September 2014 neatly summarises the pro-pre-referendum atmosphere:

‘I am the only person here,
this heady day,
And I am balancing the sun
on one finger,
holding everything at bay
for a dream.

And, in what may be post-referendum mode, The Chair by Glasgow playwright Chris Boyland, reflects on:

‘this little girl who’d sat on the chair and
gone around in it, wherever it went.
But no-one could recall her face or,
when we thought about it, who she was
or even if she’d really been there at all.

My personal favourite is by Orcadian Harry Giles: All the verbs from Glasgow City Council’s New Proposed Management Regulating Public Parks … An Elegy. Even that Glasgow Dreamer, Ivor Cutler, couldn’t have made it up.

Intended to reflect on and record tumultuous events which have taken place alongside our borders in recent years, Aiblins is, says contributor Stewart Sanderson,

“Like Scotland, slightly synthetic and in a state of indecision.”

The reader alone will decide whether the collection is truly worthy of the publisher’s claim that it captures the importance of the arts in shaping modern politics.
Aiblins reflects a wide diversity of views expressed in English, Scots and Gaelic but not in Doric.

Indeed, apart from Mandy Macdonald’s Overheard on a bus in Aberdeen, it’s almost as if the North east portion of Scotland has silently drifted off into the North Sea.

Aiblins (130pp) is published by Luath Press at £8.99   ISBN: 9781910745847  

Words © Duncan Harley , Cover image © Luath Press. First published in the February 2017 edition of Leopard Magazine.

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Mar 022017
 

With thanks to Suz Reid.

The growth in dog rescues from Abroad into the UK has rocketed, thank to social media. Heart wrenching pictures of dogs in kill shelters, injured on the streets and being abused fill the pages.

You can’t fail to be moved by the plight of each case.

As part of the EU passports for dogs it is deemed an easy route into the UK between £250 – £400 and your rescue dog is delivered.

Many dogs come from Spain, Romania, Poland and Croatia to name a few. This could all change once Brexit is in place.

According to The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) spokesperson Jennifer Cornish:

“Leaving the EU may affect some movement from current passport methods, until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the European Union and all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force. During this time the government will continue to negotiate, implement and apply EU Legislation’”

There are a number of rescuers involved with charities that appear to have good set up. The money that they receive cover main transport cost and vaccinations. They offer a full assessments before rehoming the dog. Along with backup, which is vital if the dog is not settling in its new environment. 

“The dogs are fully assessed in Romania, but also we do bring some dogs to our experienced foster team if we feel that they need, confidence & to adjust to UK domestic routine & lifestyle this is usually maximum 30 days  Always home foster based not kennels” – Snoopy Rescue UK

Sadly as in the UK with any individual rescuer there is no current legislation to help separate the good rescuer from the bad. Not all stories are real when a dogs is advertised, they may well have more wrong than you can handle. I took on as an urgent foster of a medium mixed breed dog called Robin. He has been brought over by a local lady from a Spanish rescue.

His passport claimed he had Leishmania. It stated he was 5 years old. Sadly not all information you get is accurate.

“A senior vet from Ashgrove Veterinary Centre, along with two vets who had been working with me on his care, clearly noted that he was a senior dog 10+ years old. All the blood works showed he did not have Leishmania.” confirms Suz Reid.

Thankfully, there are genuine rescuers that are available, they are trying to changes the lives of these dogs. They have been discussing Brexit and what impact it could have on the charities in these countries rather that the passport issue.

The bigger concern is changing local government in their own countries and the welfare standards for the animals. Educating local people in caring for the animals and proper health care including neutering programmes. Hundreds of dogs are living in squalor while being beaten and poorly treated in makeshift pounds. A large number are killed.

Dog Rescuer, Wendy Simpson commented:

“I hope that it doesn’t and it can continue as having been to volunteer and help rescuers in some of these countries and seeing first hand the appalling conditions they are kept in and the abuse they have suffered it would break my heart.”

The numbers of dogs entering the UK have steadily increased over the last two years. As the current system stands there is no set number of animals that can be transported by an individual or charity. The main policy for welfare is the animal must stay at the address registered on the Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate for 48 hours. After that, unless a case is highlighted by the police or welfare agencies, no further checks are done.

Jennifer Cornish of APHA added:

“Estimated numbers of dogs brought into the UK in 2016 was 34,017 and 845 mixed cats and dogs’ state”

While we wait on the Brexit outcome, I would urge anyone thinking of offering a home to a rescue dog from abroad to thoroughly check out the rescuer before you commit. Ask questions; do they have legal documents for rehoming the dog? Did you get a receipt and full breakdown of where your donation goes? What back up do they offer including behavioural support.

Don’t just take one person’s word for it, research as you would with any dog you are taking on. And please do weigh up the need in your own rescues too.

Wendy Simpson added:

“Advice I would give to someone who wants to adopt from abroad is to ask all the questions they need to regarding welfare of the dog / puppy until they are able to travel.  To ask for copies of the pet passport and vaccinations and vet receipts particularly if they are involved enough with the rescuer to be paying for the “Pension” and vaccinations.”

Further info on policies for animals coming into the country – https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/guidance-on-importing-and-exporting-live-animals-or-animal-products

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Feb 202017
 

With thanks to John Morrison, Marketing & Communications Manager, Peacock Visual Arts.

Peacock Visual Arts are delighted to present Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana) by Ilana Halperin.

Following the first showing of this work at Fujiya Gallery Hanayamomo in Kyushu, Japan, Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana) will extend to include a new series of prints commissioned by Peacock.

This project marks the first time Halperin has exhibited in Japan and Aberdeen and continues a historical narrative between Kyushu and Aberdeen which began with the 19th Century ‘Scottish Samurai’ merchant Thomas Blake Glover.

For 20 years, Ilana Halperin dreamt about Beppu. In 1995, back in the urban geology of New York City, she found a book on the street about volcanoes.

A chapter on Beppu featured – with photographs of children cooking eggs on the streets, steam coming through every crack in the sidewalk, and a pool as red as blood. In New York, steam vents erupted at every corner, but these were industrial rather than natural.

She imagined a correlation between her home city and Beppu, a place with steaming vents and boiling springs, where daily life was lived and informed by a direct relationship with geothermal phenomena.

In 2014, Halperin went to Beppu for the first time on a research residency with BEPPU PROJECT. Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana) grew out of this time. Beppu is the second most geothermally active site on earth, after Yellowstone, USA. It is a primary location for the potential of geothermal power in Japan. Over the course of a year, new geothermal sculptures slowly formed in the Kannawa hot springs of Beppu.

In September 2016, Halperin returned to Beppu to take the new sculptures out of the water and install a solo exhibition at Fujiya Gallery Hanayamomo, a beautiful listed Meiji Era building. The exhibition coincided with the blossoming of the venue’s 200-year-old Mokusei tree, reflecting philosophical approaches within Halperin’s practice – thinking in time scales longer than the human lifespan.

The exhibition at Peacock Visual Arts will feature new Japanese sculptures, alongside a geothermal sculpture formed in Iceland and new works on paper commissioned by Peacock.

To employ experimental processes, field work, and traditional print-based methods, Halperin is developing a new series of work with Peacock’s Master Printmaker, Michael Waight, utilising Yame Washi paper – the oldest Japanese handmade paper in Kyushu which can last 1,000 years – in combination with hot spring minerals she collected in Beppu.

To pair with the ‘field pigments’ from Japan, Halperin visited Dr Allan Lilly, Principal Soil Scientist at The James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen in January 2017, who introduced her to the National Soils Archive founded in 1934.

A selection of Scottish soil was generously donated to the project, including soil sourced from Slighhouses Farm where James Hutton, the ‘Father of Modern Geology’, farmed and began to formulate radical ideas about the age of the earth and deep geologic time. The nature of materials within these new works reflects the unique processes which formed the geothermal sculptures in Beppu, continuing the narrative of exchange between places intrinsic to this project.

Halperin and Mabon are working with the Glasgow based design studio Graphical House on a limited edition Artist Book that will mark the completion of the project, acting as a printed matter response to this ambitious and culturally diverse project. For more details on the publication visit the project website geologic-intimacy-yu-no-hana.tumblr.com.

Artist’s website: www.geologicnotes.wordpress.com

Ilana Halperin // Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana)
A new geothermal art/science project curated by Naoko Mabon (Aberdeen, Scotland and Beppu, Kyushu, Japan).

Opening: Thursday 30th March, 6-8pm. All welcome!
Exhibition runs:
31st March – 29th April 2017
Location:
Peacock Visual Arts

Curator’s tour: 22nd April 2017, 3pm

Artist’s Talk: Saturday 1st April 2017, 3.00-4.30pm
Ilana Halperin will be in conversation with Professor Tim Ingold from the Anthropology Department of the University of Aberdeen and Peacock Visual Arts’ Director Nuno Sacramento about her exhibition. This is a free event but space is limited so please book by clicking the blue button on the link below and filling out the booking form:

Ilana Halperin // Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana)

Image: Courtesy of the artist, Patricia Fleming Projects and WAGON

Photography: Sachiyo Ando

Feb 102017
 

With thanks to Andrew Linklater, Director of Buckny Hydro

The new regime of business rates in Scotland has marked out hydropower for “special punishment”, threatening to end independent development of schemes north of the border, Scottish industry representatives at Alba Energy have warned.

Small hydro-businesses now face an increase in rates of up to 650%, with bills on some sites rising to as much as a quarter of their total turnover.
With some operators facing insolvency, others have been left to calculate the cost of a future in which renewable energy ceases to be financially sustainable.

An average hydro scheme such as the 500kW Buckny Hydro in Perthshire has seen its draft valuation rise from £32,000 to £93,000, a sum that represents 29% of its overall turnover.

The worst hit schemes have seen increases up to seven times their original value, with rateable valuations of up to 50% of turnover. The 1.9MW Ederline scheme on the banks of Loch Awe had a previous valuation of £98,000, now revised upwards to £405,000.

Many in the hydro industry fear that the Scottish Government has abandoned its green agenda. In 2015, while attacking the UK Government for removing subsidies for renewable energy, SNP ministers removed their own system of support. Alba Energy, representing hydro operators in Scotland, accepted the loss of rates relief and argued that the industry should pay its fair share, in line with other businesses.

What Alba says it cannot accept, however, is the “sudden, exponential increase” in valuations now being applied to hydro by assessors – out of all proportion to the economic realities of these sites. While many businesses in Scotland have suffered relative increases, hydro operators are preparing for bills to double, treble, or quadruple.

Martin Foster, Chairman of Alba Energy, said:

“We are not seeking special treatment. We want to know why we have been singled out for special punishment. Hydro is the original renewable energy source: the cleanest, most efficient, least obtrusive and longest-lasting. Yet the Scottish Government has facilitated a rates regime that will cripple the independent hydro industry it once claimed to support – while leaving the big energy companies unaffected.”

Alex Linklater, director of Buckny Hydro, said:

“The new rates regime contradicts the Scottish Government’s own energy strategy. Hydropower is not merely crucial to this strategy; it has brought significant growth to some of our remotest rural communities. As independent operators find themselves threatened with punitive levels of  taxation, we are seeking Government support, until a longer term solution is agreed.

“All Alba is asking for is an equitable model of valuation, one that will allow our industry to remain financially viable, while paying its fair share of rates.”

Scottish Assessors responsible for the revaluation have refused to publish a clear account of the method they are using to calculate the new valuations for hydro. Alba is calling on the SNP Government to rectify an indefensible lack of transparency in the light of “extreme perversities” resulting from the assessors’ system.

Alba will be assisting members to pursue formal appeals against valuations for hydros which have been hit by “off the scale” increases. But Government attempts to deflect criticism onto the appeals system, administered by the independent assessors and funded by local authorities, are being met with skepticism.

An appeal against the Tayside Valuation Board, brought in 2012 (which argued that the assessor had, even then, applied a flawed approach to small hydro) is still awaiting a second determination by the Tayside Appeals Committee – after nearly five years.

For further information contact Martin Foster at Alba Energy, pelton242@icloud.com, 07500 902531, or Alex Linklater, alexlinklater@mac.com, 07956 303 580

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