Friday, 23 August 2013

News Direct 19th - 23rd August 2013

This is the news from this week.


Royal Visit to Argentina

It was announced this week that the Princess Royal is to visit Argentina next month.

She will undertake what is thought to be the first official engagement by a senior member of the Royal family in the South American country for 14 years since Prince Charles visited Argentina in 1999. The visit to Buenos Aires next month comes amid continuing tensions over the Falkland Islands and also the row between Gibraltar and Spain.

The Princess Royal is making the visit from the 6th September as a member of the International Olympic Committee. She will attend the 125th International Olympic Committee Session, which will decide the venue for the 2020 Games.

The Daily Express reported on Monday that it is feared that the visit will be subject to anti-British protests however the paper quotes a royal source saying that the Princess was content with security arrangements.


Castro Labels Cameron Dumb

 The Argentine Ambassador to London Alicia Castro described Prime Minister David Cameron as ‘foolish, dumb and completely inefficient’.

The Ambassador made the comments during a speech to the Argentine senate’s Foreign Affairs commission. She labelled Mr Cameron dumb for criticising Pope Francis’s stance on the Falkland Islands.

MPs today called on her to apologise for the comments, which Downing Street dismissed. Conservative MP Dominic Raab said Mrs Castro should apologise for her crass outburst if she wants anyone in Britain to listen to her about anything ever again.

The Argentine Embassy in London later released a statement saying that Ms Castro's comments were "taken out of context" and that she apologised for any offence. Her words, the embassy said, "were not meant as a personal affront to Mr Cameron."

Kirchner Claims Nuclear

 Argentine President Cristina Kirchner has again, during an anti-nuclear weapon conference in Buenos Aires, alleged that the UK is sending nuclear submarines to the Falklands.

Kirchner also called on the world powers to demand a “South Atlantic without nuclear weapons”.

The British embassy in Buenos Aires was quick to reply and said that “the allegations that the UK is militarizing the region are totally false and that the defence stance had not changed in years. The British Embassy said that the defence of the Islands represents 0.5% of the total UK defence budget and less than 0.1% of total government spending.


CPA in South Africa

 MLAs Roger Edwards and Barry Elsby are due to attend a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting to be held in South Africa next week. The conference will provide opportunities to highlight Falklands issues, according to MLA Edwards.



Local News

Military Shooting Incident

 A military spokesman has confirmed early this week that a shooting incident has taken place involving a member of the Armed Forces. A soldier from Balaklava Company, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland sustained a single gunshot wound to his leg on Monday. The soldier has spoken to his family.

The soldier was moved by helicopter to King Edward Memorial Hospital in Stanley where he underwent a minor procedure to clean out the wound. He is stable and well and no further medical treatment is planned.

 All live firing on Second Creek Ranges were cancelled and the incident is currently being investigated.


Commonwealth Baton Unveiled

The baton which will travel through the Commonwealth ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games this week was revealed to the public for the first time.

The hand-crafted Baton made of titanium, wood and granite lies at the heart of the Queen’s Baton Relay, a well-loved tradition of the Commonwealth Games which seeks to unite the two billion citizens of the Commonwealth in a celebration of sport.

 It will carry, display and illuminate a personal message from Her Majesty The Queen calling the athletes of the Commonwealth to Glasgow for the start of the Games.

The Baton’s journey officially begins on the 9th October at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace when the Queen places her message within the Baton. The Baton then journeys across the Commonwealth - including all the Home Nations and territories - before arriving back in Scotland in June next year.

 Over 288 days the Baton will travel more than a hundred thousand miles, visiting all 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth.

 It is currently anticipated that the baton will visit the Falklands in February or March next year.

Premier Oil Update

Premier Oil have provided an operational update on its work in the North Falkland basin with the company saying that it will take a final investment decision at the end of next year.


SB:    Announcing its half yearly results, Premier said that a considerable amount of work has been undertaken on the Sea Lion project in the first six months of this year. A subsea development tied back to a floating production, storage and off-take vessel has been confirmed as a viable scheme and a phased drilling programme selected. Initial development will start with the major part of Sea Lion in the north followed by a subsequent southern development which will access the remaining part of Sea Lion and other discoveries. Premier says it is targeting project sanction for the end of next year and that progress has been made in securing a rig for an exploration campaign starting next year.
A statement from the Falkland Islands Government released today says that the Government notes the update provided by Premier Oil. The statement says that the Falkland Islands Government supports the proposed phased development concept which will help mitigate local infrastructure and capacity pressures during peak development activity.

The news emerges following a comprehensive meeting to discuss the Sea Lion project and the progress of Premier’s offshore exploration and development activity in the Falkland Islands.

The Director of Mineral Resources Stephen Luxton says that Premier continues to advance the Sea Lion development concept with a target for project sanction and gaining FIG approval towards the end of 2014. Mr Luxton says that the proposed phased development concept has been discussed extensively with FIG and its advisers. The Director of Mineral Resources says that they are confident that it appears to be the optimum solution to deliver a successful project and that maximum economic recovery of offshore resources remains FIG’s guiding policy.

The Director of Mineral Resources attended a regular Sea Lion project on the 15th and 16th August in London.

Also shares in Rockhopper Exploration dropped by almost 10% as it announced a full-year loss of $75 million due, the company says, to a $122 million tax bill from the Falkland Islands Government.

Stacy Bragger reported.


SB:    The oil explorer made a pre-tax profit of $47 million for the year ended 31st March, up from a loss of $53 million in the previous year, but tax on its Sea Lion farm-out wiped out this profit.

Rockhopper says that it is in ongoing discussion with the Falkland Islands Government over the total amount of tax to be paid.

Rockhopper chairman Pierre Jungels says that Rockhopper had $298 million of resources available at year end, which puts the group into a very strong position to continue playing a lead role in the further exploration of the north Falkland basin.



Public Jetty Project

At a public meeting, MLA Gavin Short stated that he expected that the project to renovate the public jetty would exceed its original budget. The project has experienced delays due to technical issues.

Noise Nuisance

 The first meeting of the working group looking at the issue of noise nuisance met for the first time recently. The working group was formed after concerns were expressed at the Police Committee about late night noise disturbing some homes in Stanley.

 Speaking at this week’s public meeting, MLA Gavin Short said the proposals of the working group will be considered at a future meeting of Executive Council.


Last Legislative Assembly

 The last meeting of the current Legislative Assembly was held on Thursday morning. At the meeting, a motion was passed that the response of Executive Council on the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the report from Mazars on review of recruitment and selection costs between the financial years 2006/07 and 2010/11 be accepted. The Supplementary Appropriation 2012/13 Number 3 Bill and the Electoral Amendment Bill were passed as well.

Funding Requested, Funding Granted

 Approval was given at a meeting of the Standing Finance Committee to a request for additional funding for the Environmental Planning Department to cover the cost of interim staffing requirements that have arisen due to unforeseen staff changes and recruitment delays.

 A report to the Committee by the Head of Policy said that the two key positions of Head of Environmental Planning and Building Adviser would shortly fall vacant. Due to unforeseen circumstances neither post will be filled immediately – in one case due to an unexpected resignation and the other due to an applicant declining to take up the offer of employment five weeks after having accepted the position.

It was felt that with upcoming major projects such as temporary port facilities and new housing developments it is imperative that short-term cover is provided to avoid a gap in service.

Additional funds of £19,550 was approved to cover the costs of engaging two locums to cover the posts The total estimated cost of the locum cover is £80,000.


School News


 The full GCSE results for students at the Community School were announced on Thursday. Head Teacher Martin Winward says he was very pleased that the students have attained so well this year and both individual performance and the cohort as a whole have much to be proud of.

94.74% of students gained 5A*-G grades. The percentage of students scoring 5 or more A*-D grades including Mathematics and English this year was 73.68%. Mr Winward says that those attaining 5+ A*-C grades has risen from 43.5% in 2012 to 63.16%. In addition, those students achieving 5+ A*-C including English and Mathematics rose from 34.8% in 2012 to 57.89% this year. Several students attained the highest merit of A* which is awarded for

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