Plans approved for Isle of Wiay

It provided refuge for the likes of Hercules the Bear and even Bonnie Prince Charlie and now the island of Wiay off Benbecula could have residents once again.

Councillors last month voted to approve a planning application for a cottage ruin on the uninhabited island to be renovated and made into a two bedroom lodge - despite a recommendation of refusal by planning officers.

As an unoccupied island, Wiay is classed as a Remote Area under the council’s current policy- which are identified as largely undeveloped and important areas for their natural attributes where residential developments should not be permitted - nevertheless councillors decided its potential benefit to the economy was more important.

The plan was approved back in 2008 under a previous Development Plan and it is proposed to use the existing stone walls and to re-roof the building. It would be used by the shooting tenant or for holiday lets.

Several councillors spoke in support of the plan for Wiay.

Cllr Iain Macaulay said: “Surely it’s in the public interest as this is going to improve the economy of the area.”

Cllr Zena Stewart said it made sense as a building had already been there before.

An amendment to approve the application was put forward by Cllr Stewart and seconded by Cllr Rae Mackenzie which was carried in an vote of seven to five.

The island has two claims to fame in that it was said to have provided refuge to Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746 after the Battle of Culloden where he hid in a cave for several days.

It was also a brief home for the famous bear Hercules who went missing on Benbecula in 1980 while filming a TV advert. His collar was found on the island not long before he was found in North Uist.