Cars could be banned from Edinburgh’s George Street

Final proposed concept designs for the transformation of Edinburgh’s historic George Street have been unveiled.

Edinburgh City Council via E-mail

Cars could be banned from one of the busiest thoroughfares in Edinburgh as part of radical transformation plans to open up the space for pedestrians, bikes, and outdoor seating areas.

George Street, which lies parallel to Princes Street and runs from St Andrew Square to Charlotte Square, would be largely car-free if the project is given the go-ahead.

The plans say the street will be given a ‘European boulevard feel’ to better accentuate the A-listed buildings that adorn it.

Bus stops will be located at either end of the city centre, and car parking will remain for blue badge holders and for loading access for businesses.

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The visualisation also includes widened pavements, landscaped spaces for play and relaxation, and a cycling thoroughfare.

It is intended to begin construction work on the scheme in 2023, with anticipated completion in 2025.

Lesley Macinnes, convener of the council’s transport committee, and SNP councillor for Liberton and Gilmerton, said: “These animated concept designs offer an exciting glimpse into what George Street and the surrounding area could look like in 2025 – a welcoming, relaxing and unique space, where people will want to spend time, to visit local shops, cafes and restaurants and to travel to and through the city centre.”

A detailed artist’s impressions and a 3D fly-through have been released to illustrate how the street and surrounding area within the UNESCO World Heritage Site could look under the George Street and First New Town Public Realm Improvements Project.

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The project is expected to cost £32m, with £20m from Transport Scotland via Sustrans.

Edinburgh City Council first agreed to increase pedestrian space in the city centre in 2013 and, beginning in 2014, a new layout was trialled for 18 months on George Street.

Hanover Street junction

Since then design principles have been developed and the project was widened to include the interconnecting Castle, Frederick and Hanover Streets and the junctions with Charlotte and St Andrew Squares.

A spokesperson for Edinburgh City Council said: “Improvements are being delivered as part of a coordinated package of projects under Edinburgh City Centre Transformation.

“This includes the forthcoming Meadows to George Street and City Centre West to East Link schemes, which will transform walking, wheeling and cycling routes, and connections across the city centre.

“These schemes also support the City Mobility Plan, a ten-year strategy to overhaul transport and mobility in the capital to deliver a sustainable, net-zero carbon and inclusive future.”

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Edinburgh City Council said key considerations for the project have been putting people first, protecting the area’s heritage, promoting the environment and biodiversity, and providing accessible transport links.

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Further consultation with key stakeholders is set to take place over the next month; the outcome of which will inform a final design proposal, set to be brought before the council’s transport and environment committee in April.

The required statutory processes under which the scheme will be constructed would then begin in the summer.

Simon Strain, Interim Head of Infrastructure Delivery for Sustrans Scotland said: “George Street is one of the most vibrant and distinctive shopping streets in Scotland.

“We are pleased to be supporting the increased space for walking, wheeling and cycling that this project will create, upgrading one of the city’s key travel routes.

“The new spaces for sitting and relaxing provide both visitors and residents with comfortable spaces where they can rest and enjoy the World Heritage Site.”

Police dog ‘found Emma Fauld’s body in remote forest’

Prosecutors allege Ross Willox, 41, murdered Emma Faulds, 39, at Fairfield Park in Monkton, Ayrshire, in 2019.

Police Scotland
Murder trial: Emma Faulds was found dead in June 2019.

A police officer told a murder trial how he found the body of missing 39-year-old Emma Faulds in a remote forest area.

Detective constable Ben Pacholek was giving evidence at the trial of Ross Willox who denies murdering Ms Faulds at his home at Fairfield Park, Monkton, Ayrshire, on April 28, 2019, by means unknown.

Prosecutors allege 41-year-old Willox dumped the youth worker’s naked body in Glentrool Forest, Dumfriesshire.

Dog handler DC Pacholek was part of a massive police operation that was involved in searching forest areas in Dumfriesshire for Emma who was reported missing on April 30, 2019.

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DC Pacholek said his dog Bear, who was specially trained to find dead bodies, began barking which indicated he had found something.

He took Bear back to the police van and then returned to the spot to investigate further after putting on sterile gloves.

Mr Kearney said: “What did you see”, and the officer replied: “A right foot.”

DC Pacholek said: “I lifted the vegetation to see if it was a body part or torso. I could see the lower portion of a naked body.”

Mr Kearney asked: “You had been searching for many days what did you think you and Bear had achieved,” and the officer, in a voice breaking with emotion, replied: “That we had done what we set out to do and we found her.”

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The prosecutor then said: “Emma Faulds,” and the police officer agreed.

The court heard that DC Pacholek reported the find to his superior officer and the site was cordoned off.

He and Bear joined the search on May 21, 2019 and by June 12, 2019 he estimated that he they had walked over 200 miles.

When asked by prosecutor Paul Kearney why that area in Glentrool Forest had been chosen to search DC Pacholek replied: “The accused had some involvement in working on a wind farm nearby.”

Mr Kearney said: “It was known that Ross Willox had previously worked on wind farms in the Galloway area,” and he replied: “Yes.”

The prosecutor then said: “Were the searches intelligence led and the policeman replied: “Absolutely.”

Defence QC Donald Findlay asked the officer: “Is there a wind farm anywhere near the deposition site,” and he replied: “No.”

When asked where the nearest wind farm to the stop where Emma’s body was found, he replied: “Less than ten miles away perhaps.”

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Willox denies all the charges against him.

The trial before judge Lord Mulholland continues.


Bay City Rollers star Les McKeown dies suddenly aged 65

The Edinburgh-born singer died suddenly at his home on Tuesday.

Jane Barlow via PA Ready
Bay City Rollers: Les McKeown has died suddenly at home.

Singer Les McKeown of Bay City Rollers fame has died aged 65.

The Edinburgh-born star’s wife and daughter told fans he died suddenly at his home on Tuesday.

In a statement released on his Facebook page on Thursday, his family wrote: “It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our beloved husband and father Leslie Richard McKeown.

“Leslie died suddenly at home on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. We are currently making arrangements for his funeral.

Michael Ochs via Getty Images
The Bay City Rollers in 1978.
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“We thank you and ask for privacy after the shock of our profound loss. Thank you. Keiko and Jubei McKeown.”

He was the lead singer of the tartan-clad pop-band during their most successful era in the mid-70s when they found worldwide fame with hits such as Shang-A-Lang and Saturday Night.

After hearing the news, Bay City Rollers guitarist Stuart ‘Woody’ Wood told the Daily Record: “I am upset and shocked to hear this very sad news.

SWNS via SWNS

“Les and I had our differences over the years but even though we had disagreements we are sending our heartfelt condolences to Peko wife and his son Jubie and all the Bay City Rollers Fans. It’s a sad day in Bay City Roller history.

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“He was a great performer on stage and he was full of energy. I was roadying when Les first came into the band and I saw his first gig when he took over from Nobby Clark and injected new life into the band.”

Scottish songwriter John McLaughlin wrote: “Devastated that Les McKeown, the iconic frontman of the #BayCityRollers has sadly passed away.

“Les became a a good friend over the last few years and was truly great fun to be around. I will miss him. My thoughts are with Peko and the family at this sad time.”

The Rollers had a massive teen following and sold more than 100 million records, and in the press were heralded as “biggest group since the Beatles”.

The news comes three-years after the death of bandmate Alan Longmuir who died aged 70 in the summer of 2018.

Alongside McKeown and Longmuir, the classic line-up also included guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart Wood, with Longmuir’s younger brother Derek on drums.

McKeown, Longmuir and Wood reunited for a comeback tour in 2015 with tickets selling out in minutes.


Rangers fail in appeal over Covid-19 rule-breakers

A disciplinary panel has dismissed the Ibrox club's appeal after a lengthy hearing.

Teenage defender Nathan Patterson was among the players who broke the rules.

Rangers have failed in their appeal against bans imposed on five players who broke Covid-19 regulations, with a disciplinary panel upholding the original six-game suspensions.

First-team trio Bongani Zungu, Nathan Patterson and Calvin Bassey, plus academy youngsters Brian Kinnear and Dapo Mebude, who is on loan at Queen of the South, were all charged with flouting lockdown regulations in February.

An independent disciplinary panel handed down six-game bans for each player, with four games to be served immediately and two matches suspended.

Rangers filed an appeal that was heard by a new panel. The governing body announced on Thursday that the appeals had been dismissed and the original sanctions re-imposed.

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A brief statement on the Rangers website read: “Rangers notes the outcome of today’s appeal.

“We remain disappointed in the result. Furthermore, we believe this outcome highlights the inconsistency of decision making in the Scottish FA’s disciplinary process.

“We are cognisant that the approach taken by other football associations across Europe has no resemblance to that of the Scottish FA. We urge the Scottish FA to be open minded to learn from other football authorities.”

Rangers accepted seven-game bans handed to attacker Jordan Jones and defender George Edmundson by the SFA for Covid-19 related breaches last year but manager Steven Gerrard insisted that the details of the two cases were different.

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Speaking as Rangers confirmed they would appeal the punishment, the Ibrox manager said: “I think everyone assumes because of what happened to Jordan Jones and George Edmundson that everything is the same, which isn’t the case.

“We think it’s a little bit out of sync in terms of what went on.

“We don’t think everything is being taken into consideration, when you’re talking about the boys in terms of of their age and how damaging it can be for them in their careers moving forward now.

“You’re talking about one of the brightest prospects ever, in terms of right-back. This kid’s going to play for Scotland and all of a sudden the SFA want to ban him for that long. I don’t get it but we’ll see what happens moving forward.”

Rangers, who have won their first Scottish Premiership title in ten years, have three league fixtures remaining, and play in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals against St Johnstone this weekend.


Public warned over dangerous attempts to ‘rescue’ wildlife

Charity says animals are often taken away from their mothers after people wrongly assume they've been abandoned.

STV News

An animal welfare charity has reminded the public not to attempt to ‘rescue’ wildlife as coronavirus restrictions ease across Scotland.

The Scottish SPCA warned all to often animals are brought to their centres through good intentions because a passer-by wrongly assume they’ve been abandoned.

A litter of fox cubs is currently among 20 young animals being cared for at the National Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Staff say they should be with their mother in the wild but were brought to the charity by a well-meaning member of the public who mistakenly thought they’d been left for good.

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Steven Gray, Wildlife manager Scottish SPCA said: “Often mothers leave cubs while they’re moving between nests.”

The animal welfare charity sees a large increase in reports of wildlife in need every Spring.

The Fishcross facility is only designed to take up to 6000 animals a year, in 2019 it had over 11,000.

With more people expected to holiday in the Scottish countryside due to the easing of restrictions, there’s a concern this year could be their busiest ever.

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Mr Gray added: “What you should do if in doubt is to wait and watch the animals first and if you are concerned, to call the Scottish SPCA animal helpline first, by limiting the number animals brought here, it’s hoped staff can devote their time to those in genuine need.”


Police ‘told of death plot against Trainspotting actor’

Bradley Welsh, 48, was fatally shot at his flat in the west end of Edinburgh in 2019.

Ross Parker via SNS Group
Murder trial: Bradley Welsh was fatally shot in 2019.

Police were warned of plans to murder a man who appeared in the Trainspotting sequel T2 in the month before his death, a court has heard.

Bradley Welsh, 48, was fatally shot at his flat in the west end of Edinburgh on April 17, 2019.

Sean Orman, 30, has pleaded not guilty to all 15 charges against him, including murder, attempted murder, firearms and drugs offences, and is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Dean White told the court in evidence on Thursday that he had seen the accused at his brother Robert’s home in Duddingston Row with a man known as Peem in March 2019. He said they were speaking about carrying out an attack on a man and his son in the Oxgangs area for money.

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He said the accused then claimed he was due to murder Mr Welsh, who ran a boxing gym, for £10,000, which prompted the witness to alert Police Scotland around March 18.

Mr White said: “He brought a wad of cash out and it was like thousands and he had told us that he had seriously assaulted someone in Oxgangs and the guy that he’d assaulted got in the way and that he seriously assaulted his son as well.”

The witness then told the court Orman had claimed to have been paid by Dode Baigrie to carry out the attack.

Mr White added: “He said that his next hit he was getting £10,000 to kill Bradley Welsh.

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“I went to the police and reported this before it happened.”

The 49-year-old added he had seen Orman at his brother’s property on several subsequent occasions.

He said the accused had turned up there with an “old-styled” shotgun which he was showing off and misfired into the floor of the property.

Mr White said he then told officers about the incident and that they may be able to recover a bullet.

Richard Goddard QC, advocate depute, asked how he had felt about the events in his brother’s property.

Mr White said: “Extremely nervous and I went straight to the police station and told them exactly what happened in my brother’s house.

“I told them what their plans were, that they were going to get Bradley Welsh and this was a month before the guy got murdered.”

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The court has previously heard of alleged attacks on David McMillan, 50, and his son David, 25, at their home at Pitcairn Grove, Edinburgh, on March 13.

Orman is also accused of driving at speeds up to 123mph on the Edinburgh bypass on April 22 2019 – where the limit is 70mph – and failing to stop for uniformed police officers.

He faces an accusation of having driven on the opposing side of the carriageway of Clovenstone Road “in excess of 92mph”, where the limit is 30mph.

Another charge alleges he drove without insurance and was in possession of the class A drug diamorphine and class C drug diazepam.

The trial, before judge Lord Beckett, continues.


Coronavirus: Three more deaths as cases rise by 231 overnight

The Scottish Government also confirmed that 2,755,175 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Peter-gamal via Pixabay
Coronavirus: Daily figures in Scotland.

A further three people have died in Scotland after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

A total of 231 new cases have been recorded with a daily test positivity rate of 1.1% down from 1.3% on Wednesday.

The death toll of those who tested positive currently stands at 7646, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is now more than 10,000.

A total of 93 people are in hospital across the country with 12 in intensive care.

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A total of 2,755,175 people have received the first dose of the Covid vaccination and 898,231 have received their second dose.

On Wednesday, the NRS revealed the number of weekly deaths linked to coronavirus were at their lowest level since early October.

Pete Whitehouse, director of Statistical Services, said: “This week shows another welcome reduction in the number of weekly deaths, but with over 10,000 people in Scotland dying with this virus, these figures represent heartbreak and loss for families across the country.

“Deaths from all causes are broadly in line with the five-year average. Twenty-four excess deaths were registered this week, which was 2% above the average for this time of year.”


World’s most powerful tidal turbine launches in Dundee

The 680 tonne structure will harness the strong tidal current to generate enough energy to power up to 2000 homes.

Orbital Marine Power via Orbital Marine Power

The world’s most powerful tidal turbine has been launched in Dundee.

The 680-tonne structure is being towed to Orkney where it will harness the strong tidal current to generate enough energy to power up to 2000 homes.

The 2MW tidal turbine, the Orbital O2, was transferred from the quayside in Dundee into the River Tay using a submersible barge.

Speaking of the launch, Orbital’s CEO, Andrew Scott, said: “This is a huge milestone for Orbital; the O2 is a remarkable example of British cleantech innovation and the build we have completed here is an inspiring display of what a UK supply chain can achieve if given the opportunity – even under the extraordinary pressures of a pandemic.”

Orbital Marine Power via Orbital Marine Power
It will harness the strong tidal current to generate enough energy to power up to 2000 homes.
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The O2 turbine started construction in the second half of 2019 and reflects approximately 80% UK supply content.

From Scottish steel work from Motherwell, which was fabricated in Cupar through to anchors from Wales and blades from the south of England; the build of the O2 is estimated to have supported over 80 jobs within the UK economy.

The launch of the O2 marks the first vessel launch from Dundee since ship building ended over forty years ago.

O2 has the ability to generate enough clean, predictable electricity to meet the demand of around 2000 UK homes and offset approximately 2200 tonnes of CO2 production per year.

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Chris Smith, MD of TEXO Group commented: “The O2 programme has given us a significant opportunity to demonstrate our multi-disciplinary capabilities, and our proactive approach to working collaboratively with clients.

“We firmly believe that the transition to a net zero environment will deliver a range of opportunities to the UK’s engineering and fabrication sectors and we are very proud to see Orbital’s O2 turbine launched today.”

Also speaking of the launch, John Alexander, Leader of Dundee City Council said: “I’m very proud of the role that Dundee has played in helping to deliver this pioneering tidal turbine and congratulate the team at Orbital Marine and TEXO for their incredible efforts during the hardest year in recent memory.

Orbital Marine Power via Orbital Marine Power
The turbine transferred from the quayside in Dundee into the River Tay using a submersible barge.

“Orbital Marine’s incredible piece of engineering will play a pivotal role in showcasing this technology and helping Scotland to achieve its ambition in tackling the climate emergency, further propelling Dundee into a city which is transforming itself into a hub for renewables and innovation.”

The O2 turbine has a 74m long hull structure with twin 1MW power generating nacelles at the end of retractable leg structures designed to give low-cost access to all major components for through life servicing. 10m blades give the O2 more than 600m2 of swept area to capture flowing tidal energy.

The floating structure is held on station with a four-point mooring system where each mooring chain has the capacity to lift more than 50 double decker buses.

The O2 has been designed so that installation of the turbine, and all its associated moorings, can be carried out by low-cost work vessels and servicing can be carried out by RIB vessels – minimising downtime and lowering construction and operational costs.

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Electricity is transferred from the turbine via a dynamic cable to the seabed and a static cable along the seabed to the local onshore electricity network.

It’s hoped this turbine will be the first of many to be manufactured in Scotland and a potential catalyst to export the technology around the world.


Sarwar hails Labour manifesto as ‘route map to better times’

Sarwar said he wants to ensure the SNP’s delayed pledge for 1140 hours of free childcare is delivered this year.

Fraser Bremner via Getty Images
Sarwar: Launching Holyrood manifesto.

Building a recovery from Covid must be the next Scottish Parliament’s “collective national mission”, Anas Sarwar said as he launched Labour’s manifesto for the Holyrood election.

He said the policy document is not just a party manifesto, but a “recovery plan for our country”.

Sarwar, who has been Scottish Labour leader for less than two months, said he is “calling time on the old politics” and its focus on the constitution and independence.

Instead, he said he proposes a “route map back to stronger and better times for our country”.

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Labour has set out “five distinct recovery plans” covering jobs, the NHS, education, the climate, and communities.

To help children who have seen their education disrupted by school closures during the pandemic, Labour wants a personalised plan to be drawn up for every youngster, based on both an education and mental health assessment.

For younger children, the party proposes to offer 50 hours a week free early years education.

The party also plans to abolish council tax and replace it with a “fairer alternative based on property values and ability to pay”.

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Sarwar has ruled out raising income tax for Scots earning less than £100,000 a year.

His party believes its proposals can be paid for with cash coming to Scotland to help deal with the pandemic – which should be £4.2bn next year – and the borrowing powers the Scottish Government already has.

Speaking as he launched the manifesto, Sarwar stressed the focus for Scotland must be on rebuilding in the wake of the virus – not on arguments over independence.

He said: “This isn’t an ordinary type of election, it is a pandemic election and too many of the other politicians and too many of the other political parties want to take us back to the old arguments.

“Well today I’m calling time on the old politics.

“I don’t want us to come through that collective trauma of Covid and go back to those old arguments.

“Imagine what we could achieve if we focused on what unites us a country, not what divides us.

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“Imagine what we could achieve if we put aside those things we disagree on and focused on the things we agree on.

“Imagine if we obsessed about education in the next Parliament, imagine if we obsessed about the NHS in the next Parliament, imagine if we obsessed about jobs and economy in the next Parliament, imagine if we obsessed about eradicating child poverty, imagine if we obsessed about challenging the climate emergency. Just imagine the kind of Scotland we could build together.

“I want to work with you, my fellow Scots, so we can come through this crisis and build a stronger, fairer, more equal, more just, greener Scotland together.

“That’s why this recovery plan’s focus is on a jobs recovery, an NHS recovery, an education recovery, a communities recovery and a climate recovery.

“This isn’t a manifesto, this is a route map back to stronger and better times for our country.”

He urged voters to support Labour in both the constituency and regional list sections of the ballot, saying the list vote will be crucial in determining the priorities of the next Parliament.

Rather than having “politicians both from the SNP and the Tories who want to play up the division in our country for their own interest, not in the national interest”, Sarwar insisted the recovery from the pandemic “must be our collective national mission”.

He continued: “Covid has changed the world, Covid has changed Scotland, and the idea that we shouldn’t have to change our politics too or change the way we behave with each other is simply not acceptable.

“I want to change our politics. I didn’t come into this to have more of the same.

“I’m not standing in this election campaign because I want to fight with other politicians, I’m standing in this campaign because I want to change the country I love.”

Coronavirus passports to be ready ‘as soon as possible’

Scheme would enable UK residents travelling overseas to prove they have been vaccinated or recently tested.

encrier via IStock
Coronavirus passports could be made available when international leisure travel resumes.

Coronavirus passports could be available when international leisure travel resumes, the Department for Transport (DfT) has indicated.

The UK Government is working on a scheme enabling UK residents travelling overseas to prove to officials at their destination that they have been vaccinated or recently tested.

Foreign holidays could be permitted for people living in England from May 17 under Boris Johnson’s road map for easing pandemic restrictions.

However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there are no confirmed dates or plans yet for international travel from Scotland.

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A DfT spokeswoman said: “We are working on a solution to enable residents to prove their Covid-19 status, including vaccination status, to other countries on the outbound leg.

“We are working on this as a priority and intend to have the solution ready as soon as possible.”

The Daily Telegraph reported that a Government official told travel industry leaders in the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group: “We aim to give people the ability to prove their vaccine status by the time international travel restarts where other countries require it.”

Coronavirus passports, also known as health certificates, would initially only be available for people travelling abroad, and a wider scheme for domestic use is unlikely to be ready by next month, according to the newspaper.

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Spain’s tourism minister said the country is “desperate to welcome” UK visitors this summer.

Fernando Valdes told Sky News: “I think we will be ready here in Spain. We also think that the vaccination scheme in the UK is going pretty well, so hopefully we’ll be seeing this summer the restart of holidays.”

He added that certificates enabling holidaymakers to prove they have been vaccinated or recently tested are “going to help us”.

But the Transport Select Committee warned that the restart of international travel is in jeopardy with “vague and costly” proposals not enough to reboot the aviation and tourism sectors.

It said a report produced by the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce gave “insufficient” detail to allow businesses and travellers to prepare for the safe resumption of holidays on May 17.

It added that testing requirements could be “disproportionate to the risk” and may add £500 to the cost of a family of four visiting the “safest” parts of the globe where vaccine rollout is comparable to the UK.

Huw Merriman, who chairs the committee, said: “The aviation and travel sectors were crying out for a functional report, setting out clear rules and offering certainty. This is not it.”

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