Edinburgh Airport in part-closure amid ‘zero’ demand

The airport is implementing a 'consolidation plan' to stay operational during the outbreak.

Edinburgh Airport: Systems will be powered down while some parts of the airport will close. STV
Edinburgh Airport: Systems will be powered down while some parts of the airport will close.

Edinburgh Airport has announced a partial closure after admitting it expects “close to zero” passenger demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The airport said it has a “consolidation plan” so it is ready to return to full service whenever the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

It comes after the Foreign Office advised Britons to avoid travel abroad for at least 30 days, with similar travel bans enforced around the world.

Airlines have been dramatically reducing their schedules to and from Scotland as the outbreak has developed.

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Edinburgh Airport said there had only been a small drop in passengers in February with 935,455 passengers passing through the airport, which was just 0.4% behind the figuresFebruary 2019.

However, it is predicting “a period of zero or close to zero passenger demand”.

Car park: Edinburgh Airport anticipates ‘close to zero’ demand.

The airport plans on centralising its services, closing down parts of the site, deferring spending on some capital projects and powering down the baggage system to save money on energy bills.

It will also power down heating and cooling systems in the parts of the airport slated to be closed.

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A number of retailers and food and drink outlets at the site are already suspending operations, the airport added.

Chief executive Gordon Dewar: “This is an unprecedented time not only for the aviation industry but for everyone as we all do what we can to ensure the health of ourselves and of those around us.

“For us, that includes the health of our airport. Our plan is based on keeping the airport open throughout and being there for those people who are still travelling and those staff members who are making that travel possible.”

 

Watch the Scotland Tonight special programme with Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, answering your coronavirus health questions. It’s available now on the STV Player


Scottish Government accused of pushing back booster vaccination dates

The NHS Inform website now states 'other eligible groups' will be able to book their third dose from 'mid-November'.

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Change of plan: Booster vaccination dates.

Booster vaccination dates for some eligible groups appear to have been pushed back by the Scottish Government.

The NHS Inform website now states jabs for the “other eligible groups” – which includes adults over 50 and those between 16 and 49 who are adult, young or unpaid carers, living with someone who is immunosuppressed and those with underlying health conditions – will now be able to book their third dose from “mid-November”.

But an announcement by the Scottish Government on September 14 shows the intention to ensure these groups can book via an online portal from this month.

The guide, which allows Scots to choose from a list of categories which best describes their situation, also says third doses could continue into January.

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The website, which was updated on October 15, said: “A booking portal will be available from mid-November.

“Vaccinations will start from mid-November and run through December and early January.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton accused the Scottish Government of “sneaking out” the changes.

“We know that caseloads are still far too high so there can be no excuses for these delays,” he said.

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“The health secretary needs to tell the public what steps he will take to speed up this rollout.

“I am concerned that we have seen errors creeping into the vaccination programme.

“Elderly constituents are being told they need to travel out of town to get jabbed and there seems to be a lack of joined up thinking in not delivering flu jabs at the same time.

“Last winter we were facing an unprecedented pandemic. There can be no such excuses for the Health Secretary this time around.”

Scottish Tory health spokesman, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, said: “The SNP are sneakily shifting the goalposts on their own vaccination timelines. These documents show how they have quietly dropped their initial targets.

“When the SNP should be quickening the pace of the vaccine booster jag scheme at every turn, instead, they are slowing it down.

“Humza Yousaf needs to urgently step up his game and guarantee jags will be in the arms of those eligible as soon as possible.”


Sinkhole opens up near Glasgow’s George Square forcing road closure

North Frederick Street was shut on Monday after police were called to the scene.

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Scottish Water was called in amid concern that a mains pipe had burst, but no issue with the network in the area could be found.

A road in Glasgow city centre has been closed after a sinkhole opened up with water running underneath the surface.

North Frederick Street near George Square was shut on Monday after police were called to the scene.

A Glasgow City Council roads inspector investigated and found running water under the tarmac.

Scottish Water was called in amid concern that a mains pipe had burst, but no issue with the network in the area could be found.

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An assessment of the sewer system is underway to establish if it is the cause of the crater.

A Scottish Water spokesperson said: “We are carrying out further checks today to establish that our sewer network infrastructure in the area is working as it should. We are continuing to liaise with Glasgow City Council.”

Drivers have been advised to find an alternative route as an eastbound lane on George Square remained closed on Tuesday afternoon.

The council said it was treating it as a priority.

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A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 9.55am on Monday, October 18, officers were called to a report of a hole in the roadway on George Street at North Frederick Street, Glasgow.

“Officers attended and the road was closed while the relevant agencies deal with this matter.”


Businesses urged to download updated version of vaccine passport app

Health secretary Humza Yousaf is encouraging bosses to download the latest version, with an update for users due on Thursday.

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The app will now show a green tick when a person’s details have been correctly scanned.

The app used to read vaccine passports in Scotland has been updated, with businesses being urged to download the new version.

It will now show a green tick when a person’s details have been correctly scanned and they are allowed entry into large events or nightclubs.

The change comes in the days after the scheme became enforceable.

A further update to the consumer app, which will present a QR code to venues as opposed to the dates of both vaccinations, will also be released from noon on Thursday, health secretary Humza Yousaf has said.

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This change is set to occur after concerns have been raised about the amount of medical data shown to gain entry.

Current versions of the smartphone app will stop working from next week, forcing users to download the update to continue to access events.

“The rollout of the green tick display when QR codes are checked will reduce the amount of information shared and confirm only that a person has a valid certificate for use across Scotland,” Yousaf said.

“The app is now working well after being introduced more than two weeks ago and updates are an important feature of this kind of technology to ensure it continues to run smoothly.

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“Everyone who has the app should download the new version and those who don’t yet have the app should download it from their app store before they need to use it.”

The health secretary also praised the hospitality sector for its implementation of the scheme, saying: “I understand the night-time industry has made major adjustments for the introduction of this scheme and other measures, but the sector has complied extraordinarily well with the regulations so far.

“This is a very limited scheme and we hope this will allow businesses to remain open and prevent any further restrictions as we head into autumn and winter.

“I also want to ensure that as many people get vaccinated as possible and particularly to increase uptake in the younger age cohort, so anything to incentivise that is helpful.”

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Scottish army barracks ‘could shut sooner than planned’

The number of regular soldiers in Scotland would be reduced by around 1700 if the closures go ahead.

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Regiment of the Royal Engineers at Kinloss in Moray could relocate to England.

Concern is growing about the future of two army regiments based at barracks in the Highlands.

An announcement is expected soon on the future of Fort George near Inverness, home to the Black Watch.

It was expected to close in 2032 but that could be accelerated to ‘meet the demands of the cyber era’, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

The Glencorse and Redford barracks in Midlothian and Edinburgh are also earmarked to close, while a regiment of the Royal Engineers at Kinloss in Moray could relocate to England.

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The move would see the number of regular soldiers in Scotland reduced by around 1700.

Conservative MSP Edward Mountain, a former army major, defended the move to close at least one of the Highland barracks.

He said: “I don’t believe Fort George offers good accommodation for soldiers. In fact, it’s classed as substandard, so I see Fort George as a logical place to close.

“However, when it comes to Kinloss, that is actually providing excellent facilities and accommodation for soldiers and I think it’s really, really important that we keep footfall of the Army in Scotland, which is why I would not support the closure of Kinloss.”

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The potential relocation of the Royal Engineers at Kinloss as part of the shakeup is a worry for the SNP-led council in Moray.

Graham Leadbitter, Moray council leader, said: “We have a long and strong history with the military and the economic shock of a base closure would be really significant for the local economy.

“And it would be devastating for the local community. It feels less like levelling up and more like shutting down.”

Local business are bracing themselves for the impact of any reduction in the number of troops based in the area.

Pearl Hamilton of the Federation of Small Businesses said: “I don’t want it to be all doom and gloom. I always think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I think Moray folk are so resilient.

“We will come back. We will come back with new businesses if those decisions are made to pull the regiment out.”

When Kinloss barracks was cast into doubt in 2016, it was estimated that closure would cost the local economy £30m a year.

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The Ministry of Defence said plans for structural reform are not yet finalised.


Facial recognition scanning pupils rolled out to school canteens

The technology in place in nine Ayrshire secondaries has been criticised by privacy campaigners.

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Children can scan their faces and have it matched with an on-file picture by the technology before picking up their meals in just five seconds.

Facial recognition has been rolled out to nine schools in Ayrshire with pupils able to scan their faces to pay for lunch.

The system now installed and operational in all secondaries in North Ayrshire has attracted national attention with privacy campaigners raising concerns.

Children can scan their faces and have it matched with an on-file picture by the technology before picking up their meals in just five seconds.

Silkie Carlo of the campaign group Big Brother Watch said: “It’s normalising biometric identity checks for something that is mundane. You don’t need to resort to airport style [technology] for children getting their lunch.”

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The facial recognition technology, installed by CRB Cunninghams, allows children to pick up their meals without any contact with payment systems which the company said is faster.

The system works in a similar way to fingerprint biometrics, but instead of matching a fingerprint template to a pupil account, it matches a “Face Template” to the pupil’s image stored by the school.

The council said that it offered the best solution in the face of Covid-19 and the desire for contactless identification.

Carl Lewis, release manager at CRB Cunninghams, said: “There has been a huge shift in the way schools operate over the past year, especially regarding the way pupils order and pay for their lunches.

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“We built Facial Recognition to help schools adapt to these changes and offer a unique and effective enhancement to their lunch service.”

Defend Digital Me and Big Brother Watch have written to the Scottish schools urging them to drop the technology and replace it with “less intrusive means”.

A spokesperson for Defend Digital Me said contactless card payments, chip, PIN, or cash, or for taking a register were all less “invasive” ways of taking payments and the use of facial recognition was “an excessive interference with children’s right to protection of their privacy”.

North Ayrshire Council said more than 97% of pupils, parents and cares provided consent for facial recognition.

Pupils in S4, S5 and S6 have been allowed to provide their own consent while those in S1, S2 and S3 required parental consent.

A spokesperson said: “Pupils often forget their PINs and unfortunately some have also been the victim of PIN fraud, so they are supportive of the planned developments and appreciate the benefits to them.”

The local authority said the speed of the system gives time back to students who can then spend it with their friends or doing lunchtime activities.


Scotland misses out to England for first carbon capture facility

The new facility was due to be in St Fergus in Aberdeenshire but is now set to be built on the Humber and around Liverpool.

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Emissions would be drawn from the North Sea and stored in the carbon capture facility.

Scotland will miss out on funding for a new carbon capture facility, despite meeting eligibility criteria, the UK’s energy minister has said.

The new facility, due to be in St Fergus in Aberdeenshire, is now likely to come in the second phase of the UK’s carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) cluster sequencing process after the first facility is set to be built on the Humber and around Liverpool.

Emissions would be drawn from the North Sea and the refinery in Grangemouth via pipelines and stored in the north east facility.

The Scottish cluster will now be considered as a “reserve” with the energy minister, Greg Hands, saying that if “the Government chooses to discontinue engagement with a cluster in Track-1, we can engage with this reserve cluster instead”.

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In a statement, Hands said: “We are also announcing the Scottish Cluster as a reserve cluster if a back-up is needed.

“A reserve cluster is one which met the eligibility criteria and performed to a good standard against the evaluation criteria.

“As such, we will continue to engage with the Scottish Cluster throughout Phase-2 of the sequencing process, to ensure it can continue its development and planning.”

But the move was described as a “betrayal of the north east” by the SNP, with energy spokesman, Stephen Flynn, saying: “This day will live long in the memories of people right across Scotland.

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“This inexplicable decision shows the Tories are guilty of empty words and broken promises on ensuring a just transition for Scotland’s communities.

“The Tories pulled the plug on £1bn of carbon capture investment for Peterhead in 2015 and now they’ve repeated the trick again.

“It beggars belief that at the very moment Tory ministers are being challenged to match the Scottish Government’s £500m investment in a just transition – they are instead sticking two fingers up to Scotland and withdrawing investment.

“The north east of Scotland is the home of the offshore industry and the obvious location for a carbon capture project.

“How can we have a just transition if the Tories aren’t willing to put the north east of Scotland first?

“It’s clear the Tories have put holding seats in the red wall of northern England ahead of saving jobs in Aberdeen and the north east.”

Scottish Tory net-zero spokesman, Liam Kerr, described the move as “disappointing”, but added: “Support to develop CCUS technology is vital for the future of the North Sea energy industry.

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“The Scottish Conservatives have been pushing hard for the north east to be at the forefront of CCUS.

“That will not change and it still will be a UK and world leader.

“Looking to track two within this decade, we will redouble our efforts with the UK Government, which has been the only one to acknowledge the strengths of Scottish CCUS, especially since the Greens and SNP formed their coalition of chaos.”

The Scottish Government’s net zero secretary, Michael Matheson, said the move showed “a clear lack of ambition” from the UK Government.

He added: “The Scottish Government supports the development of CCUS in Scotland, and has been a firm supporter of the Scottish Cluster’s bid into the sequencing process. It is clear that the Acorn project is the most cost-effective and deliverable opportunity to deploy a full-chain CCS project in the UK.

“It is therefore completely illogical that the UK Government has taken the decision not to award the Scottish Cluster clear and definitive track-1 status. It is a decision which significantly compromises our ability to take crucial near-term action to reduce emissions – not just in Scotland, but across the UK.”

The Scotland Office minister, Malcolm Offord, said: “The strong potential of the Acorn project has been confirmed by the bidding process.

“That’s good news for the future and, while I know the bid team will be disappointed not to have made the first cut, it’s encouraging that the Scottish cluster is a reserve and I’m confident it will continue to develop and compete for the next round of funding.

“To date, the UK Government has allocated £31m supporting the development of the scheme and it remains a key player in meeting ambitious carbon capture goals that would see 20-30 megatonnes of carbon dioxide stripped out by 2030.

“Scotland has a world-leading energy sector and the UK Government will continue to invest in its future.”

Man to stand trial accused of ‘hitting partner in eye with pole’

Daniel Lawson, 39, has pleaded not guilty and will stand trial in Aberdeen next June.

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Court: Daniel Lawson will stand trial in Aberdeen next June.

A man is to stand trial accused of leaving his partner permanently injured after allegedly hitting her in the eye with a pole.

Daniel Lawson allegedly carried out the attack at a property in Aberdeen last November 15.

It is claimed the 39-year-old grabbed the woman by the hair and struck her on the head.

The indictment then states Lawson pushed her onto a bed before repeatedly attacking her on the body with a pole and also in the eye.

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This is said to be to her severe injury as well as permanent disfigurement and impairment.

Lawson faces a separate charge of earlier assaulting the woman between 2013 and 2015 as well as behaving in a threatening manner towards her.

On Tuesday, Lawson’s legal team pled not guilty on his behalf during a hearing at the High Court in Glasgow.

Lord Matthews fixed a trial due to begin next June in Aberdeen.

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Lawson, of Aberdeen, remains on bail.


Row over ‘one of a kind’ fireworks show after families told to stay home

Highland Council's light show in Inverness will happen in a 'secure location' with spectators told not to gather in groups.

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Critics said that it was the wrong decision amid the pandemic.

What is thought to be the only council fireworks display still going ahead in Scotland has sparked upset after spectators were told to view it from “their own location” to avoid any mass gatherings.

Highland Council’s light show in Inverness is set for November 5 without the usual bonfire and behind the walls of the city’s Northern Meeting Park.

But critics said that it was the wrong decision amid the pandemic and the advice not to gather was “confusing”.

Whereas local authority Bonfire Night celebrations have been cancelled across the country due to concerns around Covid-19, Highland Council has chosen to go ahead with the display at a “secure location” with warnings from the provost of Inverness and the area’s Public Health chief to stay at home.

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High Life Highland, which is organising the event on behalf of the council, said the organisation had worked with the city to ensure a safe and Covid-compliant show.

Amy MacLeod, High Life Highlands’ events development manager, said: “…Whilst other colleagues across Scotland have opted to cancel their events, the city has decided that offering a fireworks display will allow people to have some fun and sparkle without the need for a large, mass gathering at Bught Park.”

Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland’s director of Public Health, said there was a high level of transmission of coronavirus in the area and that minimising spread was still “vitally important”.

But, he said, he would discourage the public from hosting their own bonfires or fireworks displays to reduce the risk of injury and pressure on the NHS and instead enjoy the city’s light show.

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Councillor Bill Boyd, the SNP member for Inverness West, said he understood the decision to go ahead as it would be “very disappointing” to cancel another public event, but that it was a “time for caution”.

“Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and say we can’t do it,” he told STV News, “It’s confusing advice to put it on and say we can’t do it.

“I’m not happy about it, but I see why they’ve done it.”

Provost of Inverness, councillor Helen Carmichael said: “We want everyone to enjoy the 2021 City Fireworks display in a safe and secure way. We are asking individuals and families not to travel to the city to gather in one location, but instead enjoy the display with friends and family in their own locations.

“We are looking forward to seeing the skies above the city lighting up in this for the first time since 2019 and hope that everyone will enjoy this year’s fireworks display which is funded by the Inverness Common Good Fund.”


Scotland pledges to move towards net zero emissions by 2050

The country’s devolved government is part of the Under2 Coalition which aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

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The Scottish Government aims to spur national governments to go 'further and faster'.

Scotland is part of a group of devolved nations and regions pledging to collectively achieve net zero by 2050.

Signatories of a new memorandum of understanding, by the Under2 Coalition of state, regional and devolved governments, have said they will aim to achieve net zero individually “as soon as possible”, but will hope to achieve the goal together by the middle of the century.

Ahead of COP26 coming to Glasgow in two weeks, the Scottish Government will use the opportunity to urge other sub-national governments to sign up.

In a statement, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “COP26 in Glasgow is one of the world’s last chances to deliver on the aims of the Paris agreement.

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“To achieve that it is essential that countries turn promises into action, and it is crucial that states, regions and devolved governments play our full part.

“Collectively, we share the responsibility for delivering the actions required to achieve over half of the emissions cuts needed at a global level.

“As European co-chair of the Under2 Coalition, which now represents almost two billion people around the world, I urge state, regional and devolved governments to up their ambition.

“By doing so, we can spur national governments to go further and faster, too.”

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