Walker with terminal cancer hopes scooter can get him back outside

Steve Barnes has been unable to explore the Scottish countryside after his cancer spread.

STV News

An avid walker with terminal cancer is hoping a mobility scooter can help him get back out to the hills.

Steve Barnes, from Arbroath in Angus, has lived with the disease for 15 years and had been able to walk for miles until his cancer progressed.

Nine weeks ago, Mr Barnes’ tumours spread to his spine and onto the back of his neck, leaving him unable to explore the Scottish countryside.

A former tattoo artist who has tattoos of all the organs he’s had removed from his body over the years, Mr Barnes believes that being outside is what has kept him alive for so long.

ADVERT

“My cancer has progressed from what was in my lungs. I’ve now got several tumours in my spine, in the back extremely painful, but also affecting my legs,” he said.

“So I can’t walk as much, even with the crutches, I think I can do maybe 100 metres maybe.”

A fundraiser has been set up for Mr Barnes to get a specialised scooter (Steve Barnes).

He continued: “To me, it’s everything. I would say walking for definite has been the best thing for me since I’ve had my treatment.

“It’s [got] me fitter, mental health-wise totally going outside has helped, being out in a big space.

ADVERT

“Sitting in the house in four walls, there’s nothing to think about but your cancer, what’s happening, are you dying, all the horrible things you don’t want to think about.”

A fundraiser has been set up for Mr Barnes to allow him to get a specialised scooter, to allow him to get back out into the hills.

In the meantime, he’s keeping his link with the outdoors by snapping shots of wildlife from his bedroom window.

He said: “For me, time just now is the most precious thing. As soon as I get the scooter, the first thing I’ll do [is get] in the van, mate’s van… scooter, out to Loch Lee and getting out to the big waterfall is my favourite place.

“It’s where my dogs’ ashes are buried and I’m desperate to get back out for a visit, so that’s definitely the first spot.”


FM set to announce plans to lift all Covid restrictions

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to reveal what life beyond level zero will look like in Scotland.

Fraser Bremner via Getty Images
Restrictions: Nicola Sturgeon set to announce what life beyond level zero will look like.

The First Minister is expected to reveal what life beyond level zero will look like in Scotland, ahead of the planned lifting of all restrictions on August 9.

Nicola Sturgeon will address Parliament on Tuesday afternoon to set out the Scottish Government’s plans for the coming weeks and months.

It is expected that all restrictions will be lifted next week, however it remains unclear if venues such as nightclubs will be allowed to reopen under the new rules. 

The need for physical distancing both indoors and outdoors may be removed, however face coverings are likely to remain mandatory in some settings, such as in shops and on public transport. 

ADVERT

The news comes as double vaccinated travellers from the US and EU were able to travel to Scotland without the need to quarantine from Monday. 

Subject to countries remaining on the amber travel list, travellers will no longer have to self-isolate for ten days upon arrival in Scotland.

However people who have been in France in the ten days prior to their arrival will still have to self-isolate due to concerns over the Beta variant.

On July 19, the whole of Scotland moved to level zero coronavirus restrictions, which saw up to eight people from four households able to enter homes and stay overnight and up to ten people from four households able to meet in an indoor public place such as a bar or restaurant.

ADVERT

Fifteen people from 15 households are currently able to meet outside in a public place and up to 200 people are allowed to attend weddings and funerals.

‘We are at a crucial moment in our exit from restrictions and while there is light at the end of the tunnel, we must make sure we take all the action necessary to jump start Scotland’s recovery.’

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader

Ahead of the First Minister’s announcement, political leaders in Scotland called for changes to self-isolation rules including clarity on issues affecting students returning to university and school and support for the NHS. 

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “We are at a crucial moment in our exit from restrictions and while there is light at the end of the tunnel we must make sure we take all the action necessary to jump start Scotland’s recovery.

“We need to ensure that people are kept safe and that businesses are helped to restart the economy.

“Perhaps most importantly, we urgently need a plan for our NHS and care systems to ensure that workers feel supported, services are invested in and the backlog of appointments is cleared.

“Nowhere is that more urgent than in our cancer diagnostic services.

“The last few weeks have underlined the need for an overhaul of the struggling Test and Protect system. A functioning and effective test and trace system is vital for public safety.

ADVERT

“And for those who have been fully vaccinated, we must see changes on the requirement to self-isolate while still keeping communities safe

“We also need to see far greater support for Scotland’s struggling businesses, particularly as many will be having to deal with continued restrictions for some time to come.

“We have to learn to live with the virus, but to do so in such a way that the people of Scotland, our NHS and our economy are supported and protected.”

‘Businesses can’t afford any more last-minute, snap decisions that hit their cash flow and potentially results in job losses.’

Douglas Ross, Scottish Conservative leader

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has called for the removal of the “blanket requirement to self isolate for ten days” for those who have been double vaccinated. 

He said: “We should move to a test-first system that lets people get on with their lives safely.

“We especially want to see changes to self-isolation rules for school pupils. We also believe there is a strong case for dropping the requirement for face masks in schools. Learning has already been disrupted enough and a return to normality for children must be a top priority.

“There should be no rowing back on the planned easing of restrictions. Businesses can’t afford any more last-minute, snap decisions that hit their cash flow and potentially results in job losses. They need certainty and a more optimistic outlook, in light of the encouraging public health data.

“Social distancing rules that prevent many businesses from trading as normal should be removed. The economy must be reopened safely but we must also put a premium on protecting jobs and family finances. The SNP cannot hold businesses back from reopening.

“Scotland’s economic recovery hinges on the SNP Government moving beyond Covid restrictions. We must seize this opportunity to start rebuilding from the damage of Covid now and not delay any longer.”

Scottish Greens health spokesperson Gillian Mackay added that the Scottish Government should clarify what measures it will put in place to protect students, staff and local communities when the new university term begins.

She said: “The Scottish Government must ensure that there is no repeat of last year’s shambolic return to campus, when thousands of students were forced to self-isolate in student halls as the virus ran riot.

“With just a few weeks to go until the new term begins, international students deserve clarity about the process of entering the country and settling in on campus. Yet, ministers are unable to tell them how and where they’ll be required to isolate.

“Students must also have easy access to testing and vaccination on campus, and while many younger students won’t be fully vaccinated, it’s essential that guidance around mask wearing and distancing is clear. Support must also be made available for anyone who tests positive.

“It’s vital that the First Minister addresses these issues when she makes her statement to parliament on Tuesday, ensuring that students can be as prepared as possible for their arrival on campus.”

Scottish Government urged to speak out against new oilfield

The proposed site off the coast of Shetland could produce 132 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, Oxfam Scotland said.

morkeman via IStock
Oilfield: Oxfam Scotland calling on Scottish government to speak out against controversial plans.

The Scottish Government is being urged to speak out against controversial plans to develop a new oilfield off the coast of Shetland.

If given the go-ahead, the proposed Cambo development could yield as many as 255 million barrels of oil over its lifetime, environmental campaigners at Oxfam Scotland said.

And they estimated that the 132 million tonnes of CO2 emissions that could be produced would require an area of land some 1.5 times the size of Scotland to counteract them.

Jamie Livingstone, the head of Oxfam Scotland, said in the run-up to the COP26 climate summit in November, the UK Government must “intervene in the Cambo case and stop its climate credibility going up in smoke”.

ADVERT

With the global summit taking place in Glasgow, he also insisted that the Scottish Government had a “duty” to press UK ministers to reject the Cambo plans.

He spoke out on the issue as Oxfam published a new report which estimated that for all current net zero plans to be achieved, an area equivalent to all the farmland on earth would need to be converted to forest, putting food production at risk.

The report stated: “Oxfam has calculated that the total amount of land required for planned carbon removal could potentially be five times the size of India, or the equivalent of all the farmland on the planet.”

It stated that net-zero targets “instead of focusing primarily on the hard work of cutting carbon emissions, for example by rapidly ending the use of coal, oil and gas for electricity and oil for cars, rely instead on using other methods to remove carbon from the atmosphere”.

ADVERT

The Tightening the Net report added: “The problem is this removal of carbon either relies on virtually unproven new technologies, or on a level of land use that is completely impossible and would lead to mass hunger and displacement of people across the world.”

Mr Livingstone said: “All of our lives and futures depend on the world’s biggest polluters quickly, drastically and genuinely slashing their emissions, phasing out fossil fuels and investing in clean energy and supply chains.

“Instead, what we’re seeing is too many net-zero strategies being used as smokescreens to mask dirty behaviour: promising unrealistic carbon removal schemes in order to justify the continued plundering of our planet.”

He added: “The proposed new Cambo oilfield is a clear climate contradiction. If the UK Government is to be a credible broker for a deal that can stop the planet overheating when it hosts the COP26 climate talks in November, it must intervene in the Cambo case and stop its climate credibility going up in smoke.

“The Scottish Government has a duty to demand it does just that.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are wholly committed to becoming a net-zero economy by 2045 and, whilst this is ultimately a reserved area, any Scottish Government support for oil and gas businesses operating in the North Sea is conditional upon them contributing to a sustainable and inclusive energy transition, and ensuring a secure energy supply.

“The oil and gas sector can play a positive role in Scotland’s energy transition, helping to design the diverse energy system we need for the future.

ADVERT

“The knowledge and experience of the oil and gas sector and its supply chain will also be important for developing and investing in essential low-carbon technologies, such as carbon capture utilisation and storage – a technology that is seen by experts such as the UK Climate Change Committee and International Energy Agency as being vital to achieving Scottish, UK and international climate emissions targets.

“In 2020 we launched our £62m Energy Transition Fund to support the oil, gas and energy sectors grow and diversify, accelerating its transition to net-zero emissions.

“Fair Work principles are being applied across projects funded by the Energy Transition Fund, supporting the creation of green jobs and training individuals with the skills they need to ensure a just transition to net zero with people’s wellbeing at its heart.”

Rock Lomond: When Oasis took Balloch Park by storm

It's 25 years since Oasis played two barnstorming concerts for 80,000 Scots fans.

STV News

Oasis played the first of two barnstorming concerts near Loch Lomond on this day 25 years ago.

Tens of thousands of people squeezed into Balloch Country Park on consecutive nights in what remain among the most memorable outdoor gigs ever held on Scottish soil.

For brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher, it was a triumphant return to the country where they were discovered three years earlier, in 1993.

By August 3, 1996, they had released their hugely successful albums Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? and the STV News cameras were in Balloch that day to capture the electric atmosphere.

STV News
ADVERT

Fans were in party mood from first light as they packed trains from Glasgow, desperate to see the band who were dominating the airwaves.

“They’re just unique, honestly,” one reveller said. “There are very few bands now that you can actually enjoy, but this is superb.”

We even caught up with TV personality Chris Evans, who insisted it was impossible to choose a favourite Gallagher brother.

“They’re chalk and cheese – and I like chalk and I like cheese,” Evans told our reporter.

ADVERT

Local residents had been concerned about the onslaught of Oasis fans to their town, but in the end they seemed to enjoy themselves.

STV News

“They were all very orderly walking down that road, we watched them and there were no problems,” one neighbour said.

We were there!

As told to Laura Boyd, STV News entertainment reporter

Donald Macleod, the promoter behind the sell-out shows.

“It was probably the biggest, most significant gig Scotland’s ever put on. It was fantastic. There was a lot more than 80,000 there – they were pulling down fencing…

“It was an experience like no other. It was really hyper, it was really mad. It was supersonic, as they would say.

“The band took it in their stride, they always did. They had that swagger.

Donald Macleod via Contributed
ADVERT

“Just before the band came on, there was a tirade of things getting thrown at the stage and we’re looking up the hill and all these police horses start coming down towards us. They charged down. We were like ‘what are they doing?’, then it got quiet. Next moment, they were charging back up the hill with all the bams chasing after them.

“Getting the teams in place, the security, ten miles of fencing, enough power to power the city of Dundee, thousands of barrels of beer getting sold, the crowd loving it – Wonderwall – what a band. I’ve put on Prince and the likes, but this was something special.”

Alan McGee, the Oasis manager who discovered the band at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow.

“The Celtic team were there on the Saturday and the next night was all the Rangers team, and the gig was great, you know what I mean?

“We’ve got a great iconic photograph from that time – when the brothers kissed each other on the lips, we got one of the great Oasis photographs from that time.

“They only talk about it in Scotland, if I’m being honest, cause in England they all talk about Knebworth, but Loch Lomond was a better gig from what I remember.

Oasis fan George Boothe, from Houston, Texas, was at the gig during his honeymoon.

“We got married in Aberdeen and decided to have our honeymoon in Scotland and ended up in Cameron House with tickets to see Oasis at Loch Lomond.

Donald Macleod via Contributed

“Oasis were THE band at the time. At our wedding, we had a ceilidh and a disco, and one of my greatest memories was all our friends singing in a big circle to Don’t Look Back in Anger.

“So we have very special memories of my honeymoon, but also of going to that concert.”

What was on the set list?

We’ve made all 20 tracks available as a Spotify playlist, which can be streamed here:


Scot Anna Burnet helps Team GB win Olympic sailing silver

Burnet, from Shandon near Helensburgh, triumphed alongside her race partner John Gimson in the mixed Nacra 17 class.

Phil Walter / Staff via Getty Images
John Gimson and Anna Burnet of Team GB competing in the Nacra 17 Foiling class.

Scottish sailor Anna Burnet has won a silver medal for Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics.

Burnet, from Shandon, Gare Loch, in Argyll and Bute, triumphed alongside her race partner John Gimson in the mixed Nacra 17 class. 

The Olympic debutants were guaranteed a medal going into the final race and finished safely in fifth to stay in second place behind Italians Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti.

Louise Burnet, Anna’s mother, said her daughter has “always had this great passion” since she began sailing at the age of five in an Optimist dinghy.

ADVERT

Burnet told PA “we would never ever have dreamed of this happening”, adding: “I’m a very proud mum.”

She said: “They’ve just been a great team together and it’s a massive passion for them both. They are really good friends and you need that partner you click with.

“When Anna started sailing at the local yacht club she had no fear of the water from an early age.

“There were a lot of long drives at weekends which her father Colin did a lot of, 11 hours down to the south coast at weekends, and it is certainly all worth it now.”

ADVERT

Burnet, who now lives in Weymouth, Dorset, started sailing at the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club on Gare Loch, Scotland’s oldest yacht club founded in 1824.

She soon won the female national Optimist title and was selected for the British worlds team in 2006 at the age of 14, said the British Sailing Team.

Chief executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “Scotland has a proud tradition of successful sailors on Team GB and it’s terrific to see Anna Burnet join that illustrious list.

“To be selected to compete at an Olympic Games is a huge achievement, but to win a silver medal is very special.

“Congratulations to Anna, her partner John Gimson and the whole Scottish and British sailing family.”

Burnet and Gimson’s triumph capped a brilliant day for the British team after Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell claimed the gold medal in the men’s 49er before Giles Scott successfully defended his Finn title.

Campaigners call for three-mile fishing limit for trawlers

Members of the Our Seas coalition insisted the move would benefit both the environment and coastal communities.

Monty Rakusen via Getty Images
Fishing: Calls to ban trawlers from fishing within three miles of Scottish coasts.

An alliance of more than 100 organisations is demanding that trawlers be banned from fishing within three miles of Scotland’s coasts.

Members of the Our Seas coalition insisted that a “modernised” three-mile limit is “not a radical measure” and would benefit both the environment and coastal communities.

With talks taking place between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens over a formal co-operation agreement, the group is pressing both parties to consider the issue.

While there had previously been a ban on trawling the seabed within three miles of the coast, this was repealed by the UK Government in 1984 – with Ailsa McLellan, Our Seas coalition co-ordinator, claiming this “led to what academics called ‘ecological meltdown’”.

ADVERT

She said: “There are many marine policy areas where we want to see change, given this country’s ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to our marine ecology and economy.

“But a return to a modernised three-mile limit is the single measure which we collectively believe would bring the greatest benefits for our waters, our environment, and for this country’s coastal communities.”

Ms McLellan added: “This is not a radical measure – bottom-trawling was previously banned in our inshore waters – and it will make our seas and fisheries more resilient in the future.”

The Our Seas coalition is made up of a range of organisations, including inshore fishing associations, community groups, sea anglers, tourism businesses, and environmental organisations.

ADVERT

Research for the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation (SCFF) – one of the members of the coalition – found that for every thousand tonnes of langoustine caught by creeling rather than trawling, the Scottish economy would see more than £6.7m in additional benefits, with more than £400,000 additional profit for the sector.

Alistair Sinclair, national co-ordinator of the SCFF, said: “Our members fish in a way which is genuinely sustainable for the long term, but the value of our fisheries are hampered by the activities of a poorly regulated minority.”

He argued: “A return of an inshore limit is really a compromise, and both parties should be persuaded to see it as such. It would bring back a little balance to the way this country manages its seas.

“It’s not an end to dredging and bottom-trawling, but would ensure they only operate in waters where those methods do much less damage.”

Meanwhile Annabel Lawrence, from the Community Association of Lochs and Sounds, told how hand divers, sea anglers, marine tourism businesses and community activists all wanted to see change.

She said: “Being forced to live with the status quo, watching a small number of boats damage the seabed, is painful and frustrating.

“Politicians – both SNP and Green – need to make meaningful decisions now to end this destruction of our seabed. We need change, and that means protecting our most sensitive seas from the most damaging practices.”

ADVERT

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have made clear that sustainability is at the heart of how we will manage Scotland’s fisheries.

“In addition to our network of Marine Protected Areas, there are fishing controls and a policy of restrictive licensing in place to limit the number of Scottish scallop vessels, the number of days they fish, and technical measures … and minimum landing size of king scallops.

“It should be noted there are fewer nephrops, which includes scallops, being landed than a decade ago and there are fewer nephrop trawlers and more creel fishing vessels.

“Positive discussions between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens on a potential co-operation agreement are ongoing and a further report will be provided to parliament after the recess.”

Mossmorran given permission to install new ground flare

ExxonMobil has been forced to flare gas on a number of occasions in recent years for safety reasons.

LDRS
Fife: ExxonMobil has been forced to flare gas on a number of occasions in recent years for safety reasons.

Long-awaited efforts to reduce a controversial petrochemical plant’s impact on the local community have taken a step forward with the approval of a new ground flare.

Fife Ethylene Plant at Mossmorran, operated by oil giant ExxonMobil, has secured permission from Fife Council to install the enclosed ground flare.

Standing at 31m high, the EGF, as it is known, will “significantly minimise” the use of the existing elevated flare to burn off excess gas – an issue that has concerned Cowdenbeath and Auchtertool residents for years. 

Exxon claims it will cut use of the elevated flare by up to 98% – but the stack will remain for use in extraordinary events.

LDRS
Plans: Mossmorran has secured permission from Fife Council to install an enclosed ground flare.
ADVERT

ExxonMobil has been forced to flare gas on a number of occasions in recent years for safety reasons. Both it and Shell, which operates the adjacent Fife Natural Gas Liquids plant, were served with final warnings by environment watchdog Sepa in 2018.

Last year, incidences of flaring were referred to the Crown Office for potential prosecution under environment laws.

“The EGF is designed to enclose the flames which reduces visibility and provides acoustic insulation,” agents for ExxonMobil said in a statement.

“This technology has been identified as best available to minimise noise, vibration and smoke associated with flaring and whilst there may be some light emission from the top the effects will be less than the existing Shell ground flare technology or the elevated flare.”

ADVERT

Assessments carried out by independent analysts suggest a “very significant reduction” in noise levels and “negligible” other effects from the ground flare.

Fife Council planners agreed, noting the flare would “limit the adverse environmental impact” of elevated flaring. They approved the application with a handful of conditions to ensure safe construction and operation.

Approval of the flare comes weeks after ExxonMobil completed £140m of upgrades to the plant that bosses promise will reduce flare-related disruption in the interim as installation of the new facility takes place.

These upgrades include a new tip for the elevated flare that uses internal steam tubes to reduce the amount of noise emitted by the flare. However, reliance on the elevated flare will fall dramatically once the EGF is in place.

LDRS
Reported: Last year, incidences of flaring were referred to the Crown Office for potential prosecution under environment laws.

Plant manager Martin Burrell said in a statement issued last month that over 48,000 parts had been installed over the course of 500,000 people-hours to improve reliability at the plant and reduce the need to flare.

Addressing locals directly, Mr Burrell said: “We thank you and our communities for your patience while we completed our major upgrade project and plant restart.

“We hope that the actions we took to minimise elevated flaring, as well as the benefits of the new flare tip helped to reduce disruption to local communities.

ADVERT

“While we are confident the project will help to improve operational reliability and reduce unplanned flaring, FEP is a complex operation with our flare remaining a vital operational and safety system.”

However, locals in the surrounding towns remain hostile to Mossmorran’s continued operation.

Last weekend saw residents and climate activists gather outside the plant to call for a green transition at the plant, ensuring workers keep their jobs while progress is made towards clean energy production.

ExxonMobil says it is committed to reducing carbon emissions. However, unlike other firms in the sector such as Shell and BP, the firm is yet to commit to a solid net-zero target.

By local democracy reporter Jon Brady


Pupils asked to name new pedestrian bridge over motorway

The main span of the new Sighthill bridge over the M8 was installed over the weekend and is expected to open in 2022.

LDRS
Councillor David McDonald visiting the new bridge.

Pupils and residents in Sighthill are being asked to help name a new bridge being created over the M8.

The main span of the new Sighthill bridge was installed over the weekend, with the bridge expected to open in the early months of 2022.

Pupils already using the new school in the area will also be asked for their suggestions to create a sense of local ownership of a new Glasgow landmark.

Both the bridge and the school are part of the £250m City region city deal agreed by the council.

ADVERT

Deputy leader of Glasgow City Council, David McDonald, announced via social media on Monday that the search for a suitable name is now on. 

Councillor McDonald visited the overpass before telling the public they could decide on its new name.

And after posting a request on Twitter for suggestions, along with a picture of the distinctive structure, followers were quick to provide a few early ideas, including The Rusty Bridge, the Irn Bruidge and the Shoehorn – as well as the obligatory Bridgey McBridgeface suggestion.

He said: “It was great to visit the site of the bridge today following its installation over the weekend.

ADVERT

“The new bridge will deliver new connections and new opportunities for the north of Glasgow but it will also deliver a plethora of new nicknames.

“The Clyde Arc and Tradeston Bridges got nicknames that have stuck and I’m sure this new bridge will be the same.”

The main span of the new cyclist, pedestrian and wheeler bridge was installed over the weekend, with a section of the M8 closed while construction took place.

It is the biggest project of its kind in the UK outside of London and will form an active travel route between Sighthill and the city centre.

Story by local democracy reporter Catherine Hunter

Campers flocking to beauty spots ‘damaging protected coastline’

Concerns have been raised about the environmental damage being caused by campers pitching up on protected...

LDRS
Camping: Concerns have been raised by countryside rangers in East Lothian.

Concerns have been raised about the environmental damage being caused by campers pitching up on protected areas of Scotland’s coastline, as it emerged families had been seen using trollies and wheelbarrows to unload camping gear.

Countryside rangers tasked with maintaining East Lothian’s protected coastline hit out after another warm weekend saw eager campers head to the county’s beaches and beauty spots.

Rangers reported finding hammocks strung up at two beach sites, and spoke to one family group who had set up camp at Yellowcraig with ten tents between them – advising them to book into a ‘proper campsite’ in the future.

East Lothian has a wild camping only policy along its shoreline, parts of which are protected as areas of Special Scientific Interest. But while the rules mean people should not be arriving in cars or in large groups, it appears they are not being followed.

ADVERT

Images of cars next to tents were shared by the rangers from a number of beaches.

And visitors were warned by ranger Richard English the continued pressures on the coastline is causing unknown damage.

He said: “The definition that we work to is that wild camping should be part of a pedestrian or cycled journey; lightweight – every piece of equipment is carried as part of that journey by the camper; done in small numbers – a maximum of four campers together; and short-term – no more than two nights in any one site.

“The bad news is that the vast majority of camping that we’ve seen on our coastal sites is not true wild camping.

ADVERT

“It often consists of large groups, with family-sized tents and all manner of kit, sometimes hauled on-site in trollies or wheelbarrows from a nearby car park.

“These levels of camping are simply not sustainable. Much of the East Lothian coastline is recognised for its ecological value and has some degree of protection as a result.

“The impact of sustained high levels of camping is difficult to assess, but it seems clear that the natural environment will suffer as a consequence.”

Mr English said a recent weekend saw more than 140 tents at Yellowcraig, the biggest draw for visitors in the county, with “no more than 5%” falling into the definition of wild camping.

On Saturday morning patrols of some of the county’s beaches found 32 tents at Yellowcraig – ten from the same family group, and 22 tents and a hammock at nearby Tyninghame, and a hammock and ten tents at Linkfield, near Dunbar.

And they continued to find smouldering fires at the beaches despite warnings about the danger of them.

In total, 142 parking fines were issued at the coastal car parks over the weekend and countryside rangers were deployed on a litter pick after rubbish was left behind by visitors.

ADVERT

A council spokesperson said: “Despite a slightly cooler Saturday our coastal and countryside sites were still busy, albeit there were not as many visitors as previous weekends.

“There were a surprising number of tents overnight on both Saturday and Sunday – including an extended family group with ten tents.

“Again, we would remind people that this is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and they should book into proper campsites which have the required facilities.

“Countryside rangers spoke to groups and individuals across the county.

“While sites were generally in good order a number of fires were found smouldering on beaches at Tyninghame and Yellowcraig which needed to be doused by the countryside rangers.

“Rangers also undertook a litter pick at Yellowcraig due to the large amounts of debris left there.”

By local democracy reporter Marie Sharp


‘Highest ever’ affordable homes budget after Covid impact

Glasgow councillors will be asked to approve a list of new projects when they meet on Thursday.

Bsone via IStock
Housing: Councillors will be asked to approve a list of new projects when they meet on Thursday.

Glasgow is set to see more money than ever before spent on affordable housing in the city, as it looks to recover ground lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The city had been allocated £110m for 2020/21 but that figure had to be revised due to the pandemic’s impact on the construction industry.

Site closures, furloughed workers and restrictions, such as social distancing, hit the housing programme, while material shortages and self-isolation periods also caused problems.

Cllr Kenny McLean, the city convener for neighbourhoods, housing and public realm, admitted 2020/21 had been “extremely challenging”.

ADVERT

However, it is now hoped a five-year £538m budget – the council’s highest ever – will help the city to recover.

Included in the budget is a record £120m for affordable housing in 2021/22 and councillors will be asked to approve a list of new projects when they meet on Thursday.

A council spokesman said the funding for 2021 to 2026 will “help the housebuilding sector to recover from the pandemic”.

“It will provide certainty over future budgets which will help with planning the affordable housing supply programme in Glasgow.”

ADVERT

The £110m allocated for 2020/21 had been expected to deliver 1439 completed homes. It was reduced to £80m in August last year, with a target of 708 completions.

However, only 397 units could be finished due to the “difficult conditions” and 311 slipped into this financial year.

The council, through social landlords, did exceed its targets for approved schemes and site starts and an extra £5m was requested from the Scottish Government, taking spending for the year to £85m.

Work started on 1144 homes and approval was received for 399.

A council spokesman said the £25m difference between the original £110m allocation and the final spend had not been handed back as the council “only draws it down when we have spent it”.

He said the Scottish Government had revised the allocation as it was “recognised that we could not achieve that level of expenditure when sites had been shut for three months”.

“In the end, we actually had to ask the Scottish Government for an additional £5m as we were able to spend more than anticipated,” he added.

ADVERT

In a report to Thursday’s committee meeting, councillor McLean said “uncertainty” has continued this year, which has been “compounded by the UK leaving the European Union”.

He added there is “rising construction price inflation, labour shortages and a lack of supply for some construction materials”.

The £120m allocation for this year is the “highest amount the council has ever received”. It has been boosted by one-off Covid recovery funding from the UK Government.

Targets for the current year include 1443 completed homes and 1098 site starts.

Previously approved projects include 175 homes for social rent from Queens Cross Housing Association at Hamiltonhill and 123 for mid-market rent from the Wheatley Group as part of the Calton Village development.

New projects could see 756 homes, with 91 from Govan Housing Association at Water Row and 90 from the West of Scotland Housing Association at Dundashill.

By local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands


You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?