Sturgeon: Half-measures against coronavirus don’t work

The First Minister defended the latest restrictions as 'tough but necessary' in the fight against Covid.

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The First Minister has said “half-measures often don’t work” against coronavirus as she defended her government’s latest restrictions.

Nicola Sturgeon said recent measures intended to wrestle back control of the Covid-19 epidemic in Scotland are “tough but necessary”.

Private indoor gatherings between households have been banned in Scotland since September 23.

More recently, hospitality venues have been slapped with a ban on serving alcohol inside and a 6pm curfew for indoor premises.

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And in five health board areas in central Scotland – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Lothian, Ayrshire and Arran and Forth Valley – pubs and restaurants have been shut altogether until at least October 25.

It comes as the country recorded 1297 Covid cases overnight – the highest daily total on record – and seven more deaths of patients with the virus, with hospital admissions rising by 40 to more than 500.

Of the new infections, nearly three quarters (941 cases) are concentrated in the Greater Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Lothian regions.

The harsh new regulations to curb the virus are “firmly rooted in scientific advice”, the First Minister said at Tuesday’s daily coronavirus briefing.

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She continued: “This can’t be seen as a contest between health and the economy.

“Keeping people safe from a potentially deadly virus is a prerequisite of a strong economy and of course in turn, a strong economy is vital for our health and wellbeing.

“These are not opposing objectives, even if it sometimes feels like they are – they are instead two sides of the same coin.”

It follows the publication of guidance by the UK Government’s scientific advisory body SAGE on Monday, which revealed advisers had told ministers on September 21 that a short “circuit break” lockdown should be brought in to stem the tide of coronavirus cases.

SAGE also suggested measures like a ban on private gatherings between households; the closure of hospitality businesses, gyms and personal retail like hairdressers; advice to work from home for all that can; and for all university and college teaching to be done online.

The following day, Sturgeon announced the ban on indoor household gatherings – already in place in parts of the west of Scotland – would be extended nationwide, which then came into force on September 23.

She also joined Boris Johnson in introducing a 10pm curfew for all pubs and restaurants.

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The Prime Minister has been criticised for only implementing one SAGE recommendation following the September 21 meeting – switching the UK Government’s advice to people in England to work from home if they can.

That has been the Scottish Government’s guidance to Scottish workers throughout the pandemic.

The First Minister acknowledged she had also not implemented SAGE’s suggestions in full, and said she had to strike a balance between public health and the economy.

She insisted she does not yet believe the virus is “out of control” in Scotland but that the country is at “a very perilous point in this journey”.

Chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith added Scotland is “nowhere near” the scale of spread of Covid-19 seen in March but maintained action is now needed to prevent a return to those levels.

Sturgeon added: “Against this virus we sometimes have to be tough.

“Half-measures often don’t work. What you find is that they will still inflict economic pain and harm but they won’t have the required public health impact.

“So these are the tough but necessary restrictions that we’re asking everyone to abide by as we try to make sure the virus does not run out of control.

“In return, the government will continue to strengthen Test and Protect, we will do all we can to encourage and support people to comply with the advice, including the self-isolation advice…

“And we will work with businesses to ensure they can trade safely with as much normality as is possible during a pandemic.”

She said her government is now seeking to combine all of these objectives into a new “strategic framework to guide us through the next phase of the pandemic”, which will be debated by MSPs after the October recess.

Joining the FM and Dr Smith at the briefing, social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville went into further detail about a scheme to support people self-isolating.

The new £500 benefit payment is aimed at ensuring those on low incomes will be able to self-isolate without suffering financially.

The fund, which is being operated by local authorities, opened for applications on Monday, with payments able to be backdated to September 28 for those previously asked to self-isolate.

Somerville said: “It’s vital that we stop the chain of transmission by complying with the requirement to self-isolate.”

She also announced a new service to help those who are self-isolating with a focus on those most in need of support, such as the elderly, people who are shielding and those from poorer households.

Time is running out to avoid rail strikes during COP26, union warns

With world leaders heading to Scotland for the crucial talks, members of the RMT union are threatening to strike.

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Rail: Could be facing strike action during COP26.

Transport bosses have been told they need to “put pay justice on the agenda” if they want to prevent rail strikes during the global COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

With world leaders heading to Scotland for the crucial talks, members of the RMT union are threatening to strike for the duration of the summit.

Other unions have accepted the deal on the table, but Scotland’s transport minister Graeme Dey has warned he is “not optimistic” of a resolution being reached with the RMT ahead of the deadline set for 5pm on Wednesday.

Dey is already facing calls to quit if a deal cannot be reached to prevent the strike during COP26 – which is set to bring some 30,000 people to Glasgow.

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RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Time is running out to get a fair deal for Scotland’s rail workers and avoid a shutdown during COP26.

“We stand ready to get back round the table right now but the political leadership in Scotland need to lift their arbitrary deadlines and clear the road blocks to getting those talks back on.

“The ball is in the SNP’s court. They need to take responsibility for bringing us to this point and get into a dialogue with the union that puts pay justice on the agenda. We are waiting.”

David Simpson, ScotRail operations director, said he is still “hopeful” that the RMT will reconsider its position and accept the deal for a 4.7% increase over two years.

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That offer has already been accepted by the three other unions representing rail workers, Aslef, Unite and the TSSA.

The 5pm deadline has been set to give ScotRail time to plan for services during the summit, which gets under way on Sunday and runs through to November 12

Mr Simpson told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday that “many” RMT members would like to accept the deal, adding: “We don’t understand why RMT won’t put this offer to their members to give them a say.”

After 5pm on Wednesday, he said the offer will be “off the table”, explaining: “The reason for the deadline is we need to be able to prepare for what service we operate next week.

“We are working in the background on some contingency planning to see what we can run in the event of a strike to connect Glasgow and Edinburgh and serve the routes through the COP26 summit.

“We’ve made very clear this is a significant deal but at 5pm tonight it is off the table and we will have to sadly prepare for industrial action.”

That would see ScotRail focus efforts on running services between Scotland’s two largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as the low level service to the Scottish Events Campus where the summit is taking place.

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Mr Simpson said: “We absolutely urge RMT to accept this deal, it is a good deal, at least put it to their members and pause the strike action while they do that, or it comes off the table at 5pm tonight.”

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Who’s in charge as Glasgow becomes UN territory at COP26?

Everything you need to know about the law, policing and security during the crunch climate summit.

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Police Scotland officers can only enter the blue zone with UN agreement.

The COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow is being hosted by the United Nations, which means the venue will come under its control.

The summit will take place across two sites – the ‘blue zone’ at the Scottish Event Campus and the ‘green zone’ at Glasgow Science Centre.

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The blue zone is a UN-managed space that hosts the negotiations, bringing together delegations from 197 countries and will become an international territory.

The UN will have administrative control of the Scottish Events Campus and will be responsible for security during COP26. While it will be supported by Police Scotland, the UN will remain in charge of all security in the blue zone.

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Police mounted units have been training for COP26.
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Police Scotland may only enter with the consent of the UN secretary general, a standard arrangement for such conferences.

‘Complete freedom of expression’

UN officials, representatives and experts all have immunity from legal process – including prosecution (diplomatic immunity) – inside the blue zone.

Natasha Durkin, a senior associate in Shepherd and Wedderburn’s regulation and markets team, told STV News: “It is a foundational principle of the UN that its property is ‘inviolable’, meaning that UN property is immune from any legal interference wherever it is situated.

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“The main reason for this is to allow the UN full control of its international functions and activities without interference, and reflects the immunities UN personnel have from legal process.

“One important aspect of the blue zone is that it allows the UN to guarantee complete freedom of speech to those participating in UN meetings, regardless of the (possibly restrictive) laws applying in the host state.

“Complete freedom of expression for participants is agreed in Article 2 of the COP26 agreement.”

Year of planning

Police Scotland has been planning and preparing for over a year, alongside the United Nations, UK Government and Glasgow City Council.

Assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins said: “We have engaged with the United Nations and this is common practice for UN conferences.

“In consultation with a range of partners, our policing plan takes into account all factors to ensure an appropriate response will be delivered.” 

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Police carry out a training exercise on the ‘Squinty Bridge’ in Glasgow.
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All attendees within the blue zone must be accredited by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Ms Durkin said: “Consistent with having full control of the blue zone, the UN is ‘in charge’.

“However, the COP26 agreement (and again, as is standard) requires the UN to cooperate with UK authorities to ensure the proper administration of justice and to prevent any abuse of the blue zone. 

“In addition to the UN being required to cooperate with the UK in relation to the administration of justice, and to prevent abuse, the secretary general of the UN can waive any immunity applying to the blue zone. 

“As such, if an offence is committed, there are mechanisms for both cooperation between the UK and UN, and the possibility of waiver of immunity. The disposal of an alleged offence committed in the blue zone would ultimately depend on circumstances.”

So what is the green zone?

The green zone is managed by the UK Government and is a platform for the general public, youth groups, civil society, academia, artists, business and others to have their voices heard.

It will host events, exhibitions, workshops and talks promoting dialogue, awareness and education.

Normal domestic law applies there.

Extra staff to be drafted into Glasgow’s A&E during COP26 marches

Additional workers are also being put in place for mental health assessment units and the police custody service.

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A&E: Additional workers are also being put in place for mental health assessment units and the police custody service.

Extra staff are to be drafted into Glasgow’s accident and emergency wards during COP26 when two marches by climate activists are expected to cause a demand for treatment. 

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde report reveals a march on Saturday, November 6 has been licenced for up to 100,000 people, and adds it is “likely that the biggest demand for healthcare will be from activists”.

Additional workers are also being put in place for mental health assessment units and the police custody service.

The march on November 6 has been organised by the COP26 Coalition to demand “just and fair solutions to the climate crisis” and will go from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green.

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It will be preceded by a school strike for climate justice on Friday, November 5, when Fridays for Future (FFF) Scotland — the Scottish branch of an international youth movement founded by Greta Thunberg — are set to march from Kelvingrove Park to George Square.

Climate campaigner Thunberg has confirmed she will take part in the march, which is expected to attract thousands of young protesters.

The report, to the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde board meeting on Tuesday, states information “from other COP conferences and the recent G7 summit is that there was a limited demand for hospital admission” during the events and “as such no specific provision has been made for additional inpatient capacity”.

However, it adds: “It is likely that the biggest demand for healthcare will be from activists who will be attending this event and the two activist marches on 5 and 6 of November.

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“The march on November 6 has been licensed for up to 100,000 people. Additional staffing is being sought for the emergency departments.

“Additional staff are being put in place for the mental health assessment units and the police custody service. Facilities and procurement have reviewed delivery routes and stockholdings to ensure there is no impact on service delivery.”

A medical treatment centre, staffed by doctors and advanced paramedics, will be open on the SEC conference site. It aims to deal with “minor ailments and injuries on the site and to direct people to access community pharmacy for any medications required”.

Daily attendance at the conference is capped at 14,000 delegates a day due to social distancing requirements, which is equivalent to the capacity of the Hydro.

“By way of contrast the three main football stadiums have a daily capacity of over 50,000,” the report adds.

It pointed out: “Many delegates are not staying in hotels in Glasgow but will be travelling daily into the city.”

All GPs and some hospital managers have been sent postcode data of areas affected by the conference to plan and communicate to patients who might need access to hospital, such as pregnant women.

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The November 6 march will take place on the conference’s global day of action, an event which has been held at every United Nations climate conference since 2005, with demonstrations held across the world.

FFF Scotland are also a co-organiser for that march, alongside groups including the Scottish Trade Unions Congress and Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Thunberg started FFF in August 2018 when she began a school strike to demand action on the climate crisis. She has since been joined by young people across the world.

COP26 will run from October 31 to November 12, with world leaders expected to arrive for crucial talks at the SEC.

By local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands

COP26 activist dressed as Boris Johnson sets boat on fire next to Clyde

Ocean Rebellion said the action represented the government's 'lack of purpose in combating catastrophic climate change'.

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A protestor dressed up as the Prime Minister and another with an oil can for a head have set light to a boat across the river from where the UN climate summit will be held next week.

The activists from campaign group Ocean Rebellion brought the small vessel with a sail reading, “Your children’s future”, to the Clyde on Wednesday morning.

Andrew Darnton, who was dressed as Oilhead, told STV News: “We’ve gone past making pledges and I think weirdly the corporates have heard that now and they’re running around like fury. Watch out for greenwash.

“But action will happen between now and 2030 and it won’t be the governments that drive it.

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Sophie Miller as Boris Johnson at the Ocean Rebellion protest next to the River Clyde.
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“So I think there’s a real sea change, if I may, going on.”

Sophie Miller, costumed as Boris Johnson, threw fake cash into the fire as the flames scorched the sail and shook hands with Oilhead.

The theatrical protest was meant to represent the “UK Government’s total lack of purpose in combating catastrophic climate change, ocean acidification and biodiversity loss that will devastate all our futures and leave a dead ocean for future generations”, a spokesperson said.

The action is the first in what is expected to be a series of events held over the next three weeks surrounding COP26.

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A sign reads, “As the seas die we die”, at the Ocean Rebellion protest next to the River Clyde.
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It follows youth climate activists taking over the stage at the TED Countdown conference in Edinburgh earlier this month during a panel discussion with the boss of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell.

Stop Cambo Now and Ocean Rebellion are opposed to a new drilling permit at the Cambo oilfield, west of Shetland.

A spokesperson for Ocean Rebellion said: “The Cambo oil field cannot go ahead. Pumping a
further 170 million barrels of oil will deepen the climate crisis.

“Instead the UK must focus on providing alternative job opportunities in Aberdeen and other Scottish communities who rely on fossil fuel jobs.”

The group appealed to Nicola Sturgeon to make fossil fuel “a nightmare from the past”.

The First Minister gave a TED Talk in Edinburgh on October 13 and again refused to voice opposition to the development.

She said the supply of fossil fuels could not be turned off completely in the short term because of economic problems and a possible spike in imports.

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The UK and Scottish Governments have been contacted for comment.


Study calls for more tutoring to close school attainment gap

Research by the Poverty Alliance found free tutoring provision for children and young people in Scotland was 'sparse'.

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Report: High-quality tutoring could significantly reduce educational inequalities.

More tutoring and mentoring of pupils should be used in Scotland to help close the attainment gap, a study says.

Research by the Poverty Alliance found free tutoring provision for children and young people in Scotland was “sparse”.

The report, released on Wednesday, said high-quality tutoring could significantly reduce educational inequalities.

In February the Scottish Government announced a £45m fund for educational recovery, however the report said there was no published information on how much of this went towards catch-up tutoring programmes.

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The Poverty Alliance’s research also found there were geographical gaps in the provision of mentoring for children in poverty.

Dr Laura Robertson, lead author of the report, said: “The Scottish Government has put tackling the poverty-based attainment gap at the heart of its agenda. However, inequalities in education attainment remain stark.

“Covid-19 has not only tightened the grip of poverty on the lives of many children and young people, but has also exacerbated these inequalities.

“Now, more than ever, children and young people need access to additional support.

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“This report reveals that – despite the evidence that it works – young people living in poverty still don’t have equal access to high-quality tutoring free of charge.

“In a just society, all children and young people should have access to support that allows them to reach their potential, so the Scottish Government must – if it wants to end the attainment gap – respond with action.”


Nightclub owner’s licence suspended after ‘failing to report assaults’

Members of Highland Council’s licensing board voted to suspend Robert Sutherland’s licence for four weeks.

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The Waterfront: Robert Sutherland's licence has been suspended.

The fate of a popular Wick nightclub hangs in the balance after the manager had his licence suspended.

After deliberations running into Tuesday night, members of Highland Council’s licensing board voted to suspend Robert Sutherland’s licence for four weeks.

The Waterfront, on The Shore, was put under surveillance by the police and the council after a series of alleged assaults went unreported by management.

Police said Mr Sutherland was “not fit” to hold the licence.

‘Risk to public safety’

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In a written submission to the licensing board, chief superintendent Conrad Trickett said the grounds for licence review related to two objectives in the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 – preventing crime and disorder, and securing public safety.

The police letter stated that two serious assaults had taken place since August, and both had gone unreported by the Waterfront management.

Additionally, Mr Sutherland was said to have obstructed police efforts to review CCTV footage.

On a visit to the Waterfront on August 24 following the first assault, police told Mr Sutherland that both the police and the council “had concerns in relation to poor management of the premises, including intoxicated patrons, disorder, violence, lack of control, and failure to contact the police”.

‘I have a nightclub to run’

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Police said Mr Sutherland accepted he had a duty of care for his customers, and was willing to turn the situation around.

However, a second alleged assault went unreported on October 2.

When police asked Mr Sutherland to allow them to review CCTV, they found him “unwilling to cooperate”, telling offers he had a nightclub to run.

Chief superintendent Trickett concluded: “I have concerns that should the premises continue to operate in this manner, with the foregoing information clearly evidencing poor management and a failure to engage with the authorities, then there is the potential for further serious incidents to occur, which will pose a significant risk to public safety.”

However, Mr Sutherland’s lawyer, Peter Lawson, challenged the police findings, claiming the incidents were not in fact serious assaults.

He claimed in one of the alleged assaults: “This guy has simply fallen over.”

He also alleged that the police visit at 11pm to review CCTV was not reasonable, given that the nightclub had a series of safeguarding actions to undertake at that time.

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He stated that had Mr Sutherland stopped to download CCTV footage as officers requested, it would have prevented further live recording, which could have endangered his patrons.

Mr Lawson stated that the worst picture had been painted by police and said staff had successfully run the club for nine years during particularly difficult recent times.

‘A good going rammy captured on CCTV’

Mr Sutherland’s legal counsel further claimed that Mr Sutherland had not been aware of one assault happening. However, police officer Katy Duncan countered that she had clear CCTV depicting Mr Sutherland entering the toilets where there was “a good going rammy happening”.

In response to statements that it was a particularly busy night, officer Duncan added that a busy night does not excuse poor management.

“Measures are not being taken; there is no duty of care to the patrons,” she said.

She added that should the club remain open, there was a risk of serious harm to the public.

“I’m so concerned that we’ve skipped the action plan stage and come right to the board with our concerns,” she said.

“If these premises continue to operate in the manner they’re operating in now, there’s risk of more individuals coming to harm in these premises.

“I respectfully request that board members give consideration to suspending the licence at the Waterfront.”

‘The evasiveness does concern me’

Moving into deliberations, members debated for several hours the most appropriate response to the allegations made.

“The evasiveness of the premises licence-holder does concern me,” said councillor Andrew Jarvie.

“I concur with the police’s grounds for review.”

Mr Jarvie suggested the licence could be limited to 1am.

Councillor Emma Knox highlighted insufficient staffing on the nights in question, despite the club having a large staff to manage a potential capacity of 1200.

Mrs Knox further stated that Mr Sutherland’s evidence suggested he still did not take the allegations sufficiently seriously.

The meeting soon became complicated, as several motions and amendments were tabled and debated.

After three rounds of voting, members agreed to suspend Mr Sutherland’s licence for a period of four weeks.

This was felt appropriate to allow for a review of working practices without significantly damaging the business or risking its employees.

By local democracy reporter Nicola Sinclair

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MP Margaret Ferrier accused of breaching coronavirus rules

No plea was made by her lawyer during a hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

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Court: A further hearing has been set for January next year, whilst Ferrier was granted bail.

Margaret Ferrier has been accused of travelling from Glasgow to London knowing that she had symptoms of coronavirus.

The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP, 61, allegedly made several journeys having been told to self-isolate between September 26 and 29 last year.

Prosecutors state the suspended SNP politician ‘culpably and recklessly’ booked a test for Covid-19, stating in the booking application that she had symptoms of the disease.

The charge claims she was told to self-isolate and wilfully exposed people to the risk of infection, illness and death.

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It is alleged this was done by travelling throughout Glasgow and the surrounding areas as well as journeys to and from London.

Allegations state Ferrier was at a variety of locations over the three days.

These include locations in Rutherglen such as Lifestyle Leisure centre, Sweet P Boutique and Vanilla Salon.

Ferrier also allegedly visited Grace and Flavour, Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, as well as St Mungo’s Church, Glasgow and Vic’s Bar in Prestwick, Ayrshire.

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The charge states Ferrier made a taxi journey from her home in Glasgow’s Cambuslang to the city’s Central train station.

It is claimed she travelled to London Euston station and elsewhere in the English capital including the Houses of Parliament.

Ferrier is then said to have made the return journey to Glasgow from London by train.

On Wednesday, no plea was made by her lawyer Paul Kavanagh at a hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court to the single charge.

A further hearing was fixed for January by Sheriff Paul Reid.

Ferrier, whose attendance at court was excused, was granted bail meantime.


Sniffer dogs help discover storm petrel colony on the Isle of May

With the assistance of the dogs, the location and extent of the colony has been detected.

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Five professional sniffer dogs were trained over a two-month period to locate the scent of storm petrels underground.

Sniffer dogs have been used for the first time in UK conservation to locate a seabird colony.

Storm petrels, small oceanic birds, were confirmed to be breeding on NatureScot’s Isle of May National Nature Reserve (NNR) in the Firth of Forth.

With the assistance of the dogs, the location and extent of the colony has now been detected.

The birds breed in the UK during the summer months but spend their lives out at sea.

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Five professional sniffer dogs were trained over a two-month period to locate the scent of storm petrels underground.

NatureScot via Website
Simon Chapman from K9 with Molly.

David Steel, reserve manager at the Isle of May, said they were “delighted” to confirm the colony.

“We were really excited to work with the dogs and the dog handlers to find out more about storm petrels on the island,” he said.

“These special seabirds come ashore under the cover of darkness and nest underground in crevices, burrows, cairns or stone-walls, raising a single chick.

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“During that time, their activities – singing away in total darkness, as well as their unique musky smell, make these birds so fascinating and mysterious. We’re delighted to confirm the storm petrel colony after such a great team effort over the last three years by so many people.”

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K9 staff with sniffer dogs, from left to right – Lyn with Pyper, Lorriane with Nelson, Lucy with Esmay, and Simon with Molly and Storm.

Dr Mark Bolton, the leading authority on storm petrels in the UK and a principal conservation scientist for the RSPB, described the search as “ground-breaking”.

He said: “It’s very exciting to discover a new breeding colony of storm petrels in the UK, which considerably extends their known breeding range on the east coast of Britain, and increases their resilience to the many challenges our seabirds face.

“The fact that specially-trained scent dogs were used to locate many of the nesting sites is groundbreaking in the UK, and I hope it heralds a new era of greater use of scent dogs for seabird monitoring here.”

Simon Chapman, senior trainer at K9 Manhunt & ScentWork Scotland, added: “Having trained lots of different dogs over the years on a vast array different odours, this was a first for us to work in conservation and to locate a new colony of nesting seabirds.

“Dogs are a cost effective and fast method to cover the ground when conducting these types of surveys.”


£2.2m campaign launched to double size of new nature reserve

The Langholm Initiative charity hopes to buy 5300 acres of Langholm Moor and three residential properties.

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An initial crowdfunder on Go Fund Me aims to raise at least £150,000.

A £2.2m fundraising campaign has been launched to double the size of a nature reserve in Dumfries and Galloway.

The Langholm Initiative charity created the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve after raising £3.8m to buy 5200 acres of land and six residential properties.

The campaign was launched last year and the group took ownership of the land in March.

It now hopes to buy 5300 acres of Langholm Moor and three residential properties from Buccleuch Estates.

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This would increase the size of the nature reserve to 10,500 acres.

The community said it needs to raise the funds by May 2022 as the offer from Buccleuch is time limited.

An initial crowdfunder on Go Fund Me aims to raise at least £150,000.

Applications will also be made to grant-funding bodies and a private donor has already pledged £500,000.

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Jenny Barlow, the reserve’s estate manager, said: “We’re aiming to repeat the impossible and open a new chapter in this inspiring story of hope and community by doubling the size of Tarras Valley Nature Reserve – and so doubling the benefits for people, nature and climate.

“We need all the help we can get to achieve a big win for wildlife, climate action and community regeneration – and a legacy for future generations.

“Scotland is one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries and it desperately needs projects like this.”

She added that if the land goes onto the open market there is a risk it “will be bought by corporate investment firms, which are currently banking large amounts of land in the area”.

Benny Higgins, Buccleuch’s executive chairman, said: “We were delighted that The Langholm Initiative was able to purchase the initial area from Buccleuch last year, having shown such tenacity and vision.

“Having reached agreement on timeline and value, we wish them every success with this next exciting phase, both for the initiative and the community.”

Langholm said the land is home to wildlife such as black grouse, short-eared owls and merlin, and is a stronghold for hen harriers.


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