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Investigation after stranded sperm whale dies in Moray Firth

The 25 tonne mammal was found injured near Ardersier on Tuesday morning but died hours later.

An investigation has been launched to find out what caused a whale’s death in the Moray Firth.

The 25 tonne sperm whale was found injured near Ardersier on Tuesday morning but died hours later.

Members of the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme attended the scene.

Son appears in court over murder of Louise Tiffney

Sean Flynn, 36, charged with murdering his mum, whose remains were found 15 years after she disappeared.

Louise Tiffney's remains were found at Gosford House in East Lothian in 2017.

A man has appeared in court charged with murdering his mum.

The body of 43-year-old Louise Tiffney was found at stately home Gosford House in East Lothian in 2017.

She was last seen alive after leaving her home in Dean Path, Edinburgh, in May 2002.

Sean Flynn, from Berlin in Germany, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Friday morning.

The 36-year-old made no plea to the murder charge and was released on bail until his next appearance at a later date.

Almost £650m spent in a decade to switch off wind turbines

Power firms have been paid to turn off wind turbines when the demand for electricity drops or the wind is too strong.

Customers have been forced to pay electricity companies almost £650m over the past decade – to not produce power.

The cash is compensation for periods that wind turbines are switched off at short notice and usually happens to avoid overloading the UK’s National Grid.

Since 2009, power firms have been paid to turn off wind turbines when the demand for electricity drops or the wind is too strong.

The cost is then added to customers’ electricity bills.

The bulk of the money – so-called constraint payments – comes to electricity suppliers in Scotland because most windfarms are north of the border.

Helen McDade, Scottish policy advisor at the Renewable Energy Foundation, told STV News: “They’re getting to unmanageable levels with last year being a record level.

“£136m was paid in constraints for windfarms to turn off, to not produce, and that’s more than they would have got if they’d been having good windy days.

“So there’s an incentive for them to build where they’re going to be constrained off, where there isn’t the grid to cope.”

Since 2009, customers have directly compensated windfarmers for switching off turbines – to the tune of £649m.

Watchdogs say that volume would have powered 90% of Scottish households for a year.

A trend is emerging with more wind schemes are on the horizon and most are proposed for areas of Scotland where the biggest constraint payments have been made.

Ms McDade said: “There’s a huge swathe of public applications coming forward now and if you look at the map of constraint payments and you look at the map of where these applications are coming forward, there’s quite a similarity to the pressure in these areas.”

Over the decade, the biggest beneficiary for compensation has been Whitelee Windfarm near Glasgow which received £110m.

The Clyde scheme received £80m, Fallago in the Borders £41m, Griffin in Tayside £37m, Black Law in Lanarkshire £24m and Farr in the Highlands £22m.

The trade body Scottish Renewables describes the payments as “a normal part of the overall efficient management of our electricity system.”

The cost has angered those in the frontline of poverty, who are faced with pleas of help from growing numbers of people deciding between heating their homes or putting food on the table.

Alasdair Christie, who runs the Citizens Advice Bureau in Inverness, said: “It’s an awful waste of money that could be diverted and spent on vulnerable people – those in fuel poverty debt, those on the breadline, to try to help them, rather than just haul it up in very rich organisations.”

Responding to the criticism, a spokesman for the UK’s Energy Department said: “We are committed to a dynamic energy market with a range of options for meeting future energy demand including renewables but it must be delivered in a way that offers value for money for consumers and taxpayers.”

The Scottish Government insists wind is “the cheapest form of electricity generated”.

Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “In an ideal world we’d avoid any need for constraint payments but it reflects the fact there has been insufficient investment in the grid to meet the growing installation and demand for renewable electricity generation.

“It’s a necessity at the moment. It sometimes is the most cost effective way of dealing with issues rather than over-building the network to cope with surges in supply.”

In a statement, the National Grid Electricity System Operator said it was “significantly cheaper to pay the constraint costs,” rather than upgrade the grid.

It added: “All electricity systems around the world use constraint payments.”

Man jailed after mum-to-be lost unborn twins in stabbing

Stephen Ramsay repeatedly stabbed, punched and throttled woman he accused of stealing money.

Stephen Ramsay: STV

A man who repeatedly stabbed a heavily pregnant mum-to-be, causing her to lose her unborn twins, has been jailed.

Stephen Ramsay also punched and throttled the woman during an attack in Glenrothes, Fife, after accusing her of stealing money he’d made while posing as a homeless person.

He will spent at least five years in prison for attempted murder, but was also handed a lifelong restriction order, which means he may never be freed.

Police kicked down a door to find Ramsay sitting on top of the 35-year-old woman with his hands around her neck.

Shortly after the attack, the 32-weeks pregnant woman lost both babies she was carrying.

When Ramsay was later told the unborn babies had died he became inconsolable and shouted: “I’ve murdered my kids. I don’t deserve to be treated. I deserve to die, just kill me now.”

The victim suffered a spinal cord injury, brain damage, extensive bruising and at least 22 separate injuries on her torso alone.

Ramsay pleaded guilty to the charges, however the High Court in Aberdeen heard on Friday that he now denied committing the offence.

Detective inspector Paul Dick, who led the police investigation, said: “When Stephen Ramsay committed this horrendous attack he was well aware that the woman was heavily pregnant and that his actions could have killed her as well as her unborn children.

“The victim has been left with permanent injuries and she has been left utterly distraught at the death of her twins. No amount of time in prison can ever undo the harm Ramsay has caused to her.”

Rangers charged by SFA over behaviour of staff and players

The Ibrox club have received notices of complaint that could lead to bans and fines.

Rangers are in the dock. SNS

Rangers have been charged by the Scottish FA over the conduct of their staff and players during games against Hibs and Celtic, with the Edinburgh club also being cited for their behaviour.

The Ibrox club has received Notices of Complaint relating to the two matches in December with Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent, as well as two members of the backroom team, at the centre of the alleged misconduct.

The first charges come from Rangers 3-0 win at Easter Road on December 20. Kent, Joe Aribo and Jermain Defoe scored the goals that gave Steven Gerrard’s side the three points but the match was marked by a touchline confrontation between the staff of both sides. Hibs assistant John Potter was sent to the stand, as was Rangers coach Tom Culshaw.

Both teams have been charged under rule 204, which states that “All clubs and recognised football bodies shall procure that its officials, team staff, employees and players conduct themselves in an orderly fashion at all times during and/or after a match”. Hibs and Rangers face a fine if the charge is proven to an independent panel.

Potter and Culshaw have both been charged with misconduct under rule 203 and could face suspension.

Rangers are also in the dock over behaviour during their 2-1 victory over Celtic at Celtic Park on December 29. The club has again been accused of breaking rule 204 and the charge is understood to centre on the conduct of Kent, Morelos and coach Michael Beale.

Beale was dismissed from the touchline by referee Kevin Clancy during the final minutes of the game, after Morelos was sent off for picking up a second yellow card. Morelos was also cautioned again after the game for gesturing to Celtic fans as he headed off the pitch.

Kent scored Rangers’ opening goal in the game but drew attention for his celebration, where he used a ‘gun salute’ gesture, which he later said was a tribute to rap act Smif and Wessun.

The rule in full reads: “All clubs and recognised football bodies shall procure that its officials, team staff, employees and players conduct themselves in an orderly fashion at all times during and/or after a match. In particular, clubs and recognised football bodies are responsible for ensuring that its officials, team staff, employees and players refrain from any one or a combination of the following: (a) becoming involved in a confrontation (b) conduct that is likely to lead to or to exacerbate or prolong a hostile or argumentative situation with players and/or team staff from the opposing team and/or match officials (c) conduct that may otherwise incite disorder”.

Beale has also been cited for misconduct after being dismissed and could face a touchline ban.

Brothers set world records in 35-day Atlantic crossing

Three brothers from Edinburgh have set two world records after rowing the Atlantic Ocean in just 35 days.

Three brothers from Edinburgh have set two world records after rowing the Atlantic Ocean in just 35 days.

The MacLean siblings, known as BROAR, set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 12 and completed their 3000-mile row to Antigua in the Caribbean on Thursday.

It means the brothers – Lachlan, 21, Jamie, 26, and Ewan, 27 – beat the previous record of 41 days, with an official timing of 35 days, nine hours and nine minutes.

They’re also now the youngest rowers to complete the journey.

“Breaking a world record is bizarre, we are just as surprised as anyone else,” said Jamie. “We knew if we made it across we would get the youngest trio, but the speed record came as a bit of a surprise.”

It wasn’t plain sailing for the team, during their journey they had to overcome seasickness, battery issues, dehydration and exhaustion.

“After new year we had a week of poor weather and not much wind,” said Lachlan. “In order to keep up with the teams of four we had to cut the amount of sleep we took. Jamie then fell ill immediately after I fell ill, we were on our oars for basically 24 hours.”

Despite the struggles, the brothers said overcoming the tough times resulted in some of their best moments.

“Looking back, there were points in those really tough days when you just enjoyed it the most,” said Ewan. “When you’re really pushing, there is joy to be had there.

“I’m incredibly proud of that, but mostly I’m proud of the money we’ve raised for charity and the difference we’ll make to two causes very close to our hearts.”

The trio are hoping to raise £250,000 for Feedback Madagascar and Children First.

Children First is Scotland’s national children’s charity, while Feedback Madagascar works with some of the poorest communities in Madagascar to improve their lives and their environment.

Jamie and Lachlan, students at Glasgow University and Glasgow School of Art respectively, convinced their brother Ewan, a design engineer for Dyson in Bristol, to take a sabbatical from work to make the world record attempt.

So what next for the trio? “There will definitely be another adventure,” said Jamie.

Police numbers ‘not sustainable’ amid budget deficit

Police Scotland will have to make 'difficult choices' to address their 'structural deficit'.

Police: Officer numbers 'not sustainable'.

The current number of police officers in Scotland is “not sustainable”, it has been claimed amid warnings of a “structural deficit” in the force’s budget.

At a board meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) on Friday, vice chair David Crichton also said “difficult choices” will have to be made to address the deficit.

He said the vast majority of the police budget has already been allocated to cover officer and staff costs.

He told the meeting in Edinburgh: “We at the authority have been raising our concerns about financial sustainability consistently over the last four or five months.

“The chief constable’s been raising it and Audit Scotland has raised it as well.

“There is a structural deficit in the policing budget. It’s simple arithmetic, it’s not complicated mathematics, it’s simple arithmetic.

“With almost 90% of the budget allocated to officer and staff costs, it does mean that difficult choices are going to have to be made over the next weeks and months – difficult choices by Government, by the authority and by Police Scotland.

“Frankly, current officer numbers are not sustainable within the existing budget so something has to change on that front.

“The deficit is simply going to continue to increase if something does not change.”

But he added it “doesn’t mean that improvements can’t still be made”.

He continued: “Nevertheless, with the current budget, with the current numbers, some changes need to be made and some difficult choices have to be made.

“We’re expecting the Scottish budget on February 6, there may be some revisions to that after the UK Budget, we know it’s going to be a difficult settlement, but we’d be failing in our responsibilities as authority members if we did not continue to reinforce the fact that there is a structural deficit.

“It will only increase unless changes are made, in some combination, to both budget and officers numbers. I think that’s a reality we have to all face up to.”

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told the meeting there had been an increase in the demands on officers in 2019.

He said there was an almost 20% rise – from around 1,500 to 1,800 – in the number of loyalist and republican marches in Scotland, as well as a higher number of spontaneous protests such as those by Extinction Rebellion.

“My priority is to build a sustainable police service that has the right mix of police officers and police staff that operates within its budget,” he said.

“But at the moment there’s an operational imperative, I sense an element of political imperative, to maintain officer numbers and the challenge for us is showing the value that having a strong police service provides and at this stage, making a case for further investment.

“This service has made significant savings. We’ve taken £200m a year out of the core cost of policing, I don’t think we’ve had the recognition and acknowledgement that that provides.

“We’ve had real time protection but that’s only kicked in since 2015/2016, but the core cost of policing is £200m less every year than it was prior to Police Scotland coming into being (in April 2013).

“So our deficit is because actually our budget has been cut even greater than the savings that we’ve managed to achieve.

“So my pitch is, can we get some of those savings back?”

Bank robber forgot to cut eye holes in pillowcase mask

Armed robber had to ditch disguise because he couldn't see what he was doing.

Davies managed to escape the bank with nearly £2000. Google 2019

A bank robber put a pillowcase over his head to hide his identity – then had to take it off because he couldn’t see.

Matthew Davies stormed into the Bank of Scotland branch in Dunfermline, Fife, armed with a meat cleaver last September.

The 47-year-old pulled the weapon from a pillowcase before putting the bedding item over his head.

But the High Court in Glasgow was told Davies had to quickly to remove it because he hadn’t created eye holes.

Davies, from Dunfermline, still managed to get his hands on almost £2000 – before sauntering off and then petting a dog.

He was caught after a brave customer from the bank followed him home then called police.

Davies pleaded guilty to assault and robbery and will be sentenced next month.

A9 to close for three nights for bridge beam installation

The A9 will be closed for three nights as new bridge beams are installed.

A9: Will be closed overnight.

The A9 will be closed for three nights next month as a final set of bridge beams are installed.

Drivers have been advised to allow extra time for their journeys during the closures that will take place between 8.30pm to 6am on Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 in February and from 10pm to 6am on Friday if needed.

The closures are in place for the installation of precast concrete beams at Gelly overbridge as the A9 dualling: Luncarty to Pass of Birnam project reaches its final stages.

Work will take place over the existing carriageway and more than half of the deck area will be landscaped to provide a safe route for a variety of wildlife to safely cross over the A9.

A number of ‘green bridges’ have been built on projects in Scotland including three on the recently opened Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.

The Gelly overbridge, north of Bankfoot, is the most northern structure on the project and will provide access to adjacent landowners and residents.

February 14 has been included as a contingency date as the work will be weather dependent as heavy lifting operations are sensitive to high winds.

The closures may be postponed if poor weather is forecast.

In the event that the works are completed on the first two nights, the third overnight closure will not be required.

Signed diversion routes will be in place during the closures and access for emergency vehicles will be maintained at all times.

Upon completion of the project, road users will benefit from 15km of continuous dual carriageway from Inveralmond roundabout in Perth to Pass of Birnam. 

SFA: Morelos gesture was dealt with after Celtic game

The governing body has revealed that the Rangers striker was reported for additional misconduct.

Morelos was sent off during Rangers ' win at Celtic Park. SNS

Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos will not face further action over the gesture he made during his side’s 2-1 win over Celtic, with the Scottish FA revealing the incident was dealt with on the day of the game.

Morelos was sent off after picking up a second yellow card late in the game and while leaving the pitch he made a gesture to the Celtic fans, drawing his hand across his neck.

Some interpreted the gesture as a ‘throat-slitting’ mime and called for the Scottish FA to take retrospective action. Rangers said in a statement that it was “used commonly throughout South America to indicate quite simply that something – in this case, the match – is finished”.

It has now been revealed that match referee Kevin Clancy dealt with the incident after the final whistle, cautioning the player for additional misconduct.

Morelos will sit out Rangers’ next three games, beginning with the match against Stranraer on Friday evening. He is suspended for that Scottish Cup tie because of his disciplinary record in the competition last season.

The prolific striker will then miss the Premiership match against Hearts as the ban for his sending-off against Celtic, and then serve an additional match suspension against St Mirren because he had previously been sent off against Motherwell earlier in December.

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