Every pet in the UK will be insured against lynx attacks if controversial plans to release them into forests near Glasgow and the Scottish Borders go ahead.
The Lynx UK Trust has identified land which could support up to 250 of the big cats between Loch Lomond and the Great Glen.
It is also moving ahead with plans for a trial reintroduction in the Kielder Forest, which straddles the border between Scotland and England.
Lloyd’s of London has agreed to insure pets, sheep and humans against attacks if the proposal is approved.
Lynx were hunted to extinction in the UK more than 1300 years ago and Britain’s surging wild deer population has been attributed to a lack of natural predators.
Landowners, farmers and gamekeeping groups have raised concerns about the plans, however.
Dr Paul O’Donoghue, chief scientific advisor to the trust, said: “Some farmers have suggested it will be impossible to fund a compensation program, even though in reality such funds rarely cost more than 1000 euros a year on the continent.
“This will hopefully give them a great deal of confidence if the largest insurance market in the world is offering to cover any kind of attacks on livestock by lynx during a trial.”
Richard Bryant, head of the specialist division of Lloyd’s which will be responsible for insuring sheep if the trial goes ahead said he was confident attacks would be rare.
“Having assessed all the science and research on lynx predation we’re very confident that sheep attacks will be rare, so if our support can help make a trial reintroduction practical it’s a great opportunity for us to do something really positive,” he said.
“I believe this is the first time insurance has been used to assist a reintroduction project in the UK so we’re very excited about it.”
Six lynx will be released in the Kielder Forest over five years under current plans, which still have to be approved by Natural England.
A nationwide round of applause across the UK is set to take place on Sunday evening to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.
People around Scotland have been urged to give the “biggest and loudest clap yet” for frontline workers following the success of the weekly Clap for Carers when coronavirus was at its peak.
The public will also be encouraged to observe a minute’s silence and light a candle on Saturday in remembrance of people who have died over the course of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to take part, with Downing Street to be lit-up blue on Saturday night as a candle is lit at the PM’s official residence at 9pm.
Johnson will meet NHS workers in the Number 10 garden on Sunday afternoon, and, speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Friday, urged the public to clap for “those who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to help the nation get through this pandemic”.
Public buildings in Scotland which will be lit up in blue in tribute to the NHS include the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh and Glasgow’s SEC – which was turned into the temporary NHS Louisa Jordan Covid-19 hospital.
It is hoped the nationwide clap, planned for 5pm on Sunday, will become an annual tradition.
Speaking at Friday’s Scottish Government briefing, national clinical director Jason Leitch said: “Over the last four months, the NHS and our wider health and social services have adapted at a phenomenal speed and scale to meet the challenges of this pandemic.
“It is important that we celebrate these anniversaries each year, but this year feels more important than ever. Buildings across the United Kingdom on Saturday night will light up blue.
“During the early stages of this pandemic we demonstrated our support for health, care staff and key workers on Thursday evenings.
“On Sunday night at 5pm we want to have the biggest and loudest clap yet across the whole of the UK.
“We want Scotland’s clap to be louder than everybody else’s. Please join in the celebration by taking part in that very special clap.”
Chief executive for NHS Wales Dr Andrew Goodall said Clap for Carers was “very much embraced” in Wales, and he is “delighted” to support Sunday’s event.
It has been organised following a letter from the Together coalition, in which influential figures the Archbishop of Canterbury voiced their support for making July 5 an official day of commemoration.
Police Scotland say they will be carrying out daily patrols as part of the force’s summer campaign against drink and drug driving.
Those visiting Scotland are also being reminded that the legal limit for alcohol in drivers is lower than south of the border.
Pubs are reopening in England on Saturday but remain shut in Scotland until Monday, when outdoor areas like beer gardens can host customers again.
Police Scotland said officers would not be stopping cars or making any changes to policing in the border area, although the force urged people to follow the coronavirus rules.
Assistant chief constable Gary Ritchie said: “The chief constable has made it clear that we are asking people to take personal responsibility to do the right thing and remember the purpose of these measures is to aid the collective effort to stay safe, protect others and save lives by preventing the virus from spreading.
“We recognise that people have made significant sacrifices but we would ask them to continue to comply with the regulations and the Scottish Government’s guidance.
“Our officers will continue to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance and encourage compliance.
“We will use enforcement as a last resort only where there is a clear breach of the legislation.”
He continued: “Police Scotland is currently carrying out its summer drink and drug drive campaign, and we have officers out on proactive patrols on a daily basis to deter and detect drink or drug driving.
“Drivers visiting Scotland should also remember that the drink drive limit here is lower.”
The Prince of Wales said he hopes the nation’s “entrepreneurial spirit” will “secure brighter and much more sustainable times ahead” for the hospitality sector after months of lockdown.
Charles’ comments came in a video message in support of the industry as he also spoke about how staff employed by his Prince’s Foundation had been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
It comes as pubs, restaurants and hotels reopened on Saturday in England, while in Scotland the sector is preparing for reopening on July 15.
Beer gardens and other outdoor hospitality will be able to operate in Scotland from Monday.
The heir to the throne said in his message: “I need hardly say that it is exceptionally welcome news that hotels, restaurants and pubs are to begin opening their doors.
“Hospitality connects people and enables them to create wonderful memories with families and friends, be it over a pint of beer, a special meal with family or an overnight stay to explore new places.
“All these experiences have been dearly missed as normal life has been put on hold.”
He continued: “I know that those at the forefront of hospitality have missed their guests too.
“So I can only express my warmest appreciation for the resilience and fortitude shown by those in hospitality and offer my deepest sympathy to those who are struggling to keep their businesses going or are having to cope with the appalling misery of seeing their businesses go into administration.
“I only pray we can begin to rebuild a vital and resilient industry and that the wonderful entrepreneurial spirit I come across so often can help secure brighter and much more sustainable times ahead.”
Nearly 200 members of staff working for Charles’ Foundation were furloughed, with their salaries funded by the foundation.
It comes as Dumfries House, a historic country estate in Ayrshire which the prince intervened to save in 2007, reopens next week.
Charles said in his message: “I know full well from the enforced closure of properties run by my Foundation, both in Aberdeenshire and East Ayrshire, let alone the complete disruption of all charitable enterprises at Highgrove (gardens in Gloucestershire), just how far reaching the effects of the lack of trading can be.
“At Dumfries House, for example, the closure has had a direct impact on those who show more than 32,000 visitors around the house itself, and also those who work in the bed and breakfast, cafe and events business – not to mention, of course, the catalogue of suppliers whose businesses depend on this activity taking place.”
Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland is likely to relax quarantine for people arriving from “low-risk” countries.
But she branded the UK Government’s decision-making process on air bridges “shambolic”.
The First Minister said it had been “challenging” for Scotland to come to a position on proposals to lift quarantine restrictions on those flying into the country from other parts of the world.
The 14-day self-isolation policy for people returning to or visiting England from destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Germany has been lifted by the UK Government.
But Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not agreed to the plans.
Sturgeon said: “When so much is at stake as it is right now we can’t allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of, to be quite frank about it, another government’s shambolic decision process.
“We want to welcome visitors again from around the world and we also want to allow our own citizens to travel.
“We also want, if possible for obvious practical reasons, to have alignment on these matters with the rest of the UK.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will also exempt a number of countries from its advisory against all non-essential travel, which has been in place since March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The change in travel advice for England comes into force on Saturday, while the quarantine policy will be amended from July 10.
The First Minister said it was “very likely” that the Scottish Government will be able to agree the low-risk countries on the air bridge list over the next few days.
Sturgeon said: “I think I can say now it is likely, very likely, that we will be able to agree the list of countries the UK has categorised as low-risk, although we will need to do a proper assessment of that.
“But we need to take some particular care in our assessment of the risk categorised as medium-risk, because that is where there may be some countries that have a higher prevalence of the virus than Scotland does right now.”
She said she hoped a decision could be made “quickly”.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps told STV News he doesn’t blame the Scottish Government following the delay of the UK Government’s release of its full list of countries that will be exempt from quarantine.
Instead, he believes any issues could be resolved ahead of July 10 when the new rules come into force.
He said: “I wouldn’t blame anybody for it, but I said on Monday that I would be announcing this later in the week and I know every day people are saying ‘when’s the list coming out?’ and I did want to just hold back to see if we could get the four nations all signed up at the same time.
“That may well still happen because the date of this is July 10.
“So although the list is coming out today, from July 10 you won’t need to quarantine for 14 days if returning from any of these countries and territories on the list.
“So, it’s up to Scotland of course to decide – Wales, Northern Ireland – they all have their own processes and decisions to go through.”
It was also revealed at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing that one further person has died in Scotland after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
The official death toll in Scotland stands at 2488, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths suggest the most up-to-date total is now more than 4100.
Sturgeon stated that total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 18,276 – a jump of 12 in the last 24 hours.
Nicola Sturgeon is urging Scots desperate for a summer holiday to book ‘staycations’ to bolster the country’s tourism sector.
The First Minister said taking a break in Scotland this year would help the industry at “a time when they have probably never needed that support more” due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily press briefing on Friday, Sturgeon said: “If you are desperate to book a summer holiday – and if you are that would be entirely understandable – why not think about booking it in Scotland this year and giving some support to our own tourism sector at a time when they have probably never needed that support more.”
Hearts and Partick Thistle have been told that their fight against relegation must go to arbitration and will not be heard by the Court of Session.
The clubs were told that an arbitration panel convened by the Scottish Football Association should consider the case.
The clubs had taken legal action after they were relegated when Scottish Professional Football League member clubs voted to cut short the 2019/20 season and decide prizes, promotion and relegation on a point-per-game basis.
Hearts and Thistle sought to cancel that ruling.
Lawyers for both the SPFL and promoted clubs Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers argued that football rules showed that the clubs were bound to go to arbitration before any court action.
After hearing evidence from all parties over the past three days, Lord Clark ruled that the matter should be heard by a Hampden arbitration panel.
A motion from the promoted clubs to dismiss the court proceedings entirely was dismissed.
Hearts and Thistle’s QC David Thomson was successful in a move to recover documents from both the league and three champion clubs to help prepare their case.
Lord Clark said in his ruling: “I accept entirely, as Mr Thomson submitted, that the media and the general public have a great interest in this dispute and would prefer to have the issues aired in open court.
“However, as a matter of law, the parties have agreed to the terms of SFA articles of association and to be bound by them.
“Accordingly, SPFL and Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers are entitled to invoke the arbitration provisions within these articles of association of the SFA, which will result in the dispute being dealt with by arbitration.
“I am not entitled as a matter of law to refuse the application to sist on the grounds that the interest of public in the dispute should override the agreement reached by the parties.”
The Premiership season is set to start on August 1 but Lord Clark said he trusted that arbitration could begin quickly.
“During the hearing I raised questions about whether the arbitration procedure will be able to determine this matter before August 1,” he said.
“While, for obvious reasons, I have not been given any absolute assurances on this matter, senior counsel for the SPFL and for Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers have each submitted that there is no reason to conclude that the matter cannot be dealt with in arbitration before August 1 and indeed, as I understood it, that their clients are reasonably confident that it can be.”
A spokesman for the SPFL said: “We welcome today’s decision at the Court of Session that this case should be dealt with under the Scottish FA’s arbitration process. We will now prepare for the Scottish FA arbitration.”
Hearts and Partick Thisle issued a joint statement after the ruling.
It read: “After three days of detailed and complex submissions, Heart of Midlothian and Partick Thistle today learned the outcome of our preliminary hearing in the Court of Session, presided over by Lord Clark.
“It is important to note that this was only to determine how to proceed.
“Lord Clark found in our favour in two motions while we were unsuccessful in one. While denied the opportunity for a public hearing in Court this simply means we now pursue the same outcome in a different forum.
“Importantly, we were successful in the motion to get access to a number of documents that will be key to support our case in arbitration.
“Both clubs are also pleased to have received a fair hearing and feel it important to point to Lord Clark’s words that: “I do not blame the petitioners for not raising proceedings or seeking arbitration whilst that important and potentially crucial alternative [of reconstruction] was available and was actively being facilitated by the SPFL.”
“We promised our supporters that we would fight for them and we shall continue to do so.
“Neither club will be making any further comment today. “