Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 502

Issue # 502                                                      Week ending Saturday 4th May 2019

I Was Addicted to the Whole Concept of Time Travel. But That’s All in the Past
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Probably because we are all getting older, time travel is something that intrigues most of us. Would I want to go back in time? I suppose so but, then again, would I want to endure all that teenage angst, the teenage agony and the teenage acne? Would I want to be hit again by that runaway ram that charged at me and collided with my pink bits and brought tears to my eyes for the rest of that long, sore weekend? I was just 10.

Daleks and Cybermen were part of our childhoods because Doctor Who could get out of a really sticky situation by simply running into a police box and just pressing a button until the lights began to flash. What a great idea. In fact, we used to have public toilets in Stornoway that did pretty much the same thing but they have all now been taken away -  precisely because some of the situations that developed in them were just too sticky.

If light has a speed - which it does - then anything faster must be going forward in time. Anything going the other way must be going back in time and it’s probably very dangerous for anyone to go through it. What’s that called again? Oh yeah, Brexit.

Would I like to go forward and see what things will be like in the year 3000? Hover cars gliding between The Butt and Barra, the subsea tunnel between Scalpay and Dunvegan will have been opened by Queen Charlotte. And they will have found the elixir of life to make us live to about 250. No thanks. No, you see, like a fine wine, I consider myself merely maturing. I mean, if things really do get better with age then I’m only just approaching magnificence.

However, I would like to go forward right now to this Sunday night. The final episode of Line of Duty needs to give us so many answers about the OCG, the UCO, the AFOs and the BCs. Those are bent cops, by the way. And who is H? That H stands for, er, who knows? Is it the troubled, borassic and now locked-up Superintendent Ted Hasting or is Ted actually the cleverest cop who has ever pulled on the uniform of Robert Peel? Was dead cop Corbett really undercover and did another UCO really stand by while he was knifed? I can’t stand the suspense. Tell me ... now.

The latest phenomenon of time travel continues with the return last week of that shiny hi-tech American-made E4 show, Timeless. It is about going back to the past and changing things there so we will have a different present. And future, obviously. It gets really complicated. If evil people back then are bopped off so a kindly ancestor survives, that does not mean that good things follow. It may mean they are simply replaced by worse evil-doers and the consequences now could be absolutely awful. See? Is your brain hurting already? Me too. Paracetamol doesn’t help either.

Mrs X really loves Timeless, but it is on very late. Last week she was definitely going to stay awake to watch the first episode. One thing my missus never wants to do is admit she fell asleep and missed a favourite TV show. Just as it was ending, she suddenly woke up. She had missed most of the programme. She was determined to see what happened so she rewound back to where she nodded off. Guess what? Within five minutes, my dozy wife was dozing. Waking up again from her norrag, she realised she had missed the action. Like Doctor Who, Bill and Ted et al, she whooshed through the space-time continuum by pressing Rewind and went back again ...

Then, the strains of that bizarre musical came rushing around my head. Was it me or was there a guy in a tight black leather corset and suspenders standing over her, singing Let’s Do The Timewarp Again? If you are really confused about where this is going, don’t worry. This is not a game Mrs X and I play late on a weekday evening. It is just a scene about time travelling from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. What? You think I would wear a black leather corset and suspenders? No way. You hear me, no flippin’ way. Anyway, they don’t fit any more.

Time travellers could be all around us. As in Timeless, they could have their spinning ball or Tardis in a clearing in the grounds of Lews Castle. If they can go anywhere and to any era, why wouldn’t time travellers pick the Outer Hebrides in 2019? Reef Beach in Uig was the only Scottish entry on the Travel 50 list of the 50 best beaches. In Scotland? Nah. In the UK? Nope, but in the whole world.

And we have great accommodation and fantastic places to eat. For instance, there is a story about a traveller in time who walked into a restaurant in downtown Stornoway. This particular time traveller enjoyed his food so much he went back four seconds.

Northlink Cuts 200,000 Plastic Items From Northern Isles Ferry Services
NorthLink has cut more than 200,000 plastic items from its ferry services to and from the Northern Isles.  Operator Serco said it made the move to reduce its environmental footprint. About 87,000 disposable cups and 28,000 lids will be replaced with compostable alternatives. Plastic teaspoons, food trays and portion pots for sauces will also be removed. Ferries run between Aberdeen, Kirkwall and Lerwick. NorthLink also operates between Scrabster and Stromness.  Seumas Campbell, from Serco NorthLink, said: "Looking after the natural environment is such an important part of the service we provide.  So we are passionate about minimising our impact on the world around us.  The steps we have taken to remove single-use plastics are very positive and we will keep looking for more opportunities to reduce our environmental footprint."  The move follows a drive from many organisations to reduce single-use plastic consumption because of the 'Attenborough effect.'  The veteran broadcaster's series, Blue Planet 2, highlighted the damaging impact plastic is having on the marine environment.  Last year Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) announced it would introduce reusable cups, jugs of milk and sauce dispensers to reduce plastic waste. CalMac operates Clyde and Hebrides ferry services.

Salmon Farming 'Pays £100m in British Taxes'

The salmon farming industry claims to contribute more than £100m in British taxes, although it is controlled by parent companies in Norway.  The industry's trade body commissioned independent economic research into salmon farming's economic impact, partly to face down criticism of it.  The study found turnover of more than £1bn.  The amount of gross value added - a measure of the output from the sector - was £365m at last year's prices.  The impact of the turnover spent through wages and taxes, and the indirect impact on spending through other sectors in Scotland, is thought to take the total impact to double that of revenue, at more than £2bn.  Richard Marsh, author of the study at 4-consulting, reckoned that the scale of the sector's impact through the economy, including its tax contribution, is higher than most other sectors of the economy.  Much of the spending by the industry takes place in Scotland, and it is a big investor in capital goods. This year, a major new fish feed production plant is to be opened at Kyleakin on Skye.  The corporation tax contribution for last year is thought to have been £50m, and £24m was paid to HMRC through income tax and national insurance. A further £37m was directly paid, net, on production and products.  Richard Marsh calculated that £76m was paid in wages. The average pay for its 2,300 employees in 2018 was £34,000.  A more detailed study published in 2017, and commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, found a higher level of value added, though it covers a wider range of aquaculture. The Scottish Salmon Producers Association (SSPO) does not see the way of compiling figures as being comparable.  The SSPO's Hamish McDonell said: "An overall economic impact of more than £2bn represents a major benefit to the Scottish economy in itself but with average salaries of £34,000 for the 2,300 people directly employed, the sector is injecting extremely valuable resources into some of Scotland's most fragile, sparsely populated, rural areas as well."

Police Event in Inverness Aims to Bring Diversity

Members of the Muslim community in Inverness have been given an insight into the role of police officers and special constables. Police Scotland gave a presentation at a specially-organised recruitment event at the Inverness Mosque and Islamic Centre.  Based in Portland Place, it is the UK’s most northerly mosque and a hub for Muslims across the Highlands.  The event is part of a drive to encourage more diversity within Scotland’s police force.  A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We would like to thank everyone who attended the event at Inverness Mosque and Islamic Centre and hope that they have taken away some insight about the role of a police officer or special constable.  “Scotland is an increasingly diverse country and Police Scotland wants to represent this change. Events such as this are an important part of encouraging that.  Attendees received inputs from specialist departments, had the chance speak to serving police officers and were guided through the recruitment process for joining Police Scotland.”

Former SNP MSP: English Not A 'Proper Language' of Scotland
The leader of a new ‘“inclusive” campaign group for independence has told most Scottish voters they do not speak a “proper language”.  Dave Thompson, chair of Voices for Scotland, risked insulting electors by suggesting at the SNP conference that only Gaelic and Scots had true standing.  Mr Thompson, who was a Highlands & Islands MSP from 2007 to 2013, used the two languages to introduce himself to delegates at the start of Sunday’s session in Edinburgh.  He then said: “Apologies to those who do not have the two proper languages of Scotland."  The 2011 Scottish census found 93% people aged 3 and over used only English at home, followed by Scots and Polish (each 1%) and Gaelic (0.5%) as the most common languages other than English.  Mr Thompson, 69, launched Voices for Scotland last week with the goal of getting support for independence up to 60 per cent.  The group said it wanted to be a “safe space” for people to debate independence free from “shouty men” and wanted to win over No Voters through the art of calm conversation.  Mr Thompson told the conference Scotland was in the home straight for independence, and the Yes campaign should “gently woo” No voters.  A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “To use a word that every Scot would understand Mr Thomspon appears to have a made a bit of fool himself. He also risks insulting thousands of voters.”

Perth UHI Student President Has His Say on New University Claim
There has been much discussion about the creation of a university in the centre of Perth to revitalise the city centre.  But many students feel those calls are disrespectful to Perth College, which is part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.  Student president at the Perth campus, Prince Honeysett, has written exclusively on how Perth should develop the learning facility it has, rather than try to create a new one.
Like many reading this, I am proud to be from Perth.  We should have ambitions for Perth as one of the great cities. When people think of Scotland, they should know how Perth stands in our country. Glasgow is still thriving from its image transformation in the 1980s, Edinburgh’s festivals continues to grow, Aberdeen is the heart of Scotland’s energy industry, Inverness is growing rich from the ‘Outlander’ tourism boost – and along the river, Dundee attracts perpetual praise for its cultural revolution.  So, where does Perth stand amongst them?  Ambition needs aspiration, and aspiration needs action. However, action must not be taken without those whom are most affected.  At the heart of any great European city, is a seat of higher learning – a university. Two years ago, I was glad to see that Perth was now declaring itself a ‘university city’. As well we should. It is a declaration of ambition that should be at the heart of how we see ourselves.  Universities are transformational institutions. They can draw in attractive sums of investment, create a desirable environment for business and be a catalyst for the growth of arts and culture.  However, universities will fail if they lose sight of the fact that they serve their local community, and if they do not keep students at the heart of everything they do.  A debate has begun about Perth having its own university. I want to be clear – Perth has a university. The ambition that Perth has for itself, must have Perth UHI – including it students – at its heart.  At Perth UHI, I represent other students who may begin studying an access course and leave with a PhD.  Standing between Muirton, where I grew up, and Letham, Perth UHI is rooted in its community. It is important to note the students of Perth are the people of Perth.  There are immediate challenges and education needs investment. As with all of Scotland’s colleges, students are facing lecturers’ strikes as our assessments approach in May. This is a symptom of the underinvestment in Scotland’s colleges by the Scottish Government.  Students expect wages to rise with the cost of living. After all, we will be working after we graduate.  The Scottish Government must support students by intervening and ending these strikes.  To invest in the students of Perth UHI is to invest in the people of Perth. So, when we turn ambition into a plan of action, students must be involved in the research, development and delivery of that plan. Otherwise, the ambition for Perth will be out of step with its people.  I represent students who have not been shy in stating what they feel would make Perth UHI a better place to study, and Perth a better place to be a student.  Accessible childcare, effective public transport, affordable housing, state-of-the-art learning resources, and a world-leading prospectus of courses to study taught by experts at the head of their field. Delivering the issues students are talking about will make people want to come to Perth to study, and people of Perth want to stay in the city to study.  These are at the forefront of students’ minds when they consider what would make Perth a great city to study. If their views aren’t heard, then the city of Perth will lose out on becoming an attractive place to be a student and undermine its status of being a university city.  There is a debate to be had about what kind of university city we want to be. What is Perth’s niche?  It’s well known that Aberdeen attracts those wanting to study in the energy sector, Dundee is famous for computer games and digital technology, Glasgow has taught many of Scotland’s MSPs.  Even within the University of the Highlands and Islands, Perth UHI should identify its forte. West Highland UHI in Fort William specialises in Scotland’s lucrative adventure tourism industry; Orkney UHI is world-leading in archaeology; Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI is Scotland’s national Gaelic college; and SAMS UHI of Oban’s marine science programme is benefitting from the ‘David Attenborough effect’. Does Perth UHI become the university renowned for its vibrant music business and cultural industries programmes? Does it become ‘Scotland’s Loughborough’ with its state-of-the-art Academy of Sport and Wellbeing? Does it tackle tomorrow’s political challenges with its social science courses?  Whatever Perth UHI does, and whatever the future holds for Perth as a university city, the success will be found by listening to students and serving the communities of Perth.  Perth UHI has always been here. It stands alongside the city of Perth at the beginning of a journey to sit alongside the great university cities of Scotland. When the city and the university begins that journey, they must do so in step with and alongside the communities and people that they serve.

Scottish Church Given Go-ahead to Move Cremated Remains From Memorial Garden

A church has created legal history by winning a court order to carry out a mass exhumation of cremated remains from a memorial garden.  The Scottish Episcopal Church has been granted permission to excavate the land at Glasgow’s former Holy Cross Church and replant it at another site.  The Knightswood church shut in 2013 after 87 years of service because of a dwindling congregation and the building was sold to a children’s nursery business in 2017. A condition of the sale was that church bosses had to arrange for the ashes of the 107 people interred in the garden of remembrance to be removed.  A suitable site was identified at St Bride’s Church in nearby Hyndland, but the church had to go to Glasgow Sheriff Court to seek permission to carry out the mass exhumation.  The case was the first of its kind in Scotland involving a large-scale disinterment of cremated remains.  Granting the order, Sheriff Andrew Cubie said: “The church building has come to the end of its useful life as a place of worship. The applicant has realised the church building in furtherance of their wider obligations to the diocese. The new occupier proposes use of the church and its grounds as a nursery, but whatever the intended use, the applicant recognises that the continued presence of the memorial garden is not consistent with a building no longer used as a place of worship.”  Sheriff Cubie added: “I am satisfied from the material presented that there is a necessity or high expediency in disinterring the remains and that they can be disinterred and re-interred with decency and respect into an atmosphere and situation akin to the previous garden.”  The church traced relatives of those whose ashes were in the memorial garden and none of them objected.  Some of the ashes are contained in urns. Others have been emptied into the ground or scattered across the garden. The excavation will involve the entire volume of soil and material in the memorial garden, around 7.5 cubic metres, being removed. The operation will be overseen by an archaeologist.  The new memorial garden will be completed by paving paths, laying turf and planting of flowers and shrubs into new beds.  The Very Rev Ian Barcroft, Dean of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway, said the reinterment would be carried out with “pastoral sensitivity”.

Secret Catholic Mountain Seminary to Be Restored After 250 Years
A group of historic buildings in the Cairngorms where Catholic priests were secretly trained are to be restored.  Scalan was a small, clandestine community set up in the 18th century in the Braes of Glenlivet at a time when the religion was illegal.  The planning committee of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) has now granted planning permission to Crown Estate Scotland to carry out a variety of works at the site.  These include the restoration and repair of the north and south mill buildings, bringing a timber waterwheel back into working order and creating new access paths.  Planning officer Stephanie Wade said: “The proposed works look to help preserve the historic fabric and integrity of the mill buildings while giving members of the public greater accessibility to the site.  It is very much supported by both Historic Environment Scotland and the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland and the plans meet with our own policies around the reuse of old buildings and our support for cultural heritage projects.”  Peter Argyle, planning committee vice-convener, said: “I am delighted to support this application, with Scalan being so historically and culturally significant. Making the site safe and easier to access will result in this hidden gem being a must see for visitors to the area.”  The Roman Catholic seminary was originally built in 1767 in the guise of a farmhouse, with mill buildings added in the late 19th and early 20th century. These are considered to be of significant importance in terms of the historical, social and agricultural development of Scalan from the 18th century to the early 20th century. The north mill, which houses a very rare threshing machine, believed to be the oldest surviving one in situ in Scotland, will have both external and internal renovations  This includes the restoration of the timber waterwheel, which alongside the reinstatement of the north lade will allow for manned demonstrations for visitors.  Historic graffiti from as far back at 1874 will also be preserved.  Similarly, the south mill will be sympathetically restored, but its iron waterwheel will be for display only.

North Uist Welcomes the Launch of its First Gin
North Uist Distillery has announced the release of the Island’s first ever gin, ‘Downpour’. Crafted to capture the spirit of Hebridean Island life, Downpour is a strong and bold-flavoured premium gin drenched in extra-strength botanicals.  Distinguished by its wild Hebridean heather and citrus content, Downpour will be the only Scottish gin on the market to fully embrace the spirit’s natural clouding effect; the result of the ‘downpour’ of essential oils from the botanicals. The gin will be priced at £38 per bottle and retailed from the North Uist Distillery website.  North Uist Distillery is run by Jonny Ingledew, Master Distiller, and Kate MacDonald, Creative Director, both North Uist natives who returned to the island with the dream of creating outstanding artisan spirits.  Downpour is the first release from North Uist Distillery, which is located on the North West of the Island.  Jonny said: “Downpour has a bold flavour and packs a delicious punch – all of the flavour from the essential oils, we use, including the resulting flavour cloud, has been retained.  The flavour is bold in taste but the gin is still a classic juniper Scottish dry gin. There is no mistake that it’s a gin and we are very proud of that.”  He added: “Downpour is the first spirit we have produced as North Uist Distillery. We are currently distilling from a small set up on North Uist, but our sights are firmly set on expanding and we hope to reveal our ambitious plans very soon.  Downpour is just the beginning of our journey.”  Kate said; “We both grew up in Uist, so it’s important to us that each bottle is distilled, bottled and labelled on the island to enable the business to have a long-term benefit for people here. We have been overwhelmed by the encouragement and support we’ve been shown and Uist will be at the heart of all of our decision-making as we develop the distillery.”  Mairi Thomson from Outer Hebrides Tourism said of the launch: “We are absolutely delighted so see the launch of the brand new and aptly named “Downpour” gin from the new North Uist Distillery.  It is fantastic to see an entrepreneurial young couple going into business and wish them the best success.  This is also great news for Uist and indeed the Outer Hebrides. We promote local food and drink through our Eat Drink Hebrides Trail and this is another product in our Atlantic Larder that we can shout about.”. Downpour invites gin connoisseurs to discover the true flavours of this North Uist gin; Wild Hebridean Heather has been foraged from across the Island. Clear in the bottle and cloudy in the glass, Downpour is best served classically with a premium tonic and a citrus twist, built over cubed ice in a hi-ball glass.

Church of Scotland Agrees £1m Payout for Abuse Victims
Three siblings sexually abused by a care home worker have been awarded £1m in damages from the Church of Scotland.  The two males and one female were targeted by paedophile Ian Samson at Lord and Lady Polworth Children's Home in Edinburgh. A court previously heard the victims were assaulted during a campaign of abuse that spanned three decades. The Church expressed "deep and sincere regret" for the trauma experienced by the children. Samson was later jailed for 14 years after being found guilty of 22 serious sexual assaults. After raising a legal action last year with Digby Brown Solicitors, the woman - who was forced to undergo an abortion when she became pregnant after being raped - secured £500,000 from the Kirk.  Her two brothers each received £250,000.  The compensation is the most ever known to have been recovered from a religious body in Scotland.

Scotch Whisky 'More Productive' Than Energy Sector

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has released figures suggesting whisky workers are worth more to the economy than those in the energy sector.  It calculated that each employee in the whisky industry generates £210,505 of activity.  The equivalent for the energy industry was said to be £173,511.  The research, based on work by the Centre for Economic and Business Research, found whisky to be worth a total of £5.5bn to the UK economy. Between 2016 and 2018, the value of the whisky industry increased by 10%.  SWA chief executive Karen Betts said: "Despite the challenges of Brexit, this investment continues to flow, with further projects planned and more distilleries set to open - a sign that the Scotch Whisky industry remains confident about the future.  This is great news for our many employees, our investors, our supply chain and, of course, for consumers all over the world who love Scotch."  The industry continues to lobby for lower tax rates on whisky in the UK. Ms Betts added: "In the US, Scotch and other whiskies are taxed at just 27% of the rate that HM Treasury taxes us here at home. We will continue to press the chancellor for fairer treatment for Scotch whisky in our domestic market, which reflects the vital economic contribution the industry makes to the UK economy every day."

Work to Clean Up A Radioactive Beach to Start Next Year

A clean-up operation to deal with radioactive contamination on the beach at Dalgety Bay in Fife will get under way next year.  The stretch of coastline affected is contaminated with radium from scrapped aircraft instrument panels.  The MoD had previously said it expected the long-running saga to be resolved by the end of 2018.  But the project to remove the hazardous radium is now expected to start in April next year.  The scheme will not be completed until September 2021 as there are restrictions on when work can take place due to the potential disturbance to wintering birds.  Deidre Brock MP, the SNP's environment spokeswoman at Westminster, said: "It's three decades since radioactive particles were first found on the beach at Dalgety Bay and the MoD held out for years by insisting that it wasn't responsible. Even now there is dither and delay.  Spring storms brought more particles to the surface last year and the delays are symptomatic of the way that successive UK Westminster governments have shown complete disregard for the welfare of people living near places where dangerous materials have been dumped."  She added: "It's simply not good enough, this has gone on for far too long and the damage done to the environment is incalculable. It's long past time we had a proper environmental audit of the effects of the MoD's operations on the land and waters of Scotland and we should be looking to the MoD to pick up the tab for putting right any damage."  Thousands of radioactive particles have been found on the shore at Dalgety Bay since 1990, though they pose a low risk to public health. It is believed they came from instruments in WW2 aircraft that were destroyed and dumped there. Previous attempts to tackle the contamination have been hampered by disagreement between the MoD, Sepa and the local authority about who is responsible for the contamination. But then the MoD was formally named as the polluter by environmental watchdogs.

Over One in Three Scots Failing to Get Future Legal Minimum Broadband Speeds,

More than one in three Scots broadband users are getting speeds below the legal minimum speeds that are due to come into force by next year, according to a new analysis.  The study shows that last year six of 18 UK local authority areas that are currently failing to get the 'bare minimum' 10mb per second are in Scotland.  Which?’s own analysis of 20,780 users through its speed-checker across Scotland in 2018 shows that some 39% fell short of the 10 mb/s threshold.  It reveals that Orkney and Shetland has the lowest percentage of people receiving the 10mpbs - with just 31 per cent receiving the mimimum standard. Moray, Argyll and Bute, Dumfries and Galloway and Ross, Skye and Lochaber and Banff and Buchan make up the six Scottish consituencies with the worst record in achieving what the UK Westminster government gage is the minimum speed required to fully participate in digital society, with less than half getting achieving 10mb/s.  This comes despite millions being ploughed into improving broadband speeds in Scotland. The Scottish Government questioned the voracity of the analysis which was based on user speed tests "which is often inaccurate and does not represent the availability of superfast broadband".  In September, last year the Scottish government's pledge to deliver superfast broadband - way above those minimum speeds - across Scotland would need investment on top of the £600m committed.  In a report, the auditor general also said there was a lack of clarity over how 100% coverage of 30mb/s speeds would be achieved by the end of 2021.  And the Which? analysis further reveals that despite the Scottish Government pledge, just 13 constituencies achieved a broadband speed of over 20mb/s.

Nicola Sturgeon Hits Back At Theresa May After Being Told to 'Get on with the Day Job'

Nicola Sturgeon has hit back at Theresa May after the Prime Minister said that the SNP had to "get on with the day job" during Prime Minister's Questions.  Addressing the House of Commons, Theresa May said: "Under the SNP and government in Scotland, what we are seeing is public services getting worse because the SNP are focussing on holding another independence referendum. It's time the SNP stopped ignoring those millions of Scots that do not want another independence referendum and got on with the day job and focus on the issues that matter to people like schools and the economy."   Nicola Sturgeon hit back at the PM saying: "Just back from launching a new export plan for Scotland to hear the latest evidence of the PM’s complete lack of self-awareness. As @scotgov gets on with the job, she has no legislation, no policies, no sign of a Queen’s speech, and no clue on how to solve Brexit."

On this Day 1707: the Act of Union Takes Effect
The Treaty of Union finally came into effect on May 1, 1707 after years of negotiations by both governments.  But political union between the two countries remained an unthinkable proposition for many. Attempts to reinstate the union in 1667 and 1689 ultimately came to nothing. As the 18th century dawned, however, the dire economic situation in Scotland began to make the possibility of merging with their vastly wealthier southern neighbours an attractive proposition - at least for its nobility.  Following the disastrous Darien Scheme (1698-1700) which attempted to establish a Scottish colony on the Isthmus of Panama, the country was almost bankrupt.  As a result, Scotland’s nobles were now extremely keen to pursue unification with England, to lift the country out of its sorry financial mess and perhaps recoup some of their hefty losses. A political union was also a favoured policy of Queen Anne, and by 1705 negotiations between the parliaments of England and Scotland had begun.  Explosive riots were a feature of daily life in the centre of the capital and in most other Scottish towns for the duration of the settlement. The sight of nationalist leader, the Duke of Hamilton, as he passed by carriage on the Royal Mile each day aroused passionate cheers from the throngs of Edinburgh locals. Meanwhile the leader of the unionist opposition, the Duke of Queensberry, required protection at all times as his consort was subjected to a volley of verbal insults and missiles ranging from rocks to manure. The Duke of Queensberry’s Canongate residence, Queensberry House, still stands today attached to the Scottish Parliament Building.  When Robinson Crusoe author Daniel Defoe, a secret agent of the English government, arrived in Edinburgh in late 1706, he described the violent scene, ‘a Scots rabble is the worst of its kind’, while also stating, ‘for every Scot in favour of the union, there are 99 opposed’.  The heated protests were of course in vain. The Act of Union was a deal between the ruling classes of Scotland and England, and the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the Scottish populace would be wholly ignored. The bells of St Giles rang out to the tune ‘Why should I be sad on my wedding day?’ Edinburgh, and indeed, all of Scotland, was in a state of mourning – the country had just lost its status as a self-governing independent nation.  Another twist in the tale of the Act of Union was the well-documented claim that members of the Scottish elite received bribes to sign the treaty – not from the English as is often mistakenly thought, but from their own compatriots. The claims of Robert Burns’ poem ‘Such a parcel of rogues in a nation’ that they were ‘bought and sold for English gold’ have always been a contentious piece of the story, but are not unfounded. Significant sums of money were paid to individuals who had incurred heavy losses from the Darien venture – many of whom were not even members of government. Although not an immediate success (Edinburgh declared itself bankrupt in 1709 amid civil unrest), Scotland did eventually reap the benefits of its union with England. Despite an initial struggle with the higher levels of taxation, trade revenues increased between 1707 and the mid-1800s – three times as much as the increase experienced in England. As a part of the future British Empire, Scotland would go on to prosper like never before.

Comment -R
The Act of Union was a political Union. It was motivated and driven forward by England. There was nothing altruistic about it. The Act was a bribe, ostensibly to compensate those who lost out on the Darien Scheme but in reality was to buy their support.  The Union took place during the War of Spanish Succession, a time when England was at war with France and Spain. The Union was a move by England to reduce the threat of an invasion of England by the French and Spanish from Scotland and to secure the new royal dynasty.

Nuclear Material Transfer From Scotland to US Completed

A transfer of highly-enriched uranium from Scotland to the US has been completed, the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has said.  About 700kg of material formerly held at Dounreay, near Thurso, has been transported in a series of flights using military aircraft since 2016.  In the US, it is to be used in the making of fuel at civil nuclear reactors.  An agreement between the UK and US banned military use of the material.  Dounreay, the site of Britain's former centre of nuclear fast reactor research and development, is being demolished and cleaned up.  The highly-enriched uranium (HEU) was moved in batches from Dounreay to Wick John O'Groats Airport and then flown to the States using US military Boeing C-17 transport aircraft.  David Peattie, chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, praised staff at Dounreay, the US Department of Energy and the other agencies for their handling of the transfers. He said: "The successful completion of the complex work to transfer HEU is an important milestone in the programme to decommission and clean-up Dounreay site."  Other material has been transferred from Dounreay to nuclear sites overseas. During the 1990s, nuclear material was sent from abroad to Dounreay for reprocessing.  The customers included power plants and research centres in Australia, Germany and Belgium.

Anger Over £30m Hotel and Leisure Complex for Loch Lomond

More than 50,000 objections have been lodged against a new £30m tourist development at Loch Lomond.  The proposals include a 60-bedroom apart-hotel, 32-bedroom budget accommodation, a craft brewery, holiday homes, leisure centre and restaurants.  But the Lomond Banks development at Balloch has proven controversial with strong local opposition.  Campaigners fear the project will spoil the scenery and limit access to the shoreline for locals.  Alannah Maurer, of the Save Loch Lomond campaign saide: "A national park is a theme park in its own right, a natural theme park and in this time of climate change we should be looking at conserving that natural theme park. Those buildings will dominate the scenery, they will dominate the village of Balloch."  The planning application - put forward by Flamingo Land Limited and Scottish Enterprise - will be determined by the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority.  Public body Scottish Enterprise owns the land and Allan McQuade, a director of the agency, insists the proposal "is not going to destroy the vista of Loch Lomond".