Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 576

Issue # 576                                     Week ending Saturday 31st   October  2020

Can A Salmon Swim So Fast That It’d Go Through A Farm Net? No, But A Tuna Can by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Have you any idea what natal philopatry means? I hadn’t a scooby either but that phrase is being bandied about in this neck of the woods because of the unusual characteristics of tuna. Let’s be clear, the characteristics I am on about are not that fishy burp that the lower classes may occasionally emit after dining on a tuna sandwich. These are the characteristics of Atlantic bluefin tuna when they are very much alive. Their habits are in the news here after a tuna broke into a salmon farm in Loch Roag, near Great Bernera.

That’s right. It broke in, not out. Farmed salmon are often in the news for managing to get out of their cages but this fishy fiend was apparently going so fast it tore through the mesh ... like a hot knife through lashings of melting butter to go on a roll for a tuna and mayonnaise sarnie. Hmmm. Sorry, I got carried away there. I haven’t had my lunch yet and I am drooling. The question is why was this bluefin equivalent of a boy racer so excited and energetic in the big seal loch around the island of Bernera?

It was probably down to natal philopatry, I’m told. Let me explain what I have learned. Philopatry is the natural urge of some creatures to stay in or habitually return to a particular area, often the place where they were born or raised. You know, philopatry is what keeps CalMac in business as all the mainland-based maws from all the corners of the Hebrides make their annual summer sojourn back across the Minch to see relatives and other people that they don’t want to see more often than once per annum.

Natal philopatry, however, takes that old urge a bit further. It’s pre-natal journeying. It’s when creatures, and I include many of us Lewis people, Hearachs and those from up south in this, return to their birthplace to breed - you know, have a sprog or seven. You get the idea. I did that. One sprog was quite enough for me, by the way, but some ancient longing stirred something in my dungarees in faraway Croydon and I decided, like a bluefin tuna, that the distant Hebrides and not south London, were where I would do what had to be done to assuage that ancient, and very natural, need.

Migrating species like the Atlantic bluefin are way out in the Atlantic most of the time but they head back to their old splashing grounds for courting. The turbo-charged bluefin that was chasing the mackerel shoal at 40 mph and which failed to brake in time to avoid careering into The Scottish Salmon Company’s net was no minnow. The fish farm workers netted it to lead it back to the sea reckon he was 47 stones. It was probably bred on the Bernera side of the loch. Kirkibost has always produced a sturdy type, built like a proverbial brick outhouse.

After their pre-natal travel, some creatures will return to their usual surroundings. Others may decide that post-natal travel is not for them and just stay put. Did I say that right? I get confused with pre-natal and post-natal. Pre- means before. Post- means after. I have to think hard about which is which or whether to use one or two. Maybe not two. To use both prefixes together would be preposterous.

I’ll tell you who is preposterous. Carlos, a dedicated animal lover, from Laxdale who is originally from Barcelona. I was telling him about the bluefin coming back to Bernera for the mating season. Carlos said he was finding it very hard to believe that the tuna came back for that purpose and he didn’t think we should attribute human behaviour to the animal kingdom. That’s rich coming from him. He is always teaching his dog new tricks. Carlos said to me: “My dog Santiago is learning to speak a foreign language.” I said: “Really? Español?” He said: “No, mate. He’s a Labrador.”

After the monster tuna had raided the salmon cages at Loch Roag, it was released by the salmon workers. It then met up with the rest of its family - mamma tuna and li’l tuna. As they were headed out past Valtos Beach to Gallan Head, they came across a solitary submarine. It was probably there lying low because submariners have been criticised for partying when they come ashore even though they keep their social distance from landlubbers. So they probably party on down under the waves, where no one can hear them sing shanties. All together now ... “We all live in a ...”

What kind of navigation systems do these creatures have? Imagine a fish comes into the world in a sea loch. They then swim out to sea for most of their lives, and then one day years later swim back against insurmountable odds to the very spot where they were born. I suppose we humans are born with natural GPS too? I somehow doubt it. Yesterday, I couldn’t even find my van in the Tesco car park.

Covid: Bishop Calls for Christmas Day 'Truce'
The Bishop of Paisley has called for a 24-hour "circuit breaker" to be put in place on Christmas Day, amid warnings of a "digital Christmas".  In the Sunday Times, John Keenan compared the idea to the Christmas Day truce during World War One.  National clinical director Jason Leitch had warned people to prepare for a "digital Christmas" due to the prevalence of Covid-19 in Scotland.  He has since said he hoped there could be "some kind of family Christmas".  The Scottish government said it could not predict Christmas restrictions but continued to be guided by the latest available scientific and clinical evidence. Bishop Keenan, who also serves as the vice president of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, said strict restrictions on Christmas gatherings ran "the risk of destroying all hope".  While he conceded that Prof Leitch was trying to manage expectations, Bishop Keenan wrote: "No one wants a digital Christmas.  Squashing false expectations is one thing, but no one wants to dampen people's hopes."  He added: "Perhaps we should consider a Christmas 'circuit-breaker'. A 24-hour lifting of restrictions on gatherings and celebrations, a break in the war on Covid,  just like the pause in the First World War on the Western Front in 1914, when the British and German troops laid down their guns and met in no man's land to celebrate Christmas."  He added: "Couldn't we allow for one day of normality in the midst of our relentless war against the virus?  "Think of the hope and happiness that would give. A moment of joy in the midst of so much despair."  The bishop also said that "great care" would have to be taken to protect the vulnerable and the elderly, but raised the risk of "emptiness, loneliness and hopelessness at what should be the happiest time of year".  He added: "The effects of a depressed and isolated Christmas could be devastating for many, leaving an emotional and social legacy that no vaccine could cure.  Flattening the curve of infection rates has been a laudable goal of government policy this year. Rather than flatten the curve of hope, let's lift our spirits with the prospect of a merry Christmas and happy new year." Scotland's deputy chief medical officer Nicola Steedman said the problem with the bishop's idea was that "our opponent hasn't agreed to the amnesty".  She told BBC Scotland: "This is not something that Covid has signed up to and said, yes I'll stop infecting people on Christmas Day and you can all just go about your business."  On Saturday, Prof Leitch said his comments about a "digital Christmas" may have been too harsh but he was trying to be realistic and to encourage people that "what we do now matters for eight weeks from now. Realistic looks like some kind of family Christmas but it will depend how well we get the numbers down," he said.  "I could have perhaps been gentler in my use of the phrase digital Christmas but I just mean you won't be flying to visit relatives probably, you may not have large multi-household gatherings in your home. You won't be having six families but you may well be allowed to have two or three families if that is allowed.  Nobody can cancel Christmas, not even the national clinical director for Scotland. It's happening, it is just to make it as safe as we possibly can." A statement from the Scottish government said: "Decisions on whether to introduce additional protective measures will continue to be guided by the latest available scientific and clinical evidence and informed by a balanced 'four harms' assessment.  We understand that people will naturally be anxious about whether they will be able to visit relatives over the festive period.  The new levels approach we announced this week, if approved by the Scottish Parliament, will enable us to adapt our response to coronavirus more effectively. The more we do now to supress transmission of the virus, the more likely we will have fewer restrictions in place at Christmas. However, given the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic it is simply not possible to predict at this stage what restrictions may or may not be required over the Christmas and New Year holiday period."  Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said the Scottish government is doing everything it can to get university students home for Christmas.  He said the four nations were trying to co-ordinate the mass movement of students to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19. This could include staggering students' returning to their family homes. And he said he recognised the importance of family and community occasions but that suppressing the virus was paramount.

Marine Experts Ask Ministry of Defence If Naval Sonar Could Have Been Responsible for Lothian Whale Strandings
Two Sowerby’s beaked whales have washed ashore within the last fortnight within days of each other at beaches in Portobello and Gullane. Scientists from the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS), part of Scotland’s Rural College, said the 14ft long, 650kg adult female which died on the beach at Gullane on October 12 was a result of entanglement, with a loop of rope embedded deep into her skin and blubber and severe trauma to the right pectoral fin. The following day, another injured whale died at the foot of Brunstane Burn, between Portobello and Musselburgh beaches.  It is believed that naval sonar waves can frighten whales and force them to the surface too quickly, leading to symptoms similar to decompression sickness.  As a result, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has now been asked by SMASS if naval sonar used in the recent Nato war games, Joint Warrior, was responsible as there have been an ‘unusual’ number of strandings in recent weeks.  There were three additional strandings which were identified as northern bottlenose whales of which one was in the Western Isles and two in the Clyde sea lochs.  The report written by SMASS said: "The first two cases were Sowerby’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon bidens), both live stranded on the Lothian coast and were necropsied at the National Museums of Scotland Edinburgh.  These were both sub-adult males with significant trauma from the stranding process, but no other clear underlying infection or disease and, thankfully, no indication of entanglement, boat strike or ingestion of marine debris. Neither animal had fed recently but both were in reasonable body condition, suggesting an acute cause of death. Notably, both animals showed an unusually high number and distribution of gas bubbles throughout the tissues- especially lung, liver and intestinal mesentery.  Whilst gas bubbles are not an uncommon finding during post mortem examinations, and can be a result of either decomposition or emphysema from the stranding process, a large number of bubbles, especially in deep diving species such as beaked whales, is suggestive of nitrogen emboli and decompression sickness (DCS). Given how sensitive beaked whales are to underwater noise, specifically naval sonar, we have to consider noise-mediated DCS as a possible cause for these two strandings. We are therefore in the process of trying to find data on sources of noise in this region, including putting a request for activity logs to the MoD following the recent Joint Warrior naval exercises. We’ve certainly had more than the usual number of beaked whale strandings over the past few years and it is becoming quite clear just how important our waters are for these species:- species we still know remarkably little about other than they are particularly susceptible to human impact."

Greens Call for Action on Highland Main Line
The Scottish Greens are urging that promises made by the Scottish Government more than a decade ago to improve train services between Inverness and the central belt are kept. Highlands and Islands members of the party have launched a campaign outlining the benefits they say improvements to the Highland Main Line would bring, including reduced journey times, increased capacity and a reduction in car use as a result of a more attractive alternative. Currently most of the railway line running between Inverness and Perth is single track.  The party’s lead candidate, Ariane Burgess, said: “It isn’t right that in the 21st century it is quicker to drive to the central belt from the Highlands than get the train.  Meanwhile we have seen commitments to cut journey times by road and air, the transport modes which cause the most climate emissions.”  Transport Scotland said improvements had already been made to the railway line while an ongoing review would determine further future priorities for investment.

EV Chargers for Na H-eileanan Siar
HITRANS, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands, have attracted funding of £1.5 million to deliver the installation of a network of 24 rapid charging points on the west coast to break down the main barriers to ownership of electrical vehicles in rural communities.  No details are yet available on locations for the charging points.  It intends to employ new members of staff to deliver the project, which has attracted Euro funding and support from the Scottish Government. Units will be installed in Lochaber, Skye and Lochalsh, Argyll and Bute and the Western Isles at locations yet to be confirmed.  HITRANS has tapped into a European collaboration to help deliver the FASTER Project - Facilitating a Sustainable Transition to Electric Vehicles in the Regions. It is a project supported by the European Union

MSP Announces Dates for Conversations
Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan has announced the dates for a series of community conversations on Gaelic’s future as a community language in the Outer Hebrides. Meetings for Tiree, Staffin and Isle of Skye, are being organised by MSP’s Michael Russell and Kate Forbes.  The meetings, due to take place virtually in November, are in response to the recent publication of research suggesting that the Gaelic language could soon cease to be a spoken language in the communities of the Western Isles

Worst-hit Health Board Has Over 500 Covid Patients

More than half of the patients hospitalised with Covid in Scotland are being treated in the country's worst-hit health board area.  NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said staff are currently caring for over 500 patients with the virus.  It also confirmed 20 "red wards" are exclusively treating patients who have tested positive.  Latest figures show 975 people are in hospital with a confirmed case, 41 more than on Thursday.  On Friday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced 493 of the country's 1,401 new cases were detected in Greater Glasgow and Clyde. And, since the start of the pandemic, 17,926 of Scotland's 54,016 cases (33%) have been recorded by the health board.

New Covid-19 Testing Centre Opens in Inverness

A new walk-through Covid-19 testing centre has opened in Inverness. The centre is one of 11 created in Scotland so far, with the Scottish Government aiming to have 22 open over the winter period. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced this week that Scotland aims to increase testing capacity to 65,000 tests per day by building three regional testing hubs in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen as well as increasing the amount of testing done by the UK Westminster Government.  Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Working alongside the UK Westminster Government and local partners, the site in Inverness delivers on our commitment to have 11 walk-through centres in place across Scotland by the end of October with another 11 planned over the course of the winter. “Centres like this can be operational in a matter of days, and we are working at pace with the NHS and local authorities to roll out more across the country so that more people have access to local testing.”

Plans for Edinburgh Landmark Rejected by Ministers

Plans to turn an A-listed Edinburgh landmark into a luxury hotel have been rejected by ministers.  The initial plans for the former Royal High School on Calton Hill were turned down by the city's council in 2015.  Developers have continued to challenge the decision but it has finally been rejected by Scottish government ministers.  They said views of the building would be significantly compromised by the addition of large side extensions.  Their findings also conclude the proposed development would damage Edinburgh's World Heritage Site status.  The plan to convert the neo-classical masterpiece was led by Duddingston House Properties (DHP) and Urbanist Hotels.  They wanted to transform it into a "world class" five-star hotel, building two wings at the side of the existing buildings to house the bedrooms.  The A-listed school was built by Thomas Hamilton in 1829 but has been largely unused for decades. It was vacated in 1968 when the school moved to Barnton.  During the 1970s it was proposed as the site to house a devolved Scottish Assembly. However, the 1979 devolution referendum did not result in an assembly and when the Scottish Parliament was finally set up in 1999 a new site was chosen.  The City of Edinburgh Council, which owns the building, granted DHP a 125-year conditional ground lease after the company won an open competition in 2010.  Scottish ministers agreed with the conclusion of the Reporters who examined the case that the proposed works would not preserve the listed building or its setting.  They said the former Royal High School was a key building within the World Heritage Site and was one of the finest public and commercial monuments of the neo-classical revival in Europe.  The "overwhelming scale of the extensions proposed" would appear overbearing and be a "distraction in significant views of the principal Hamilton building and harmful to its setting", they added.  An alternative plan to develop the site for St Mary's Music School was given the green light in 2016 with a seven-year expiry date on consent due to the unique situation with the hotel plans being appealed.  Despite the approval of the music school plans, St Mary's currently has no right to the building because of an agreement between the council and the hotel developers, which is understood to run until 2022.

Plans Scrapped for 65ft Tall Phone Mast At Bearsden

East Dunbartonshire Council said this week that the planning application for the phone tower adjacent to the Schaw Court Sheltered Housing Facility at Drymen Road had been withdrawn.  Local people had protested over the plan, with hundreds signing an online petition against its installation.  Glen and Sandra Frew, who led the campaign against it, said they were delighted.  Mr Frew added: “This is a great result for all and particularly for the residents of Schaw Court.”  Campaigners had complained that the mast would be higher than the Glasgow City Chambers building, carry multiple antennae and dishes, and would tower over Schaw Court and the popular residents garden.  Mr Frew said: “The tower would be highly visually intrusive and unacceptably prominent - completely out of scale to nearby buildings.”  But health concerns raised by campaigners over 5G mobile technology were dismissed by local Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer.  He posted on Facebook: “If you object to the visual impact fair enough, but there is no radiation risk from 5G.  It’s unfair to alarm people who don’t know that, particularly elderly residents who can’t immediately disprove it with a quick  Google.” A council spokesperson confirmed that the application has been withdrawn.

Offshore Workforce Fell by More Than A Third After Lockdown Began

The number of people working offshore in the North Sea fell by more than a third at the start of the coronavirus lockdown, an industry body has said.  Figures from Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) say the average weekly workforce dropped from 11,000 to 7,000, during March. A halt in drilling and engineering construction are being blamed for the sudden loss of 4,000 jobs.  Although numbers offshore have since risen steadily they only peaked at 9,000 in August.  OGUK said it would be next year before it could fully quantify the impact of Covid-19.  However initial indications are described as "worrying".  The industry body has called on government, regulators and the industry to work together to protect jobs, which it says could be valuable for a transition to a lower carbon economy.  The Workforce Report 2020 says uptake of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme appears to be high, particularly in the oil and gas supply chain.  Low oil and gas prices on top of the lockdown added to the industry's woes.  OGUK workforce engagement and skills manager Dr Alix Thom, said: "Our figures confirm the initial operational impact of the lockdown back in March this year, with the number of workers offshore decreasing considerably in the space of a month as companies reduced to minimum manning in a bid to control the spread.  We continue to see some very worrying signs for employment in the sector, with the uptake of furlough and continued suppression of global energy demand impacting our industry like many others in the wider economy."

Former Deputy First Minister to Be Church of Scotland Moderator

Former deputy first minister Jim Wallace is to be the next moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.  Lord Wallace of Tankerness will take on the role next May.  He became MP for Orkney and Shetland in 1983, and joined the Scottish Parliament in 1999 as MSP for Orkney.  A former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, he stepped down as an MSP in 2007 and was appointed to the House of Lords.  The 66-year-old, who was born in Annan, in Dumfries and Galloway but now lives in Orkney, said he was "both excited and daunted" by the new role.  As deputy first minister, Lord Wallace covered Scotland's top job on several occasions, including stepping in following the death of Donald Dewar and the resignation of Henry McLeish.  A member of St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, he said: "I am delighted to have been asked to take up the role and feel humbled and honoured that people have put their trust in me.  To be honest I have had to pinch myself that this is actually happening.  I went into politics to make a positive difference to society and my motivation is grounded in my Christian faith."  Of the Covid pandemic, he added: "I believe that the Church must play a key role in helping to heal and renew Scotland after this virus emergency subsides."  He added: "The recruitment and retention of diverse and talented people will be essential as we work to support UK energy needs both now, and in a lower carbon context."

New Chair Will Promote Borders

Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce has appointed three new directors and a new chairperson in its continued bid to improve its offering and maximise its potential. Incoming chairperson Lee-Anne Gillie takes over from Moira Wilson. Lee-Anne, who started her career with Peri-Dent in Galashiels in 1991, joined RP Adam Ltd in 2006 and following its acquisition by Ecolab in 2017, she oversaw the business integration, change management process, retention of customers and new business. She is currently a business consultant, working with various Borders-based businesses on achieving sales growth.  “It’s a privilege to be entrusted with the position of chair,” she said. “We are fortunate to have an incredibly diverse range of businesses across the region, and while we are likely to face a great number of challenges in this ever-changing COVID world, the people and the businesses within the area have always been resilient.  It’s our duty now more than ever to represent their needs and to provide a platform to showcase what they can offer locally and further afield.”  The Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce is one of 30 Chambers in the Scottish network. Its primary function is to inform and facilitate sharing of information to help members’ businesses flourish. Networking, including collaboration with neighbouring chambers, also plays a major role.

Cancer Patient's Leg Treated in Separate Glasgow Hospital
A cancer patient is recovering after part of her leg was removed and transported to a different hospital for radiation treatment.  Janette Ritson remained at the NHS Golden Jubilee in Clydebank when her left tibia (shin bone) was sent on a 20-minute journey to Glasgow.  It was treated with radiation at the Beatson Cancer Centre before being returned to Clydebank and reattached.  Doctors say the procedure saved Janette from having her leg amputated.  The whole procedure took about 12 hours.  Surgery of this kind would normally have been performed at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.  But the sarcoma service was transferred to the Golden Jubilee in April to ensure continuity during the Covid pandemic.  Janette Ritson, 71, said she has had cancer diagnoses twice in the past and knew "something needed to be done". "It was a little bit daunting, I have to say, knowing that if the operation hadn't worked out that it would mean an amputation," she said. "That really worried me, but I got my head round it and accepted that's what it was going to be.  "It's absolutely mind-blowing what they have achieved."  Janette added: "Everything is healing well and going according to plan.  Before the operation I hadn't been able to do much like gardening or anything so just getting back to normal life and not being wheeled about in a chair would be just magic."  Janette's surgery was led by consultant orthopaedic surgeon Ashish Mahendra.  Mr Mahendra said: "This really was one big team effort by everyone involved and we could not have done this without the teamwork and collaboration when the sarcoma service transferred over to the Golden Jubilee."  Golden Jubilee director of national elective services Claire MacArthur said: "We have been collaborating with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde since April 2020 to support the continuation of surgery for cancer patients who require urgent treatment during the pandemic"

Ancrum Old Bridge Rediscovered Beneath the River Teviot

One of the "most important structures of medieval Scotland" has been rediscovered after being hidden beneath a Borders river for centuries.  Two years of work have led to the discovery of the "lost" medieval bridge in the River Teviot near Ancrum.  Experts, using radiocarbon dating, have confirmed it is from the mid-1300s.  They said that makes them the oldest scientifically-dated bridge remains found in their original position across one of Scotland's rivers.  Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has funded the Ancrum and District Heritage Society's (ADHS) work - in partnership with Dendrochronicle and Wessex Archaeology - which led to the discovery.  Built during the reigns of David II of Scotland and Edward III of England, the bridge is said to be of "historic and strategic national importance".  It crossed the River Teviot, carrying the Via Regia (The King's Way), on its way from Edinburgh to Jedburgh and the border. It is believed James V would have crossed at the spot in 1526, as would Mary Queen of Scots returning from her tour of the Borders in 1566, and the Marquis of Montrose on his way to battle at Philiphaugh in 1645.  Kevin Grant, archaeology manager at HES, said it was one of the "most exciting and significant archaeological discoveries in Scotland in recent years". "This project shows that discoveries of immense importance remain to be found by local heritage groups," he said.  He said it also showed what could be achieved by bringing "archaeological science and expertise together with local knowledge".  Geoff Parkhouse, from ADHS, said: "Ancrum Old Bridge now has a 14th Century date.  In Scotland, there is not a standing bridge that is earlier than the 15th Century. In those times, during flood or highwater, the Ancrum Bridge may have been the only place to cross the Teviot between Hawick and Berwick, making it one of the most important structures in medieval Scotland."  Dr Coralie Mills, of Dendrochronicle, a consultancy specialising in tree-ring dating, said the structure showed the "rare survival of part of an early bridge in a hugely strategic historical location.  The oak timbers are in remarkably good condition and provide really important local material for tree-ring analysis in a region where few medieval buildings survived the ravages of war," she said. Dr Bob MacKintosh of Wessex Archaeology said the site had been "challenging to survey". However, he said the results were "really exciting" with the bridge foundations being built using a method never previously found in an archaeological context in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon Unveils Scotland's Restriction Levels
No areas of Scotland are to be placed in the highest level of the country's new five-tier coronavirus restrictions system. The Scottish government had been considering putting both North and South Lanarkshire in level four.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has now confirmed they will both be placed in level three instead, along with the rest of the central belt and Dundee.  Much of the rest of the country has been put in level two.  But the Highlands, Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and Moray, which have far fewer cases of the virus, have been moved down to level one.  This could eventually allow groups of up to six people from two households to meet in each other's homes again, although it will not happen immediately as an "extra precaution" while the country transitions to the new system. People elsewhere will still be banned from meeting in other homes, but the aim is for schools across the country to remain open - including in any areas that are moved to level four in the future. The new system, which will come into force from 06:00 on Monday of next week, also includes a level zero which would allow life to return to something close to normal.
Level 3 - Glasgow City, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian, West Lothian, Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Stirling, Dundee.
Level 2 - Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll & Bute, Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Fife, Perth & Kinross.
Level 1 - Highland, Moray, Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles.
The Scottish government said it took a number of indicators into account when deciding which level of restrictions would be imposed in each of the country's 32 local council areas, including the number of infections and transmission rates as well as hospital capacity. Areas can be moved to different tiers in the future depending on whether it is felt the situation is improving or getting worse, with weekly reviews being carried out.  Ms Sturgeon warned that cases were still rising, and she could not rule out a move back to nationwide restrictions in the coming weeks, including at level four.  This could happen if cases in parts of the country start to rise faster again and threaten to spread to other areas, or if pressure on the NHS risks breaching its capacity.  The central belt of Scotland, which includes Glasgow and Edinburgh, already has restrictions similar to level three in place, while the rest of the country have measures comparable to level two.  Ms Sturgeon said that anyone living in a level three area should not travel outside the council area they live in except for "essential reasons" such as work, outdoor exercise, essential shopping or healthcare or caring reasons. And anyone living in a level one or two area must not travel to a level three or four area unless it is essential.

Scottish Government Has 'Huge Ambition' for Offshore Wind

Offshore wind has the potential to power more than eight million homes by 2030, according to the Scottish government.  It has published an "ambition" to harvest up to 11 gigawatts (GW) of power from the sector.  It comes after it was revealed that three Scottish yards were out of the running for a major offshore contract.  Owners of the BiFab yards in Fife and Lewis cited a refusal by ministers to provide financial guarantees.  The Scottish government said rules on state aid limited the amount of support it could offer.  Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said the government was determined to "capitalise" on offshore capacity. He said: "Our seas are host to some of the best offshore wind resources in the world and our ambition to capitalise on our offshore wind generation capacity is part of the bold action we are taking to support economic recovery and become a net-zero society."  The Scottish government has also adopted a plan identifying suitable areas for commercial-scale offshore wind projects.  It said this would "inform" the first seabed leasing process led by the newly devolved Crown Estate Scotland.  Mr Wheelhouse added: "The plan is based on extensive consultation and seeks to balance the vital importance of our marine environment and other key sectors with the huge ambition and opportunity we have for the offshore wind sector." Fabrice Leveque, from environmental campaigners WWF Scotland, said the new plan would help grow an industry that was vital to reach net-zero climate emissions by 2045. He said each project created the potential for hundreds of jobs and urged governments to work together to make sure the work went to local suppliers.

Doorstep Silence Plans for Remembrance Events
Traditional annual remembrance events at local war memorials across Scotland have been cancelled due to the latest Covid restrictions.  Instead of attending the services and parades, people are asked to observe a two-minute silence on their doorstep.  Outdoor standing events are not permitted in areas under Covid levels one, two and three in Scotland.  Services will take place in Edinburgh on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day but will not be open to the public.  A small private service and wreath laying within the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle will take place instead.  It will be attended by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other wreaths will be laid on behalf of those organisation who would normally attend.  Charities Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland said traditional remembrance services and parades at outdoor war memorials must be cancelled to comply with the regulations which were confirmed on Thursday.  However, services held in places of worship can proceed - as long as they comply with the restrictions on size.  Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland said they hoped the public would would observe the two minutes silence at home on their doorsteps on Remembrance and Armistice Day.  It comes after thousands of households across the country applauded the NHS on their doorsteps during lockdown.

Lochinver Pie Shop Gets More Than 1000 Applicants for General Manager Role

A remote Sutherland pie shop bit off more than it could chew when it advertised for a new general manger.  For it received over 1000 applications – almost twice the population of its village.  Lochinver Larder was staggered by the response, with applicants from all over the UK as well as Europe. The pie shop and restaurant, beloved by the late food critic and Holyrood director Michael Winner, was bought at the start of the year for around £900,000 by the Rose Hospitality group from Ian and Debra Stewart, who founded the business in 1986.  The business, which is on the booming North Coast 500 route, is currently selling its products from a converted old military Leyland truck – named the pie shack – because of the pandemic. It also runs a popular online pies-by-post service.  The general manager's job was advertised at £45,000-a-year plus accommodation, with benefits including an employee share scheme.  But interim manager Duncan Cameron, who is the group's operations manager normally based in Cumbria, was staggered by the response.  However, he said that some people dropped out when they took a closer look at the map and realised exactly where they were located.  "We have got it down now to a shortlist of eight people – one is from London and the rest are based between the north of England and Inverness." The manager's job advert said:"The breathtaking scenery of the Assynt area of Sutherland in north-west of Scotland is an 'out-of-this world' landscape with high peaks, glaciated valleys and has to be seen to be believed – once smitten, people are drawn to come back to this remote part of the world. The business is already doing well but Mr Cameron said it has continued to boom even in difficult circumstances this year.  "Business is booming," he reported. "Since July 16, we have sold 33,000 pies. Steak and ale is our post popular followed by our venison and cranberry. We are also doing a couple of Halloween specials including a Thai curry pumpkin pie, which is proving very popular.  In September we sold 600 pies in a day and 1400 in a week online. There were queues stretching way back. One guy had even made an 800 mile round trip to get our pies until I told him – to his surprise – that he could order them online. He is now one of our regular online customers.  We employ 15 full and part-time staff and have just taken on another two, a great couple from Islay – a chef and his front-of-house partner – who suddenly got made redundant from their hotel. We are very pleased to get them."