Some Scottish News & Views #75

This little effort is for the period ending 12th February 2011.  I’ve had several queries about the obituary in Doric for John Mason found in last weeks issue.  The queries have all revolved around the question of what is Doric, is it the same as Scots, is it related to English and where is it spoken?.  I can do no better than give you the explanation supplied by the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) for the Scottish Census which will take place on 27 March 2011. “Scots is the collective name for Scottish dialects also know as Doric, Lallans and Scotch or by more local names for example Buchan, Dundonian, Glesca or Shetland .  The English and Scots tongues began from a common origin but evolved along different paths over hundreds of years until they grew apart.  This explains why, sometimes, some forms and words can be exactly the same in both, why sometimes they are similar but still different - such as English ‘more/most’  but Scots ‘mair/maist’ - and why they are completely different - such as the Scots ‘greet /scunner’ or English cry/disgust.  English and Scots are therefore sister languages in much the same way as other related pairings such as Irish and Scottish Gaelic, Danish and Norwegian, Dutch and German or Spanish and Portuguese.” To the best of my knowledge Doric is more widely heard in the North East of Scotland, primarily spoken in Aberdeenshire, Banff and Buchan, Moray and the Nairn areas. To summarise Doric is a Scottish dialect spoken in the North East of the country.  

Once again in this issue I’ve been able to include a small named tongue-in-cheek article which I think you will enjoy. - Robin

Fresh Pleas for Action on Soaring Fuel Prices

Hauliers, taxi drivers and fishermen have joined the growing campaign to force the UK Government to act on soaring petrol and diesel prices. On the eve of a major Commons debate on the issue, they spoke out in support of calls by the Scottish and Welsh nationalists for the immediate introduction of an automatic fuel regulator that would reduce tax when the oil price goes up and increase it when the price falls. The groups also backed a motion from the SNP and Plaid Cymru accusing the government of “dithering” and calling for Chancellor George Osborne to use his Budget next month to scrap the 1p duty rise planned for April.

A spokesman for the Freight Transport Association said people up and down the country were “suffering in the face of unsustainable and crippling fuel costs”. For businesses still in the grip of tough trading conditions, these costs severely restrict cash flow and a company’s ability to do business,” he said. “Sadly, this can translate to job losses and the difference between solvency and insolvency.”  The fuel-duty increase planned for April could land UK businesses with an annual bill of more than £430million, he added.

SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie, who is MP for Dundee East, welcomed the support and said the debate could be the last opportunity for MPs to send a clear message to the government.  He said: “Scottish MPs need to unite in demanding action because Scotland’s road-users can’t wait any longer.” Meanwhile, the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association announced yesterday it was becoming increasingly concerned about the impact on its members of the price of Brent crude oil, which topped $100 a barrel last week. The combination of the rise in fuel duty – which already accounts for 58.95p of the cost of every litre – and the VAT increase from 17.5% to 20% at the beginning of the year has added about 3.5p to the cost of a litre of fuel.

Real Bravery is Often Not Doing Something Just Because You Can By Iain Maciver

Sometimes it is difficult to work out if someone is brave or just a little bit crazy. Take Sally Bercow. The wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons is doing her best to popularise hubby’s role through Twitter and all sorts of interviews in which she could have chosen her words a bit more carefully.  Talking about her former habit of drinking wine at lunchtime, she said: “It was sometimes more like two bottles, except I promised John I wouldn't say that. Have I mucked it up already?”  I think that’s a yes, Sal.  She also admits to having been a bit of a ladette. Very brave, gal. Apparently, she was known as Sally the Alley for reasons I myself cannot fathom.  Although husband John is a Tory, she is out-and-out Labour. And she doesn’t care who knows.

Asked why John had broken up with her first time round, she blurted out that people should remember he was “a right-wing headbanger” at the time. “He's much more rounded and moderate now and he has re-thought a lot.”  She, on the other hand, is less moderate and seems not to be thinking at all.  As Speaker, he’s impartial but defends her right to say whatever she wants. He says she is not his chattel. Good man. He’s probably not in the Free Church, then.

Meanwhile, another brave fellow called Stewart Graham probably did not plan the kind of trip he’s been on. The island-born boss of Gael Force Marine, of Inverness and Stornoway, wife Trish and a friend have been sailing round the world in their yacht. However, he came off a motorbike in Malaysia last week while going down a hill. He broke his back. Ouch. Did he knock the round-the-world trip on the head and fly home swathed in bandages as soon as he could? Er, no. Did he say I am never going farther than Daviot ever again? Nope.

Stewart is blogging about his accident and told us what happened in a post entitled Broke Back Mountain.  Telling how the fracture was dangerously unstable, he ended it in his superbly selfless way, saying: “Apologies to all those I have let down by dropping my guard for a moment.”  How dare you let us down, Stewart.  He has to stay in hospital for a few more days, so he has arranged for a skipper to take Trish and friend Mairi the 120 miles to Phuket where they should have been in a few days.  When he gets out of hospital, he’ll fly up to join them. Then, Stewart says, he’ll decide whether or not to go on.  Stewart’s either very brave or very mad. I’ll decide, Stewart, when I see what your next plans are.

They make us tough in Stornoway, you see. No messing with us. We’re all the same.  Except the lovely people on Western Isles Licensing Board. They are not really like the rest of us. So are they really brave? You would think anyone who decides to ignore the law of the land must be brave. Not them. They knew that if Stornoway Golf Club appealed against their decision on a Sunday licence, the law would be on the side of the club. But they still did it. And that’s what happened.

Now there will be the golf club’s legal bill for its appeal to the sheriff principal to pay. Anything up to £10,000, apparently. Can the board members afford it? They must be worried. Oh wait. It’s the taxpayers who have to pay it. Yippee. They must be incredibly happy. Our council helpfully tells us there is no mechanism any more to surcharge rogue councillors who deliberately break the law. So they can break the law willy-nilly and as much as they want and it won’t cost them a single a penny. What a wheeze. The brave thing now would actually be to resist temptation and not to break the law just because they can. Which is why we are all waiting to see how the accomplished lawbreakers of the licensing world will perform tomorrow. That is when the Stornoway Chinese restaurant applies for its Sunday evening licence.

We all need to break bad habits, whether breaking the law or not talking to each other. That was obvious the other night during the storm. Our broadband went off and there was nothing on the box. What on earth do you do?  “Let’s have a cuppa and have a chat,” says Mrs X.
That’s fine, my dear, I thought to myself, but what the dickens are we going to talk about?

So we talked about things we saw on the telly and stuff we had seen on the internet. Then there was this awkward silence.  I decided to be the brave one. I would shatter the silence.  What had she done today, I asked with a big warm smile from one lobe to the other. Well, Mrs X blew the proverbial gasket. What was I getting at? Could she not do anything at all without me sticking my big nose in and interrogating her about it?

What business had I asking, anyway?  What type of husband had I become that I could not even let her have a life off the leash without demanding to know the details of who she had seen and who she had spoken to?  Honey, all I said was . . .

The tirade continued.   My beloved was not going to put up with it any more. People were going to be told the facts. I was not the happy-go-lucky village idiot they thought. I was cold and controlling. She even threatened to go on Facebook and tell the world what I was really like when broadband came back on.  She forgot. Now I’ve stolen her thunder. I got in there first. Ha.  I just can’t figure out whether that was brave or crazy.

Coastguard Closure 'A Matter of Life and Death' for Local Rescue Services (This indeed is a long hard battle - more power to the Coastguard - Robin)

The closure of either the Stornoway or Shetland Coastguard stations could mean the difference between life and death for those who rely on a locally-based emergency service, Scottish council leaders have warned.  The uncompromising message was delivered to Britain's shipping minister Mike Pennington at Westminster by the leaders of the four councils in the Highlands and Islands. The meeting was held to discuss controversial proposals to keep Aberdeen as a 24-hour Coastguard station and to retain either Stornoway or Shetland as a daylight-only operation. The leaders of Shetland Islands Council, Orkney Islands Council, Highland Council and Western Isles Council presented the shipping minister with a 33- page dossier, detailing the need for both stations to remain fully operational.

Shetland Islands Council convener Sandy Cluness, who led the delegation, said the council leaders were "united in anger and outrage" at the proposed Coastguard station closures. And he warned: "Where they are looking at cutting Coastguard services in areas like these, they are effectively dealing with life and death." Western Isles Council leader Angus Campbell said: "The minister listened carefully to what we had to say. We outlined our case over the increased risks which we think will arise if the proposals to cut the Coastguard stations at either Stornoway or Lerwick go ahead." He added: "There remains much work done on a detailed assessment and on alternative solutions. The minister assured us that the consultation process was genuine and that he would listen to all views in reaching a conclusion."

The briefing paper presented to the minister claims the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) plan to close three of the five current stations - leaving Scotland with only one full-time Coastguard station to cover more than 6,000 miles of shoreline - has been based on flawed assumptions.  It warns: "Local knowledge is a crucial resource in achieving a prompt response within the first, or golden, hour of any incident.  "Scotland has approximately 60 per cent of the UK coastline. However, the proposals will mean that it has only 25 per cent of the Coastguard stations."  The report states: "The current proposals appear to be based on a seasonal (day to night range] basis which, while perhaps appropriate for southern UK, where there is a larger leisure market and beach culture, this is not applicable to northern Scotland. The incidents in northern Scotland appear to occur at any time of the year or day with no discernable peaks. "There also appears to be no weighting given to the severity and duration of an incident.

The paper also argues that the MCA's consultation document focuses on the search and rescue co-ordination provided by the Coastguard and ignores the many other services that stations such as Stornoway and Shetland provide to the local area. These include the co-ordination of local resources in dealing with the effects of extreme weather, the co-ordination and local tasking of local emergency helicopter operations and the provision of forecasts and information for local sailors.

Nimrod Will Leave A Capability Gap, Admits Coastguard Chief (and yet more - Robin)
The head of the UK’s coastguard has admitted plans to close three life-saving stations around Scotland were drawn up before Westminster cancelled the new fleet of Nimrod surveillance planes.  Vice-Admiral Sir Alan Massey said the withdrawal of the aircraft – which played a vital role in long-range rescue missions over the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean – could leave “a gap” in major rescues.  He said: “Nimrod has performed a very important role. Our search-and-rescue responsibility goes way out into the middle of the Atlantic and Nimrod has been used to provide long-range top cover. Taking it away means we won’t have that cover any more on the reliable basis we had in the past. We can use other assets, but Nimrod has left a capability gap.”   However, he insisted his proposals to close 10 stations and cut over 200 watch jobs across Britain were still the best way to make the seas safer. Scotland – despite having nearly two-thirds of the UK’s coastline – would be left with one full-time station, in Aberdeen, and one part-time station, in either Lewis or Shetland.

Allan Welcomes Council U-turn on Air Route
Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the decision by the Transport Committee of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to continue to support the lifeline air service from Benbecula to Barra.  The decision, if it is approved by the full council next week, would mean the Comhairle drawing back from its original position of effectively scrapping the service. Dr Allan commented: “I would welcome the fact that several members of the Comhairle’s Transport Committee, including its convener, Donald Manford, have spoken up so clearly in favour of keeping this service. “This service is much appreciated, not least by patients in Barra travelling to hospital. I hope the full Comhairle will be in a position to back the Transport Committee’s view. I certainly hope that the Comhairle will be wise enough not to move against this proposal, despite their original support for ending this service.”

Glaswegian Accent Top for Japanese (Can anyone vouch for the accuracy of this study?- Robin)

Glaswegians have the most attractive accent to Japanese ears, a new study has revealed.
The Glasgow accent came out on top for social attractiveness to Japanese people learning to speak English, a survey by Northumbria University found. Robert McKenzie, senior lecturer in sociolinguistics, questioned people to study how worldwide perceptions of the English language are changing.

Highland University Bid Raised Fears of Too Many Institutions
Fears were raised Scotland would have too many universities if an institution in the Highlands and Islands was granted the status, it has emerged.  Final approval was granted last week by education secretary Michael Russell for the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) to gain official university status. However, a consultation document on the decision, published yesterday, reveals there were concerns from key bodies. They included fears from an anonymous respondent that the current financial climate could not sustain so many universities in Scotland.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) also warned of increased competition in the higher education sector and possible over supply. Highland Council warned of duplication within UHI's colleges and said it could be confusing.  More than 40 responses were received from organisations and individuals, which were supportive overall. Groups including the Federation of Small Businesses, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Northern Constabulary were among those who gave support to the status being granted.

Although the SQA highlighted concerns, it was supportive of UHI gaining the status. It said: "Drawbacks may include increased competition within the higher education sector; and possible over-supply of HE provision - this depends on whether UHI can attract additional students to those already thinking of applying to an HEI."  Highland Council said the creation of a university was a long held aspiration which could be "transformational" for the region. "Potential drawbacks may include duplication of functions and confusion in marketing but both these disadvantages can be overcome through the development of shared services," it said  However, UHI principal James Fraser pointed out the consultation responses were "overwhelmingly" in favour of the proposal.  He said: "Most people in Scotland have a choice of three or four universities within daily commuting distance.  "It is surely only equitable that the half million people of the Highlands and Islands have at least one university within their communities.

"UHI is a unique institution, which has a contribution to make to all of Scotland.  The way in which UHI joins together the further education skills and training provided by colleges with university-level education and research is now being copied elsewhere in Scotland and is a model which has attracted visitors from all over the UK and across the world to learn from what we are doing."  A university for the Highlands has been mooted for decades with the UHI Millennium Institute created more than a decade ago.  The satellite model using existing colleges and centres scattered across the region, has been copied successful in both Cumbria and Cornwall which both gained the status years earlier.  A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Like the vast majority of those who responded to the consultation, both the SQA and Highland Council fully supported the granting of university status to UHI."

Harris Tweed Targets Growth
The world's four fastest-growing economies are being targeted in an effort to find new markets for Harris Tweed.  Harris Tweed Hebrides (HTH), based in Shawbost, Lewis, is working with Scottish Development International and UK Trade and Investment, to explore the so-called BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China.  The HTH chairman, former government minister Brian Wilson, and creative director Mark Hogarth, have paid a five-day visit to India.  Afterwards, Mr Wilson said: "Harris Tweed is quite widely available in India. However, what we saw convinced us that there is potential for growth."

£110,000 Drugs Find At Station
A man has been arrested after a suitcase containing £110,000 of drugs was found at Glasgow Queen Street station.  The drugs, believed to be cannabis, were seized by officers at 10:15pm on Wednesday.

Edinburgh Blindcraft Factory Set to Close

Edinburgh City Council has confirmed that the Blindcraft factory in the city is set to close after a package designed to save it failed.  Workers at the factory, where two-thirds of staff are registered as disabled, previously rejected a three-day working week, suggested as a cost-saving measure.  Councillors who are overseeing £90m budget cuts over the next three years were told that the subsidy the factory receives could not continue. A number of staff at the council could face compulsory redundnacy as part of the cuts.  Economic Development leader Cllr Tom Buchanan said: "The three day week option would have given the factory a fighting chance of survival so I am surprised that it has been knocked back. The council has no option now but to enter into a statutory consultation period over closure. The bottom line is the Council is losing £1m a year by subsidising BlindCraft and that is just not sustainable in the current financial climate.

Airmen Escape Unhurt After Ejecting From Jet During 180mph Landing
An RAF Tornado has crashed after its two pilots ejected as they tried to land at their Lossiemouth base. The incident comes just two weeks after another jet from the same base ditched in sea.  It is understood the latest incident happened at the moment the £20 million plane touched down on the runway at the closure-threatened RAF station on the Moray Firth coast.  Both men, as their colleagues before, survived virtually unscathed although were understood to have been taken for examination for possible spinal injuries.

Tram Project Chief Admits Concern Over Management
The head of Edinburgh’s embattled tram project has admitted he has concerns over how it is managed and would welcome Scottish Government help in sorting it out. In a rare pitch to the public, Richard Jeffrey, chief executive of council-owned tram firm Tie, said governance arrangements were “overly complex” and that he would input from government agency Transport Scotland, principal funder of the £545 million project.  His comments were made on a video distributed via social media website Twitter after a report by Audit Scotland last week flagged up concerns that Tie “may lack the necessary skills and experience to complete the project” given the high rate of staff turnover.  Mr Jeffrey, who has made few public appearances since his appointment in May 2009, said he had previously raised concerns about the project’s governance arrangements, which are split between City of Edinburgh Council and Transport Scotland.  “I welcome anything that simplifies the governance on this project. The board and the shareholders are aware of my concerns over the governance on this project. The governance is I think overly complex and could be simplified,” he said.

Tie has proposed completing only part of the 11.5-mile route, from Edinburgh Airport to Haymarket Station west of the city centre, due to funding difficulties. The remaining leg, connecting Leith and Newhaven Harbour east of the city centre, is expected to be deferred until further funding can be found.  Despite the difficulties, Tie chairman Vic Emery claimed yesterday that the project could point to “big successes” and claimed the media had exaggerated its problems.  A spokesman yesterday re-iterated its position that, with mediation talks between Tie and construction firm Bilfinger Berger due to take place in March, now is not the right time to consider a greater involvement for Transport Scotland.

Plan for Second Glasgow Runway Ditched
BAA said it expected to see 10 million people a year use Glasgow International by 2020,  a significant increase on the  6.5 million passengers who crossed the terminal doors last year, with 16.4 million passengers a year expected by 2040.  But it blamed the global economic downturn for derailing previous forecasts of more than 20 million passengers using the airport by 2030, which would have necessitated a second runway.  As a result, BAA said its  £200 million investment plan over the next decade, including improvements to the terminal building and additional aircraft stands, could be accommodated “within the footprint” of the existing airport campus.

Amanda McMillan, the airport’s managing director, said it was pinning its strategy on long-term growth.  “At the same time, our plans must also be affordable, achievable and sustainable. Given the decline in passenger traffic across UK airports, it is right we revise our long-term development strategy to reflect the reality of a changed market.”  However, aviation analysts said even the revised estimates for Glasgow would be “tough”. “Bearing in mind Glasgow has managed to lose so many services lately, it’s going to be very ambitious,” one industry insider said.  “You have got to factor in that airlines are concentrating growth at Edinburgh. BMI has just dropped its Glasgow to Heathrow service but maintained the Edinburgh to Heathrow route. Nobody is prepared to make any real commitment to Glasgow with the exception of Jet2.”

Edinburgh recently dropped plans for a second runway and lowered its growth estimates. However, after overtaking Glasgow as Scotland’s favourite airport in 2007, it is forecast to more than double its passenger numbers to 20 million between 2030 and 2040 and has seen a steady expansion in scheduled flights to European destinations.  By contrast, Glasgow has lost more than two million passengers over a two-year downturn as many airlines have gone bust.

The traditional charter holiday market which made up the bulk of Glasgow’s traffic has suffered some of the worst effects of the downturn, though there have been signs that it is rebounding. BAA, owned by Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial, is embroiled in a legal battle with the Competition Commission over a 2009 ruling that ordered it to sell either Glasgow or  Edinburgh airport.  BAA claim that Glasgow Airport supports more than 7300 jobs in Scotland and contributes around £200m to the economy.  Its latest master plan for the airport, which updates a previous expansion plan published in 2006, will see an additional 39 stands built to accommodate a new generation of long-distance aircraft including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a second international pier and a new pier to the east of the main terminal.

Mounted Police Tackle Fans on Pitch
Three people were arrested after disorder erupted at the match between Cumnock Juniors and Auchinleck Talbot at Townhead Park, in Cumnock in East Ayrshire.  Police intervened at around 3pm on Saturday when rival fans threw missiles at one corner of the ground during half time.  The game was stopped 10 minutes ahead of full time because of supporters encroaching on the pitch, Strathclyde Police said.  Four officers entered the pitch on horseback to regain order and were forced to intervene again later as fans headed into the town centre.  A police statement said: "Officers made the decision at full time to hold the Auchinleck support in the stadium for approximately 5-10 minutes while the Cumnock fans left the stadium, and Strathclyde Police apologises if any genuine fans were affected.  "This was purely for the safety and well-being of everyone in attendance, which is thought to be around 2,000."  The three arrests related to breach of the peace, street drinking and drugs possession.

A Limit of 20mph Appears Sensible
Inverness is poised to follow other towns and cities by imposing a 20mph limit on some of its busiest central streets. Given the scale of congestion in most town or city centres, 20mph would seem to be at the top end of the current tempo of traffic movement, which varies from standstill to not much more than 15mph in places.  Such areas provide an awkward and uneasy environment, with traffic and people dodging around each other or taking unnecessary risks. People gravitate in high numbers towards these areas, not just to shop, but also to enjoy themselves by eating or drinking. Alcohol is another risk factor in road accidents involving pedestrians.

A limit of 20mph would, therefore, appear to be a sensible figure, which is fair to motorist and pedestrian alike – as long as it is respected. Unfortunately, it will not eliminate all of the risk-takers, at the wheel or on foot, who will still jeopardise themselves and others through rash, spur-of-the-moment decisions.  It will not keep everyone happy, of course, because there are those who will say it goes too far or not far enough, but the important thing is striking the correct balance so that the subliminal safety message is reinforced by active policing.

Health Boards Get Extra Cash After Government’s Budget is Passed
Health boards across the north and north-east have received budget increases of around 3%, it was announced yesterday.  The six mainland and island health boards were awarded nearly £1.9billion in revenue, plus an additional £98million for building projects. The money is part of the £11.4billion shared out by the Scottish Government after the successful passage of its budget on Wednesday.  It included £70million so the NHS can work with local authorities on the redesign of health and social care services.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “The increase in funding clearly demonstrates the government’s commitment to protect spending on health. This funding will ensure that boards can continue to have the necessary resources to bring about real benefits to patients and staff. In addition, despite the cuts to the capital budget, the government is continuing to prioritise spending on improving the NHS.  Not only will this improve buildings and equipment, it will support vital sectors of the economy such as the construction industry.”

Salmond Nails His Colours to the Mast
The first minister must be commended for nailing his colours to the mast in his stout defence of Scottish military bases, which are facing the axe as part of Westminster cuts. Alex Salmond again gave his backing yesterday to campaigners fighting to save RAF bases at Lossiemouth and Leuchars from closure, with the loss of jobs and severe damage to their respective local economies, which rely so heavily on them.

His rousing “shoulder-to-shoulder” remarks go down well with the protesters and, with an important Scottish election coming up, does him no harm at the polls either. It is clear that the final decision about the future of the bases will not be made public by Westminster until after the election – an unfortunate coincidence, perhaps, or something more cynical? With the Lib Dems expected to face a mauling at the Scottish parliamentary elections, they would rather avoid having to face further flak, on top of everything else, as they go to the polls. The Lib Dems are playing a long game in the hope that their record, over the duration of this UK parliament, will mean the public view them in a more favourable light eventually.

The extended delay in announcing the future of the bases, however, is something else. Mr Salmond described it as “completely unacceptable”.  People will fear that even although the operational arguments appear to be unsustainable, given the geographical, strategic and economic importance of the two Scottish bases, a flimsy political justification can always be fabricated – however nonsensical it appears to be.

'Ban Radioactive Cargo Ship From Scottish Waters'
Environmental campaigners have urged the UK government to ban a transatlantic shipment of radioactive material which will pass through waters off the north of Scotland.  The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) group and marine pollution experts say that they are "deeply alarmed" at plans to transport 16 bus-sized radioactive steam generators by sea from Canada to be cleaned up at the Studsvik recycling plant in Sweden.  The groups say the shipments are highly dangerous and have asked environment ministers to stop the cargos travelling through UK waters. The three-week journey aboard the MV Palessa would include passage through the Pentland Firth between Caithness and Orkney.  The Scottish Government said it would also be seeking assurances about the safety of the cargo.

Earlier this month, the Ontario-based power company Bruce Power was granted a licence by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to transport the generators to Sweden. A date for the ship to embark has not yet been finalised.  Studsvik will decontaminate around 90 per cent of the materials and sell the resultant scrap metal on the open market.  The generators will then be returned to Canada, where they will be stored at a facility by the Canadian utility.

According to the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, the radioactive levels of the generators exceed the legal limits of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations for the safe transport of radioactive materials by 50 times.   NFLA chairman Bailie George Regan said: "I am extremely alarmed by the decision of the Canadian nuclear regulator to permit the transportation of this highly dangerous radioactive material shipment across thousands of miles of open sea to Sweden.  The shipment will contain a cocktail of radioactive materials which even at low levels are potentially dangerous to human health. It seems to me to be a risky endeavour to transport such shipments such long distances for clean-up, passing through the territorial waters of the UK and Ireland."  The UK Department for Transport said the transportation of radioactive materials is governed by strict, internationally agreed standards set out by the IAEA.

In Footsteps of John Muir, A New Coast-to-coast Pathway
A new hiking route planned for central Scotland is to be named the John Muir Trail and marketed to promote the work of the 19th-century conservationist.  The path, which will run from Dunbar to Greenock, is being heralded as the next major walking trail across Scotland, alongside the West Highland Way and the Southern Upland Way.  Three possible routes are being considered which will take in landmarks relating to John Muir - who founded the National Park movement in the US - including the site in Broomielaw Quay, where he boarded a ship to emigrate to America. The track would begin at Muir's birthplace in Dunbar, incorporate the existing John Muir Way in East Lothian and end near Greenock, where he got off the boat on a refuelling stop before crossing the Atlantic in 1849.  It will also take in some of the route Muir travelled across Scotland when he visited on his only return home, 44 years later.  Keith Geddes, chairman of the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN), which is leading the development of the route, said the trail would be officially opened to mark the centenary of John Muir's death in 2014.

The first option under consideration is a coastal route, which would follow the sea across East Lothian and through Edinburgh, before travelling through Falkirk, past the Falkirk Wheel and back to the sea at the Broomielaw Quay port.  Another would begin in the same way, and then head south before Falkirk and rejoin the first route in central Glasgow.  A third option would weave south of Edinburgh and through the Pentland Hills, before hooking around the south of Glasgow and then up to Greenock.  CSGN is to invite pitches from local councils as to why their attractions should be included. It will then finalise the route with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), which is also backing the project.