Some Scottish News & Views #92

SOME SCOTTISH NEWS & VIEWS
Issue # 92                                                                                   Week ending 18thJune 2011

Russian Billionaires Headed for Stornoway to Meet George Gawk by Iain MacIver courtesy of the Press & journal
People often ask me about the economy of the Western Isles. Hey, don’t worry about us, you mainland types. We’ve plenty money. It’s coming out our ears.  With a yachtful of Russian billionaires here a week ago, they were splashing a lot of cash about. The funny thing was none of them looked wealthy. The ones I saw looked like ordinary crofters - and crofters who had not had their sheep subsidy yet.  They tramped around Stornoway in their wellies and sampled our hostelries. My mate George Gawk, another committed welly-wearer, spent an afternoon in MacNeil’s talking politics to three of them. As each billionaire fell asleep in turn as he told them Ed Miliband was going to change the world, their snoring rattled their gold chains and bracelets. Still, crofter George didn’t clock on his companions were actually mega-rich good mates of Vladimir.  Each one could buy out the entire Outer Hebrides if they wanted to. But, no, they didn’t want to.

However, it’s not because of those billionaires from the superyacht Lauren L that Stornoway is awash with money just now. The problem is that a lot of the cash up here is fake.

Apparently.

Sssshhh. It’s not really a problem. If you find yourself the unwitting owner of a dodgy banknote, provided you follow these simple rules you will not lose out by this rotten stroke of luck. Here’s what you must do.

Nothing.  That’s right. Just like the wartime Ministry of Information advice to everyone keeping the home fires burning, keep calm and carry on. That way you can easily fob off the dud to some mug without drawing attention to yourself.  If, however, you happen to be honest, take it straight round to the cop shop and tell them the dodgy pubs you’ve been frequenting and who served you. That way you’ll cause the police a lot of extra work, they may even blow the overtime budget and you may get banned from every pubs for grassing them up to the cops. Still, your conscience will be clear.

Rich business owners of that parade of shops along North Beach Street began moaning recently that banks were sending back their takings saying some notes were duds.  I had a look at some of these fakes and there was something very odd about them. They were very, very good. They were just too good.  

Having seen fakes in London, although they seemed good at first sight, I remembered they looked rubbish close up. The Queen looked a bit glaikit, she had on a crown which was lop-sided and her whole body was leaning too far over as if she’d had a few too many.
It’s actually a very reliable test that I use to this day when I am out for a bevvy. At various times in the evening, I’ll examine a tenner and if Her Majesty looks half-scud then I know that one of two things has happened.   Either I have acquired a dud or I have got myself blootered. And, if I can’t find any tenners in my pocket, then it’s defnitely time to hit the road.

A counterfeit £20 note was spotted by a manager of one of our hotels years ago. He knew it was a fake because he got caught in the rain and the colours in the note ran as it got wet. Probably been made by a schoolboy with a printer in his bedroom, it was a very poor fake.
Our banks recently suggested that shopkeepers get light scanners to show whether the notes were fakes. Most forked out but now it seems the scanners aren’t reliable either. They show many notes as fakes when they aren’t.  It has been causing real problems. There have been queues in some banks because staff have to scan all these notes individually.

You couldn’t even quench your thirst with cold lager in some places without your wonga being held up to the light and then run through bleeping machines which made us islanders feel like desperate criminals. OK, some of us are exactly that - but not all.  Now we hear the cops are on the ball. They’ve forensically checked out a pile of the latest tenners and £20 notes found in Stornoway. Guess what? That’s right; there aren’t any fakes among them. They haven’t found a single one yet. All absolutely genuine. Oh no. I mean, oh yes.

What’s going on? Why did our bank branches in Lewis and Uist begin refusing genuine notes when there is no similar confusion on the mainland? Don’t tell me someone has badly messed up again at our once-great banking institutions? Methinks they now have a bit of explaining to do.  

Unlike the Duke of Edinburgh who now can’t be bothered to explain anything. Way to go, sir. Did you see his interview with Fiona Bruce? It was pure, grumpy magic.  Recently I mentioned how certain royals go around doing things that are delightful. Being delightful is what they do, I declared.  Except I’d forgotten about the old duke to which our capital lends his title. Being delightful is the very last thing he tries to be nowadays. He reminded us all that he doesn’t give a hoot what people think.

Poor Fiona Bruce. She was struggling in that TV interview. What can you say to someone who doesn’t want to talk to you and who reckons he has done his bit and just wants to be left alone by self-serving interviewers?  At one point, he even refused to answer and just stared her out. And that was after all his worst bits like him demanding to know what kind of a foolish question was that she was asking were edited out. The duke was a bit like that wee madam Vicky Pollard from Little Britain. Except he doesn’t say he’s not bovvered - but you know he is thinking that one is really not so terribly bothered.

Still, at least he’s not a fake.

Achavrail Armlet
This armlet is made of bronze- an alloy of copper and tin. While Copper is fairly common in the north of Scotland, the tin would have been traded from as far away as Cornwall, some 700 miles away. It is a declaration of wealth and power from the 1st or 2nd century AD and decorated in a style common in Celtic communities in Europe.  This armlet would have been bright coppery gold in colour with red glass or enamel 'buttons' in each of the two empty circles. The armlet has been in Inverness Museum and Art Gallery since 1987.  It is amazing, and rather wonderful, that this solid chunk of exquisitely crafted bronze, this symbol of wealth and power has survived 1800 years in such good condition.  Heavy armlets like this are only found in the north-east of Scotland and this is one of the finest examples. It was found in 1901 by a crofter who was ploughing. He nearly threw it away but eventually took it to the museum at Dunrobin in Sutherland.

Swinney Demands Scottish Power Justifies Huge Price Rises
Finance Secretary John Swinney will this week demand an explanation from Scottish Power on the firm’s huge price increases – which could cost families up to £1400 a year.  Swinney is expected to meet senior officials from the energy giant – and company executives may also be asked to explain their decision before a Holyrood committee.  Scottish Power is at the centre of a row after announcing an average 19% increase on gas bills and an extra 10% for electricity.   The rises, due to come into force in August, have prompted cross-party condemnation and fears that other energy firms may follow suit.

Industry regulator Ofgem published a retail market review in March and is consulting with energy companies over their prices. All British suppliers – including Scottish Power – submitted responses to Ofgem on June 1.  Ofgem has made two proposals. The first is that energy firms simplify their tariffs, with one rate for each payment method. The second is that suppliers will have to auction 20% of their energy on the open market. It is hoped this will let small firms into the market.  A spokesman for Ofgem said these were “radical reforms”. He said suppliers would be referred to the Competition Commission if they refused to work with the regulator.  Ofgem began an investigation into Scottish Power earlier in the year.

Blown Up and Bogged Down But Unbowed: Tributes to Epitome of A Highland Soldier
A Scottish soldier shot dead in southern Afghanistan "didn't go down without putting up a fight", his comrades said.  Corporal Michael Pike, 26, from Huntly, Aberdeenshire, died after insurgents armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades attacked his patrol in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand Province.  His colleagues, from 4th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, said his quick reactions as he returned fire saved lives. They said the father of two was the epitome of a Highland soldier.  Cpl Pike, described as a "loving and caring family man", leaves a wife, Ida, and two children, Joshua and Evelynn.  Cpl Pike, second in command of 2 platoon, A-Company, based at Check Point Pegasus, was on his second tour of Afghanistan.   He was leading the patrol in the area of Pupalzay along Highway 601 when it came under attack. He fired back on the enemy and his colleagues praised his quick reactions which allowed them time to move out of danger.  Lieutenant Colonel AJ Aitken, Commanding Officer of Combined Force Lashkar Gah and The Highlanders, 4th Battalion, said: "He was an enormously popular, charismatic and engaging character; a natural leader.

Police Disappointed At Rise in Drug Seizures At Rockness Festival
Police at this year's Rockness festival said a slight rise in the number of drugs seizures at the event was "disappointing".  Officers said 243 people were found to have drugs on them during the three-day event, up slightly on last year. Cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines and cannabis were confiscated at the music festival held on the banks of Loch Ness.  However, reported crime at the event, which was attended by about 25,000 people each day, was down slightly in comparison with last year.  Northern Constabulary said 11 crimes were reported over the weekend, relating to breach of the peace, assault and theft.  Fewer medical incidents needed hospital attention and fewer drug-related medical matters were reported, compared with last year's festival.  Event commander Stevie Mackay said: "On the whole it has been a largely positive event. We had slightly higher numbers of people attempting to take drugs into the event, which is disappointing. But these are still low when looking at the numbers that attended."

Why Alex Salmond is Delighted to Be Crossing Swords with David Cameron
There’s a Japanese proverb loved by politicians: “If you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by.” Cannier souls at Westminster and Holyrood know that sometimes all you need to do to win is lean back and let your opponents self-destruct.  So far, it has proved a remarkably efficient strategy for Alex Salmond and his plan for a referendum on Scottish independence.   Last week, after a ham-fisted intervention by the LibDem Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, who suggested two referendums were needed before separation, David Cameron moved to take control of the issue, setting up a Cabinet sub-committee dedicated to maintaining the union.  He and his wife Samantha will visit Scotland next week to drive the message home.

But instead of quaking in their boots, the SNP are privately delighted.  The Nationalists reckon that Cameron becoming the default leader of the No campaign is a gift. Not only is his party still regarded as toxic in Scotland, the Prime Minister may soon be leading one of the most unpopular governments of modern times, as the full, bloodthirsty extent of the Treasury’s spending cuts hits home.  However much Cameron might try to present himself as part of a society-spanning coalition on the union, he will also be portrayed by the SNP as the voice of London patronisingly telling Scots what’s best for them.

It’s not just a political hunch that a backlash against the Tories might help the SNP case. An academic study into the 1997 referendum which led to the Scottish Parliament found the voting pattern closely mirrored local party allegiance.  The study found that in areas where support for Labour was high in the 1997 general election, support for devolution was also high, partly because it was the anti-Tory position. Support for devolution fell where the Tories had done well in the election.  “In short, Labour areas were more strongly in favour of a parliament than Conservative areas,” concluded the authors.

Fast forward to today, and, in Holyrood terms at least, there are no “Labour areas” left.  Instead, the SNP have extended their dominion from the Highlands and north east into Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Fife and the Lothians.  Next year’s local elections may well see the SNP become dominant at council level too.  So by the time of the independence referendum, say 2014, the Labour strongholds which coloured the 1997 vote could have morphed into SNP ones.   If the pattern of 1997 is repeated, areas good for the SNP electorally should also favour their referendum position, either for its own sake or to raise two fingers to Cameron and Nick Clegg.

Police Identify Scots Human Traffic Gangs
Nine major crime gangs are trafficking people into Scotland for the sex trade and forced labour, police have warned.  Chinese Triads and Albanian smugglers are among the groups to have been picked up on the radar of the elite Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) as it steps up its fight with the international underworld operating north of the Border.   Gangsters can make tens of thousands of pounds every year from every person they smuggle into the country illegally, especially in the highly lucrative and increasingly common brothels of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stephen Whitelock, the SCDEA’s head of intelligence, said: “We know there are Chinese and south-east Asian crime groups involved, Nigerians and gangs from eastern Europe, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Albania.  “They are all predominantly bringing in women to work in the Scottish sex industry.”  But as police revealed their most detailed intelligence yet about the scale of the trade, Scotland’s lead immigration official criticised slow progress in prosecuting human traffickers.  Phil Taylor, regional director of the UK Border Agency for Scotland and Northern Ireland, revealed four major investigations by his officers had failed to result in a single conviction.  He questioned whether Scotland’s justice system could move fast enough to deal with serious allegations made by people eager to leave the country.  Speaking at an Edinburgh conference on child trafficking yesterday, Mr Taylor said: “I think the ability of the criminal justice system in Scotland to pursue these cases with sufficient speed and vigour is in doubt.

Human rights campaigners, women’s groups and politicians have previously attacked police and fiscals for failing to bring any prosecutions.  The unusually frank criticism from Mr Taylor is all the more damning because it comes from within the system. He wants to see a national task force on trafficking to include police and prosecutors.His concerns immediately provoked a staunch defence of the Scottish system by the Crown Office.  A Crown office spokesman said: “We absolutely do not accept this criticism, which is ill-informed.  “The prosecution service in Scotland is committed to using all of our powers to combat people trafficking wherever it occurs and when there is sufficient available, credible and reliable evidence to do so.  The Crown can only prosecute what is reported by law enforcement and when there is sufficient evidence.”  The spokesman said there had been a dearth of cases reported but stressed there were currently several investigations under way across Scotland. Fiscals have targeted individuals who they believe to be traffickers over lesser offences, including identity and prostitution-related crimes.  Police last night stressed that they know a lot about the sex industry -– but that their information is more limited on other types of people trafficking, including for forced labour and domestic servitude.  Glasgow detectives are about to begin leafleting large areas of the city centre and the southside giving residents advice on the tell-tale signs of trafficking for both sex and labour.

The Bonnie Banks As You've Never Seen Them Before: by Water Bus
A water bus has been introduced to one of the country's top beauty spots.  Visitors to Loch Lomond will be able to reach 12 destinations by boat on the daily scheduled service. After running a successful pilot last year, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority hope the water-based pubic transport will increase tourism and reduce congestion on the roads.

Gordon Watson, national park director of planning and rural development, said: "It is a great way of getting more people visiting different destinations which will benefit local tourism businesses around the loch. Whether you want to visit Rob Roy's Cave and the stunning waterfall at Inversnaid, cycle along the west Loch Lomond cycle path, walk a section of the West Highland Way or simply take in the views of the Loch from Luss, I would encourage visitors to experience the loch from a new perspective and explore what the National Park has to offer.  This connects up every community in Loch Lomond-side."

A six-week trial of the service last summer attracted more than 5,000 passengers, paving the way for a permanent water bus.  Stuart Cordner from Cruise Loch Lomond, which has been running a limited scheduled service since April, said the new service had been proving very popular with visitors.  He said: "It gives people accessibility to some of the more remote spots on the loch," he added. "It gives them the opportunity to perhaps take a bike across to the eastern shore, and allows walkers the opportunity to walk some of the more remote parts of the West Highland Way."  The daily routes are Balloch to Balmaha Cameron House and Balloch Country Park; Rowardennan to Luss; Tarbet to Inversnaid and Rowardennan; and Luss to Inchcailloch and Balmaha.

Prehistoric Settlement Found on Boreray
Archaeologists working on the St Kildan island of Boreray, previously thought to be home only to seabirds and feral sheep, have found the remains of a permanent settlement which could date back to prehistoric times.   Less than a square kilometre in size, Boreray is situated over 65km west of the Outer Hebrides.  It was previously thought that inhabitants of St Kilda’s largest island Hirta visited neighbouring Boreray only in the summer, to hunt birds and gather wool. This practice ended in the early part of the twentieth century, and in 1930 the last remaining inhabitants of St Kilda were evacuated from the islands – at their own request.  Now this latest discovery by archaeologists suggests that a farming community lived and worked on the steep slopes of Boreray before the 17th century, and perhaps as far back as the prehistoric era.

During eight days of research on the island, the team recorded an extensive agricultural field system and terraces for cultivating crops, and identified three possible settlement mounds. Remarkably, one of these contained the intact remains of a stone building with a corbelled roof, sealed up over centuries by soil. It is believed that some of these remains could date to the Iron Age.

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments (RCAHMS) surveyor Ian Parker said, “This is an incredibly significant find, which could change our understanding of the history of St Kilda.  Until now, we thought Boreray was just visited for seasonal hunting and gathering by the people of Hirta. But this new discovery shows that a farming community actually lived on the island, perhaps as long ago as the prehistoric period.  The recent investigations on Boreray mark one of the few times archaeologists have set foot on the island. It comes as part of a five year partnership project between RCAHMS and the Trust – begun in 2007 – to map traces of human occupation on the islands from early prehistory right through to the present day. Inhabited for well over two millennia, but with a population which probably never exceeded 200 people, St Kilda’s main island Hirta was finally evacuated in 1930 at the request of its remaining 36 islanders.

£17,000 for Bethesda
The Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway has been presented with a cheque for £17,000 as a result of a sponsored cycle from the Isle of Barra to the Butt of Lewis carried out by two men.  They were Iain McGillvray and Norman Macdonald who cycled the 260 miles in two days covering nine islands, starting in Vatersay, Barra. They raised a total of £34,000 which is being divided between the Bethesda Hospice and the Highland Hospice in Inverness.

The Bethesda fundraiser, D R Macdonald said: ‘We are delighted with this support for the hospice. It was a tremendous effort by these two lads in adverse weather conditions. This is the largest ever donation from a sponsored event in a 12 month period and covers our share of the revenue costs of the hospice for one month.”

Restaurants Gets Wild Fish Warning   Published on Saturday 18 June 2011 00:24
Police have issued a warning to Western Isles restaurants about the law regarding the sale of wild salmon and sea trout   With the peak of the salmon season approaching, Police are reminding restaurants and hotels in the Western Isles of the law regarding the sale of wild salmon and sea trout.   Western Isles Wildlife Crime officer, PC Adrian Kay, said:“Local businesses must bear in mind that the law bans the sale of any salmon or sea trout that has been caught by rod or line. Anyone found breaching these regulations can face a hefty fine of up to £2500.”  He added: “Furthermore, the trade in net-caught wild salmon is closely monitored. Anyone selling salmon as “wild” may be required to show that the fish has been lawfully caught and purchased. Local police and fisheries board officers regularly visit business premises to ensure that this is the case.”

Local Opinions Sought on the Integration of Highland Care Services
Proposals to integrate care, health and education, and children’s and adult services are to be put forward to the public.  The joint Caithness wards forum will, at an open meeting, discuss plans by the Highland Council and NHS Highland for their services to work more closely together.  Council and health chiefs are keen to hear feedback on their recommendations from the community.  They believe that the planned changes will improve frontline services and achieve better outcomes for service users.

The proposed changes will be significant and involve changing organisational and management arrangements in the Highland Council and NHS Highland.  If implemented, officials believe the changes will result in reduced bureaucracy and a real joined-up approach to service delivery.  Landward Caithness councillor David Flear said the Highland Council is looking at new ways of delivering its services and that public feedback is essential before any changes are implemented.  "When constituents want to raise an issue about health and social care, it does not really matter to them who funds that service, they just want it sorted," he said.

Give Us Our Treasures Back
Calls are growing for Inverness’s historic and priceless treasures, which date back more than 1000 years, to have a permanent home in the city.  The magnificent silver Torvean Chain and the Croy Hoard are outstanding examples of jewellery from Inverness’s Pictish period between 400 and 800AD, which were uncovered in the 19th century.  The internationally renowned artefacts became part of Scotland’s national collection at the time they were discovered because Inverness did not have a museum.

They are now the property of the National Museums Scotland and on display in Edinburgh. However, they returned home on a short-term loan to Inverness Museum this week, much to the delight of city provost Jimmy Gray.  He said they were hugely important pieces of Inverness’s history and called for them to be on display at the museum permanently.  “I think it is important that all of Scotland can see the pieces but this should be their home, we should be loaning them to Edinburgh or London,” he said.  “They are much more relevant to the people of the Highlands.”  The provost wants talks with National Museums about the matter.

However, National Museums Scotland ruled out any full-time move north for the chain, which was last on loan in Inverness a decade ago, or the hoard, which has never been on display in the city. “We’re always happy to consider requests for loans but, as these objects are of national and international significance, it is appropriate they remain in the national collections,” said a spokeswoman. “National Museums Scotland has expertise and resources to care for them now and in the future.”


Rare European Bird Sighting Has Twitchers on Scots Isle All of A Flutter
A rare exotic beauty has stolen the spotlight from the isle of Mull's celebrated sea eagles.
Twitchers were yesterday swooping on Loch Frisa, home to Mull's public sea eagle hide, with their sights firmly set on another species.  A lone European roller, instantly recognisable by its brilliant blue feathers, was seen near the hide, in Glen Aros, on Thursday.  

The roller, a rare sight in Britain, should be in north Africa or Spain at this time of year.  But after a surprise sighting by holidaymaker John Banner at 5:30am, wildlife tour operator Pam Brown, of Discover Mull, managed to track it down again a few hours later.  Mrs Brown said: "A couple of friends went with me to look for it, we knew where the man had parked his car when he saw it, so we knew where to start looking. We searched for about one and a half hours before we found it but it was a brilliant sight, when it flies it's just all blue."  The bird was in the distance, on private farmland, but Mrs Brown said: "I managed to get a photograph of it by putting the camera at the end of my telescope."   To find a European roller on Mull is "mega rare" according to Dave Sexton, RSPB officer for the island, who believes the bird may have been blown in by the recent storms, or simply flew off its migration course. Mr Sexton said: "This is only the third recorded sighting of a roller for Mull. One was in 1888, but it was shot by Maclaine of Lochbuie."

Carbon Capture No Pipe Dream
The reality of carbon capture and storage has moved closer after three power firms unveiled plans for an onshore pipeline to carry waste carbon dioxide.  Scottish Power, National Grid and Shell UK aim to use an existing natural gas line from Falkirk to Peterhead as part of a carbon capture and storage project at Longannet Power Station.  The technology will allow the storage of harmful greenhouse gases underground.

Waste Plant Challenge to Government
A legal challenge has been mounted against the Scottish Government’s decision to give the go-ahead to a controversial £50 million waste-energy plant next to housing and a school. Ministers overturned North Lanarkshire Council’s decision to reject plans for the scheme by award-winning butcher Simon Howie’s Shore Energy firm, which will burn off 160,000 tonnes of waste from rubbish and turn it into energy. The local authority is now seeking a judicial review of that ruling.  The plant had previously been rejected by the council amid strong local opposition, with campaigners fearing it would harm the health of local people and affect house prices. However, Mr Howie said the council’s stance would drive business away from one of Scotland’s employment blackspots, adding that the authority had a short-sighted view of his “misrepresented plans” and was spending more public money on what would turn out to be a futile gesture.

The council’s legal challenge comes as Monklands Residents Against Pyrolysis Plant (MRAPP) staged a rally in Coatbridge, with participants encouraged to wear dust masks and white suits.  The group has recently called for a local boycott of Simon Howie products.  Labour-run North Lanarkshire accused the Scottish Government of trampling on local democracy by over-riding the authority’s rejection of the plant, adding that, while there were financial risks in the Court of Session move, “it is what we were all elected to do”.  Council leader Jim McCabe said: “The administration will be backing a legal challenge over the outrageous decision to grant permission for this scheme. Although the potential costs are high and we may not succeed, we have a duty to stand up for local people. To have such a decision by Scottish ministers flies in the face of local democracy and accountability. The council was unanimous in its decision not to grant permission to Shore Energy and took that decision after careful consideration and after hearing the views of 8000 local people who wrote to us.”

Perthshire-based Mr Howie is behind the plans for a pyrolysis plant, which involves the high-temperature treatment of waste to generate fuel. It is due to open in 2013, creating 50 jobs.  He said: “The appeal cost both the council and us six-figure sums and our position was found to be totally correct. I appreciate the council is damned if they do and damned if they don’t but they have go to show responsibility to the wider population of North Lanarkshire rather than spending more public money on what may well be a futile gesture.”

Plea to Keep Green Energy Revenues
Renewable energy revenues from Scotland's shores and seabed should be invested for future generations of Scots rather than channelled into the UK treasury, the Scottish Government will demand this week.  The Scottish National Party (SNP) led administration at Holyrood will publish a paper this week setting out the case for responsibility for the Crown Estate, which administers Scotland's seabed and most of its foreshore, to be transferred from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament.

It will propose creating a Fund for Future Generations, enabling a share of the "substantial" anticipated future revenues from offshore energy to be invested for the long-term, providing both "financial security and economic opportunity".  The paper will also advocate linking investment from Crown Estate revenues with released Fossil Fuel Levy resources, which are currently nearly £200 million.  A spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond said: "The people and parliament of Scotland have spoken - and voted. Scottish Parliament responsibility for the management and revenues of the Crown Estate in Scotland is essential to maximise the benefit from our vast marine resources.  Transferring control from Westminster to Holyrood would allow us to realise the seabed's full economic potential, helping create thousands of additional jobs across Scotland and supporting the transition to a low carbon economy.  With as much as a quarter of Europe's offshore wind and tidal energy potential and an estimated 10% of its capacity for wave power, Scotland can become the green energy powerhouse."

The spokesman said Scotland has 206 gigawatts of practical offshore renewable energy resource, amounting to almost almost 40% of the total resource for the UK.   The Scottish Government calls the current Crown Estate management arrangement, which sees revenues flow out of Scotland to the UK Treasury, "anachronistic" and "out of step with self-government".

But the UK Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore has said he remains "unconvinced" by the majority of the SNP's proposals

Jobs Boost At Climate Change Centre
Over 80 new jobs will be created at a new climate change centre in the capital which is expected to bring a £167 million boost to the Scottish economy.  Over £1.6 million will be invested by the Scottish Government to provide a national hub for efforts to drive Scotland's low-carbon economy and tackle climate change.  The first of its kind in the UK, the centre will be built at Edinburgh University using the latest eco technology and will open in 2013.  It is designed to be a focal point for world-leading research into climate change and the development of new low-carbon products and services.

Experts from the centre will be tasked with advising Scottish businesses on how to increase their bottom line by using the latest innovations which save energy.  Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil said: "Scotland is leading the way on creating the skills and expertise needed to grow a thriving low carbon economy and this new centre will be another string to our bow.  We will see world class research on how to tackle climate change and the absolute best advice for businesses on how to boost the bottom line by having a low carbon enterprise."

Dr Andy Kerr, director of the Edinburgh Centre on Climate Change (ECCC), said: "This funding is critical to support the costs of construction of the ECCC building, which is being funded by the University of Edinburgh, philanthropy, and private and public sector sources.  The outcome will be an inspiring physical space to support low carbon innovation in Scotland and the development and delivery of low carbon professional skills."