Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 613

Issue # 613                                             Week ending Saturday 31st   July  2021
Paperback Writer - A Song by the Beatles and A New Occupation for the Harry Formerly Known As Prince by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Poor Lillibet. What do you mean which one? Ah, of course. The Queen now has to share the name by which she is affectionately known to those other royals, at least the ones who don’t call her Mama and Granmama, with Harry and Meghan Sussex’s baby daughter. I mean Her Maj doesn’t have her troubles to seek. Harry says he’s writing a warts-an’-all book.

The troublesome grandson is planning to write of the highs and lows of being the privileged kid he always was and the privileged cove he has now become. Pals say he is raging his babby Lillibet is still not on the official succession website. Oops. Posteriors will be pounded.

Reports claim the prince now known as Mister has signed a four-book deal worth a cool £29 million. One of the volumes may be by Meghan who plans to pen everything she knows about wellness. How can she ...? Don’t go there. I’m sure it will be a lovely read, for those who like that sort of thing.

Harry’s mates are not overjoyed. They will scan it closely for mentions of themselves. Meghan’s chums are less than ecstatic. These longtime friends are threatening to expose more colourful tales about the Sussexes if they are unkind to them in print. Cor blimey, guv’nor. It’s all kicking off, as these posh types tend never to say.

People with the name Harry seem to get themselves into sticky situations. My old mucker Harry from London got himself into some bother a couple of years ago when he took his missus for a break to the continent. Things got very confusing when they tried to check in at their hotel. The staff thought they hated it and were leaving. Did I not mention they were in Italy? And his name is Harry Viderchy.

Meanwhile the Queen is worried about mentions in Harry’s book as she prepares for a jolly old knees-up next year for her Platinum jubilee. She has Elton John lined up to lead the celebrations next year. Sources say Ed Sheeran, best known now as the scruffy one at the end of the couch on Celebrity Gogglebox, and the legend Stevie Wonder, are also booked.

Will they get Stevie up on the palace roof where the Madness lads were in 2012? What will Stevie sing? Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing? Maybe. Isn’t She Lovely? Probably. I Just Called To Say I Love You? Hmm. Part Time Lover? No way. Uptight (Everything’s Alright?) Well ... You Are The Sunshine Of My Life? Definitely.

Can’t think what Elton John will perform. Please, not Candle In The Wind again. What’s that one from The Lion King? Can You Feel the Love Tonight? Yep. Or maybe he and the Queen could get together for a wee number or two? Maybe Elton could don his extra-huge sunglasses and squeeze into his 1972-style platform shoes and tinkle the ivories while she finds the sparkliest tiara in the vault for them both to sing Sacrifice. “And it’s no sacrifice, just a simple word. It’s two hearts livin’, in two separate worlds.” We’ll all be moist.

My running order for the Platinum Jubilee is almost done. Much better than yon Diamond Jubilee bash organised by Gary Barlow back in 2012. He could only get Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue and Madness doing palace roof repairs to music. Huh. I’m going to pencil in Elton and Her Maj looking earnestly at each other and singing I’m Still Standing.

Which is more than you can do on some Caledonian MacBrayne ferries these days. Yes, I can’t end without touching on my favourite subject of how not to run ferry services in Scotland, as demonstrated by CalMac in faltering partnership with Scottish Ministers who are still showing how little they care about transport up here.

The last week has seen more vessel breakdowns, even the emergency ferry gone kaput, more inaction, more delays, and more foot passengers refused boarding - like in Third World countries. More silence from our SNPs and MPs, and more reasons to think the Raving Loony Party would make a better fist of things than them. They claim they care but the lack of urgency by new transport minister Graeme Dey tells us another story.

Now another sad story has just reached me about Elton John. Apparently he has put on so much weight during lockdown that he will have to have bigger sparkly trousers specially made for the Platinum Jubilee. Goodbye, normal jeans.

Flood Patrols in Force As Heavy Rain Continues Across Scotland
Flooding patrols are out in force with weather warnings for heavy rain in place across Scotland.  The north east is expected to be the worst hit with a Met Office amber alert taking effect from 06:00 until 06:00 on Thursday.  Areas including Stonehaven have already seen flooding as well as Kincardine and Falkirk in the central belt.  Transport Scotland said downpours were coming in "small patches" however urged motorists to take care.  A landslip at Gleneagles affected train services between Perth and Stirling, but ScotRail later said the line had re-opened.  There is also a yellow warning for rain covering much of the country from Wednesday which could see 100-120mm of rainfall in some places.  This warning takes effect from 00:00 on Wednesday until 06:00 on Friday.  Areas affected include Grampian, central Scotland, Tayside, Fife, parts of the Highlands, south west Scotland, Lothian, Scottish Borders and Strathclyde.  The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has also issued 15 regional amber flood alerts and two red warnings.  The worst areas affected by these are Spey Dam, Newtonmore and Kingussie in the Highlands.  The forecast means thundery showers may lead to flooding - which could happen quickly - and transport disruption, with possible delays and cancellations to train and bus services.  Power cuts are also possible and some communities could become cut off due to flooding.  Transport Scotland said a multi-agency response team would be operational over the coming days to monitor conditions.  The A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful reopened under traffic light control after being closed as a precaution on Tuesday ahead of the heavy rain forecast.  The area has become infamous for landslips, closures and long diversions.  Stein Connelly from Transport Scotland told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "It looks as though the heavy rain is coming in in small patches and really, really heavy.  We've got landslide patrols out checking the usual areas and we've got patrols out looking at any flooding. We've got the multi agency response running through tomorrow lunch time.  We are looking at a lot of surface water on the road network just now. The trunk roads are all open happy to say that and we'll do everything we can to maintain that as we get to the peak but we do ask people to be really careful as we're getting into the peak traffic.  "Leave yourself plenty of distance from the car in front and lower your speed, it can take twice as long to stop."  ScotRail also issued speed restrictions in a number of areas, primarily in the north east.  Meanwhile Highland Council said gully emptying machines would be stationed in Muir of Ord and Dingwall as they were prone to flooding.  It added council staff are also prepared to respond with sandbags and floodgates to vulnerable properties, but advised all householders and businesses to "remain vigilant" and to prepare.  Several manhole covers have also popped open in Aberdeen due to the force of the rain. The city council warned they may be under flooded water and out of sight.  Following a meeting of the Scottish government's resilience room (SGoRR) on Tuesday, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the Met Office alert signalled a "potentially damaging and dangerous" flood risk in some areas.  He said: "Flooding could happen quickly, even in areas not usually prone to flooding. Some communities might become cut off if roads flood, and power cuts might occur.  Please take extra care if you are out and about, do not attempt to walk or drive through flood water, avoid camping near watercourses and ensure water conditions are safe if spending time in the water."   He added: "The Scottish government is in close contact with local authorities and the emergency services to ensure people in the affected areas receive the latest information, advice and support where needed."

Covid in Scotland: No Quarantine for Fully Jabbed US and EU Travellers
Fully vaccinated visitors from the US and EU will no longer have to quarantine on arrival in Scotland.  The Scottish government announced the development hours after the UK Westminster government confirmed the rule change for England.  The travel industry has campaigned for restrictions to be eased so that people living abroad can more easily visit. Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said it was only possible due to the success of vaccination programmes.  The UK Westminster government's Covid Operations committee met earlier and decided to change the rules, effective from 04:00 on Monday. Currently, people who have been fully vaccinated within the UK do not need to isolate for 10 days when arriving from amber list countries, except from France.  But until Wednesday's announcement that exemption did not apply to people vaccinated abroad. From Monday the need to self-isolate if travelling from an amber list country will be waived, as well as the requirement for a PCR test on day eight after arrival.  However, all travellers will still need to produce a negative test result prior to departure and a negative PCR test result on day two after arrival.  The documentation required to show proof of vaccination is the EU Digital Covid Certificate or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's white card, known as a CDC card.  Mr Matheson said: "This has only been made possible due to the overwhelming success of our vaccination programme here in Scotland when coupled with successful roll-outs of vaccination schemes in the EU and US.  Fully vaccinated travellers will be able to travel to Scotland under this significant relaxation of international travel measures, providing a boost for the tourism sector and wider economy while ensuring public health is protected.  This new arrangement will be carefully monitored by clinicians and kept under close review as we seek to put Scotland firmly on the path to recovery - but people should continue to think very carefully about travelling - especially given the prevalence and unpredictable nature of variants of concern."  Caitlyn Payne moved with her family from the United States to East Dunbartonshire earlier this year.  "My parents have just been waiting for the rules to change. Hopefully, this is a positive sign, we're waiting for them to be allowed to come here without isolation.  They want to come for two weeks, having a 10-day isolation period is challenging. We Facetime often, but it's not the same. We have two small children and they can't wait to see them in their new home and environment."  Steve Gove is originally from Scotland, but he now lives and was vaccinated in Prague.  I've had flights on hold for a few weeks, I'm just holding off for good news that hopefully we won't have to go into quarantine.  "I've had two Pfizer vaccines. Not to see family this long has been really challenging.  I feel lucky I was able to come at Christmas, but I've heard heart-breaking stories from Scots all over Europe who have not seen family since 2019. We've got all the pieces in place and it just has to happen." But Stephen Leckie, chair of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, questioned the timing of the announcement.  He told BBC Scotland's The Nine: "Some would say this is too late, by the time Americans plan their holiday, or break in Scotland, or Europeans, the season will be all but over, that's a real challenge for this industry."  The UK Westminster government said the rule change for England would help to reunite family and friends with loved ones living abroad.  Earlier this month, travel agents, airlines and tour operators called for clarity from the Scottish government on travel rules as England prepared to open up.  Meanwhile, US citizens have been urged not to travel to the UK by their country's health protection agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The US border is also currently closed to the UK visitors.  The UK and US have set up a taskforce to discuss a travel corridor.

Inverness, Sumburgh and Dundee Among Airports Shut by Strike
Six Scottish regional airports have been closed due to a one-day strike by air traffic controllers.  The Prospect union members are in a dispute with employer Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (Hial) over plans to centralise some air traffic control.  Scottish government-owned Hial says it must modernise the service.   Benbecula, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Sumburgh airports were shut to all but emergency flights at 00:01 on Thursday for 24 hours.The strike marks an escalation in industrial action started by Prospect on 4 January this year.  The action so far has involved an overtime ban and controllers refusing to work extensions to shifts except for search and rescue, emergency and medical flights.  Inglis Lyon, Hial's managing director, said the strike was "extremely disappointing".  He said: "The disruption will impact our passengers, airline partners and the communities we serve at a crucial time in the recovery from the effects of the Covid pandemic."  David Avery, Prospect negotiator, said his members had been "forced into this escalation of industrial action to protect the communities they serve".  He said: "Hial's plan will remove high value skilled jobs from economies that can ill afford to lose them, having a substantial negative impact on those communities."  Transport Scotland said the decision to modernise air traffic control would ensure that air services could continue in the future, and would "improve resilience, safety and reliability of services".  A spokesman said: "Hial continues to engage with its staff, unions, airline customers and other interested parties as the programme is implemented."  Under Hial's proposed modernisation, air traffic control for Inverness, Sumburgh in Shetland, Dundee, Kirkwall in Orkney and Stornoway in Lewis would be controlled centrally.  Unmanned towers would feed information to the hub, located in an office building in an Inverness industrial estate.  The total associated employment across the five airports is about 76 full-time posts.  Hial, which runs a total of 11 airports, said its aim was to staff the new hub with existing air traffic services employees and has forecast that by 2027 the workforce could grow to 96 posts.  But the plans have led to a dispute with Prospect, which said some members were unwilling to move, meaning almost 50 could lose their jobs.  An independent impact assessment commissioned by Hial published in March said the plan would bring "very significant negative impacts" for islands communities in terms of the loss of "high quality employment" along with the loss of the economic benefits of the salaries involved.  The report said posts would also be reduced at Dundee, but its authors suggested the impact would be less severe due to the size of the local labour market.  Hial said an alternative modernisation plan would involve increasing staff at the different airports, but this was a more expensive option and would also add to existing recruitment challenges.  The company said it recognised the effect centralisation would have on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland. It said it would commission a study into how its operations could be run in a way to lessen the impacts.

Man Arrested After Priest Assaulted in Edinburgh Cathedral
A man has been arrested after a priest was assaulted in an Edinburgh church on Monday.  The incident happened about 09:30 while the priest was praying alone inside St Mary's Catholic Cathedral.  Police Scotland have confirmed that a 31-year-old man has been arrested in Cumbria in connection with the incident.  They said the man has also been arrested in connection with a further assault in Princes Street Gardens.  A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that a 31-year-old man has been arrested in Cumbria in connection with an assault at a cathedral on York Place in Edinburgh and a further assault at Princes Street Gardens.  "The incidents happened around 09:35 and 09:45 on Monday 26 July."

Fears for 100 Aberdeen Jobs At Oil Services Company Baker Hughes
Oil services company Baker Hughes has told workers it intends to close its base in the Bridge of Don area of Aberdeen.  It is understood 100 employees could be impacted by the proposed closure.  The company told workers the need to reduce costs means it will have to cease the manufacture of certain offshore well products at the Woodside Road base.  It has started a consultation with staff.  The SNP MP for the area, Richard Thomson, described the proposals as a "devastating blow" for the employees affected. "Along with my MSP colleague Jackie Dunbar, I will be seeking an urgent meeting with senior management to discuss their announcement", he said.

'Luxury' Race Will Be Among Most Expensive on Earth
Ultramarathon competitors are used to "roughing it" in races, sometimes sleeping in bivvy bags at the side of muddy trails or even running through several nights.  They set themselves incredible long-distance challenges, often running through remote and difficult terrain.  But now a new ultramarathon race is being launched which gives them luxury few could afford - including butlers, hydrotherapy pools, speed boats and Michelin-star chefs.  Highland Kings Ultra, a four-day camping race covering 120 miles on the west coast of Scotland, costs £15,499 per person to enter.  In contrast, the 95-mile West Highland Way Race costs just £120.  The organisers of the Highland Kings Ultra are calling it "the most exclusive, luxury ultra-run experience on the planet".Race director Rebecca Silva told BBC Scotland the idea was for the runners to "race like a warrior but recover like a king".  She said: "The luxury element makes it very different to other races.  "It's aimed at professionals, who can afford it, who want a sense of adventure but want an element of luxury off the beaten track, in the wild and not in the typical places people explore."  Where are the world's most expensive races?    The only running race known to BBC Scotland which costs more than the Highland Kings Ultra is the World Marathon Challenge, which involves seven marathons on seven continents. The entry is between 39,900 Euros (£34,112) and 42,000 Euros (£35,908), and includes accommodation and business flights between each country.  An 11 day trip to run The Last desert in Antarctica, including a boat from Argentina, costs $12,900 (£9,353).   The Antarctic Ice 100km (62 miles) costs $18,900 (£13,707) and includes food, accommodation and flights from Chile.  The Marathon Des Sables, a seven-day race across the Sahara desert where runners carry all their equipment for 155 miles (250km), costs 3,270 Euros (£2,796) to enter. The Atacama Crossing, which is seven days covering 155 miles (250km), costs $3,800 (£2,755) to enter  Back in Scotland, the 95-mile West Highland Way Race, which is one of the world's longest established ultramarathons, costs £120   She said each of the 40 runners would be given tailored training plans for the seven months leading up to the race in April 2022.  "They will have sweat-composition testing at their local university laboratory so we know how to fuel their bodies," she said.  "They will have Zoom calls with physios and psychologists. We will help them prepare in advance to get race-fit in a seven-month journey leading up to the event, which is a world first."  The runners will be able to speak to ultra-running world champion Jonathan Albon and receive personal coaching from Anna-Marie Watson, an ex-army dedicated ultra-runner and coach.  The race starts in Dalness in Glencoe, with a mountainous marathon to Dalmally in Argyll and Bute, two miles east of the tip of Loch Awe.  This is followed by 32 miles through hilly forest terrain to Loch Fyne, then 34 miles to Portavadie on the west coast of the Cowal peninsula, and finishing with 28 miles on the Isle of Arran.  Competitors then spend a night in a luxury campsite, followed by a gala dinner with explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.  The event is being run by outdoor adventure business Primal Adventures, led by an ex-forces Ayrshire man, Matt Smith, and managing director Rebecca Silva.  Ms Silva said: "We were asked by a group of French clients to organise a luxury running trip from the Isle of Aran to Inverness in 2018 and that planted the seed because the event was so successful.  We have been arranging primal bush craft and adventure courses for years, so this has been an extension of that."  Ian Beattie, chairman of Scottish Athletics and race director of the 95-mile West Highland Way ultramarathon race, said he had never heard of a more expensive race.  "It will be interesting to see if there is demand for this event," he said.  "There is an element of criticism for commercial races, but people will decide what they want."  He said ultramarathon races organised by running groups and/or experienced runners were much cheaper because of the number of volunteers involved.  He added: "My advice would be to join a local running club as there are always qualified coaches there and people with a wealth of experience and knowledge."

Fresh Bid to Save Mcvitie's Biscuit Factory From Closure
A bid to secure the future of a closure-threatened McVitie's biscuit factory will be be made to the owners of the site.  Nearly 500 jobs are at risk at the factory in Tollcross, which opened almost 100 years ago in Glasgow's east end.  An action group will propose building a new factory on a nearby site.  Parent company Pladis plans to close the factory in late 2022 and move production elsewhere.  The Turkish-owned firm has blamed "excess capacity" at its UK sites and plans.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to do "everything we possibly can" to save the business in Glasgow.  The plan to build a new factory has been drawn up by a group of union chiefs, politicians and business people.  Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said: "This proposal is compelling and would secure a future for Pladis in the city. I trust they will give it the consideration it deserves."  Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: "The action group has together worked at pace to identify and explore options to secure the future of these crucial manufacturing jobs in Glasgow.  "I would hope and expect the senior management at Pladis to now study the proposals carefully, and to engage with the action group on them in a constructive and thorough manner."  Pladis started issuing redundancy notices last month.  In a statement, a spokesman for the firm said: "Our priority is the continued engagement with the employee representatives, and we remain open to considering any alternative proposals through the formal consultation process which is ongoing."  Unite industrial officer Pat McIlvogue said: "We believe that the proposal put forward to build a new factory on a nearby site will produce efficiency savings and make this one of the most advanced biscuit manufacturing sites in the UK.  "Unite is asking that Pladis study and positively engage with us on this proposal because we believe that everyone can win from this, most importantly the hundreds of jobs at stake in the local community." GMB Scotland organiser David Hume said: "We believe the proposal offers Pladis everything it needs to maintain manufacturing in the East End of Glasgow for the next generation, ensuring employment and opportunity for the local community that depends on it."  Pladis acquired McVitie's in 2014 after taking over United Biscuits, and is now reportedly the third-biggest biscuit maker in the world.  The same year it cut the then 680-strong workforce by nearly a quarter, unions said, but the factory remains a "major employer in an area with higher levels of social deprivation and unemployment".  McVitie's traces its roots to the original Scottish biscuit maker, McVitie & Price Ltd, which was established in 1830 in Edinburgh.

Drug Deaths in Scotland Could Rise to New Record
Scotland's drug death total could hit record levels for the seventh year in a row, experts have predicted.  Annual statistics for drug-related deaths in Scotland, to be released on Friday, are expected to show a further rise in the number of overdose deaths.  Lockdown and the Covid pandemic are expected to have had an impact on the figures for 2020.  Some 1,264 people died in 2019 from drug misuse in Scotland - a rate three times higher than the UK as a whole.  Prof Catriona Matheson, who chairs a Scottish government-appointed taskforce set up to tackle the crisis, told BBC Scotland she expected to see a small further increase in the number of people who have died from overdoses.  "I think it will be a bit higher, but I am not anticipating any huge increase," she said.  Prof Matheson also expects to see a continuation of some trends, such as mixing drugs including heroin and benzodiazepine tablets.  She believes that people in the slightly older age group - those with "long-term drug use in a difficult and challenging way using several substances at very high risk" - will continue to feature in the figures.  She also said new treatment standards for drug services would help address inconsistencies in care being offered across the country. Kane Duffy, from Edinburgh, has stayed clear of drugs for the last 14 years.  He started using heroin when he was 14 and was on a methadone prescription until his early 30s.  The 44-year-old broke free from drug use after a stay at the NHS-funded Lothian and Edinburgh Abstinence Project (Leap).  He now works as a specialist therapist at the Castle Craig rehab clinic.  He said: "All the time that I had taken from services, everything I was prescribed, every time the police had to intervene in my life… all of these things amount to a huge amount of money.  I still don't like paying my council tax… but now I do pay my council tax. I pay my parking fines when I get them.  I give back to society directly through the work I do and the taxes I provide. I don't cost the state anything now."  Prof Matheson was appointed to the Scottish Drug Death Taskforce in 2019. The group has received £14m in funding over the last two years to tackle the rising number of overdose deaths. It has introduced: Training for Scottish Ambulance Service personnel in providing Take Home Naloxone, an overdose reversal drug, to 300 families;  A Police Scotland Naloxone pilot that has seen the drug used 21 times ;  A number of one-stop shops for drug and treatment services and support in Ayrshire, Dundee and Edinburgh.   However, the country's drug death rate is still expected to be among the worst in Europe.   Some frontline charities and critics of the Scottish government's approach to tackling the crisis have backed the Scottish Conservatives' Right to Recovery Bill.  The Tories say it will enshrine in law individuals' right to their chosen drug treatment, including residential rehabilitation services.  Prof Matheson said new medical assisted treatment standards should have an effect in the longer-term.  "It's about rapid access to care on the day of treatment. So if you reach out for treatment, you should be able to access it," she said.  "It's also about choice within treatment. So, for example, in some areas you might have only been offered methadone. That's quite limiting and it wouldn't happen in any other area of clinical practice.  There was a postcode lottery and that's not on, in any area of care."  She said this was partly down to resources and the fact that people across the country were not necessarily working together or sharing information.  "Hopefully, we have now been able to galvanise a national response," she added.  "The other thing that went wrong in the past was that nobody was held to account for delivering a certain standard of care.  That will change now there is monitoring and evaluation of what is happening."  However, the task force has not been instructed to look at the effectiveness of residential rehab.  There are currently 408 rehab beds in Scotland. The Scottish government says it is studying whether to increase provision by 25% to 50% over the next five years.  Castle Craig rehab clinic, a private hospital near West Liston in the Scottish Borders, has treated people for alcohol and drug addiction for 30 years.  Of its current patient list of 60, only two are NHS-funded. Around a quarter of its clients are Dutch - reflecting the value placed on its services by insurers in the Netherlands - with the remainder being privately funded or via health insurance. The weekly cost of treatment at the clinic ranges from £2,500 to £7,100.  Prof Jonathan Chick, who worked as a consultant psychiatrist for the NHS in Edinburgh, is now medical director at the facility. Castle Craig  He told the BBC: "Compared with when Castle Craig was started, the proportion of Scottish patients - particularly those funded by the Scottish NHS - has fallen.  It's been difficult for drug and alcohol workers to navigate the process which most of the regions have set up for determining who should be given funding for a residential intensive abstinence-oriented treatment.  They recognise what we offer, they share our views on what is a very ideal and effective treatment for addiction. But they say they have limited funds.  I think it is a great shame. There are tremendous opportunities here.  It is out of the reach of most families, obviously, but it is not out of the reach of the services. They are providing quite expensive treatments for years and years and not looking at other opportunities."

Caithness Councillor Accuses Renewable Energy Body of 'Lazy, Arrogant' Claims Over Public Support for Onshore Wind
A Caithness councillor has accused a renewable energy trade body of making "lazy, complacent and arrogant" claims over the level of public approval for wind turbines.  Councillor Matthew Reiss said the assertion by RenewableUK that 70 per cent of people support building onshore wind farms "is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth".  He said national organisations should avoid making "sweeping generalisations" and acknowledge opposition from communities close to wind farm sites – highlighting the Limekiln project at Reay as an example.  Councillor Reiss, who represents Thurso and Northwest Caithness on Highland Council, was speaking after the campaign group Scotland Against Spin challenged London-based RenewableUK over its latest survey.  Writing this week on The Conservative Woman website, Scotland Against Spin chairman Graham Lang called the trade body's findings "unreliable and biased".  Councillor Reiss agreed, saying: “Having read the article, it's quite clear that the claim that 70 per cent of people are in favour of renewables is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I'm acutely aware that hundreds of local people have objected to some onshore wind farms in Caithness. I suspect a lot more than 70 per cent of people agree that the environment is a very important issue but also I am 100 per cent certain that a very large number of people in this ward have a general feeling that Caithness is doing a huge amount in terms of producing renewable energy and has a proud history of producing energy in different forms.  It has struck me for a number of years now that government and other large organisations very seldom even acknowledge the fact that there is a significant body of local people who object to particular projects. I think Caithness people understand that tourism is a huge resource for the county. Lots of people come here because of the unspoilt natural environment, and that produces jobs which produce prosperity and, ultimately, reverse population decline.  This assertion [about 70 per cent support] is a rather lazy, complacent and slightly arrogant statement with an abject failure to acknowledge that there are local circumstances where the position is very different.  If you take for example the Limekiln wind farm development at Reay, I was always struck that the hundreds of people who objected simply wanted to look after their own natural environment and they put a far higher price on protecting that environment than on the community benefit that was being offered.  People frequently say to me that the drive for more and larger onshore wind farms close to communities is not driven by environmental concerns but is very plainly driven by the pound sign."  Councillor Reiss added: “RenewableUK should acknowledge that the picture is much more complicated than making these sweeping generalisations and frankly there is a need for a bit of balance – there are two sides to this debate.”  In his article, Mr Lang states: "RenewableUK, the voice of the wind and solar power industry, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy [BEIS] are keen to demonstrate that there is overwhelming public support for the development of onshore and offshore wind farms, despite increasingly vocal protests from host communities and from environmentalists concerned for the damage caused to peatlands, birds and other wildlife.  So how can RenewableUK justify announcements like this, from a press release in May: ‘Support for building onshore wind farms remains overwhelmingly high at 70 per cent – with levels of support exactly the same among people who live within five miles of a wind farm as those living elsewhere’?  "The answer is in the use of statistics and framing the questions to give the pollsters the answers they want, or by asking the opinions of only a select group of the public. It seems very likely that RenewableUK and BEIS seek to obscure the views of those forced to accept industrial wind turbines as their near neighbours."  Mr Lang notes that there are 10,961 onshore wind turbines in the UK, with 8366 or 76 per cent of them in Scotland. A further 1722 turbines are going through the planning process in Scotland, he says. "Many are up to 260m tall (about 850ft), a height previously considered suitable only for offshore locations."   Referring to the recent RenewableUK poll, Mr Lang says: "Of the 1700 respondents, only seven per cent (119) were from Scotland. That is 0.002 per cent of the Scottish population. Of those 119, only 38 replied that they lived within five miles of a wind farm. That is 0.0007 per cent of the Scottish population. Choosing so few respondents from the UK area with the most onshore turbines in a poll seeking to determine public opinion on the issue makes the results inherently unreliable.  In contrast, there were 192 respondents from London. Why ask Londoners their opinion of living within five miles of an onshore turbine when there are none anywhere near? They can have no idea of the adverse impacts of noise, disruption to water supplies, overwhelming visual intrusion and impacts on property prices caused by living near a large wind farm."   He claims RenewableUK "has interpreted results from a statistically skewed section of the UK public to show that there is ‘overwhelming’ support for onshore wind farms".  A spokesman for RenewableUK said its polling had been carried out independently by YouGov. "We would prefer to keep engaging on a factual basis," he said, adding: "It is not only the YouGov polling which shows that there is a high level of public support for onshore wind nationwide."

Royal Seal of Approval for Caithness Beach Cleans Volunteers
HRH Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay, paid homage this morning to a group of tireless volunteers who have been cleaning up the county's beaches over the last two years. On arrival at Scrabster, Prince Charles was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of Caithness, John Archibald Sinclair, Viscount Thurso of Ulbster, who introduced him to the founders of the Caithness Beach Cleans (CBC) group Dorcas and Allan Sinclair.  Lord Thurso said: "It is my pleasure and duty to welcome His Royal Highness to events in Caithness. He has been particularly impressed by the efforts of Caithness Beach Cleans and therefore was very keen to meet those who have been volunteering to clean beaches. He is very interested in recycling and this is an opportunity to meet them and see what they do."  Mr and Mrs Sinclair founded the group in March 2019, having been alarmed by the amount of plastic rubbish washed up on Caithness beaches. Today, 40 dedicated volunteers work to maintain the local beaches and a further 800 general volunteers assist in beach cleaning across the county's coastline. Volunteers include dog-walkers, canoeists and children are also encouraged to participate with certificates and badges given out.  The prince congratulated Mr and Mrs Sinclair, along with other CBC members, on Scrabster beach and viewed and discussed objects recently cleared, collected and recycled by the group. The CBC has carried out approximately 3504 beach cleans so far and removed 31 UK long tons of plastic from 87 local beaches.  Mrs Sinclair said: "Prince Charles is such an environmentalist. It's really good to know that he's on our side, he's wanted to see us and we're all really delighted to be here. We have actually cleaned the beaches at the Castle of Mey. His farm at Mey actually collects for us and when they have a good pile we arrange to take it away."  At the start of the walkabout outside the Pentland Firth Yacht Club, Mrs Sinclair showed displays of objects found on local beaches that had been recovered by CBC volunteers which included a GoPro camera, lengths of fishing line and the remains of a gas mask.  Mrs Sinclair's daughter, Vicky Shannon, met the prince and told him that she had cleaned beaches on the way up to Caithness from her home in Berwick. "I told him how we had cleaned five beaches on the way up and had got over 200 pounds of plastic." Her husband Adrian said that Prince Charles was impressed that puppy Echo was helping with the beach cleaning at such a young age.  Jill Innes said she was delighted to meet the prince with her children Zachary and Lana. "Zachary nearly hit him in the face with the litter-picker though," she said but added that "it was great that he was interested in what we were doing."  Mrs Sinclair said Prince Charles was surprised at how much discarded fishing material ends up on Caithness beaches and was delighted with the doormat, made from recycled materials, she and her husband gave to him.  "He was a thoroughly pleasant chap and everybody was really pleased to talk with him. It was a great honour to meet him," she said.  Prince Charles went on to visit DS McGregor and Partners Veterinary Surgery to meet vets, nurses, support staff and patients during a tour of the practice and surgery. The practice has been brought to prominence in “The Highland Vet” TV series.  He also visited the recently restored House of the Northern Gate at Dunnet at which the Queen Mother stayed in 1953 after the death of her husband, His Majesty King George VI. During her stay, she saw the recently vacated Barrogill Castle, three miles away, and went on to purchase the dilapidated building which is now the Castle of Mey. Prince Charles toured the site and gardens and commemorated the visit by planting a native rowan tree in the gardens.

AUSTRALIAN SCOTTISH/CELTIC NEWS
The End of A Queensland Scottish Bi Monthly News Magazine
Carmel McMurdo Audsley Author and Editor of the Scots News Magazine said “After 10 years of keeping the Scottish community up to date with news and events, it’s time for me to take a break .  I will continue to promote all things Scottish via the Scots News Magazine Facebook page, so make sure you ‘like’ the page.   Thank you for all your support over the years.  It has been a pleasure to receive your emails.  I have gotten to know some of you well through email communication, and met other readers at various Scottish events via my book stall”.  Stay safe and well.  Best wishes, Carmel”

The SAHC still needs a Newsletter Editor. Do you have a love of storytelling or know of someone that does?  If so, we need a newsletter editor.  Please contact me to discuss this very important role for keeping the Scottish Diaspora informed through my email address  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
I wish you all the very best and to remain safe and well in this troublesome times.
Malcolm Buchanan, President

Scotland Down Under with Robin MacKenzie on 2RRR 88.5 FM
Scottish music is a huge part of Scottish culture. It carries with it ancient stories and languages that have influenced many forms of music.  Each week from 6.00 - 7.30pm on a Tuesday Robin presents Scotland Down Under from 2RRR where he showcases all things Scottish.  Featuring music from the traditional to the contemporary, Robin will also keep you in touch with local and international Scottish news. Listen locally on the dial at 88.5FM, broadcast live from 2RRR's studios in Henley, Sydney or if out of range tune in, from anywhere in the world,  via our website, 2rrr.org.au and go to Live Stream where the reception is crystal clear.  You can reach the station at the following contact points;
by Phone in the office at 9816-2988 or the Studio: 9816-2777.
By email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
To Text Robin while he is On-air  0412 777 885.
Mailing Address PO Box 644 GLADESVILLE NSW 1675.  
Street Address Henley Cottage, 4 Victoria Road, HENLEY NSW 2111

Coisir  Ghaidhlig Astrailianach
(Australian Gaelic Singers) will be back rehearsing on a face to face basis at Macquarie Presbyterian Church in Eastwood as soon as this*** Covid restrictions allow.   They are looking for interested folk to join them.  If you’d like to join - the choir is open to all, whatever your background.  The only pre- requisites are willingness to learn and lots of enthusiasm! A knowledge of Gaelic and/or music is not essential. If interested please contact the Music Director on (02) 9638-2625 or email him on: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it