Scottish Government Blogs

July 3, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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MRV Scotia: survey 0715S update

The MRV Scotia sailed east from Aberdeen on the 3rd June to begin the Annual Nephrops TV Survey. Work commenced at the Fladen grounds, however after only completing half the planned stations the weather turned poor and the outlook even worse so the vessel made its way for the Minches. In considerably better conditions, stations down the west side of the North Minch were completed. The survey carried on just to the east of Harris and the Uists and then off Barra Head before turning east and heading for Coll, Tiree and Jura. Work continued in the Clyde in perfect weather, without incident and with only a few modifications to some stations due to the close proximity of commercial trawlers.

After two days working in the area MRV Scotia then sailed to the Sound of Jura where a number of sites were surveyed along with a trawl. Following a long steam, the vessel then returned to the South Minch and began to work up the east side, around Canna, Eigg, Rhum and off Mallaig, before working up the west side of Skye in to Dunvegan and Loch Snizort. Surprisingly clear of creels, these areas were completed before heading round into the east side of Skye and Raasay, where a trawl was also carried out. To allow work to continue through the hours of darkness in areas traditionally fished with creels, the vessel scouted out the next few sites before daylight faded, and with no buoys present the TV sledge was safely deployed and recovered throughout the night. The survey then worked west towards Stornoway clearing stations in open water before having the half landing in Stornoway on the 15th June. However on the morning of the 15th whilst finishing the last three stations, a fault developed in the cable which required the cable to be replaced.  This was undertaken once tied up in port. The last ten stations in the North Minch were surveyed on the 16th before heading east and back to Fladen to continue the survey, covering the stations that had not been visited in the first part of the survey due to the poor weather.

With favourable weather through to the end of the survey the remaining stations at Fladen and Devils Hole were also completed as set out in the cruise programme.

Figure 1 Survey areas for Scotia 0715S

July 2, 2015
by Linda White
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‘On the Couch’ with Tommy Whitelaw

My name is Tommy Whitelaw, and for five years I was a full-time carer for my mum Joan, up until she sadly passed away in September 2012.

At the time my Mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia, I looked at her and thought to myself “it’ll be okay, we’ll get through this.” What I soon learned as her carer, was that dementia was an unpredictable illness which brought many challenges and forced us to adapt to ever-changing routines. Many days we would wake up to discover that everything we had grown accustomed to have suddenly changed again.I wondered whether the struggles I faced were mine and mine alone, and how other carers who had been through the same journey as I was embarking on, had managed to cope. This was the basis behind my first venture in to the world of awareness raising – the ‘Tommy On Tour’ campaign, which involved collecting life story letters from people across Scotland caring for a loved one with dementia.

The hundreds of letters I received let me know that the challenges I faced were far from unique to my own situation and I have to say meeting and speaking to others in the same situation was one of the most beneficial things I could have done.

An issue that struck me during my journey caring for my mum was the lack of awareness and understanding of dementia and the way in which we perceive this illness as a wider society.  My door was always open but no one walked through it, people didn’t come to visit us anymore and I truly believe that was down to the stigma surrounding the illness.

Everyone affected by dementia has a unique story to tell and by sharing our experiences we can help to tackle the misunderstandings surrounding dementia and offer hope to people in the same situation.

This is something I am passionate about promoting as I build on my previous awareness raising work, as Project Engagement lead of the Health and Social Care ALLIANCE’s Dementia Carer Voices Project.

The project provides a platform upon which carers can express their views and experiences of caring for a loved one living with dementia, with a view to raising awareness among health and social care professionals, and wider society of its impact on families and the importance of empowering carers in carrying out this difficult but vital role.

A key focus of my talks through the project is to highlight the impact that inspirational health and social care professionals can make to the journeys of carers across Scotland. People who appreciate and understand the unique challenges that dementia brings can be there to prop you up, and I absolutely believe as a carer if I was propped up a little bit with the right help and support, I could have given my Mum the best care and support in the world.

The experience of caring for my Mum undoubtedly brought great challenges, stress, isolation and sadness, but it was a role carried out through love and we enjoyed many touching moments of joy and satisfaction. Those special moments live long in my memory, and gave me a real boost of strength to get through the difficult times, and continue to do so now.

Dementia Carer Voices pledge background

Dementia Carer Voices has now gathered over 4500 personal pledges as part of the “You Can Make a Difference” campaign. The campaign encourages people to listen to the experiences of people who have cared for a loved one with dementia and to think how they can make a positive difference in people’s lives. The team are delighted to have gotten such a strong response, and would like to take this opportunity to reflect on our journey up until now and how we have gotten to this point.

A fundamental aspect of the campaign has been about involvement. Throughout the UK tour, we have engaged with many thousands of  health and social care professionals, students, MSPs and members of the public, and have noticed a distinct increase in the number of pledges we have received when people are encouraged and supported to do so by colleagues and friends. We would therefore like to ask you to share this campaign, to encourage people you know to get involved and make a pledge to make a difference in the lives of people who have dementia, their families and carers. Through our own dedicated blog site, twitter account and website, the campaign is easily shared, and links people to a range of information.

Pledges can be submitted via email, twitter @DementiaCarerVo or on the blog site, and are also collected at every talk. We would very much appreciate it if you would promote this campaign; the talks and our films and encourage people to reflect on what they can do and how they can make a difference.


Video: Dementia Carer Voices

Dementia Carer Voices took the Make a Difference campaign to the Scottish Parliament in October 2014. View the pledges from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Paul Gray, DG Health and Social Care and Chief Executive, NHSScotland.

Video: #Makeadifference

NHS Ayrshire & Arran and the University of West Scotland  (UWS)  were key partners in the ‘#make a difference’ pledges and dementia awareness campaign.  This video includes interviews with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Paul Gray, DG Health and Social Care and Chief Executive, NHSScotland, Fiona McQueen (Executive Nurse Director NHS Scotland), Professor Paul Martin (Deputy Principal UWS), Derek T Barron (Associate Nurse Director – Lead Nurse North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership), Janice McAlister (Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant), Lynn McLaughlin (Senior Charge Nurse).


View the May/June 2015 Dementia Carer Voices Newsletter.  Subscribe to the newsletter mailing list.

Contact Tommy at:

July 2, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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MRV Scotia: Survey 0715S Programme

Nephrops Survey

Duration: 3-22 June 2015


  • 2 x ScotiaBT175 80mm prawn trawls
  • 2 x Day grabs and 1 x sieving table
  • Towed UWTV sledge
  • 2 x 600m umbilical towing cables and associated TV equipment (including back up).


  1. To obtain estimates of the abundance and distribution of Nephrops burrow complexes at Fladen, in the North Minch, theSouth Minch, the Firth of Clyde, in the Sound of Jura and at Devil’s Hole.  If time and weather permits, stations at the Noup may also be surveyed;
  2. To use the TV footage to record the occurrence of other benthic fauna as well as evidence of commercial trawl activity;
  3. To collect sediment samples at each station;
  4. To carry out trawling for Nephrops, based on one haul in each sediment stratum in each of the main survey areas, to obtain samples of Nephrops for size composition analysis;
  5. To collect samples of Nephrops from the trawls for comparison of reproductive condition and morphometrics in each of the different survey areas (functional units);
  6. To record and retain marine litter obtained from trawling as part of the MSFD.

The main areas in which the survey will take place have been surveyed on annual basis for a number of years and are shown in Figure 1.  A combination of two approaches will be used to derive the survey positions: a stratified random approach and fixed stations.  The majority of stations will be generated by employing the traditional stratified random technique based on sediment distribution in all areas except the North Minch, where stations will be randomly generated within the boundaries of commercial Nephrops fishing effort, obtained from the Vessel Monitoring System.  Alternatively at the Devils Hole and within some of the other survey areas there are a number of fixed stations.  The location of all TV stations will be provided ahead of the cruise.

Weather permitting, it is planned that the vessel will first carry out a training session in deploying the sledge en route to the Fladen grounds. Initially approximately 450 m of the TV cable will be paid out with a large buoy (supplied by MSS) attached to the end of the cable to be lowered into the water.  This will add back tension to the cable on recovery.  The sledge will then be attached to the umbilical, and as a training session, the sledge will be shot and recovered.  When this procedure is completed to the satisfaction of all involved, the vessel will then progress on to the first of the Nephrops burrow TV stations at the SW edge of the Fladen ground.  Once the work at Fladen has been completed, the vessel will then steam around to the west coast and survey stations in the North andSouth Minches.

It is anticipated that the vessel will work south along the western side of the minches towards theClyde, surveying TV sites and carrying out trawls as required.  The timing of the half landing will depend on how well the work has progressed and berth availability at Campbeltown, but it is anticipated that theClydewill be surveyed before the half landing; although this can be reviewed nearer the time and adjustments made accordingly.  There are no fixed commitments to when the half landing takes place and there will be no exchange of MSS staff when tied up in port.

Following the half landing the survey will continue in the Sound of Jura, followed by the remaining South andNorth Minchstations whilst working north. If time and weather permits, a small number of stations at the Noup may be attempted before heading east.  Any additional stations in Fladen (if required), or those not covered on the first leg of the survey, will be completed before heading to the final survey area at the Devils Hole.

When on station, sledge deployments and TV observations will be carried out 24 hours a day.  There will be three teams of two staff, each working eight hour shifts and all will be involved in deploying and recovering the TV equipment, recording data and liaising with the ship’s compliment.  There will be a requirement for staff to work outwith their shift period, which will include reviewing video footage, assisting in working up trawl catches and data entry.  All work will be carried out in accordance with WTR regulations.  The names of staff on each shift, watch leaders and the shift patterns will be provided to the ship prior to sailing.

At each TV station a video camera mounted on to the sledge will be towed along the seabed for approximately 10 minutes at approximately 1 knot and in to the tide – the ship’s dynamic positioning will be required for this.  Observed Nephrops burrows, individual Nephrops and other benthic fauna will be recorded onto DVD for analysis.  The depth and distance travelled by the sledge, as well as camera height from the sea bed, will be recorded automatically.  Where practical sediment samples will be taken using the mini van Veen grab mounted on the sledge.  However it may be necessary to use the Day Grab on occasion, if the mini van Veen fails.  All sediment samples will be frozen.

Trawl caught samples of Nephrops will be collected and information on size composition, maturity and morphometrics will be recorded.  Up to five trawls may be made in Fladen with a maximum of three tows in each of the other survey areas.  Trawls will be carried out over different sediment types as defined by BGS.  Trawls will be no longer than one hour long and carried out at either dawn or dusk.  Any litter collected in the trawl will be recorded as set out in the SOP and placed in bags to be disposed of on return to port.  There will be a requirement for the trawl to be cleaned by ‘streaming’ it behind the vessel for 15 minutes between the main fishing areas, as well as a final, more prolonged clean at the end of the survey.

Figure 1 Survey areas for Scotia 0715S

July 1, 2015
by Linda White
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Leading Integration for Quality

Health and Social Care Integration was in the spotlight at this year’s NHSScotland Event in Glasgow.  The theme of the event was ‘Leading Integration for Quality’ and it celebrated the new relationship between health and social care that is being embedded across Scotland.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Shona Robison opened the event and said from the outset that, as the demographics of our country change, so must the services we provide.  Ms Robison went on to say that the event marked the start of a “national conversation” about driving forward improvements in the quality of health and social care.John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy closed the event on day two and said that across the country, we needed to be listening more to what people need and want from health and social care.

Geoff Huggins, Director for Health and Social Care Integration, highlighted the challenges and the opportunities that integration presents and called for delegates to become “Data Cosmologists”.  Data Cosmology is the “study” of data which helps us to build a bigger picture and understand the lived experience of service users, as opposed to evaluating one or two services that an individual receives.  Geoff concluded by reinforcing that, “behind the word ‘integration’, are real people who need our help”.

Our Integration Hub in the exhibition hall was host to a range of interactive activities over the two days and you couldn’t miss our integration hub team who were kitted out in our branded integration t-shirts.The ‘On the Couch’ sessions put service users and carers in the spotlight and gave them a platform to talk about their personal accounts of health and social care which were heartfelt and honest.  One of our guests on the couch was Tommy Whitelaw who talked about caring for his late mother and his mission to raise awareness of dementia.

The ‘Voicebanking’ booth showcased the fascinating work being undertaken by the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (Anne Rowling) Research Regenerative Neurology Clinic and project, the aim of which is to create personalised synthetic voices for people who can no longer use their own voices. At the end of the event our Activity Wall was filled with an array of comments, remarks and feedback from delegates.

We were delighted to have Richard Humphries from the Kings Fund present in our parallel session ‘What is the Evidence for Integration?’   Richard gave a thought-provoking account of what the UK evidence base tells us about how we can achieve better outcomes through integration.  He also touched on Scotland’s advantages compared to England and challenged delegates to raise their level of ambition.

All the resources including the sofa videos, vox pop clips, outputs from the parallel session and comments from our activity wall will be available online in due course.

Follow the ongoing conversation about health and social care integration on twitter @ScotGovIRC #listentomyviews #datacosmologists

July 1, 2015
by Linda White
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The Keys to Life: Scotland’s Learning Disabilities Strategy

On the 18 June 2015, the Scottish Parliament hosted “Fairer Scotland – Celebrating the talent of people with learning disabilities in Scotland”. The event, highlighted  performances from the creative arts across Scotland, including “The Fridays”, a music group from Hazelwood School in Glasgow; Indepen-dance, and also artists from “Project Ability”.

At the event, Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, said “… our vision is that every person in Scotland who has learning disabilities, has the right to live longer, healthier lives; be supported to Participate fully in all aspects of society; Prosper as individuals and be valued contributors to a Fair and equal Scotland.”

This vision is highlighted in the refreshed delivery approach to Scotland’s learning disabilities strategy – ‘The Keys to Life’.  The delivery approach focuses on outcomes for individuals with learning disabilities, their families and carers and identifies four strategic outcomes:

  • A Healthy Life: People with learning disabilities enjoy the highest attainable standard of living, health and family lif
  • Choice and Control: People with learning disabilities are treated with dignity and respect, and protected from neglect, exploitation and abuse
  • Independence: People with learning disabilities are able to live independently in the community with equal access to all aspects of society
  • Active Citizenship: People with learning disabilities are able to participate in all aspects of community and society

The Scottish Government has identified key themes and priorities for delivery in 2015-17 which relate to each of the strategic outcomes. These themes and priorities will assist Health Boards and Integration Authorities, in partnership with local service providers, to plan for and commission services that achieve the outcomes that people with learning disabilities tell us is important to them.

The Learning Disabilities policy team in the Care, Support and Rights Division within  Scottish Government will continue to work collaboratively with people with learning disabilities, families, carers, other policy teams and strategic and delivery partners in the statutory and third sectors in the coming years.

View the refreshed delivery approach: ‘The Keys To Life’ Implementation Framework and Priorities, 2015-17.

Photographs courtesy of Fraserband Photography


Linda Allan, Honorary Clinical Associate Professor, Professional Advisor  - Learning Disabilities Policy, Care, Support & Rights Division, Population Health Improvement Directorate, Scottish Government

Tel: 0131 244 0109 Email:

July 1, 2015
by Ruth Allen
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Interim Population Consequences of Disturbance (PCOD) Framework published

A team of scientists from across the University of St Andrews has developed a new desktop tool for assessing the impact of noise from human disturbance, such as offshore wind development on marine mammal populations – the Population Consequences of Disturbance (PCOD) Framework.

The steering committee for the project was chaired by Dr. Ian Davies, Renewables and Energy Programme Manager at Marine Scotland Science and the publication and he said:

“The publication of this model provides a new framework is a significant step forward in our ability to assess acoustic risks to marine mammals. However, it is very much an interim measure; it is expected that it will be further refined and built upon over time as more evidence becomes available. The interim PCOD model is a novel tool that will allow further insight into the potential impacts of disturbance on marine mammal populations. For now, it’s important that renewable energy project developers considering using the Interim PCOD approach seek advice from the SNCBs and/or regulators at an early stage.”

More Information


July 1, 2015
by Heather Carson
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Conversations at the Campus

Loch Leven Community Campus in Perth and Kinross was the location of the fourth Conversation Day event. 74 primary school pupils from P4 to P6 from six schools joined staff from Education Scotland and partner organisations in a very varied day of activities to prompt conversations about skills and learning for the world of work.

Building on the format of our previous primary conversation day, the pupils moved around nine stations each with a different focus and role in promoting conversations about skills and developing the young workforce themes.  Popular activities included:

  • Generation Science’s Lego Mindstorms, where the children could practise their programming skills with links made to computer aided manufacturing and robotics;
  • the Royal Highland Education Trust’s full size replica cow “Daisy” who provided a focus for conversations about sustainability and 21st century farming;
  • Skills Development Scotland’s Magic Mirror, build mechanical fingers, explore the science behind a steam powered boat and even make electricity from an apple;
  • Dundee and Angus College challenged our perceptions of childcare,
  • Young Enterprise Scotland helped open up think about “What I can be?”
  • the Dundee Science Centre’s STEM ambassadors helped us dust for prints CSI style.

The young participants said the day had been fun, they liked the activities and it gave them ideas about doing different jobs. Many commented about feeding back to their schools, talking to parents and holding similar events.
Whilst the children engaged in the day’s activities, Perth and Kinross practitioners and some parents were working hard too, discussing the career guidance standards and implementing developing the young workforce in schools with Quality Improvement Officer John Devine and Fiona MacKay from Perth and Kinross Council.
Participants in the practitioners and parents groups thought the event could be replicated with their own local partners; they saw potential for them to link with the many local businesses in their own community; and recognised that working with parents could support schools to develop links with employers through parental contacts.

Partners for this event included:

  • Skills Development Scotland;
  • Young Enterprise Scotland;
  • Generation Science;
  • Young Engineers from the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI);
  • Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET);
  • STEM ambassadors from the Dundee Science Centre; and,
  • Dundee and Angus College.

Our thanks to all of them for the fantastic opportunities that they provided to the young people. Our thanks also extend to the staff at the Community Campus for their warm welcome and providing a great facility for partners and young people on the day.

June 30, 2015
by Linda White
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Communications Focus: Lanarkshire

A Proactive, Targeted and Innovative Approach to Communications in Lanarkshire

What does a Johnny Cash tribute act, a rapid response team taking hospital-level care to people’s own homes and a 94-year-old adventurer have in common?

They’re all part of recent integration communications in the vibrant North and South Lanarkshire partnerships.

A major tranche of our strategy is focussed on proactive communications.

And that brings me in regular contact with fascinating folk like John Stalker, a well-kent local musician, who is living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

John’s still able to live at home – and belt out the Cash classics – thanks to an innovative telehealth project linking him to specialist NHS Lanarkshire nurses, on hand to offer specialist support via text.

John had 11 hospital admissions last year due to his condition. Since joining the telehealth initiative in January, he’s only been admitted once. Brilliant work – read John’s story.

The third sector are key partners and we also recently received really strong coverage of Lillis Oldham’s tale. Lillis is a remarkable 94 year old who’s travelled to the furthest reaches of earth. She’s keeping in the pink by taking part in a walking programme. Find out more.

Meanwhile, our Hospital at Home team – which is expanding across Lanarkshire – continue to court national and international interest including a VIP visit.

Whilst we’re working hard to keep the good work of our partnerships high up the media agenda, internal communications are an absolute priority just now.

We’re using a variety of channels including dedicated integration newsletters in North and South Lanarkshire. The latest editions offer an easy-to-follow guide on the ‘next steps’ of integration, with a focus on the respective strategic commissioning plans. Find out more.

As we prepare to enter the crucial phase of engagement around these plans, I’ve been working very closely with engagement colleagues in both partnerships mapping out how to optimise that process through targeted, innovative communications.  We’ve had our creative thinking caps on so keep your eye on our web pages for some exciting developments in coming months!

Meanwhile, at NHS Lanarkshire (where I’m line managed) we’ve recently implemented an advanced communications evaluation system so we can measure, in even more detail, everything we do.

As one colleague put it, ‘we don’t want to have a great landing at the wrong airport’ so we’re endeavouring to make sure communications are directed to a specific destination.

That measured approach is also about gauging feeling on the ground and good, old fashioned face-to-face contact allows us to tailor communications accordingly.

That’s especially important at such a time of change and I’m lucky in that, on a daily basis, I’m embedded with frontline staff in my hot-desking travels.

Crucially, I’m also working across all our partnerships’ excellent communications teams, including NHS Lanarkshire, North and South Lanarkshire Councils’.

We’re talking all the time, sharing ideas, experiences, resources, tackling challenges and embracing opportunities – together.

I suppose that’s integration in a nutshell.

Euan has also worked in close partnership with Scottish Government Communications, to produce a series of films on integrated working in Lanarkshire, based on local press releases. These films have since been shown to national and international audiences.

These include:

John’s story:

Matt’s story:

You’re Hired:

Staff focus:


June 30, 2015
by Linda White
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Communications Focus: Fife

No place like home…

The call came in the summer of 2012. “It’s going to be huge”, our director said. “It will be the biggest change in public service for over a generation. We need to get people involved.” “Who?” we said. “We’re not sure yet, but probably everyone” he replied. And that was it. Targeting and caution to the wind, our journey towards health and social care integration began.

Leaping into the unknown

Like everyone else, the ‘why’ of integration seemed a bit of a no-brainer. Join up services, and make things better for people when they’re at their most vulnerable. Definitely. Where do we sign? As for the other crucial elements of change like ‘When’ and ‘How’…well we couldn’t let the absence of detail hold us back, could we?

Thinking people

Three years on and it’s been a mix of excitement, confusion, expectation, inspiration and of course, a healthy dose of frustration. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about people – who’ll benefit, who’s involved, who’s on board and who needs to be persuaded! We’ve built up contacts and networks, identified useful communications channels, created a few new ones and shared as much information as we could along the way. But if you’d asked us to write this blog a year ago we’d probably have said we peaked too soon! That said, now the legislative train has left the station, we reckon the prep is really starting to pay off.

Up and running

Our original working group has now been beefed up and formally established as a Communications Steering Group, reporting to the new integrated management team and Board. We have a programme manager with forward planning and joint team working arrangements to support that. There’s also a strong Public Reference Group, joint intranet and a programme of events that have involved over 2000 people so far in shaping new arrangements.

Full steam ahead

Now, like many others we’re in the midst of strategic planning and participation strategies. We’re also planning a couple of events. One with Microsoft and a group of younger staff across the council and health, to help design the future digital and integrated workplace and create a joint vision that will feature in the new ICT strategies for the Council and NHS. The other is a national conference on health and social care on 3 February 2016 – save the date!

At home abroad

So, it’s all good stuff but we must confess the journey to integration has felt uncannily like an impromptu overseas holiday at times.  We’ve grappled with language barriers, a new climate, different ways of doing things, a lack of home comforts, alien rules, a few dodgy signposts and – more than once – we’ve yearned for a better map!

But, unlike a jaunt abroad, we won’t be going home. This is home now. A new place for us to live as public sector communicators. A place where reputation management is a partnership concern and organisational ego will be rightly relegated to second place at times. A place where long term public involvement trumps traditional consultation, branding is (at last) more about the essence than anyone’s logo and a new kind of joint communication service is rapidly replacing the dusty partnership communications plans that have sat on the shelves in the past.Trusting in the future

As communicators in Fife, we’ve rallied and relied on our professional common ground to get us this far. It’s helped us navigate through cultural differences and get over organisational stumbling blocks that would almost certainly have halted progress. Trust and relationships are key, and many would argue will be the making or breaking of integration in the years ahead.



June 30, 2015
by Ruth Allen
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RiCORE Newsletter: June 2015

RiCORE  logo

RiCORE logo

Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, RiCORE aims to develop a risk-based approach to the consenting of offshore renewable energy sites, running from January 1st 2015 to June 30th 2016.

The project is comprised of six European partners, including Marine Scotland and they have also started to produce a regular newsletter, with details of all their latest updates.

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