Scottish Government Blogs

August 29, 2014
by Fiona Comrie
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Stage 1 report published

The creation of Food Standards Scotland as a stand-alone public body in Scotland has received support from the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee, in their Stage 1 report. MSPs have asked for more detail on certain aspects of the Bill, which the programme team will provide in the coming weeks. You can read the Committee’s press release and the full report here.

The next stage for the Bill is the Stage 1 debate in the Scottish Parliament. You can read more about the progress of the Food (Scotland) Bill here.

August 29, 2014
by SG Admin
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Leaving the Car!

Elaine Mitchell – Strategy & Finance Officer

Inspired by the Active Travel campaign, I have set myself the personal challenge of reducing car use for four weeks in September to see what difference this will make to me personally and to my carbon footprint.

Being brought up in a semi-rural area where public transport was inconvenient, owning and running a car has long been second nature. Taking my foot off the pedal and hopping on a bus will be alien to me and something I have not done for over 15 years.

Continue Reading →

August 26, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Scotlands Environment Website want your views!

At Scotland’s Environment website, they want to make sure you get the best experience when visiting.

They’re currently running a website survey , so why not pop over and tell them what you think and let them know if you have any ideas for further improvements or changes?

This only takes a few minutes and we value your feedback.

August 25, 2014
by SG Admin
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Behind the Scenes @Scotland

Rowan Hendry-Horne – International Marketing Assistant

There was a flurry of excitement in February when a representative from Twitter arrived at St Andrew’s House in possession of a much sought after Twitter handle: @Scotland.

The International Marketing team put together a proposal for how we would use @Scotland as a representative voice of Scotland. Partially inspired by the curatorial style of the @Sweden account, the intention was to engage people with the real Scotland, rather than the one shown in guidebooks.

We immediately started talking to our contacts like @edfringe, @VisitScotland, @peoplemakeGLA to source people who could provide interesting and engaging content which you might not otherwise see.

Launched just days before the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the @Scotland Twitter account opened with peeks inside Glasgow during the Games. Continue Reading →

August 25, 2014
by Fiona Comrie
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New food body- recruitment of the Chair

In a non-Ministerial Office like Food Standards Scotland, the Board provides strategic direction and leadership. With seven months to go until the new food body is live, we are seeking applications for the Chair of the Board.

The Chair will provide leadership to the Board, building a confident and effective team with the ability and will to develop an innovative and Scotland-centred strategy that will make a positive impact on Scottish public health and consumer confidence. The Chair will be appointed in advance of the launch of the new body and will take part in planning for the transition from FSA to Food Standards Scotland.

The Chair will lead a Board that will develop and articulate a clear vision and strategic direction for Food Standards Scotland, establishing its authority and raising its profile as the new organisation responsible in Scotland for food safety, standards and nutrition. The Chair will be accountable to Scottish Parliament for the strategic performance of Food Standards Scotland. You will develop a strong and supportive working relationship with the chief executive, to ensure that the organisation delivers its objectives and making the most effective and efficient use of resources.

We are seeking applicants with a variety of background and skills, including Leadership, Developing a Team, Strategic Planning and Performance Review, Governance, Understanding the Scottish context, Consumer focus, Judgement, Engagement and Influencing Skills, Communications. If you have the relevant skills and experience and are interested in a challenging and rewarding role in a new Scottish organisation that you will help shape, we would like to hear from you. The application pack can be viewed here.

August 21, 2014
by Angela Constance - Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment
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Improving opportunities for women

Scotland’s economy is moving from recovery to expansion with labour market statistics published last week showing record levels of women in work.

Women are key to the strength and resilience of Scotland’s economy. They have made a huge contribution to the recovery we are seeing now.

But too often they do so on an unequal basis – they are not feeling the same financial benefits of the recovery.

I am determined that women’s valuable contribution is  properly rewarded.

While equalities and employment legislation is reserved to Westminster the Scottish Government will do all in its powers to redress the inequalities and barriers to employment that women still face, including a lack of affordable, high-quality and flexible childcare.

We are investing over £250 million in the next two years to expanded provision for three and four year olds – and will also extend this support to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged two year olds.

And we are seeking additional powers as a matter of priority.

This week we called on the UK Government to transfer powers to allow Scotland to introduce a minimum quota of 40 per cent female representation on public boards.

We want to see women better represented at the highest levels. That stronger female voice will help challenge persistent inequality.

And, following a vote for independence, we will move quickly to challenge still scandalous levels of pay inequality – men typically earn £90 per week more than women in full-time work.

The Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970. Forty four years later it is clear that the current constitutional arrangements regarding equal pay are not delivering for women in Scotland.

We have proposed a Fair Work Commission to advise on the minimum wage, fairness at work and business competitiveness.

As its first priority the Commission will begin work collaboratively to progress a review of the costs and benefits of mandatory equal pay audits.

Women are disproportionately affected by UK Government welfare reforms. Independence would allow us to develop a welfare system which is fair, personal, simple, and provides women with the same incentives to work as men.

Current plans for Universal Credit for example mean that a higher level of partners’ incomes will be taken into account as income when calculating the award.  In Scotland’s Future we have committed to equalising the earnings disregard between first and second earners. We estimate that 70,000 second earners – more often women – would benefit  by as much as £1,200 a year.

Well-rewarded and sustained employment can be the best route out of poverty, and the best way to tackle inequality.

Through equality of opportunity we can create a more diverse workforce – at all levels and in all areas of our economy – which maximises our skills, improves the productivity of our businesses and grows our economy even faster.

August 21, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Scotland’s Future and Scottish Fisheries: Independence boost for fishing

New report sets out key independence gains for fishing industry

Five key gains for the fishing industry have been set out in a new report published today by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.

Mr Lochhead said that only independence will ensure Scotland’s fishing will be a national priority and ensure that the industry thrives for generations to come.

The five gains for the fishing sector set out in more detail in the report are:

• Fishing will be a national priority

• Direct representation in the EU and ability to negotiate our priorities without compromise

• Protection of Scotland’s fishing quotas

• Fairer share of EU Fisheries budget

• Ensure Scotland’s fishing levies promote Scottish seafood

Mr Lochhead said:

“Scotland’s fishing and seafood sectors are great industries and play an important part in our economic success and in our social and cultural identity.  As such they are many times more important to Scotland than to the UK as a whole, and for that reason they will be a much greater priority in an independent Scotland.

“Only with independence will Scotland’s fishing industry benefit from greater influence, better representation, a fairer deal in funding, and quota protection.  Freed from the existing constitutional arrangements, where it is not a national priority, it is a sector which will flourish.

“With independence, quota – which is the lifeblood of the fishing industry – will be protected.  A vote for independence will mean that we can protect our fishing sector and our rich heritage as an eminent fishing nation for this and future generations by stopping our quota being sold outside Scotland.

“Scotland is already one of the EU’s leading fishing nations as our waters account for at least 20 per cent of the European Union’s catch and fourth largest of the EU’s core sea areas.  We are already at the centre of Europe’s complex fisheries management arrangements and independence will bring greater influence on the decision making process.

“As an independent Member State we will have a greater influence on the issues that matter most to us. It will bring an end to the ludicrous situation where the landlocked countries of Europe, such as Slovakia, Austria and Luxembourg, can even speak on EU fisheries policy, while Scotland currently cannot.  And it will end the situation where time and again I am forced to sit in silence while other nations of Scotland’s size – and smaller – make their case and secure key concessions for their fishing industries.

“Independence will give us the voice we need to negotiate a fairer share of European fisheries budgets to help our fishermen and the wider industry. Unlike the UK Government which has sought to reduce the size of these funds – and whose negotiation tactics have left Scotland third bottom of the European fisheries funding league tables – we will fight for a fair deal where the funding Scotland receives is relative to the size of the industry we have.”


August 20, 2014
by Paul Stainer
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New Publications on Marine Renewable Energy Developments

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have recently completed two reports relating to marine renewable energy developments and their potential impact on the environment.  These reports offer a risk assessment of the interaction between marine renewable devices and the diving birds and megafauna in the area.

The first report, Commissioned Report No. 773. A Diving Bird Collision Risk Assessment Framework For Tidal Turbines, was funded by Marine Scotland and is available through Marine Scotland and SNH.

The second report, Commissioned Report No. 791. Understanding the potential for marine megafauna entanglement risk from marine renewable energy developments, is available through SNH.

Summaries and links to both reports can be found below.

Commissioned Report No. 773. A Diving Bird Collision Risk Assessment Framework For Tidal Turbines

Marine tidal energy schemes are likely to make a substantial contribution to the mix of future energy sources within Scotland and the UK, but their environmental impacts are poorly understood. For diving seabirds, collisions with tidal turbines represent a potential way in which tidal energy developments may cause population-level impacts

This report describes an approach for assessing the collision risk of diving birds with tidal turbines, known as the exposure time population model (ETPM). The approach explores the collision rate required to achieve a critical level of additional mortality by estimating (i) thresholds of additional mortality for the population at risk of collision (via population modelling) and (ii) the potential time that each individual within the population is at risk of collision (via exposure time modelling).

Apart from the ETPM, there are a number of other models used to assess collision risk of marine wildlife. We currently do not favour any one model when undertaking a collision risk assessment.  All of the available models are likely to have imperfections, and the accuracy of the model predictions is dependent on the quality of the input data. Nonetheless, given the limited knowledge base and poor understanding of the underwater movements of diving birds and their behavioural responses to underwater devices, this approach is considered an appropriate and useful method for assessing collision risk of diving birds.

Commissioned Report No. 791. Understanding the potential for marine megafauna entanglement risk from marine renewable energy developments

This report considers the potential entanglement risk to marine megafauna from moored marine renewable energy developments (MRE).  Existing information relating to entanglement is reviewed, and a qualitative risk assessment was developed to assess relative risk to marine megafauna on the basis of biological (body size, manoeuvrability etc.) and physical (mooring characteristics) risk factors.  Results suggest that MRE device moorings are unlikely to pose a major threat, but that some mooring designs pose a greater relative risk than others.  Recommendations are made to assist developers include relevant information in their development applications.

Article by Drew Milne