Scottish Government Blogs

December 19, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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New publications from Marine Scotland Science provide new information needed for marine planning and licensing

Two new publications in the series “Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science” are released this week providing new spatial data adding to the evidence base for the development of marine planning in Scottish waters. The first, published today by scientists from the Marine Planning and Environmental Advice Programme at MSS presents new maps of sensitive areas for fisheries. These show areas of sea used by key commercial fish species during vulnerable stages of their life cycle, in this case, aggregations of fish in their first year of life (known as 0-group fish).

The maps were produced using a modelling approach “Species Distribution Modelling” which uses information about the habitat and records of young fish from survey data to show areas of our seas where young fish have been aggregating. The approach used is summarised in the diagram below.

The report provides an update and builds on previous “Nursery Area” maps that have been used for more than a decade, to ensure that appropriate protection is afforded these areas from disturbance. The outputs will be used to inform planning and licensing of marine developments and be made available for oil spill response. Work is also currently underway to try to improve spawning area maps for some key species.

Read the reports:

For any enquiries relating to this report please contact Matt Gubbins at:

Species Distribution Model

Species Distribution Model


The different steps in the Species Distribution Models (SDMs).

1) The values of the environmental variables in the presence and absence points are extracted.

2) An algorithm which calculate the probability of presence as a combination of different environmental layers is computed.

3) The algorithm is applied back on the GIS layers to draw a map with probability of presence.

December 15, 2014
by SG Admin
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Poositive News

Diane Primrose – Marketing Manager – Healthier

T’is the season to be jolly, so I decided to only read good news stories in the media this weekend.

Surprisingly, it was harder than I first thought but there were a few – Prince George’s festive photo-shoot made me smile, Amazon’s 1p sale made me giggle (oops) and the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year being hosted in Glasgow made me proud to be from the dear green place.

However, the icing on the cake/star on the tree was the story that there had been a 9% increase in bowel screening kits returned following the latest Detect Cancer Early campaign. The four week phase of activity ran from October 6 – November 6, and saw around 5,000 more kits returned compared to the equivalent time period last year. Shona Robison, Health Secretary, said it was ‘hugely encouraging’ to see more people taking part in the national screening programme to STV and BBC News. Continue Reading →

December 11, 2014
by Nicole Carter
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The Justice Digital Strategy progresses

The Justice Digital Strategy for Scotland was published on 20 August 2014. Our vision is to have modern, user-focussed justice systems which use digital technology to deliver simple, fast and effective justice at the best cost.

The way we live and work is being changed more and more by digital technology. We want to use that technology to make our justice system better and prepare us for the future. We believe that we can improve the quality of justice services and lower their cost by changing the way that we run the system.

We are now working on six projects to achieve the benefits of the Justice Digital Strategy for Scotland.

They are:

•         Digital Platform

•         Justice Portal

•         Data Security

•         Video Conferencing

•         Electronic Systems

•         Legal

The project documentation is being developed and we will shortly start to identify Project Managers and Teams and our Programme Direction Group will have its first meeting in December 2014.

The Programme Direction Group has responsibility for delivering the Strategy. It is chaired by members of the Justice Board; Eric McQueen, Chief Executive of the Scottish Court Service (SCS), and Lindsay Montgomery, Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB). The wider Justice Board is responsible for decisions on funding and project dates.

Elspeth MacDonald, Deputy Director for Criminal Justice in the Scottish Government, will chair the Projects Delivery Group which has responsibility for the operational and technical delivery of the projects.

If you have any questions on the Justice Digital Strategy or its projects please contact:

Stuart Duncan, programme director,

Aileen Grimmer, programme manager,

Cara Archibald, lead ICT architect,

December 11, 2014
by SG Admin
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Kids in the Car (…or Children in the Carriage)

Tim Bisset –  Senior Marketing Manager – Safer - @timbisset

It’s not often one gets to invited to the Savoy to lunch with royalty.  But invited we were, as the Safer team and Road Safety Scotland won a Prince Michael of Kent Road Safety Award for our ‘Kids in the Car’ marketing campaign.

The Prince Michael of Kent Road Safety Awards began in 1987, and recognises achievements and innovation in the field of road safety.  Our campaign certainly ticks the box for innovation.  It’s the first social marketing campaign of its kind in the world to recognise that parents’ driving behaviour has a direct effect on the type of driver their children become.   With one driver under the age of 20 getting killed or seriously injured on Scotland’s roads every week, it’s important we encourage parents to behave responsibly and set a good example.   And if you think you haven’t seen it, you’ll definitely have heard it as – like all great campaigns, it comes with its own ‘sonic trigger’ (memorable tune to you and me).     Altogether now…..”The wheels on the bus go round and round…..”.

You can see the ad at Continue Reading →

December 8, 2014
by blog administrator
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Dr Aileen McLeod: UN Climate Change Talks

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod.

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod.

Today, I am travelling to Lima in Peru to take part in a crucial UN talks on climate change.

The summit – officially known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) – is aimed at paving the way for a new global climate treaty in Paris next year.

International action to tackle global warming is urgently needed.

Just last week, we heard from the Met Office and World Meteorological Organisation that 2014 is set to be the warmest year on record here in the UK and across the planet.

The scientific evidence could not be clearer: the world is getting warmer and greenhouse gas emissions from mankind are extremely likely to be the dominant cause of climate change.

That is why I am taking a very strong message to Lima that the international community must match Scotland’s world-leading climate change ambitions.

The Scottish Government takes climate change extremely seriously and as a result Scotland is punching above our weight in the international effort to tackle climate change.

Our solid progress towards achieving a 42% reduction in emissions by 2020 through achieving a 26% cut from a 1990 baseline has been praised by our independent assessors the Committee on Climate Change.

We have in place a comprehensive package of policies and measures to meet our emission reduction targets, backed almost £1 billion of Scottish Government funding over the next two years for climate change action.

These include expanding renewable energy production, improvements in energy and resource efficiency in households and industry, transition of transport to a lower carbon basis, expansion of renewable sources of heat, and sustainable land use.

In particular, our renewable energy targets are amongst the most ambitious in the world and in 2013 we generated 46.6% equivalent of Scotland’s gross electricity production from renewables. We are making excellent progress towards meeting our target of the equivalent of 100% of gross annual electricity demand from renewables by 2020.

We know our climate change targets are not easy but they are at the level the international community needs to match if the new climate treaty in Paris next year is to stand a good chance of limiting global temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius.

By sharing Scotland’s high ambition on climate change with the international delegates attending this crucial summit in Peru, we will show that substantial progress on cutting emissions is do-able as well as desirable.

Climate change affects every single person on this planet but affects the poorest and most vulnerable the most. So it is time for the global community to step up and follow Scotland’s lead in tackling climate change and championing climate justice. However, these targets are not just for governments or politicians – everyone has a role to play in reducing emissions.

December 5, 2014
by SG Admin
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What if Burton hadn’t met Taylor, and Ben hadn’t met Jerry?

Nicola Clark-Tonberg – Marketing Manager – Smarter Marketing @OxfordCommaFan

Last Thursday evening I attended my first official engagement for the Scottish Government, the Marketing Society’s St Andrew’s Day Dinner. As well as discovering that we share our patron saint with Barbados, Ukraine, Greece and Cyprus (a fact that helped our team win the Quiz of the Year), I also got to thinking about the importance of networking.

It’s always lovely to bump into old friends and well-kent faces, but social events like these are an invaluable opportunity to get away from your desk and actually speak to people. As a new Twitter devotee, and committed Facebook fan, I love the speed and reach of social media, but sometimes there’s nothing like a good old fashioned chat.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines networking as: “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” It strikes me that ‘productive relationships’ can only truly flourish if we feed them with care, conversation and a shared goal. Continue Reading →

December 4, 2014
by Karen Watt
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From Brussels to Beijing – the world celebrates St Andrew’s Day

Scotland’s national day provides an opportunity to celebrate our country’s many contributions to the world – our people, our history, our key economic sectors and our culture.

For colleagues in the Government’s External Affairs directorate – both at home and in our overseas offices – the annual St Andrew’s Day celebrations provides an important platform to showcase and promote the best of Scotland and to strengthen global connections.

St Andrew's Celebrations

St Andrew's Celebrations

Over the past few days – from Brussels to Beijing to Washington DC – colleagues have been getting into the St Andrew’s Day spirit by hosting and/or attending international celebrations with a range of stakeholders, including some of the estimated 50 million ancestral Scots across the world. 

On Sunday (2 December) the Scottish Government’s EU Office hosted their annual St Andrew’s Day reception for stakeholders from across the EU institutions and Permanent Representations. This year, The Mischa Macpherson Trio – winners of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award – performed at Scotland House. Singing in Gaelic and Scots. This flagship St Andrew’s Day event promotes young, creative Scottish talent, while also allowing guests to sample traditional Scottish hospitality and fare.

Top pic: SG Brussels team. Bottom Pic: The Mischa Macpherson Trio

Top pic: SG Brussels team. Bottom Pic: The Mischa Macpherson Trio

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, our Scottish Affairs Counsellor for the Americas, Donnie Jack hosted a drinks reception at the New York campus of Glasgow Caledonian University for friends of Scotland, bringing together more than 100 people from business, cultural and academic sectors and diaspora groups.

Guest of honour at the event was former First Minister Henry McLeish who spoke about the importance of the relationship between Scotland and the US.

Over the weekend, Hannah Perrin-Haynes in our Canada offices addressed the annual St Andrew’s Society of Toronto Charity Ball. A 12-strong Scottish business mission, along with members of the Global Scots network, the diplomatic network and education stakeholders, attended the event.

During the evening guests enjoyed a taste of Scotland, which included haggis, music by the Pipes and Drums of the 48th Highlanders and a performance by the McDonnell School of Highland Dance. 

Beijing celebrations

Beijing celebrations

The Scottish Affairs team in Beijing hosted a St Andrew’s Ceilidh for Chinese alumni of Scottish Universities on Friday night. The celebrations concluded with the annual St Andrew’s Ball on the Saturday with over 300 guests Stripping the Willow.

Our annual St Andrew’s events are always popular with our friends overseas. From Brussels to Beijing, this year was no exception.

December 3, 2014
by blog administrator
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Fiona Hyslop: Remembering The Holodomor

On Saturday my colleague Marco Biagi and I joined members of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain to mark the eighty-first anniversary of the Holodomor – a man-made tragedy of an unimaginable scale, that involved the forced starvation of millions of Ukrainians – men, women and children – by the Soviet regime under Stalin.

Fiona Hyslop and Marco Biagi at the commemoration

Fiona Hyslop and Marco Biagi at the commemoration

My thanks to Dmytro Mysyk and other members of the Association for their invitation to this important remembrance event, which reminds us of the inhumanity and cruelty that can exist in our world.

In the Scottish Parliament we had paid our own tribute to the victims of Holodomor when we held a debate, prompted by Marco, on 25 November. On Saturday, at the Association’s centre in Edinburgh, he and I were able to see an exhibition about the famine, and to hear sombre reflections about the anniversary from community members.

Fiona Hyslop speaking at the event in Edinburgh

Fiona Hyslop speaking at the event in Edinburgh

We were privileged in particular to hear from Bohdan Nastiuk, whose mother endured the horrors of Holodomor, and who spoke most movingly about her experiences and memories. The Consul General of Ukraine and Father Vasyl Kren also spoke, and I conveyed the support of the Scottish Government to Ukrainians here and around the world as they marked the anniversary.

I recalled the words of Burns: “Man’s inhumanity to man / Makes countless thousands mourn!” And mourn we should, so that the memory of those who died will strengthen our resolve to ensure that nothing like Holodmor ever happens again.