Scottish Government Blogs

October 30, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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MRV Alba na Mara: Survey 2014A Programme

Duration: 4-16 November 2014

Figure 1 - Track executed by MRV Alba na Mara on the Clyde Herring Acoustic Survey Oct12

Figure 1 - Track executed by MRV Alba na Mara on the Clyde Herring Acoustic Survey Oct12

  1. To conduct an acoustic survey designed to survey both the open and enclosed areas of the Clyde to ultimately provide an estimate of the abundance and distribution of herring and sprat.
  2. To obtain samples of herring and sprat for biological analysis, including age, length, weight, sex, maturity and ichthyophonus infection.
  3. All other species caught will be measured for length and weight to establish a length weight relationship.
  4. To gather passive acoustic data using a towed acoustic array to assess the presence of cetaceans.

The track will be similar to that carried out during the same survey in 2012 (Figure 1) with modifications being made to target areas where herring are likely to be, based on information obtained from MS Compliance during the survey.  The survey will involve following a pre-set survey pattern, at a steaming speed between six and eight knots.

Trawling operations will be carried out as and when marks are identified.  Otoliths will be collected from a sub-sample of the herring and sprat to determine age.  The maturity state and presence of Icthyophonus infection will also be recorded.

The acoustic array will be deployed throughout the survey, unless the vessel is in an area of short transects requiring tight manoeuvrability.

October 30, 2014
by blog administrator
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Fergus Ewing: Strengthening links with the Isle of Man

I recently took advantage of our re-established direct air route, between Glasgow and the Isle of Man, to visit with counterparts on the Island and forge some new links between our governments.

The flight itself is an example of what can be done when our Ministers and officials work together – as they do so well – having been established through joint efforts between our administrations and those in the aviation industry.
I was pleased to be involved in our long-term strategy of enhanced engagement with the Island’s Government, since so much of the opportunity for us to work together lies in collaboratively encouraging enterprise, investment and tourism.

The Manx Minister for Economic Development, Laurence Skelly MHK, provided a warm welcome to the Island and together we had some encouraging discussions on how the Isle of Man and Scotland might best work together to boost government and private business links between our countries.

There are, in fact, a great many synergies between the Isle of Man Government’s aspirations in the renewable energy industry and those of the Scottish Government.  Much like Scotland, the Isle of Man is looking to exploit their potential to accommodate offshore wind and there will be opportunities for Scottish businesses with expertise in this field.

I met with the directors of Bruce Anchor, a company specialising in innovative mooring designs, that could cut costs involved in a number of offshore applications, both in the areas of oil and gas recovery and in floating turbines.  I think this shows that there is solid potential for reciprocal benefit, provided we can identify and facilitate new links between our important industry leaders.

Mr Ewing and the Island’s Chief Minister Allan Bell

The Island’s Chief Minister, Allan Bell MHK, also very kindly made efforts, during what was a very busy parliamentary session to meet with me and express his strong desire for continued close working with the Scottish Government.  I was also privileged to be hosted by the President of Tynwald, Clare Christian MLC, as she showed me around the Island’s ancient Parliament, and explained how, over a thousand years of fascinating history of successive changes to rulers, the Island has retained not only a distinct culture, but also a continuous and distinct Parliament and system of government.  As one of our closest geographical neighbours this autonomous country, that is technically out with the UK and EU, perhaps has a lot more to teach and offer us than those who are not in the know might expect.

October 29, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Marine Scotland & JNCC do joint research

Marine Scotland Science and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) have joined up to do some research at the Solan Bank Reef Site of Community Importance (SCI) in Scottish offshore waters. Solan Bank Reef is one of 20 offshore candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC) in UK offshore waters. The site is designated for Annex I reef (sub-types ‘bedrock’ and ‘stony’ reef).

On the 27 October 2014, five JNCC staff joined the MRV Scotia to work with scientists from Marine Scotland Science. They will undertake a detailed survey of the Solan Bank Reef SCI to gather seabed evidence to inform the development of a national indicator of ‘Good Environmental Status’ for sponge and other epifaunal communities ( as part of the UK’s obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

As the indicator metrics were developed for SCUBA diver surveys, the survey hopes to determine whether these can be adapted for use in deeper waters, particularly for estimating the abundance of different sponge morphologies. The survey team will be using a drop down camera system to collect high definition seabed imagery in order to assess changes in sponge and other epifaunal communities in response to natural variables and human-induced pressures.

Data on environmental parameters which could contribute to community structure (e.g. turbidity, temperature, current flow and direction) will be collected, and imagery data collected will also help improve our understanding of the distribution and extent of Annex I reef in the site and the biological communities associated with them.

JNCC has created an offshore survey blog to keep people up to date with work we’re carrying out gathering evidence to underpin our work on MPA and wider monitoring and assessment. JNCC staff will regularly update the blog, sharing information and images from the survey.

October 29, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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MRV Scotia: Survey 1714S – Cruise Programme

Figure 1 - Solan Bank SAC

Figure 1 - Solan Bank SAC

Duration: 28 October – 10 November 2014


  • Sonardyne Scout Plus USBL
  • Sonardyne omni-directional transponder
  • TV drop frame with lasers, SEA LED lights and wiring harness
  • Kongsberg 14-408 digital camera system (X2)
  • Kongsberg 14-208 digital camera system
  • Kongsberg 14-366 TV camera system
  • SUBC 1-CAM Alpha HD camera system
  • Net-sonde cable
  • VMUX controller
  • 450m polyurethane cable
  • Seabird 911 CTD with fluorescence and turbidity sensors
  • Hull mounted ADCP


The aim of the survey is to gather seabed evidence to inform development of a national indicator of ‘Good Environmental Status’ as part of the UK’s obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).  Solan Bank Reef is located approximately 50 km north of Cape Wrath on the Scottish mainland (see Figure 1).

The majority of the site lies in water depths of 60-80 m, however, to the south east of the site an outcrop of bedrock reef rises to approximately 20 m below the sea surface.  The objectives of the survey are (listed in order of priority):

  • To gather high resolution video and still images along transects and from quadrats throughout Solan Bank using a TV drop frame system (see Figures 2 and 3).
  • To gather environmental data using a CTD (salinity, temperature, depth, fluorescence and turbidity) from the same area.
  • To gather high resolution underwater video and stills data to update existing substrate maps of the site
  • To log ADCP data (current speed and direction) from throughout the area of interest.


Figure 2 - Targeted Stations

Figure 2 - Targeted Stations

After completion of safety drills and exercises, Scotiawill proceed northwards to the vicinity of the Southern Trench where gear testing will be undertaken.  The vessel will then make passage to Solan Bank and commence sampling on the targeted sampling station grid (see Figure 2) and on the stratified random sampling stations (Figure 3).

Figure 3 - Stratified Stations

Figure 3 - Stratified Stations

The TV drop-frame with attached CTD will be deployed at each station allowing simultaneous logging of imagery and environmental data (temperature, salinity, fluorometry and turbidity).  Surface salinity samples will also be collected from the water sampling lab as required.

In the event of downtime because of weather or completion of the two primary objectives, further sampling will be carried out on the habitat mapping stations (see Figure 4).
Figure 4 - Contingency Habitat Mapping Stations

Figure 4 - Contingency Habitat Mapping Stations

ADCP data may be also be collected from positions within the survey boxes as illustrated in Figure 6, the actual latitude and longitude data for these stations will be provided while at sea.  Depending on the severity of weather conditions and wind direction, further contingency sampling for SNH may be carried out as detailed in Figure 5.

Figure 5 - SNH Contingency Stations

Figure 5 - SNH Contingency Stations

Figure 6 - ADCP positions within fishing activity boxes

Figure 6 - ADCP positions within fishing activity boxes



October 29, 2014
by SG Admin
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Halloween horror story – A spooky tale of monsters, ghosts and a terrifying journey through the night*

Nicola Clark-Tonberg – Marketing Manager – Smarter

From the moment she entered the room Nicola could sense an unearthly presence that chilled her to the bone. Ghosts of the past inhabited the space, and she knew that no good could come of this night. In the distance a wolf howled, and the velvet drapes swayed eerily, although outside the night was perfectly black and still.

She was aware of something moving behind her, something with ragged breathing and its heavy tread echoed on the bare floorboards. She froze in terror, but forced herself to turn her head, slowly, slowly to gaze upon the apparition.

She screamed. Continue Reading →

October 29, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Vacancy: Assistant Marine Chemist Full-time (Closes 11th November)

The main role of this post is to undertake chemical and physical analyses of water, sediment and biota in support of Marine Scotland priority work areas such as marine licensing, ocean acidification, climate adaptation and environmental assessments for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and OSPAR.

This post involves collection, logging, preparation and analysis of environmental samples.  In particular, the post holder will be required to analyse water samples for chlorophyll and dissolved oxygen and assist in the determination of marine carbonate chemistry parameters.  In addition the post will require the physical analyses of sediment (particle size by laser granulometry organic carbon) and lipid determination of biota samples. The post holder will undertake procedures which are accredited to ISO 17025 by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, and will be expected to maintain appropriately high standards.

October 28, 2014
by SG Admin
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Know the limits

Rachel Watson – Senior Marketing Manager – Safer Marketing

I pride myself on being a good driver.  My dad was a police driver and taught me to drive, and after three years of working on the road safety account I’ve learned a thing or two.  So when I was recently asked if I knew the national speed limits for cars on single carriageways, dual carriageways and overtaking lanes, I knew the answers.

Easy questions, right? Or so I thought. After asking family, friends, and colleagues, I discovered a lot of people were either unsure or plain wrong.  So, if you knew the answers were 60 mph on a single carriageway, including the overtaking lane, and 70 mph on a dual carriageway, then congratulations on being one of those who knows their stuff! Continue Reading →

October 24, 2014
by Karen Watt
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NIDOS Seminar

Throughout 2014, the Scottish Government has been having a lively debate with interested stakeholders about Scotland’s reputation as a good global citizen. I was delighted to speak yesterday (23 October) at the annual seminar of the Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland (NIDOS).

We make an important and distinctively Scottish contribution to helping some of the poorest people and communities in the world to create opportunities to build a better future – and the aid we deliver through our £9 million per annum international development and £6 million climate justice funds is just one of the ways we support our objectives. But the vital ingredient we talked about yesterday was the partnership working we have developed with Scottish organisations and which they, in turn, have developed with local organisations in our priority countries.

External Affairs Director Karen Watt at NIDOS Seminar

We also discussed the Scottish Government’s submission to the Smith Commission, which is looking at further powers for the Scottish Parliament.  If you turn to Chapter 7 you will see this proposes that Scotland should be able to work with certainty and stability for the people and countries it engages with through its current international development activity, and that this should be given legislative underpinning rather than relying on permission from the UK Government that can be removed at any time.

It also argues that a commensurate share of the UK’s current international development budget for relevant countries would provide the targeted, effective, efficient and innovative activity to help fight poverty worldwide.  It was good to hear that NIDOS has submitted an interim paper to the Smith Commission and that many members are considering submitting individual responses.  We’re keen to encourage all voices to be heard in considering the future governance of our country and how we continue to make a difference in the world.

October 23, 2014
by Jim Gordon
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Scotland’s Digital Future: Data Hosting and Data Centre Strategy for the Scottish Public Sector

Why do we need a strategy?

The Review of ICT Infrastructure in the Public Sector in Scotland report by John McClelland found that the public sector in Scotland maintained a large estate of data centres and that significant efficiency and energy savings could be achieved through their consolidation. In response to this and other recommendations in the report, the Scottish Government worked with the wider public sector to produce the strategy Scotland’s Digital Future: Delivery of Public Services. This committed to a national strategy for the public sector’s data storage focusing on consolidation and re-use.

How we approached the strategy’s development

The Strategy was developed using a process of consultation and research. We added to and updated information used in John McClelland’s review through a survey of all public sector organisations. This included asking about intentions and thoughts on cloud computing.

A cross-Government working group was also formed that included ICT industry experts as well as representatives from public sector groups. In addition, we learned from what was being done elsewhere through the approaches of other Governments and visits to existing data centres in both the public and private sector.

The full landscape report is available at Scotland’s Digital Future: Report on the current landscape for Data Hosting and Data Centres in the Scottish Public Sector.

Key findings

The main findings that were consistent across our analysis were:

  1. There is no consistent approach to decision making on future provision of data hosting.
  2. A small but significant number of organisations are still considering building their own data centre.
  3. There are well designed and provisioned data centres which will be used for the foreseeable future.
  4. However, many are not housed in appropriately secure and reliable facilities.
  5. Most organisations and sectors have varying levels of requirements for hosting and delivering services. A single solution may not be appropriate.
  6. Organisations wanted guidance to help them make informed decisions on the best approach for hosting their ICT infrastructure and services. In particular they wanted guidance on use of cloud computing.
  7. There is a need to identify how costs can be measured in a consistent way to support decision making.
  8. Data Centre providers generally deliver services and space to higher security standards and use less energy.

Drawing on these findings, we drew up a draft strategy and sought comments on this.  Our work was also promoted throughout the process including at a series of roadshows across the country seeking feedback and input.

The strategy

On 30th April 2014, the strategy for the public sector in Scotland was published setting out how organisation should approach their future requirements for hosting their data and ICT infrastructure.

Scotland’s Digital Future: Data Hosting and Data Centre Strategy for the Scottish Public Sector sets the vision that Scotland’s public sector data hosting is cost effective, carbon neutral and makes appropriate use of cloud technology, for the delivery of efficient and highly available ICT services.

To support us in achieving the vision, the strategy sets the direction and principles which organisations will deploy to enable a shift to service consumption and cloud provision and away from an individual silo approach to data hosting and data storage. Aggregated demand and economies of scale will be a key element in this.

The strategy sets out how the public sector will adopt cloud computing, virtualisation and colocation for achieving significant efficiency and energy savings. Guidance documents are now published for use by public sector organisations including information on best practice and lessons learned that will help organisations deliver efficiencies in these areas.

These will be supplemented with a catalogue of public sector data centres capable of providing capacity for other organisations, and a procurement framework of suppliers capable of providing the range of services to deliver on the vision, tendered through the OJEU process.

The principles

Organisations will transition to revised arrangements at different timescales and in different ways because organisations have different existing contractual arrangements. But it is important that the public sector delivers the change required and it will do so by adopting, with consistency, the following set of principles:

  1. Organisations review their current ICT data centre and hosting arrangements
  2. Cost of running data centres and hosting is known
  3. Utility and cloud computing is considered in assessing the appropriateness of current arrangements and future investment plans, and a shift to the cloud takes place when this is the most cost-effective option that delivers business requirements
  4. Co-location in existing world class data centres is considered where cloud options cannot meet business needs or are not cost-effective
  5. No new data centres should be built to meet the needs of an individual or small number of organisations with new centres only considered if, in line with principles 3 and 4, cloud or existing data centre options do not meet business needs.
  6. Organisations measure and continually improve on their data centres PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness).

Decision roadmap

Through promoting a consistent approach, the strategy’s roadmap will assist organisations to meet the vision. It provides a framework that enables organisations to consider what is important for them in identifying the most appropriate solution in implementing the strategy.

The guidance

The vision in the strategy sets out essentially a “cloud first” approach and our guidance documents will help organisations understand using a common vocabulary the decisions that need to be taken and the steps they need to take to move forward in that direction.

Download and read our published cloud computing guidance.

We have also published draft guidance that we are now seeking feedback on

  1. Virtualisation
  2. Public sector data centre colocation

To find out more and provide any feedback 

Contact or visit the Scottish Government website.