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Reform Scotland News: 31 August 2012

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is highlighted and underlined.

In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News

Politics

World’s largest offshore wind farm to be built on Scottish coastline: 339 turbines are set to be placed on the Moray Firth, a proposal launched by Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd.  It is believed that the £4.5 billion project could create hundreds of jobs and provide electricity for a million homes, boosting the Scottish government’s target with regards to renewable energy.  The controversial project has seen opposition from campaigners such as Donald Trump, who warned Scots that because the project is dependent on subsidies, it will cost the taxpayer dearly, and the country’s energy bills will continue to soar above comfortable levels.  Furthermore, anti-wind farm campaigners claim that the turbines will be a blot on the landscape, and may endanger fishing grounds and marine life. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 7)   

SNP deny referendum claim: The Scottish government has put to bed claims that ministers are close to reaching a deal over the Independence referendum, citing a need for further discussion concerning the devolution of more powers to Holyrood. Bruce Crawford’s spokesperson revealed that before reaching a deal with Westminster, “it is only right that matters are carefully considered.” (The Scotsman page 8, The Daily Telegraph page 12)

Tom Peterkin in the Scotsman suggests that Alex Salmond has an upcoming struggle facing him, if he is to consider a two-question independence ballot.

Scottish Independence thwarted by Olympics: The surge in patriotism for Great Britain following the Olympic games will cost Alex Salmond Independence votes, say opposition parties. (The Herald page 6)

Dump Clegg or lose votes: Senior Liberal Democrat Lord Oakeshott has claimed that the Lib Dems should get rid of Nick Clegg if they want to avoid electoral disaster in 2015. Mr Clegg has faced much scrutiny among party members due to the lack of achievements by the coalition, with the party’s popularity and opinion polls currently down. In addition to this, two of the most influential business lobby groups have challenged the coalition’s values, asserting that the government is failing to deliver on its pledges to rekindle growth and improve the economy. (The Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 6, The Times page 1)

Mystery North Sea oil leak prompts major investigation: An oil spill, estimated to contain up to 132 tonnes of oil has been sourced off the coast of Aberdeenshire.  A crack in a subsea pipeline 117 miles north-east of Aberdeen was discovered last Friday and has now been stemmed.  A spokesman from the Department of Energy and Climate Change revealed that “there is no evidence to indicate an ongoing release of oil”, but nevertheless a full investigation will be launched. (The Scotsman page 11, The Herald page 4, P&J page 15)

Deployment of Scots officers to Northern Ireland: Members of Scotland’s police force could reportedly be in danger if plans to deploy officers to Northern Ireland during extreme periods of violence and civil unrest go ahead. The lack of firearms capability within the force, coupled with the terrorist threat that the area poses, could see officers becoming targets. (The Herald page 2)

Children in 100,000 crimes:  Children as young as ten have been reported for more than 100,000 serious crimes, including rape and sexual attacks in the past three years.  However, as many of these offenders are under the age of criminal responsibility, numerous cases have not been pursued in the courts. (Herald page 8, Daily Express page 4, Sun page 2, Daily Record page 2)

Scotland’s Catholic Church facing rebellion over gay marriage stance: Many Catholic parishioners are reportedly appalled by the Church’s strong and outspoken opposition to gay marriage and are concerned that the church is coming across as homophobic. (The Times page 3)

Bullying affects over a quarter Scottish Police college students: An anonymous poll carried out at Tulliallan campus in Fife showed that of the 80% who took the poll, 28.2 per cent of people admitted to being bullied by a manager or another colleague. (Daily Record page 2)

Justice

£6.5 million of court issued fines remain unpaid: The Scottish Court Service published a report showing £2 million in fines from sheriffs currently in arrears, a 13 percent rise on last year, as well as a further £2 million of fiscal fines.  That equates to a staggering 40 per cent of unpaid fines of the total from 2011-2012. However, the Scottish government was keen to highlight the slight improvement in the rates of collection in general.  A spokeswoman said: “Overall fine collection has improved significantly in recent years and is now at its highest ever rate”. (The Scotsman page 13, The Herald page 5, Sun page 2, Daily Record page 2, P&J page 11)

Transport

Train derailment led to widespread disruption after botched inspection: A report published yesterday disclosed information which suggested that a train which came off the tracks near Waverley station last year had not been identified as “unsafe”, despite the uncovering of a faulty switch. As a result, Network Rail have been called upon to review standards, with a spokesman for the company assuring that “safety is our number one priority.” (The Scotsman page 21, The Herald page 9)

Edinburgh has parking wardens for every mile: Scotland’s capital city is said to have one of the highest concentrations of parking wardens in the UK, London being the only city to surpass its numbers. Brain MacDowell of the Association of British Drivers said “This is typical of how councils have become more interested in revenue raising than controlling parking in cities.”(The Scotsman page 19, Daily Express page 9)

Easyjet increasing flights out of Edinburgh: The low budget airline is set to increase the number of routes flying out of Edinburgh, creating in excess of 100 jobs. (Sun page 2)

Economy

MPs suggest banks drop ATM restrictions: The Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds have been encouraged to grant customers unrestricted access to cash machines from other banks, urging them to drop their current charges.  This comes amidst evidence which suggests that those affected by these charges are “the most vulnerable people in society”, according to chairman of the Treasury Select Committee Andrew Tyrie. (The Herald page 3)

Antony Jenkins named as Bob Diamond replacement: Mr Jenkins has said that restoring the bank’s reputation will be his top priority, though he also added that profitability targets would have to be altered to fit a more realistic expected return on equity, and has drafted a full “transformation plan”  for Barclays next year. (Financial Times page 1, P&J page 16)

Wealth tax:  George Kerevan in the Scotsman argues against taxing the wealthy, believing that it is arbitrary, complicated to administer, and does not raise enough money relative to the trouble it takes to collect it.

Health

Call for stem cell hip replacements: Researchers in Scotland have revealed plans to use the latest stem cell technology to allow patients to grow their own bone. Scientists at Glasgow University have developed a special plastic surface, in which stem cells are placed and encouraged to grow.  They hope to have a prototype developed within 10 years.  (Herald page 10)