Keeping Scotland Beautiful

Keeping Scotland Beautiful

As you travel the North Coast 500 this year, you may notice some colourful characters along the way.

Keep Scotland Beautiful’s national ‘Give your litter a lift, take it home’ campaign has come to the wild North in a bid to keep one of the most stunning corners of Scotland (and the world, we’d argue) looking beautiful.

Litter is a growing problem in Scotland and litter discarded from vehicles onto roadsides is a particular challenge, as it is often nearly impossible to clean up.

The road network is immense and difficult to access regularly. We know that around 50 tonnes of litter are lifted from Scottish roadsides every month and that is likely to be only a fraction of what is getting dropped. This litter is not only ugly to look at, but it harms the land it lies on and can end up in our rivers, streams and the sea.

We’d like to encourage everyone to be considerate and take responsibility for their litter when on the road.

We spoke with Georgina Massouraki to find out more:

What we’re doing

We’ve teamed up with local businesses to display messaging, make bins more visible and give out handy packs to drivers, including our car litter bags.

Have you seen our funnel bins?

As part of our campaign and with the help of our partners Highland Spring, we are bringing innovation to Scotland.

Our new funnel bins have been shown to be effective in reducing roadside litter by encouraging people on the road to do the right thing.

The first two bins have been installed along the NC500 route, at Inverewe Garden and Scrabster Harbour. Look out for them if you’re passing by!

So, what can you do?

Travelling by road can be an adventure but it can also present some practical challenges. However, with a little bit of foresight and planning, you can make your way through without leaving a trace.

Pack a bag

Our research shows that the majority of litter dropped from vehicles comes from people eating and drinking on the road.

Plan ahead and make sure to have a bag to put your litter in. If you are likely to have smelly litter, pack a sealable bin so that you can take your litter with you until you find suitable waste disposal facilities. This could be when you next stop to refuel or restock. But be prepared to take your litter home with you if needs be.


The great thing about recyclable waste is that it is generally clean and dry. Empty bottles, cans, jars, cartons, aerosol cans and paper/cardboard can be collected separately to put in the recycling bin when you find one.

Find your nearest recycling centre with this handy tool from Highland Council.

In the bin. Not ‘next to’ or ‘on top of’

Litter disposal facilities are an important service, but if they are not usable for whatever reason, take your litter away with you.

Scotland is windy and litter left ‘near’ a bin is most likely to blow away beyond reach.


Convenience items are called that for a reason and being on the go can leave you with a lot of disposable packaging to er…dispose of. Pack a reusable water bottle, reusable take-away cup, tupperware and cutlery to be a road-tripping hero.

Leave the campsite cleaner than you found it

An old naturalist motto that still rings true.

No matter who’s responsible for the mess, try to improve the environment for those to follow. We all have the power to make a difference. Why not?

For some this is home. For others, an adventure. Let’s all respect the land and keep Scotland beautiful.

Are you a master road-tripper? Share your tips for travelling without a trace @KSBScotland using #GiveYourLitterALift

Do you have any comments or suggestions? Get in touch @KSBScotland using #RoadsideLitter

Did you know?

Dropping litter is illegal in Scotland and carries an £80 penalty. The penalty for flytipping -the illegal dumping of waste- is £200. You can report litter and flytipping to Highland Council here.

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    Scotland issued with ‘threat to life’ red warning

    Northern Ireland is preparing for the heavy snow which has already brought severe disruption to other parts of the UK and the Republic.

    The Met Office has issued its highest level of alert for parts of Scotland – a red warning – which means extreme weather is expected between 3pm on Wednesday and 10am on Thursday.

    It said: “Heavy snow showers and drifting of lying snow in the strong easterly winds will become more widespread across the area later on Wednesday afternoon, through the evening and overnight into Thursday. Roads will become blocked by deep snow, with many stranded vehicles and passengers. Long delays and cancellations on bus, rail and air travel are expected. Some communities could become cut off for several days. Long interruptions to power supplies and other services.”

    The Met Office definition of a red warning is that “you should take action now to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the weather. Widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely. You must avoid dangerous areas and follow the advice of the emergency services and local authorities”.

    The Met Office has also warned much of Northern Ireland will be affected. Heavy snow showers are expected during Wednesday.

    Amber warnings are in force for areas considered most likely to see medium impacts.

    There is the potential for travel delays on roads, with some stranded vehicles and passengers, as well as delays or cancellations to rail and air travel.

    Some rural communities could become cut off. Power cuts and disruption to other services like mobile phone signals are possible, while school closures are also likely.

    The warning is in place throughout Wednesday.

    In other parts of the UK a number of hospitals have cancelled non-urgent appointments due to the adverse weather.

    Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Grimsby Hospital, Scunthorpe General Hospital and Goole Hospital, cancelled all elective care, including outpatient appointments.

    And Medway NHS Foundation Trust in Kent has also postponed some non-urgent planned operations and outpatient appointments.

    And due to heavy snowfall, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust also said it had cancelled non-urgent outpatient appointments and operations.

    But urgent two-week wait appointments, radiotherapy, renal services and oncology clinics will go ahead as planned, it added.

    A number of other clinics and GP appointments in other parts of the country were also affected.

    Stop Smoking Clinics in Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland were cancelled “due to #SNOWMAGGEDON”, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said.

    And patient transfer systems were also affected – Ipswich Hospital’s patient transport service was prioritising patients with urgent appointments and those ready to be discharged home.

    Meanwhile, many organisations urged people to let them know if they are not able to make their appointments – with a number keeping their Twitter followers up to date with the latest traffic information.

    North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust urged staff to go to their nearest hospital – even if it is not their usual place of work – to prevent them travelling further in the snow.

    And Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, in the North East, appealed to staff in walking distance to come in. It tweeted: “We would really appreciate any extra pairs of hands today.”

    Harrogate Hospital also appealed for additional staff.

    Meanwhile, patients across the country were urged to inform hospitals if they were unable to make appointments.

    Belfast Telegraph Digital


    NHS Scotland embarks on global radiologist search

    Image copyrightScience Photo Library

    A global campaign to attract radiologists to work in the Scottish NHS has been launched.

    Nine health boards, including NHS Fife, Grampian and Greater Glasgow and Clyde, have 32 vacancies which they have struggled to fill.

    Radiologists specialise in diagnosing and treating diseases such as cancer using medical imagery.

    NHS Scotland will take its recruitment drive to India, the US, Canada, western Europe and Australia.

    ‘Sustainable health’

    The service has already unveiled plans to invest £4m in a “radiology transformation programme” to improve patient services and increase the number of specialist radiology training places.

    Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The campaign highlights the benefits of living in Scotland and working for our NHS, and it demonstrates our commitment to a vibrant, dynamic and outward-looking health service, staffed by some of the very best clinicians from around the world.

    Image copyrightScience Photo Library

    “We are determined to recruit and retain the best and the brightest in order to deliver sustainable health services for the people of Scotland.”

    Dr Grant Baxter, Scotland lead at The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR), said: “The RCR fully supports this much-needed international drive to boost radiologist numbers.

    “Overseas radiologists tell us they love working in the UK because of the camaraderie, clinical and learning opportunities they are exposed to in the NHS and the Scottish health system has a lot to offer incoming doctors.”

    The health boards taking part in the recruitment campaign are NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Forth Valley , NHS Fife, NHS Grampian, NHS Highland and NHS Tayside.


    Every school in Scotland gets book celebrating ‘magic’ of nature

    Every school in Scotland gets book celebrating 'magic' of nature
    Jane Beaton has raised £25,000 to get a copy into every school in Scotland (Picture: Morris/Penguin Books)

    A school bus driver has raised £25,000 to gift a book about British wildlife to every school in Scotland.

    Jane Beaton, from Strathyre, Stirling, decided to raise the money after reading The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane.

    Her campaign aimed to put a copy in every single one of Scotland’s 2,681 schools, the Guardian reports

    The book of poems was written as ‘spells’ for children to learn words about nature after they were removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary in 2007.

    They were replaced with computer-based words such as ‘chat room’ and ‘broadband’.

    Every school in Scotland gets book celebrating 'magic' of nature
    The book has been illustrated by Jackie Morris (Picture: Morris/Penguin Books)
    Every school in Scotland gets book celebrating 'magic' of nature
    The book was written after a number of natural words were omitted from the Oxford Junior Dictionary (Picture: Morris/Penguin Books)

    The words are given life by Jackie Morris’ illustrations after it was revealed in a National Trust survey that only a third of primary school children could identify a magpie, but 90% could name a Dalek.

    Ms Beaton said she thought the book was ‘magical’ when she first opened it, and said: ‘It’s just captured people in a way I haven’t seen before. People have a feeling of positivity to it.’

    Only four months after being published, the book has already sold 75,000 copies and won two literary prizes, and there are plans to adapt it into a choral work by a children’s choir, an embroidered braille text.

    The National Forest in Derbyshire wants to have celebrity readers whisper the words through the trees to help bring the poems to life.

    After successfully raising the money, one final challenge remains for Ms Beaton.

    She has to deliver the books to every single school.

    She said: ‘This book has so much potential to impact on people in different ways. I’m hoping all the kids in Scotland will have an engagement with nature through this. I firmly believe that being outdoors and connecting with nature helps people’s mental health.’

    Edinburgh is the hottest place in Scotland

    FORECASTERS say temperatures on the east coast of Scotland could soar to 24C on Monday, eclipsing a record that has stood since 1999.

    The May Day heatwave comes after Edinburgh basked in temperatures of 22.3C on Sunday making it the hottest place in Scotland.

    It’s going to be even hotter south of the border where temperatures could hit 28C, making it the hottest Bank Holiday Monday in 40 years.

    The May Bank Holiday was introduced in 1978 and the temperature has never topped the 28C mark since then.

    The weather is set to become mixed as the month progresses, and the May 19 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle draws near.

    Met Office forecaster Charlie Powell said: “It looks like we should be prepared for some pretty changeable weather throughout the second half of May.

    “We’re still going to see some dry days, but there’s still going to be some wet days mixed in as well.”

    Referring to the day of the eagerly anticipated wedding, Mr Powell added: “We’ve got this idea that there could be some warmer spells, most likely across the south and east of England, so at least that bodes well for wedding locations and things like that.”

    He said temperatures will generally be above normal, but this will depend on whether it is a sunny day or a sunny wetter day.

    “So it doesn’t look like it’s going to carry on in a similar kind of vein to high pressure in charge, sunshine, light winds, high temperatures, that we have now.

    “Neither does it look like it’s going to be a complete washout, horrible end to the month of May.

    “But I think we can expect things to be not as warm as they are now, but also not as dry as they are now,” he said.

    Mr Powell added: “Fingers crossed it all kind of ties in with one of the drier days.”

    Looking at temperatures for Bank Holiday Monday, the forecaster said the highs of 28C were not going to be widespread.

    “That’s going to be the exception rather than the rule. I think for most places, if you take the bulk of England and Wales for example, we’re looking at somewhere around the low to mid 20s mark,” he said.

    Meanwhile, Southern Rail advised passengers for Brighton and the South Coast not to travel on Sunday due to overcrowding.

    Replacement buses were also provided due to engineering works, and at one point National Rail said there was a two-hour wait to board a bus at Gatwick Airport.

    Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Passengers will rightly be frustrated to find they can’t travel on the bank holiday weekend.

    “These works and the weather were no surprise – so why has Southern failed to provide enough rail replacement buses?”


    What’s happening with education in Scotland?

    Image copyrightGetty Images

    Education Secretary John Swinney has shelved his promised Education Bill, instead striking a deal with local authorities. Here, we raise and answer key questions on why, how and what next.

    Who is part of the deal?

    Why is there a need for a deal?

    Both the government and local councils say they have a “shared ambition” to close the “unacceptable gap in attainment between our least and most disadvantaged children and to raise attainment for all”.

    In their joint agreement they say: “We are clear that our vision of excellence and equity cannot be achieved by one part of the system alone: all partners must work together in a collegiate and collaborative way, keeping the interests of children and young people front and centre.”

    What’s the principle behind the deal?

    Legislation on its own “cannot transform the culture, capacity and structure of Scottish education and that further discussion on other levers for change is needed and supported”.

    The deal said that “system-wide improvement” required strong leadership, collaborative working and clarity of purpose at “all layers” – school, local, regional and national.

    The majority of decisions should be made at school level because “head teachers are the leaders of learning and teaching in their school”.

    However, where “statutory, financial, or contractual obligations” are breached local authorities should intervene.

    So, if this is about empowering head teachers, what powers will they get?

    • They will “design” their local curriculum in line with Curriculum for Excellence
    • Head teachers will be responsible for deciding their school’s “improvement priorities” and enact a plan based on those priorities
    • They will choose their own staff with regard to employment law and the contractual obligations of their local authority
    • And head teachers will make decisions on how to spend their budgets

    What’s the role of local authorities?

    • Head teachers must work collaboratively with the local authority – plus staff, parents and pupils – on curriculum design and improving learning and teaching
    • Local authorities will be able to intervene should any statutory duty or contractual obligation be in breach
    • And councils will continue to be responsible for the local authority education budget and the delegation of funding to schools.

    What’s the role of pupils and parents?

    Head teachers will have to work “collaboratively with their parent council, and wider parent forum and wider community on substantive matters of school policy and improvement”.

    They must also ensure that “children and young people participate meaningfully in their own learning, in decision-making relating to the life and work of the school; and in the wider community”.

    Why shelve the education bill?

    In his statement to parliament, he said: “The Scottish government and Scotland’s local councils have reached an agreement that endorses and embraces the principles of school empowerment and provides clear commitment to a school – and teacher-led – education system.

    “And it does so without the need to wait 18 months for an Education Bill.”

    The upshot is Mr Swinney believes change can happen “more quickly” with an agreement than it can with legislation.

    Why not just ditch it?

    The Education Bill has been introduced in “draft” form because Mr Swinney says that “if sufficient progress is not made over the next 12 months to deliver the empowerment of schools” he will return to Holyrood and see the bill through its legislative stages.

    What have opposition parties said?

    “Shambles” was the word used by both the Scottish Tories and Scottish Labour.

    Tory MSP Liz Smith said she was “astonished” by the statement. “I have only one question: is the cabinet secretary not embarrassed by this complete shambles of a U-turn?” Mr Swinney said he was not.

    In his chamber response, Labour MSP Iain Gray said: “Well what a shambles indeed.”

    He added: “At the eleventh hour his [Mr Swinney’s] flagship legislation has sailed off into the sunset.”

    Mr Gray believed the agreement was “cobbled together last minute”.

    “The only thing being fastracked here is the mother of all minsterial climb downs,” he added.

    What happens next?

    The work by local authorities and senior offices in the Scottish government begins now. During the 2018-19 academic year, local authorities have agreed to complete a “self-evaluation of school empowerment in their local area”.

    Progress will be monitored each term by educational support body Education Scotland.


    Cafe chain raises £4million to tackle homelessness in Scotland

    More than £4 million has been raised in a festive fundraiser to tackle homelessness in Scotland.

    Social Bite cafes across the country open up to serve Christmas dinner today and give out presents to people affected by the issue.

    Its festive fundraising campaign, working with Itison, as well as the Sleep In The Park gig in Edinburgh helped raise more than £4m.

    A Social Bite spokesman said: “Thank you so much to every single person that slept out or donated a Christmas dinner and raised so much money for Scotland’s homeless people.

    “You have simultaneously registered your disgust at the system that results in people becoming homeless in such large numbers, as well as your love and affection for people with no place to call a home of their own.

    Amy Macdonald and Frightened Rabbit.

    John Cleese performed a bedtime story while Bob Geldof slept out and addressed the audience.

    Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Communities Secretary Angela Constance and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart also spent the night in the gardens.

    The organisation has premises in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

    Read More

    Top news stories



    West Lothian pup first in Scotland for pioneering heart surgery

    A LABRADOR puppy will have a life-saving £10,000 op to fix his broken heart.

    Dexter will become the first pooch in Scotland to undergo the pioneering surgery to repair a cardiac valve.

    Owner Fiona Kilanowski, 54, from Dalkeith, Midlothian, Edinburgh, said: “It is expensive, but we feel Dexter deserves a chance to live. He is a young dog just at the beginning of his life.”

    Dexter will be taken to the Royal Veterinary College in London for the six-hour op next Monday.

    He’ll have a theatre full of highly specialised vets whose work mirrors that of human heart patients.

    They will include two cardiac surgeons, two anaesthetists, a perfusionist to operate the by-pass machine, two scrub nurses and a team of cardiologists waiting to monitor him after surgery.

    The family pet was diagnosed with heart failure shortly after his first birthday in November.

    Fiona, a research assistant, said the shock diagnosis came after Dexter became overwhelmed by exhaustion after a short walk in the park.

    She said: “Until then Dexter loved to run about and could walk for hours before tiring.

    “But even chasing a ball made him struggle for breath.

    “We took him to our local vet who referred him to the Royal School of Vet Studies in Edinburgh.

    “There tests revealed he had an unusual heart valve defect.

    “It was not allowing enough oxygenated blood to circulate through his body.

    “Most dogs with this defect die within months, we have been told.

    “We were absolutely devastated and not ready to lose Dexter.

    “We asked if anything could be done to save him and it was then we learned of the pioneering surgery in London.

    Fiona’s daughters Kirsty and Zoe are trying to raise half the amount through an online fundraiser called Fix Dexter’s Broken Heart. So far they’ve raised £1,960. Kirsty, 27, said: “Dexter is currently being kept alive on heart drugs. Even with these, he struggles to walk and is spending more and more of his time sleeping.

    “He is desperately trying to be a pup but can’t be.

    “We just want him to get better.

    “Sadly, our pet insurance does not cover the surgery.”

    Next Monday, Dexter will undergo the six-hour surgery headed up by vet heart surgeon, Professor Dan Brockman.

    It will be carried out with a by-pass machine exactly like that used in human heart surgery.

    Professor Brockman said: “Dexter will be the first Scottish dog to undergo the technique. Without surgery he would most likely die before his second birthday.

    “The surgery is not without risks but is Dexter’s best chance of survival.

    “We have only carried it out on two dogs previously.”



    Alex McLeish calls for patience as jeers greet Scotland loss

    Alex McLeish has called for understanding in response to Scotland’s defeat against Costa Rica but admits they must improve to achieve his ultimate goal of qualification for the Euro 2020 finals.

    Marcos Urena’s 14th-minute goal earned Costa Rica a repeat of the famous scoreline they recorded when stunning Scotland in the opening match of the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy.

    Jeers from the Tartan Army in a crowd of just over 20,000 greeted the final whistle as McLeish suffered a loss in the first match of his second stint in charge of the national team.

    It was the first of five friendly matches Scotland will play before the inaugural Uefa Nations League campaign begins in September. The Scots’ next assignment is against Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday night.

    On a night when he handed debuts to five players – Scott McKenna, Scott McTominay, Kevin McDonald, Oli McBurnie and Jamie Murphy – McLeish expressed his hope the circumstances of the occasion would be taken into account.

    “I would expect common sense to prevail,” said McLeish. “I was disappointed with the first half but much more pleased with the second half. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t. There is a process and I want my record to be good. I’m disappointed with the defeat. We have to nullify the perception it’s the same old Scotland. We need to show that with not only competitive performances, but also winning performances. It’s easy to talk but we are looking for improvement.

    “We were off the pace in the first half. We didn’t get the tempo I wanted. We were halfway there but never quite the full way in terms of pressing.

    “The second half was much better. With the new caps, there’s not a lot of fluidity in the team compared to Costa Rica who have been together a couple of years.

    “It reminded me of playing a League Cup game as a club manager and rotating your squad. It looks good on paper but they don’t have the rhythm of guys playing regularly.

    “I see some good things and some not so good things. I’ll look at that before the game against Hungary.

    “It was common sense that we looked at some new young players. We have seen some great club form from them. There were a few who did really well and those where the pluses. I do have to get the right system and personnel. ”

    Costa Rica coach Oscar Ramirez was satisfied with his team’s display as they prepare for this summer’s World Cup finals. “I was especially happy with the first half, we were good in possession and also on the counter-attack,” said Ramirez. “We managed the pace 
of the game well and that’s something we will have to do at the World Cup.”



    Wild wolves could return to Scotland to control deer numbers

    Bringing back packs of wild wolves to Scotland has been suggested as a natural solution for controlling increasing numbers of red deer, which are causing a major over-grazing problem in parts of the Highlands.

    Bringing back packs of wild wolves to Scotland has been suggested as a natural solution for controlling increasing numbers of red deer, which are causing a major over-grazing problem in parts of the Highlands.

    Current high red deer populations are preventing tree growth and ecosystem restoration in certain areas, with more than a third of all native woodlands in poor condition because of herbivore impacts.

    Now a team of scientists has found that reintroducing wolves could help keep deer numbers down but they should be kept inside large fenced enclosures and their numbers managed for the move to be most effective.

    The researchers say restricting the freedom of the wolves would allow denser populations of the animals to build up, which would make them more efficient at hunting deer.

    It would also limit potential encounters with local residents and farm animals.

    Dr Christopher Sandom, lecturer in biology at the 
University of Sussex, has a particular interest in rewilding.

    He said: “Reintroducing the wolf has long been suggested as part of the solution to large red deer populations but there will always be concerns about how wolves interact with people in any rewilding project like this.

    “This research shows that they could actually have an extremely beneficial impact in terms of making the rewilding process more effective.”

    The paper suggests that a reintroduction of grey wolves, also known as timber wolves, could also have major benefits for wildlife tourism and associated jobs in Scotland.

    Dr Sandom added: “Fences are a common but unpopular tool in biodiversity conservation and would ideally be avoided. But where there are conflicting interests, compromise is needed.

    “Fences particularly constrain animal dispersal but as Britain is an island, this is less of a problem.

    “A fenced reserve in Scotland could be a fantastic opportunity to return large predators to Britain, ecologically restore a large part of the Scottish Highlands, and promote tourism.”