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Farmers back 'yes' vote

Four influential Scottish farmers have voiced their support for an independent Scotland
Credit: PA

Four influential Scottish farmers have come out in favour of a 'Yes' vote in September's independence referendum.

The four former Presidents of the National Farmers Union Scotland, including John Ross from Portpatrick, believe an independent Scotland would have a more powerful voice in Europe.

However, the Chair of Farmers Together and Former NFUS President, George Lyon said: "Scottish farmers know that as part of the UK we have the best of both worlds".

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Study: Hen harriers and grouse shooting 'can co-exist'

A recent study suggests that at certain population densities, hen harriers can co-exist with profitable grouse shooting.

Scientists have said this could be achieved using a simple approach, where when harriers breed at levels that have a significant economic impact on grouse shoots, the excess chicks would be removed from the grouse moors, reared in captivity and then released into the wild elsewhere.

Excess hen harrier chicks 'could be removed from the grouse moors and reared elsewhere'.
Excess hen harrier chicks 'could be removed from the grouse moors and reared elsewhere'. Credit: PA Wire

The next step is for grouse managers and conservationists to use the results of the model to agree on an acceptable number of harriers and then test the idea in a field trial, the research published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology suggests.

Science 'could end deadlock' over grouse shooting

As the grouse shooting season begins today, ecologists said a model could be developed to explore a possible compromise solution between conservationists and the grouse hunters.

Today marks the start of the grouse shooting season.
Today marks the start of the grouse shooting season. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

The hen harrier is a natural predator of the red grouse but the study suggests that under certain conditions a solution could be achieved where the birds could co-exist with profitable grouse shooting.

The study, led by Professor Steve Redpath of the University of Aberdeen, involves grouse managers, conservationists and ecologists, and used science as a way to try and find a solution.

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Insurance firm renews calls for vigilance

The cost of rural crime is on the increase according to a new report from one the UK's biggest farm insurers.

In a survey carried out by NFU Mutual, Cumbria saw a rise of 39% in 2013.

Common thefts include quad bikes, tools, diesel and livestock renewing calls for people to be vigilant and security conscious.

Ian Mandle is from NFU Mutual:

Rural crimes up by almost 40% in Cumbira

Quad bikes are one of the most stolen things from our region's farms
Quad bikes are one of the most stolen things from our region's farms Credit: ITV News

Rural crime in Cumbria has risen by almost 40% in the last year.

New figures released today by NFU Mutual say property totalling £920,000 was taken from farms in the county during 2013.

It's part of a UK-wide survey which has shown that across the country rural crime has cost an estimated £44.5m over 2013.

The report has however shown that in the same period, crime figures fell by 5% across Scotland.

More than half of staff interviewed from hundreds of NFU Mutual offices in rural communities around the UK also said they'd seen customers suffer repeat crimes or had high-value items stolen.

The top 10 items targeted by thieves last year were:

  • Tools
  • Quad bikes
  • Oil/Diesel
  • Machinery
  • Garden equipment
  • Livestock
  • Vehicles
  • Metal
  • Tractors
  • Trailers
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