Scallop fishermen have been banned from a highland loch after a rare reef was damaged by dredging, BBC Scotland has learned. The emergency move by the environment secretary follows an investigation into damage caused to the flame shell reef in Loch Carron near Plockton. An environmental group has described it as "too little, too late". The inquiry confirmed that the damage was consistent with the impact of scallop dredging. But Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), which conducted the investigation, said there was a "viable prospect of recovery" because part of the bed had survived.
Beavers will become a protected species in Scotland from May, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has said. The long-awaited and controversial move - opposed by many farmers - follows extensive wrangling over how their numbers should be managed. Farming leaders have raised concerns about the damage caused to agricultural land from their dam-building. Scottish Natural Heritage will issue guidance for farmers over the coming weeks. Ms Cunningham told Radio Scotland's Out of Doors programme: "It is what people have been waiting for, it is what we said we were going to do. "I do appreciate that for a lot of people it seems to have taken a very long time but these things do.
The Scottish Parliament is to debate a ban on fracking as part of a Holyrood environment and land reform debate. New Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham is to lead a debate calling for a "sustainable low-carbon economy". Scottish Labour has tabled an amendment calling for a full ban on fracking, while the Greens have another speaking against it. The Scottish government currently has a moratorium on the controversial method of oil and gas extraction. The SNP's manifesto for the Holyrood election committed to there being no fracking in Scotland "unless it can be proven beyond doubt that there is no risk to health, communities or the environment".
The Scottish government is banning single-use coffee cups in its main buildings in a bid to cut plastic pollution. From 4 June, hot drinks will only be served in reusable mugs. It is hoped the move will prevent 450,000 cups from being thrown away every year. Staff were informed of the changes and the alternatives from the beginning of May to give them time to prepare for the change. The ban will apply to all hot drinks purchased in St Andrew's House, Saughton House, Victoria Quay, Atlantic Quay, Marine Lab and Buchanan House restaurants and cafes.