All posts by The Environmental Update

Potter tour to open in London

Coat of arms of Hogwarts provided by Jakovche

The Harry Potter Studio Tour is opening tomorrow, 31st March in Hertfordshire, London.

Fans of the Potter franchise will be able to see sets from the films at Leavesden Studios in Watford, where all of the eight movies were filmed. The tour features real sets, models, props and costumes from the movies. Sets, which have been made in great detail include the Great Hall of Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s dormitory, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore’s office and Diagon Alley. 

Fans can also watch short films about designers talking about their work, ride a broomstick in the green-screen effects room and see how animatronics, prosthetics and make-up were used to bring to magical creatures to life.

David Heyman, a producer on all the Potter films has said: “This is a tour for Harry Potter fans, but it’s also a tour for people who are not necessarily Harry Potter fans. It’s such a good insight into the making of a film…basically a how-to.”

Tickets for the tour can be bought online at Tickets cost £28 pounds for an adult and £21 for a child.  The tour promises to be a magical experience for the whole family.

Big Brother Politician becomes Bradford-West MP

Photo taken by David Hunt

George Galloway, a Respect Party Candidate, most well known for his infamous Big Brother Stint, has won the Bradford-West by-election by 10, 140 votes.

Galloway, in a shocking victory, has taken the Bradford West Parliamentary seat from the Labour Party, and polled more than 18,000 votes. Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party in October 2003 because he expressed his opposition to the Iraq War. Soon after he became a founding member of the left-wing, anti-war Respect Party.

Mr Galloway said the victory is: “the most sensastional victory in British political history.”

Labour Leader, Ed Milliband, is very disappointed with the outcome of the by-elections, but has vowed to lead a Labour Party fightback. Miliband said: “It was an incredibly disappointing result for Labour in Bradford West and I am determined that we learn lessons of what happened.” Miliband will be travelling to Bradford soon, to try to: “win back people’s trust.”

George Galloway contested the parliamentary seat of Poplar and Limehouse, in the 2010 UK general election, as well as the Glasgow List in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, but was unsuccessful in both.

George Galloway, beat Labour candidate Imran Hussein by 10,140 votes and received 15,595 more votes than Conservative candidate Jackie Whiteley, who came third in the election.

Tian Tian the panda is in the mood for love

Image supplied by Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

Tian Tian the panda, also known as Sweetie, may be ready to mate with Yang Guang as early as next week on Tuesday 3rd or Wednesday 4th April.

Edinburgh Zoo and their team of experts have identified an increase in Tian Tian’s oestrogen and a decrease in her progesterone. Female pandas only ovulate once a year, and there is only a 36 hour period in which a female panda can fall pregnant. The two pandas at Edinburgh Zoo will be introduced to each other on Tuesday for 15 minutes at at time. They will probably be put together three times on the first date of Tian Tian being in oestrus. If natural mating does not occur on the first day of oestrus, the zoo may consider the option of artificial insemination.

However, expert keepers will be keeping an eye on the two, as pandas often tend to fight after mating or instead of mating.

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Zoo said has said: “We understand that the whole country is in a state of heightened anticipation, but whatever the outcome of next week, we as animal conervationists and scientists have learnt a huge amount in such a short time about this captivating species. We are just delighted to be playing our part in the essential long term worldwide panda breeding programme.”

Image supplied by Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

Panda Mating Facts:

 Panda mating season is from March to May.

A female panda may be in heat from two to seven days.

Pandas reach reproductive maturity at the age of seven years which lasts until they are 20 years old.

A female panda attracts a mate by rubbing against trees and urinating which leaves a scent which grabs the attention of male pandas, as well as by bleating calls.

The male panda leaves the female panda after mating and has nothing to do with the raising of the cub.

Pandas can have between one to two cubs at a time, but because newborn pandas require a high amount of care the mother will usually reject one of the cubs.

Man found dead In Broomhouse

The body of a man, who is believed to be in his 30’s, was found on a patch of grass in Broomhouse Gardens East.

The man was found just after midnight yesterday, 29 March, after residents in Broomhouse heard what they thought were fireworks. The man is believed to have died from a gunshot wound.

A police spokesperson has said that the death is being treated as unexplained. “Officers attended at Broomhouse Gardens East just after midnight following a call from the Scottish Ambulance Service. The man’s body was found on a grass area nearby.” The police are currently carrying out house to house enquiries and are asking for information: “Anyone who was in the area at the time and who may have seen or heard anything is asked to contact Lothian and Borders Police on 01313113131 or the charity Crimestoppers on 0800555111.”

Scottish Water forms deal with Poland

Scottish Water International has just announced that they are going into a partnership with Polish engineering firm ECM Group Polska.

The partneship agreement is going to be announced today, 30 March, during a conference of polish water companies in Brzeg.  Scottish Water and ECM Group Polska will be combining their expertise in water industry asset management allowing them to offer valauble services to Polish water companies.  In a statement released by Scottish Water, Nigel Ayton Managing Director of Scottish Water International, said: “This is an exciting oppurtunity for Scottish Water International and ECM Group Polska. Our combined expertise and experience complement each other well and the service we can offer to water companies in Poland is extremely valuable.”

Poland has about 700 water utility companies. They are owned by the municipalities after a restructuring in the 1990’s resulted in the state relinquishing its control over water and wastewater facilities.

Piotr Pazdan, Director of International Business Development for ECM Group Polska, said: “There has been significant investment in the infrastructure in Poland since its accession to the EU. By co-operating with Scottish Water International, we can provide exactly the expertise that is needed to help utilities assess how to ensure the best service within the funding that is available to them. We have chosen Scottish Water International as our partners because we have seen the improvements that they have made in Scotland to service and efficiency.”

Birds of a feather flock together on Kerrera

Image: Luc Viatour

Scotland’s only parrot rescue centre has been inundated with rescued birds.

The parrot rescue centre, on the island of Kerrera off Oban, has said it cannot cope with the daily requests to take in abandoned and neglected birds.

The sanctuary has had to refuse about four birds a day as it does not have the space to keep them. Vonnie MacMillan who runs the parrot sanctuary has said: “We are overloaded all of the time.”

The island sanctuary currently houses 70 birds, which are receiving treatment and rehabilitation.

Festival tickets on sale this weekend

Tickets for the Edinburgh International Festival will go on sale tomorrow, 24 March 2012.

The famous finale: Tickets are expected to sell out quickly. Image: Tim Rawle / CC license

The festival, which will run from the 9th of August to the 2nd of September, will showcase talents from 47 nations in performances of theatre, opera, dance and music.

4 million people will flock to Scotland’s capital city to watch 40, 000 performances by more than 25, 000 artists. This year will be the 65th anniversary of the Edinburgh festival and the programme will enshrine the values of the Olympic games and global identity.

Prices for the festival start at £6 and discounts will be made available closer to start of the festival. Students and children under 18 will be able to buy half price tickets on selected performances from the 24th of March.

The popular finale, the Festival Fireworks Concert, is expected to sell out quickly, as well as tickets for the opening concert Delius’s A Mass of Life.

Tickets can be bought from Hub Tickets from Saturday as well as from the Edinburgh Playhouse, Festival Theatre, The Queen’s Hall, Royal Lyceum Theatre, and the Usher Hall, from Monday the 26th of March.

St Andrews’ men’s club decides to admit women

St Salvator's Quad

By: Gavrielle Kirk-Cohen

The St Andrews University’s  Kate Kennedy club has finally voted to allow women to join.

The society which was founded in 1926, held a meeting earlier this week in which they agreed to change the policy. A formal motion was passed allowing all first year students to apply to the Kate Kennedy Club, regardless of gender.

The change has come about after two members left the club and formed their own group, the Kate Kennedy Fellowship, which admits women. In 2009 St Andrews University withdrew all support for the club after the first female Principal, Professor Louise Richardson said: “The official endorsement of any club or society which excludes people because of their gender or race would be completely at odds with the values of this University.” 

The club is well known for it’s annual spring procession through the town, and in a statement released by the Principal and club committee, they say that the Kate Kennedy Procession “will remain at the heart of the club.”  This year’s procession will take place on the 14th April. Principal Louise Richardson says: “The annual Kate Kennedy Procession is an important event for the local community and we look forward to seeing the involvement of our entire community in this year’s event.”

The society which has been a men’s only club for 86 years will start accepting applications from first year students, both male and female, in the upcoming academic year.

Police still searching for Suzanne Pilley’s body

by Gavrielle Kirk-Cohen

The family of murdered Scot, Suzanne Pilly, have pleaded to David Gilroy to reveal where their daughter’s body is buried. 

Gilroy was found guilty yesterday of murdering Suzanne Pilley.

Searching: Police believe Suzanne Pilley's body has been buried at Lochgilphead, Argyll. Image: Christopher Harress

The Lothian and Border’s Police believe that Suzanne Pilley’s body has been buried in a “lonely grave” in Lochgilphead, Argyll in the Scottish highlands.

CCTV footage shows Gilroy’s car, a Vauxhall Vectra travelling from Edinburgh to the Argyll Forest Park the day after disappeared.

Extensive search

Det Supt Gary Flannigan has said: “Despite extensive efforts we haven’t been able to find her. This is something we have discussed with the family and have given reassurance that if any information comes to light then we will look at the information and if it is appropriate we will pursue that information.”

Pilley’s parents have said they “hope that one day we can lay our daughter to rest”.

                                                                “Callous and cold-blooded”

Simon Peck, director of IML and David Gilroy’s employer said: “Suzanne was a much-loved friend and colleague. To have her snatched away from her friends and her family in such a callous and cold-blooded way is something we’re all still dealing with.” He also said: “Until David Gilroy reveals where Suzanne’s body lies, her family and friends will never be able to fully come to terms with her loss.”

The trial lasted three and a half weeks and it took the jury two days to reach a verdict. The investigation into Pilley’s murder was the sixth most expensive in the history of the Lothian and Border’s force, as they made use of forensic experts and cadaver dogs.
Listen to the voicemail David Gilroy left on Suzanne Pilley’s phone after she disappeared.

Listen Here:

British boy one of Switzerland’s bus crash victims

by Gavrielle Kirk-Cohen

A British boy has been named as one of 28 people who were killed in a tragic bus accident in Switzerland.

 Sebastian Bowles, aged 11, was attending St Lambertus School in Belgium, when he was killed on his way back from the school’s skiing trip. Sebastian moved to Belgium two years ago with his family from north London. His body was identified by his parents, Edward and Ann Bowles, on Thursday.

Elio Di Rupo, Belgium Prime Minister: "The whole country weeps for its children"

 Day of mourning

Belgium is holding a national day of mourning for the deceased crash victims today, as well as a minute of silence at 10:00 am (GMT).

Flags were flown at half mast and bus and train drivers switched off their engines as a sign of respect during the moment of silence. 2,500 people mourned the loss of the 28 people at a Catholic service, in Lommel. Belgium’s Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo said: “The whole country weeps for its children.”

Classmates of the dead and parents lay down flowers, drawings, toys, candles and letters in the schoolyard. “No more future, no more beautiful children’s dreams, just your unbearable and endless pain: we share it with you,” was written in a message which was left among the flowers at the school entrance.

                                  Unproven allegations

The cause of the crash is not yet known. It is believed that the bus hit a curb before it crashed into the wall of an emergency stop area. There are allegations that the bus driver tried to change a dvd which led to him being momentarily distracted causing him to crash into the wall. But these allegations have not been proven.




Last day to buy Rangers Football Club *updated*

Bids: Potential bids for the troubled club end today. Image: Christopher Harress

Potential bidders who wish to buy Rangers Football Club have until the end of today, 16 March, to submit a bid.

There are currently five bidders who are interested in taking over the Rangers.

Ibrox administrators, Duff and Phelps, will look at the bidders’ funding capabilities and how they will handle the financial concerns of the Rangers club, before deciding who they will engage in further negotiations.

Continue reading Last day to buy Rangers Football Club *updated*

Obama Praises Kony 2012 Campaign

The Obama administration has praised the people who have started the Kony 2012 Campaign. However people in Uganda are outraged at the film.

In the last 5 days alone the internet has gone viral with videos and posts about Joseph Kony. The charity group Invisible Children started the Kony 2012 Campaign with a 30 minute film on youtube which was pushed via Twitter, Facebook, celebrities and every other person. The video has been viewed over 50 million times and everyone seems to be talking about it. Some are promoting the campaign incessantly and others are voicing their protest against it and the notion of the campaign itself. The video has gained such momentum that it is taking the internet and world by storm.

The campaign was started because Invisible Children wanted to make the US government aware of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who is responsible for the abduction and enslavement of more than 30 000 children. And the campaign seems to have succeeded as it has got the attention of Obama. According to The Telegraph, the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney has congratulated the “hundreds of thousands of Americans who have mobilised to this unique crisis of conscience.”  Carney said; “The United States continues to pursue a comprehensive multi-faceted strategy to help the governments and people ofCentral Africain their efforts to end the threat posed by the LRA and reduce the human consequences of the LRA’s atrocities.”

However, Ugandans are extremely upset by the video saying that it paints a picture of Uganda 6 years ago, as Kony and his troops fled Ugandain 2006 and are now dispersed in the jungles in the surrounding countries. An Ugandan government spokesperson Fred Opolot said; “It is totally misleading to suggest that the war is still in Uganda. I suspect that if that’s the impression they are making, they are doing it only to garner increasing financial resources for their own agenda.”

The Kony Campaign has received vast criticism as people believe that Invisible Children are making money out of an issue which has been around for two decades. The campaign has resulted in Invisible Children facing harsher scrutiny over how they use their funds and about how much of their income from donations actually goes to the causes they campaign for.

Snake superstitions

It is quite unusual to find a snake with its head chopped off in Scotland, but in South Africa there are certain tribes that believe that if you kill a snake, you must cut off its head and bury the head separately. This is because they believe the snake’s friends will find it and come back for revenge.

South Africans have numerous superstitions about snakes and some people make a special ‘muti’ or mixture which they spray or spread around their houses to prevent snakes from entering.

Another superstition is that if a snake’s head is severed it will not die until sunset.