Bridging the science-policy gap, one conference at a time

Scotland's Nature

Amanda Trask, a research ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology, is our guest blogger today. Here she reflects on a great experience attending the Scottish Ecology, Environment and Conservation Conference (SEECC) at the University of Aberdeen in 2017.

A key part of being a successful scientist is being able to effectively communicate and discuss your research findings with fellow scientists and policy advisers.

For researchers working in the ecological, environmental or conservation sciences, the latter group is a ‘must reach’ one to infleunce. Scientific conferences provide an ideal venue for such communication. For researchers at the start of their scientific career, conferences like the SEECC, held at the University of Aberdeen in April 2017, are ideal.

Blog 1 Networking over coffee at the SEECC 2017. Photo by Svenja Kroeger.

What makes the SEECC different from other conferences?

The SEECC is that rare type of conference that manages to be small and…

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Dog Law = Dog Sales Contracts, Disputes

How the law views a dog

The law considers dogs to be ‘chattels’ – items of property other than land. Dogs are viewed as tangible goods which can be bought and sold or given away. Consequently, any dispute arising from the sale or gift of a dog is likely to be dealt with by the courts in exactly the same manner as an action involving any other ‘goods’ e.g. a washing machine or a car.

Private sale or consumer sales?

The law differentiates between sales by a Trader to a consumer and similar transaction between private individuals. For sales by a trader, consumers have additional statutory protection in the forms of terms which are implied into a contract under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015). For such consumer contracts the goods must be:-

  • of satisfactory quality
  • fit for purpose
  • as described by the seller

The buyer must prove to the court that the seller was selling as a “trader” and that they bought the dog as a consumer. Under the CRA 2015 a consumer has the right to reject goods which are not of satisfactory quality, fir for purpose, or as described within a 30-day period and to demand a refund of the purchase price. After than 30 days has expired this entitlement to a full refund ends.

The buyer may require the seller to remedy any fault (if possible) or to replace the ‘goods’ – tis may not be considered acceptable by the buyer who is likely to have already formed a close bond with the a question of fact and degree as to whether a court may consider an issue such as a dog’s temperament to be a fault sufficient to constitute a dog ‘not of satisfactory quality’ or ‘fit for purpose’. Arguably if a dog has been described as having a temperament which is clearly does not display then it may be considered as ‘not a described’ but this will depend on the evidence.

If the buyer is not able to prove that the seller was selling in his capacity as a ‘trader’ to the buyer as a ‘consumer’ the CRA 2015 will not apply. In these cases there are no implied conditions and the legal principle of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) is likely to apply which will mean that the buyer is unlikely to have at legal remedy.

Legal Aid is highly unlikely for a civil case in which case you are either going to have to pursue it yourself of by paying for Solicitors to act on your behalf.


Dog Law

Microchipping – All dogs in the UK have to be microchipped and registered in the name of the keeper.

  • Puppies have to be microchipped by the age of 8 weeks and the keeper must ensure that their name, address and contact details are kept up to date.
  • It is an offence to fail to report an adverse event (microchip not working; the dog having a health condition attributable to the implantation; the microchip having migrated).
  • It is an offence for a keeper to transfer a dog that hasn’t been microchipped and so a breeder must ensure a dog is microchipped and registered to them on the database before sale.
  • The Council or the Police may service a Notice requiring the keeper to get a dog microchipped or to update the database and if they fail to comply that will be a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £500.

For more information, check out the Dogs Trust Website

Continue reading “Dog Law”

Motorway driving

The UK motorway system has expanded and evolved over the past 50 years and is now a very different place from the early motorways on the 1960s and 1970s. Changes have included variable speed limits, a move away from the standard two or three lane format, and increased use of complex junctions and filter lane systems. To ease congestion, some stretches of the major motorways have been widened to four or even five lanes, making drivers think more carefully about their lane choices. There has also been a push to combat ‘middle-lane hogging’, which is now an offence. Traffic patrols target those who obstruct the flow of traffic by occupying an inappropriate lane.

Accident records show that, statistically, motorways are the safest roads in the UK. However, motorways incidents often involve several fast-moving vehicles and consequently result in more serious injuries and damage than collisions on other roads.

There’s often little room for error when driving fast on a motorway. The generally higher speeds and the volume of traffic mean that conditions can change much more quickly on motorways than on other roads. Because of this you need to be

  • totally alert
  • physically fit
  • concentrating fully
  • assessing well ahead.

If you aren’t, you may fail to react quickly enough to any sudden change in traffic conditions.


Continue reading “Motorway driving”

Mobile Phone Enforcement – Vehicles

This is a hot issues for us drivers, especially professional haulage, bus and coach drivers just now, get yourself onto one of my driver cpc courses, we discus in great detail, and I can also make you aware of the equipment used to catch us, using our vehicles, whilst driving.

Police forces across the UK participated in a crackdown on illegal mobile phone use by drivers, in a series of targeted operations to prosecute offenders and drive home the risks and consequences of distracted driving.


It comprised a combination of enforcement and education, with dedicated patrols by officers using unmarked vans, helmet cams, high-seated vehicles and high vantage points to catch offenders, and partnership working between police and paramedics to educate people of the risks.

The campaign also saw the use of variable message signs on prime commuter routes to display the message ‘Leave Your Phone Alone’, a pilot schemes with ‘community spotters’ to target repeat offenders and the use of social media videos and messages.

This was the second national week of action against drivers using mobile phones during 2016, with the first in May resulting in 2,323 offences detected.

Since then, the issue of illegal mobile phone usage by drivers has featured heavily in the media spotlight.

In September, the RAC claimed the illegal use of handheld mobile phones is at ‘epidemic proportions’, on the back of research which suggests 11 million motorists admitted to making or receiving a call while driving in the last 12 months.

After months of speculation, the Government as confirmed that it is planning to double the penalties for those caught using a mobile phone while driving.

Announced on 8th November as part of a response into a consultation on the issue, the move means that those found committing the offence will be docked six points and receive a £200 fine.

Keep you eye on this blog, on future developments.

Keep it simple, switch your phone off in the car.

Mobile Phone Film



Mobile Phones Update

Mobile phones – You receive a call or text, yes, I’m not going to answer it! I wonder who it is, perhaps it’s serious, life threatening, maybe I just a take peak at the text! 

It isn’t just making a call on a mobile phone that you cause an accident, it’s all the other distractions that may make you lose your concentration, that in-coming call or text, could result in a crash.



What the law says

  • It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving.
  • This includes using your mobile phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media. This applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
  • You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
  • If you’re caught using a handheld phone while driving, you’ll get 3 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100. Points on your licence will result in higher insurance costs.
  • If you get just 6 points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose you licence.
  • You may use a hands-free phone while driving but you can still be prosecuted if you’re not in proper control of your vehicle. The penalties are same as being caught using a handheld phone.
  • The penalties for driving carelessly or dangerously when using a handheld or hands-free phone can include disqualification, a large fine and up to two years imprisonment.

Continue reading “Mobile Phones Update”

Dog Facts

  • Domestication of the dog began around 15,000 years ago and during this process, humans selected for particularly desirable traits such as coat colour and leg length.
  • This selection process has resulted in over 400 different breeds of dog, 209 are recognised by the UK Kennel Club.
  • Dogs have an incredibly well-developed sense of smell, far superior to humans.
  • At certain frequencies, dogs can detect sounds up to four times quieter than humans can hear. Dogs can also hear in ultrasound, which is sound with a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing.
  • Dogs can see better than humans in dark and dim light.
  • Communication is very important in helping dogs form and maintain social groups.
  • To transmit scent information, dogs use urine, faeces and secretions from special scent glands.
  • Many dogs can use their body, face, tail, ears and limbs to communicate with other dogs.
  • The fastest recorded speed for a greyhound is 42 miles per hour, similar to that of a mounted racehorse, which can reach speeds of around 43 miles per hour.
  • Dogs actively seek information about their surroundings and will spend much time investigating and exploring.

New law to crack down on puppy farms

New law to crack down on puppy farms by the government will introduce tougher dog breeding licensing rules in what is being described as the biggest reform of the pet trade in 20 years.

The new rules will make it illegal to sell puppies younger than eight weeks and require anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of puppies a year to apply for a formal licence.

Those needing a licence, including online sellers, will also be required to display their permit in any advertising, and to give owners information about the five welfare needs that owners must meet under the Animal Welfare Act.

The penalty for breaking the new law will be an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in prison.

The plans also cover how pet shops, boarding houses and riding stables are licensed, introducing a single ‘animal activities licence’ to improve the process and make enforcement easier.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “Everyone who owns a pet or is looking to introduce one into their life will want to know that the animal has the very best start to life. Yet for thousands of puppies born each year to irresponsible breeders, from smaller operations to larger puppy farms, their first weeks are spent in cramped and squalid conditions without the care and attention they need. That is why we are cracking down on the worst offenders by strengthening the dog breeding licence and giving councils the power they need to take action.

Gudrun Ravetz, President of the British Veterinary Association, said “This is a significant step in the right direction to improve the welfare of puppies and dogs in the UK, an issue our members are extremely concerned about as increasing numbers of poorly bred puppies are brought into veterinary practices.

“Poorly bred and badly socialised puppies cause terrible health and welfare problems for dogs so it is right that Defra has made irresponsible dog breeding a priority. We particularly welcome the move to make the sale of a puppy under eight weeks illegal, the reduction in the number of litters bred requiring a formal breeder’s licence, and the moves towards a single animal activities licence. In the future we would also like to see that anyone breeding from a dog should be required to register with their local authority.

“For these new measures to work in practice local authorities must have the necessary resources and support to fully enforce the legislation, supported by local veterinary expertise.

“We hope the new legislation will encourage owners to stop and think about where they’re getting their puppies from to tackle irresponsible breeding both at home and abroad. Prospective owners should do their homework.”

The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust have also welcomed the announcement.

Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden said; “As the UK’s largest welfare charity, Dogs Trust welcomes the Government’s review of animal establishments licensing in England and the range of measures it sets out.

“We are particularly pleased that it will be illegal to sell a puppy below the age of 8 weeks and that there will be tighter licensing rules which will require sellers of pets to display their licence when advertising. We also applaud the move towards a risk based single licensing system which will incorporate those breeders that have gained UKAS approval rather than exempting them.

We believe that Local Authority Inspectors need support to enforce these tighter licensing rules. As such, moves to mandate the use of Model Conditions and for inspectors to be offered training and standards to be set is most welcome.”

Vehicle Tracking Equipment – Part 2

In-Vehicle Monitoring Equipment (Telematics)

Until recently, in-vehicle monitoring equipment required a telematics device, sometimes called a black box to be retrofitted in vehicles, which was expensive due to the cost of the physical device and fitting it into the vehicle, however costs were often off-set with local vehicle insurance premiums, and was also seen as way for large transport companies to be able to get insurance that covered young drivers, or higher risk drivers, because of past offences, age or health conditions, and controlling who to blame culture.

Recently we have seen Smartphone App developments, which monitoring technology is provided as an app on a smartphone , which also helped to reduce cost because it does not require a physical device to be installed in a vehicle. As well as delivering the telematics software, apps can also deliver the feedback about the driving recorded by the software.

However, delivering the telematics function with an app requires the phone to be switched on while the vehicle is being driven, which may tempt some drivers to use it for other purposes while driving. The risk can be mitigated by making it clear to the driver that they should not use the phone while driving and making sure they understand that the monitoring technology will detect if they do so, and report this to the insurer. A driver may choose not to take the phone with them on journeys where they feel their driving may be a lower standard than normal, or to switch it on when they are being carried as a passenger in a vehicle driving by someone else, so the app would record the other person’s driving.


Continue reading “Vehicle Tracking Equipment – Part 2”

Vehicle Tracking Equipment – Part 1

Vehicle engineering has seen significant advances in the past 30 years, with the introduction of improved safety measures such as

  • seat belts
  • airbags
  • anti-lock braking systems (ABS)
  • electronic stability control (ESC)
  • independent vehicle safety testing

Vehicle manufacturers have also invested heavily in the research and development of technology that

  • helps a driver to avoid collision
  • protects the occupants of a vehicle as much as possible in the event of a collision.

More pressure has been put onto Companies, to improve driving, and more detailed reports regarding eco-driving. A lot of companies do have monitoring equipment in vehicles, recording driving behaviours, which may or may not used to your benefit. We also recommend to read about Eco-Driving before reading this article, and more importantly get yourself on one of our Driver CPC courses, where we can teach you to be more efficient, and improve your driving skills, performance, etc

Have you noticed whether the technology in your vehicle has led to a change in the way you drive? Do you feel safer and therefore take more risks?

Do you drive differently in new vehicles that you know have state-of-the-art safety systems and gadgets?

Continue reading “Vehicle Tracking Equipment – Part 1”