Tag Archives: fears

‘Lava haze’ and ‘vog’: toxic volcanic gases prompt health fears in Hawaii

Three dozen tourists were gathered at the Wailoa Sampan Basin Harbor in Hilo, Hawaii, hoping to get a glimpse of the lava that they’d seen on the news for weeks.

But because Hawaii Volcanoes national park – often a key stop in travelers’ itineraries – was closed after Kilauea erupted, their best hope on Monday afternoon was taking a boat to the point where the lava met the sea.

Some said they’d packed breathing masks, just in case the trade winds — which usually blow in clean sea air — changed direction and began blowing a lava haze, a noxious mix of gases and particles, their way.

Although many tourists to Hawaii island – the Big Island – choose to visit because of the active volcano, some have gotten more than they bargained for since the eruption. (Petra Wiesenbauer, who runs a popular Pahoa lodge near the park, had to hurry three guests out of the door while she and her neighbors fled the lava and toxic fumes.)

Up until lava crossed Highway 137 late Saturday night and entered the ocean, volcanic smog, called vog, which contains mostly sulfur dioxide and acid particles, along with ash, had been the biggest air quality concern.

But then the molten rock began pouring into the cool seawater and added clouds of lava haze or “laze”. Officials warned people to stay away since the plumes can travel up to 15 miles downwind, according to the Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

Toxic clouds rise up as lava from Kilauea volcano hits sea – video

The clouds form when hot lava boils seawater, creating tiny shards of volcanic glass and hydrochloric acid that then get carried in steam. The plumes can be deadly.

The USGS says on its website: “This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows.” Hawaii civil defense cautioned people on Monday to “stay away from the ocean plume since it can change direction without warning”. In the case of laze and vog, store-bought respirators filter particles but not hydrochloric acid or sulfur dioxide.

Vog and laze can cause eye irritation, skin irritation and respiratory issues, according to officials. Those with conditions like asthma or cardiovascular disease are most sensitive, as are the elderly, children and pregnant women, according to an interagency group of volcano experts. Even before the recent Kilauea eruption, Hawaii already suffered air quality issues from volcanic gases. The island of Hawaii has the highest sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions in the nation, according to EPA spokesman Dean Higuchi. And according to a 2016 report published in the scientific journal Environmental international, levels were “1,000 times greater” than the EPA’s definition of a major pollution source.

There has been a moderate increase in the number of people coming into Hilo medical center for treatment of vog-related symptoms since the eruption, according to Elena Kabatu, a hospital spokesperson. But she said that many more were likely experiencing the less serious effects of vog, such as dry eyes or a scratchy throat.

For those living in Pahoa, near the lava, conditions vary depending on whether the trade winds are blowing, residents said. Gilbert Aguinaldo, who has offered his vacant, central Pahoa lot to serve as a hub of locally organized community aid, said that volunteers were loaning out respirators and breathing masks to anyone who needs them.

Both vog and laze can cause eye irritation, skin irritation and respiratory issues.


Both vog and laze can cause eye irritation, skin irritation and respiratory issues. Photograph: Terray Sylvester/Reuters

“We are a little worried about the laze,” said Heather Lippert, 40, who was waiting to board the boat for the lava tour, “But I’m sure they’ll try to keep us safe.”

Vanessa Homyak, 36, said she and Lippert, who are from San Diego, had originally intended to stay at an Airbnb in Pahoa when they scheduled their vacation. But after the eruption began, the pair reconsidered. “We called the host and asked how things were,” she said. “They said, ‘If we were you, we would probably stay somewhere else.’”

They took the advice, staying instead on the other side of the island. But though they were out of the path of the lava, they discovered that they were directly in the path of the vog.

“We saw it when we flew into Kona, this big brown layer in the air,” Lippert said.

Erik Jacobs, who lives in Waikoloa, in the north-west part of the island and had just returned from a two-week vacation, said the vog was already irritating his eyes, making them feel dry and scratchy. He said his neighbors told him the vog was the “worst they’d ever seen” on the Big Island late last week.

‘Lava haze’ and ‘vog’: toxic volcanic gases prompt health fears in Hawaii

Three dozen tourists were gathered at the Wailoa Sampan Basin Harbor in Hilo, Hawaii, hoping to get a glimpse of the lava that they’d seen on the news for weeks.

But because Hawaii Volcanoes national park – often a key stop in travelers’ itineraries – was closed after Kilauea erupted, their best hope on Monday afternoon was taking a boat to the point where the lava met the sea.

Some said they’d packed breathing masks, just in case the trade winds — which usually blow in clean sea air — changed direction and began blowing a lava haze, a noxious mix of gases and particles, their way.

Although many tourists to Hawaii island – the Big Island – choose to visit because of the active volcano, some have gotten more than they bargained for since the eruption. (Petra Wiesenbauer, who runs a popular Pahoa lodge near the park, had to hurry three guests out of the door while she and her neighbors fled the lava and toxic fumes.)

Up until lava crossed Highway 137 late Saturday night and entered the ocean, volcanic smog, called vog, which contains mostly sulfur dioxide and acid particles, along with ash, had been the biggest air quality concern.

But then the molten rock began pouring into the cool seawater and added clouds of lava haze or “laze”. Officials warned people to stay away since the plumes can travel up to 15 miles downwind, according to the Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

Toxic clouds rise up as lava from Kilauea volcano hits sea – video

The clouds form when hot lava boils seawater, creating tiny shards of volcanic glass and hydrochloric acid that then get carried in steam. The plumes can be deadly.

The USGS says on its website: “This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows.” Hawaii civil defense cautioned people on Monday to “stay away from the ocean plume since it can change direction without warning”. In the case of laze and vog, store-bought respirators filter particles but not hydrochloric acid or sulfur dioxide.

Vog and laze can cause eye irritation, skin irritation and respiratory issues, according to officials. Those with conditions like asthma or cardiovascular disease are most sensitive, as are the elderly, children and pregnant women, according to an interagency group of volcano experts. Even before the recent Kilauea eruption, Hawaii already suffered air quality issues from volcanic gases. The island of Hawaii has the highest sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions in the nation, according to EPA spokesman Dean Higuchi. And according to a 2016 report published in the scientific journal Environmental international, levels were “1,000 times greater” than the EPA’s definition of a major pollution source.

There has been a moderate increase in the number of people coming into Hilo medical center for treatment of vog-related symptoms since the eruption, according to Elena Kabatu, a hospital spokesperson. But she said that many more were likely experiencing the less serious effects of vog, such as dry eyes or a scratchy throat.

For those living in Pahoa, near the lava, conditions vary depending on whether the trade winds are blowing, residents said. Gilbert Aguinaldo, who has offered his vacant, central Pahoa lot to serve as a hub of locally organized community aid, said that volunteers were loaning out respirators and breathing masks to anyone who needs them.

Both vog and laze can cause eye irritation, skin irritation and respiratory issues.


Both vog and laze can cause eye irritation, skin irritation and respiratory issues. Photograph: Terray Sylvester/Reuters

“We are a little worried about the laze,” said Heather Lippert, 40, who was waiting to board the boat for the lava tour, “But I’m sure they’ll try to keep us safe.”

Vanessa Homyak, 36, said she and Lippert, who are from San Diego, had originally intended to stay at an Airbnb in Pahoa when they scheduled their vacation. But after the eruption began, the pair reconsidered. “We called the host and asked how things were,” she said. “They said, ‘If we were you, we would probably stay somewhere else.’”

They took the advice, staying instead on the other side of the island. But though they were out of the path of the lava, they discovered that they were directly in the path of the vog.

“We saw it when we flew into Kona, this big brown layer in the air,” Lippert said.

Erik Jacobs, who lives in Waikoloa, in the north-west part of the island and had just returned from a two-week vacation, said the vog was already irritating his eyes, making them feel dry and scratchy. He said his neighbors told him the vog was the “worst they’d ever seen” on the Big Island late last week.

‘Lava haze’ and ‘vog’: toxic volcanic gases prompt health fears in Hawaii

Three dozen tourists were gathered at the Wailoa Sampan Basin Harbor in Hilo, Hawaii, hoping to get a glimpse of the lava that they’d seen on the news for weeks.

But because Hawaii Volcanoes national park – often a key stop in travelers’ itineraries – was closed after Kilauea erupted, their best hope on Monday afternoon was taking a boat to the point where the lava met the sea.

Some said they’d packed breathing masks, just in case the trade winds — which usually blow in clean sea air — changed direction and began blowing a lava haze, a noxious mix of gases and particles, their way.

Although many tourists to Hawaii island – the Big Island – choose to visit because of the active volcano, some have gotten more than they bargained for since the eruption. (Petra Wiesenbauer, who runs a popular Pahoa lodge near the park, had to hurry three guests out of the door while she and her neighbors fled the lava and toxic fumes.)

Up until lava crossed Highway 137 late Saturday night and entered the ocean, volcanic smog, called vog, which contains mostly sulfur dioxide and acid particles, along with ash, had been the biggest air quality concern.

But then the molten rock began pouring into the cool seawater and added clouds of lava haze or “laze”. Officials warned people to stay away since the plumes can travel up to 15 miles downwind, according to the Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

Toxic clouds rise up as lava from Kilauea volcano hits sea – video

The clouds form when hot lava boils seawater, creating tiny shards of volcanic glass and hydrochloric acid that then get carried in steam. The plumes can be deadly.

The USGS says on its website: “This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows.” Hawaii civil defense cautioned people on Monday to “stay away from the ocean plume since it can change direction without warning”. In the case of laze and vog, store-bought respirators filter particles but not hydrochloric acid or sulfur dioxide.

Vog and laze can cause eye irritation, skin irritation and respiratory issues, according to officials. Those with conditions like asthma or cardiovascular disease are most sensitive, as are the elderly, children and pregnant women, according to an interagency group of volcano experts. Even before the recent Kilauea eruption, Hawaii already suffered air quality issues from volcanic gases. The island of Hawaii has the highest sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions in the nation, according to EPA spokesman Dean Higuchi. And according to a 2016 report published in the scientific journal Environmental international, levels were “1,000 times greater” than the EPA’s definition of a major pollution source.

There has been a moderate increase in the number of people coming into Hilo medical center for treatment of vog-related symptoms since the eruption, according to Elena Kabatu, a hospital spokesperson. But she said that many more were likely experiencing the less serious effects of vog, such as dry eyes or a scratchy throat.

For those living in Pahoa, near the lava, conditions vary depending on whether the trade winds are blowing, residents said. Gilbert Aguinaldo, who has offered his vacant, central Pahoa lot to serve as a hub of locally organized community aid, said that volunteers were loaning out respirators and breathing masks to anyone who needs them.

Both vog and laze can cause eye irritation, skin irritation and respiratory issues.


Both vog and laze can cause eye irritation, skin irritation and respiratory issues. Photograph: Terray Sylvester/Reuters

“We are a little worried about the laze,” said Heather Lippert, 40, who was waiting to board the boat for the lava tour, “But I’m sure they’ll try to keep us safe.”

Vanessa Homyak, 36, said she and Lippert, who are from San Diego, had originally intended to stay at an Airbnb in Pahoa when they scheduled their vacation. But after the eruption began, the pair reconsidered. “We called the host and asked how things were,” she said. “They said, ‘If we were you, we would probably stay somewhere else.’”

They took the advice, staying instead on the other side of the island. But though they were out of the path of the lava, they discovered that they were directly in the path of the vog.

“We saw it when we flew into Kona, this big brown layer in the air,” Lippert said.

Erik Jacobs, who lives in Waikoloa, in the north-west part of the island and had just returned from a two-week vacation, said the vog was already irritating his eyes, making them feel dry and scratchy. He said his neighbors told him the vog was the “worst they’d ever seen” on the Big Island late last week.

Rise of contraceptive apps sparks fears over unwanted pregnancies

Growing numbers of women are using contraceptive apps, but experts have warned that they could lead to unwanted pregnancies.

The Swedish app Natural Cycles, the only certified app for contraception, has seen a surge in members from the UK in the past year with almost 200,000 members signed up, an increase from 5,000 in 2016.

Sarah Hardman, the director of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare’s clinical effectiveness unit in Edinburgh expressed concern that while some women were very pleased with contraception apps, others had unwanted pregnancies while using them.

“We don’t have a good indication yet of how successful the average woman in the street in the UK is going to be when using them,” she said.

She added: “I would express concern about people knowing what they need to know before they use it and not just thinking: ‘this is modern because it’s an app and it’s something new, so it’s better and more effective’. It’s not – it’s just very different.”

Hardman said she understands there will be women who want to avoid hormones. “For them, they may say: ‘I understand that this is not as effective as lots of contraceptives, you need to work hard to get it right and it’s not a disaster if I did get pregnant.’ It’s about choice for women but it’s about making choices in an informed way and knowing something’s limitations.”

In the past few years, there has been a growth in contraceptive apps. These include Kindara – which allows you to track everything from your body temperature to the appearance of your cervical fluid – to Ovia, which lets you monitor your moods, periods and other metrics. The apps work by pinpointing when you ovulate and when you are most fertile.

Natural Cycles requires women to input their temperature every morning. It then calculates their menstrual cycle and informs them when they can have sex without protection.

The app met with controversy earlier this year when it was reported to Swedish authorities after a hospital found 37 cases of unwanted pregnancies among women relying on it for contraception.

Natural Cycles said that the efficacy of the app was backed by a wealth of clinical data: a study of 22,785 women, demonstrated an effectiveness rate of 93%.

Hardman said: “It’s a good study as it has lots of women involved but they are women who went out to specifically look for something different for contraception… maybe they had problems on the pill… they chose to use this app, so may be more motivated than the average woman on the street.”

Natural Cycles chief executive Raoul Scherwitzl said:“It is important to note that our typical users are age 30 on average, in a stable relationship with a regular daily routine – and are willing to take their temperature on a daily basis and use protection on fertile days. Our users do tend to be highly motivated.”

The concept of tracking fertility has roots in the work of gynaecologists Hermann Knaus and Kyusaku Ogino, who in the 1930s revealed that ovulation occurs in the mid-point of the cycle. Their discovery led to the development ofcontraceptive practices such as methods involving daily temperature readings and checking the consistency of cervical mucus.

Hardman said: “We will not know how it works for the general population until it’s been out there and used and, at that point, we would love to be pleasantly surprised. But looking at the general population, we know people can use pills and condoms and not always use them perfectly, and the overall failure rate can be quite high. That is why we are concerned.”

From shortbread to the NHS: Scotland fears loss of workers after Brexit

The snow is falling in Aviemore, but the window display of the Walkers shortbread bakery is springing with Easter treats, alongside the more traditional thistle rounds and petticoat tails.

With its factory to the north in Elgin, and outlets like this one dotted across the region, Walkers is one of the biggest private employers in the Highlands. Jim Walker, whose grandfather started the company more than a century ago, is under no illusions about the human underpinnings of his international export business.

“Foreign nationals are critical to our workforce in the Highlands. In the busy season, we employ around 1,700 workers, 500 of whom are mainly EU nationals, and that allows us to make up the numbers that we can’t find locally when it is seasonal work.”

According to Walker, the effect of the Brexit vote on these employees has been subtle but significant: “They don’t feel quite so welcome and I can see a gradual drift of them returning home, especially as the exchange rate makes work here less appealing.”

It is immediately apparent on a visit to Aviemore, the tourist heart of the Highlands, that EU nationals here are by no means a drifting population of seasonal workers: 91% of non-UK EU nationals employed by businesses in the region are permanent staff.

Further up Grampian Road, at the four-star Ravenscraig guest house, owner Scott Burns-Smith explains that he “only employs locally”, before adding that a key member of staff is from the Czech Republic. “Her daughter goes to school with my children. The primary school in Aviemore is extremely diverse and it’s great for the kids,” he says.

“I can’t say I was happy about the [Brexit] decision, but I’m feeling positive, and the last 10 years have seen only growth in the tourism sector.”

Before embarking on this independent venture, Burns-Smith worked in senior management for the Macdonald hotel group, whose mammoth resort dominates Aviemore town centre.

A ski lesson in Aviemore


A ski lesson in Aviemore. The area is the tourist centre of the Highlands and a place many non-UK EU nationals have made their home. Photograph: Alamy

It was here that Preslava Gancheva worked before settling a few miles down the Spey valley in Newtonmore. She echoes Burns-Smith’s sentiments: “The local people I know have travelled the world and most have spent time in other countries. This makes life colourful and diverse.”

The abundant natural beauty, and an unexpected job offer, drew her to the Highlands in 2014 from Bulgaria and she is now, like so many other like her, embedded in the local community, exhibiting her photographs of the local landscape at a nearby gallery.

Presenting the Scottish government’s latest analysis of the impact of Brexit in January, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, underlined the serious consequences of a hard Brexit on vital EU migration. Population growth across the Highlands and Islands has been a success story of the past decade, with EU migrants in particular reversing long-term decline and mitigating the effects of an ageing society.

But, as Sturgeon emphasised, Scotland is still facing a significant demographic challenge, with more deaths than births forecast every year for the next 25 years. According to current projections, migration will account for all of Scotland’s population growth up to 2041. Indeed, a recent Scottish government discussion paper on migration called for Scotland-specific visas and further devolution to deal with the country’s acute needs.


If a hard Brexit goes ahead then we will really be up the swanny

Prof Angus Watson

There were 219,000 EU nationals living in Scotland up to June 2017, accounting for 4.1% of the population. There is no doubt that they are fundamental to the Highland economy and society; research for the Federation of Small Businesses found 41% of Highland employers have EU staff in their workforce, rising to 45% at tourism and leisure firms. The comparative figure for the whole of the UK is just 20%.

As the local MSP Kate Forbes explains, the impact of the current uncertainty is emotional as much as economic: “When you have a big influx of population as has happened here, they settle in, have kids, and there are a lot of mixed families in the Highlands. Those families are now feeling unsettled. We hear a lot about the growth in tourism and the food and drink sector, but these are small businesses worrying about where they will find the staff to open next year.”

Aside from tourism, the struggle to recruit healthcare workers into rural areas is well-documented.

Prof Angus Watson, the director of research, development and innovation at NHS Highlands, is blunt. “If a hard Brexit goes ahead then we will really be up the swanny because we do rely so heavily on EU nationals to support our services at all strata, from healthcare assistants to consultants.”

For Katarzyna Michelowska, a Polish carer based in Ullapool, the uncertainty is hard to bear. “For most of my Polish friends it is a big unknown, especially for those with houses or businesses here. It’s all on hold.”

She recalls a recent, ugly encounter in Inverness, with a passerby shouting abuse after hearing her accent. “I’m worried that for people who think in that way [Brexit] will almost give them the right to think that.”

She was particularly shockedbecause her experience of living in the Highlands since she moved from Glasgow four years ago has been overwhelmingly positive. “Everybody is so friendly. They know that they need people like me, especially in care environment, and they know that the majority of eastern Europeans come here to work and want to do something meaningful with our lives.”

From shortbread to the NHS: Scotland fears loss of workers after Brexit

The snow is falling in Aviemore, but the window display of the Walkers shortbread bakery is springing with Easter treats, alongside the more traditional thistle rounds and petticoat tails.

With its factory to the north in Elgin, and outlets like this one dotted across the region, Walkers is one of the biggest private employers in the Highlands. Jim Walker, whose grandfather started the company more than a century ago, is under no illusions about the human underpinnings of his international export business.

“Foreign nationals are critical to our workforce in the Highlands. In the busy season, we employ around 1,700 workers, 500 of whom are mainly EU nationals, and that allows us to make up the numbers that we can’t find locally when it is seasonal work.”

According to Walker, the effect of the Brexit vote on these employees has been subtle but significant: “They don’t feel quite so welcome and I can see a gradual drift of them returning home, especially as the exchange rate makes work here less appealing.”

It is immediately apparent on a visit to Aviemore, the tourist heart of the Highlands, that EU nationals here are by no means a drifting population of seasonal workers: 91% of non-UK EU nationals employed by businesses in the region are permanent staff.

Further up Grampian Road, at the four-star Ravenscraig guest house, owner Scott Burns-Smith explains that he “only employs locally”, before adding that a key member of staff is from the Czech Republic. “Her daughter goes to school with my children. The primary school in Aviemore is extremely diverse and it’s great for the kids,” he says.

“I can’t say I was happy about the [Brexit] decision, but I’m feeling positive, and the last 10 years have seen only growth in the tourism sector.”

Before embarking on this independent venture, Burns-Smith worked in senior management for the Macdonald hotel group, whose mammoth resort dominates Aviemore town centre.

A ski lesson in Aviemore


A ski lesson in Aviemore. The area is the tourist centre of the Highlands and a place many non-UK EU nationals have made their home. Photograph: Alamy

It was here that Preslava Gancheva worked before settling a few miles down the Spey valley in Newtonmore. She echoes Burns-Smith’s sentiments: “The local people I know have travelled the world and most have spent time in other countries. This makes life colourful and diverse.”

The abundant natural beauty, and an unexpected job offer, drew her to the Highlands in 2014 from Bulgaria and she is now, like so many other like her, embedded in the local community, exhibiting her photographs of the local landscape at a nearby gallery.

Presenting the Scottish government’s latest analysis of the impact of Brexit in January, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, underlined the serious consequences of a hard Brexit on vital EU migration. Population growth across the Highlands and Islands has been a success story of the past decade, with EU migrants in particular reversing long-term decline and mitigating the effects of an ageing society.

But, as Sturgeon emphasised, Scotland is still facing a significant demographic challenge, with more deaths than births forecast every year for the next 25 years. According to current projections, migration will account for all of Scotland’s population growth up to 2041. Indeed, a recent Scottish government discussion paper on migration called for Scotland-specific visas and further devolution to deal with the country’s acute needs.


If a hard Brexit goes ahead then we will really be up the swanny

Prof Angus Watson

There were 219,000 EU nationals living in Scotland up to June 2017, accounting for 4.1% of the population. There is no doubt that they are fundamental to the Highland economy and society; research for the Federation of Small Businesses found 41% of Highland employers have EU staff in their workforce, rising to 45% at tourism and leisure firms. The comparative figure for the whole of the UK is just 20%.

As the local MSP Kate Forbes explains, the impact of the current uncertainty is emotional as much as economic: “When you have a big influx of population as has happened here, they settle in, have kids, and there are a lot of mixed families in the Highlands. Those families are now feeling unsettled. We hear a lot about the growth in tourism and the food and drink sector, but these are small businesses worrying about where they will find the staff to open next year.”

Aside from tourism, the struggle to recruit healthcare workers into rural areas is well-documented.

Prof Angus Watson, the director of research, development and innovation at NHS Highlands, is blunt. “If a hard Brexit goes ahead then we will really be up the swanny because we do rely so heavily on EU nationals to support our services at all strata, from healthcare assistants to consultants.”

For Katarzyna Michelowska, a Polish carer based in Ullapool, the uncertainty is hard to bear. “For most of my Polish friends it is a big unknown, especially for those with houses or businesses here. It’s all on hold.”

She recalls a recent, ugly encounter in Inverness, with a passerby shouting abuse after hearing her accent. “I’m worried that for people who think in that way [Brexit] will almost give them the right to think that.”

She was particularly shockedbecause her experience of living in the Highlands since she moved from Glasgow four years ago has been overwhelmingly positive. “Everybody is so friendly. They know that they need people like me, especially in care environment, and they know that the majority of eastern Europeans come here to work and want to do something meaningful with our lives.”

From shortbread to the NHS: Scotland fears loss of workers after Brexit

The snow is falling in Aviemore, but the window display of the Walkers shortbread bakery is springing with Easter treats, alongside the more traditional thistle rounds and petticoat tails.

With its factory to the north in Elgin, and outlets like this one dotted across the region, Walkers is one of the biggest private employers in the Highlands. Jim Walker, whose grandfather started the company more than a century ago, is under no illusions about the human underpinnings of his international export business.

“Foreign nationals are critical to our workforce in the Highlands. In the busy season, we employ around 1,700 workers, 500 of whom are mainly EU nationals, and that allows us to make up the numbers that we can’t find locally when it is seasonal work.”

According to Walker, the effect of the Brexit vote on these employees has been subtle but significant: “They don’t feel quite so welcome and I can see a gradual drift of them returning home, especially as the exchange rate makes work here less appealing.”

It is immediately apparent on a visit to Aviemore, the tourist heart of the Highlands, that EU nationals here are by no means a drifting population of seasonal workers: 91% of non-UK EU nationals employed by businesses in the region are permanent staff.

Further up Grampian Road, at the four-star Ravenscraig guest house, owner Scott Burns-Smith explains that he “only employs locally”, before adding that a key member of staff is from the Czech Republic. “Her daughter goes to school with my children. The primary school in Aviemore is extremely diverse and it’s great for the kids,” he says.

“I can’t say I was happy about the [Brexit] decision, but I’m feeling positive, and the last 10 years have seen only growth in the tourism sector.”

Before embarking on this independent venture, Burns-Smith worked in senior management for the Macdonald hotel group, whose mammoth resort dominates Aviemore town centre.

A ski lesson in Aviemore


A ski lesson in Aviemore. The area is the tourist centre of the Highlands and a place many non-UK EU nationals have made their home. Photograph: Alamy

It was here that Preslava Gancheva worked before settling a few miles down the Spey valley in Newtonmore. She echoes Burns-Smith’s sentiments: “The local people I know have travelled the world and most have spent time in other countries. This makes life colourful and diverse.”

The abundant natural beauty, and an unexpected job offer, drew her to the Highlands in 2014 from Bulgaria and she is now, like so many other like her, embedded in the local community, exhibiting her photographs of the local landscape at a nearby gallery.

Presenting the Scottish government’s latest analysis of the impact of Brexit in January, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, underlined the serious consequences of a hard Brexit on vital EU migration. Population growth across the Highlands and Islands has been a success story of the past decade, with EU migrants in particular reversing long-term decline and mitigating the effects of an ageing society.

But, as Sturgeon emphasised, Scotland is still facing a significant demographic challenge, with more deaths than births forecast every year for the next 25 years. According to current projections, migration will account for all of Scotland’s population growth up to 2041. Indeed, a recent Scottish government discussion paper on migration called for Scotland-specific visas and further devolution to deal with the country’s acute needs.


If a hard Brexit goes ahead then we will really be up the swanny

Prof Angus Watson

There were 219,000 EU nationals living in Scotland up to June 2017, accounting for 4.1% of the population. There is no doubt that they are fundamental to the Highland economy and society; research for the Federation of Small Businesses found 41% of Highland employers have EU staff in their workforce, rising to 45% at tourism and leisure firms. The comparative figure for the whole of the UK is just 20%.

As the local MSP Kate Forbes explains, the impact of the current uncertainty is emotional as much as economic: “When you have a big influx of population as has happened here, they settle in, have kids, and there are a lot of mixed families in the Highlands. Those families are now feeling unsettled. We hear a lot about the growth in tourism and the food and drink sector, but these are small businesses worrying about where they will find the staff to open next year.”

Aside from tourism, the struggle to recruit healthcare workers into rural areas is well-documented.

Prof Angus Watson, the director of research, development and innovation at NHS Highlands, is blunt. “If a hard Brexit goes ahead then we will really be up the swanny because we do rely so heavily on EU nationals to support our services at all strata, from healthcare assistants to consultants.”

For Katarzyna Michelowska, a Polish carer based in Ullapool, the uncertainty is hard to bear. “For most of my Polish friends it is a big unknown, especially for those with houses or businesses here. It’s all on hold.”

She recalls a recent, ugly encounter in Inverness, with a passerby shouting abuse after hearing her accent. “I’m worried that for people who think in that way [Brexit] will almost give them the right to think that.”

She was particularly shockedbecause her experience of living in the Highlands since she moved from Glasgow four years ago has been overwhelmingly positive. “Everybody is so friendly. They know that they need people like me, especially in care environment, and they know that the majority of eastern Europeans come here to work and want to do something meaningful with our lives.”

From shortbread to the NHS: Scotland fears loss of workers after Brexit

The snow is falling in Aviemore, but the window display of the Walkers shortbread bakery is springing with Easter treats, alongside the more traditional thistle rounds and petticoat tails.

With its factory to the north in Elgin, and outlets like this one dotted across the region, Walkers is one of the biggest private employers in the Highlands. Jim Walker, whose grandfather started the company more than a century ago, is under no illusions about the human underpinnings of his international export business.

“Foreign nationals are critical to our workforce in the Highlands. In the busy season, we employ around 1,700 workers, 500 of whom are mainly EU nationals, and that allows us to make up the numbers that we can’t find locally when it is seasonal work.”

According to Walker, the effect of the Brexit vote on these employees has been subtle but significant: “They don’t feel quite so welcome and I can see a gradual drift of them returning home, especially as the exchange rate makes work here less appealing.”

It is immediately apparent on a visit to Aviemore, the tourist heart of the Highlands, that EU nationals here are by no means a drifting population of seasonal workers: 91% of non-UK EU nationals employed by businesses in the region are permanent staff.

Further up Grampian Road, at the four-star Ravenscraig guest house, owner Scott Burns-Smith explains that he “only employs locally”, before adding that a key member of staff is from the Czech Republic. “Her daughter goes to school with my children. The primary school in Aviemore is extremely diverse and it’s great for the kids,” he says.

“I can’t say I was happy about the [Brexit] decision, but I’m feeling positive, and the last 10 years have seen only growth in the tourism sector.”

Before embarking on this independent venture, Burns-Smith worked in senior management for the Macdonald hotel group, whose mammoth resort dominates Aviemore town centre.

A ski lesson in Aviemore


A ski lesson in Aviemore. The area is the tourist centre of the Highlands and a place many non-UK EU nationals have made their home. Photograph: Alamy

It was here that Preslava Gancheva worked before settling a few miles down the Spey valley in Newtonmore. She echoes Burns-Smith’s sentiments: “The local people I know have travelled the world and most have spent time in other countries. This makes life colourful and diverse.”

The abundant natural beauty, and an unexpected job offer, drew her to the Highlands in 2014 from Bulgaria and she is now, like so many other like her, embedded in the local community, exhibiting her photographs of the local landscape at a nearby gallery.

Presenting the Scottish government’s latest analysis of the impact of Brexit in January, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, underlined the serious consequences of a hard Brexit on vital EU migration. Population growth across the Highlands and Islands has been a success story of the past decade, with EU migrants in particular reversing long-term decline and mitigating the effects of an ageing society.

But, as Sturgeon emphasised, Scotland is still facing a significant demographic challenge, with more deaths than births forecast every year for the next 25 years. According to current projections, migration will account for all of Scotland’s population growth up to 2041. Indeed, a recent Scottish government discussion paper on migration called for Scotland-specific visas and further devolution to deal with the country’s acute needs.


If a hard Brexit goes ahead then we will really be up the swanny

Prof Angus Watson

There were 219,000 EU nationals living in Scotland up to June 2017, accounting for 4.1% of the population. There is no doubt that they are fundamental to the Highland economy and society; research for the Federation of Small Businesses found 41% of Highland employers have EU staff in their workforce, rising to 45% at tourism and leisure firms. The comparative figure for the whole of the UK is just 20%.

As the local MSP Kate Forbes explains, the impact of the current uncertainty is emotional as much as economic: “When you have a big influx of population as has happened here, they settle in, have kids, and there are a lot of mixed families in the Highlands. Those families are now feeling unsettled. We hear a lot about the growth in tourism and the food and drink sector, but these are small businesses worrying about where they will find the staff to open next year.”

Aside from tourism, the struggle to recruit healthcare workers into rural areas is well-documented.

Prof Angus Watson, the director of research, development and innovation at NHS Highlands, is blunt. “If a hard Brexit goes ahead then we will really be up the swanny because we do rely so heavily on EU nationals to support our services at all strata, from healthcare assistants to consultants.”

For Katarzyna Michelowska, a Polish carer based in Ullapool, the uncertainty is hard to bear. “For most of my Polish friends it is a big unknown, especially for those with houses or businesses here. It’s all on hold.”

She recalls a recent, ugly encounter in Inverness, with a passerby shouting abuse after hearing her accent. “I’m worried that for people who think in that way [Brexit] will almost give them the right to think that.”

She was particularly shockedbecause her experience of living in the Highlands since she moved from Glasgow four years ago has been overwhelmingly positive. “Everybody is so friendly. They know that they need people like me, especially in care environment, and they know that the majority of eastern Europeans come here to work and want to do something meaningful with our lives.”

From shortbread to the NHS: Scotland fears loss of workers after Brexit

The snow is falling in Aviemore, but the window display of the Walkers shortbread bakery is springing with Easter treats, alongside the more traditional thistle rounds and petticoat tails.

With its factory to the north in Elgin, and outlets like this one dotted across the region, Walkers is one of the biggest private employers in the Highlands. Jim Walker, whose grandfather started the company more than a century ago, is under no illusions about the human underpinnings of his international export business.

“Foreign nationals are critical to our workforce in the Highlands. In the busy season, we employ around 1,700 workers, 500 of whom are mainly EU nationals, and that allows us to make up the numbers that we can’t find locally when it is seasonal work.”

According to Walker, the effect of the Brexit vote on these employees has been subtle but significant: “They don’t feel quite so welcome and I can see a gradual drift of them returning home, especially as the exchange rate makes work here less appealing.”

It is immediately apparent on a visit to Aviemore, the tourist heart of the Highlands, that EU nationals here are by no means a drifting population of seasonal workers: 91% of non-UK EU nationals employed by businesses in the region are permanent staff.

Further up Grampian Road, at the four-star Ravenscraig guest house, owner Scott Burns-Smith explains that he “only employs locally”, before adding that a key member of staff is from the Czech Republic. “Her daughter goes to school with my children. The primary school in Aviemore is extremely diverse and it’s great for the kids,” he says.

“I can’t say I was happy about the [Brexit] decision, but I’m feeling positive, and the last 10 years have seen only growth in the tourism sector.”

Before embarking on this independent venture, Burns-Smith worked in senior management for the Macdonald hotel group, whose mammoth resort dominates Aviemore town centre.

A ski lesson in Aviemore


A ski lesson in Aviemore. The area is the tourist centre of the Highlands and a place many non-UK EU nationals have made their home. Photograph: Alamy

It was here that Preslava Gancheva worked before settling a few miles down the Spey valley in Newtonmore. She echoes Burns-Smith’s sentiments: “The local people I know have travelled the world and most have spent time in other countries. This makes life colourful and diverse.”

The abundant natural beauty, and an unexpected job offer, drew her to the Highlands in 2014 from Bulgaria and she is now, like so many other like her, embedded in the local community, exhibiting her photographs of the local landscape at a nearby gallery.

Presenting the Scottish government’s latest analysis of the impact of Brexit in January, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, underlined the serious consequences of a hard Brexit on vital EU migration. Population growth across the Highlands and Islands has been a success story of the past decade, with EU migrants in particular reversing long-term decline and mitigating the effects of an ageing society.

But, as Sturgeon emphasised, Scotland is still facing a significant demographic challenge, with more deaths than births forecast every year for the next 25 years. According to current projections, migration will account for all of Scotland’s population growth up to 2041. Indeed, a recent Scottish government discussion paper on migration called for Scotland-specific visas and further devolution to deal with the country’s acute needs.


If a hard Brexit goes ahead then we will really be up the swanny

Prof Angus Watson

There were 219,000 EU nationals living in Scotland up to June 2017, accounting for 4.1% of the population. There is no doubt that they are fundamental to the Highland economy and society; research for the Federation of Small Businesses found 41% of Highland employers have EU staff in their workforce, rising to 45% at tourism and leisure firms. The comparative figure for the whole of the UK is just 20%.

As the local MSP Kate Forbes explains, the impact of the current uncertainty is emotional as much as economic: “When you have a big influx of population as has happened here, they settle in, have kids, and there are a lot of mixed families in the Highlands. Those families are now feeling unsettled. We hear a lot about the growth in tourism and the food and drink sector, but these are small businesses worrying about where they will find the staff to open next year.”

Aside from tourism, the struggle to recruit healthcare workers into rural areas is well-documented.

Prof Angus Watson, the director of research, development and innovation at NHS Highlands, is blunt. “If a hard Brexit goes ahead then we will really be up the swanny because we do rely so heavily on EU nationals to support our services at all strata, from healthcare assistants to consultants.”

For Katarzyna Michelowska, a Polish carer based in Ullapool, the uncertainty is hard to bear. “For most of my Polish friends it is a big unknown, especially for those with houses or businesses here. It’s all on hold.”

She recalls a recent, ugly encounter in Inverness, with a passerby shouting abuse after hearing her accent. “I’m worried that for people who think in that way [Brexit] will almost give them the right to think that.”

She was particularly shockedbecause her experience of living in the Highlands since she moved from Glasgow four years ago has been overwhelmingly positive. “Everybody is so friendly. They know that they need people like me, especially in care environment, and they know that the majority of eastern Europeans come here to work and want to do something meaningful with our lives.”

From shortbread to the NHS: Scotland fears loss of workers after Brexit

The snow is falling in Aviemore, but the window display of the Walkers shortbread bakery is springing with Easter treats, alongside the more traditional thistle rounds and petticoat tails.

With its factory to the north in Elgin, and outlets like this one dotted across the region, Walkers is one of the biggest private employers in the Highlands. Jim Walker, whose grandfather started the company more than a century ago, is under no illusions about the human underpinnings of his international export business.

“Foreign nationals are critical to our workforce in the Highlands. In the busy season, we employ around 1,700 workers, 500 of whom are mainly EU nationals, and that allows us to make up the numbers that we can’t find locally when it is seasonal work.”

According to Walker, the effect of the Brexit vote on these employees has been subtle but significant: “They don’t feel quite so welcome and I can see a gradual drift of them returning home, especially as the exchange rate makes work here less appealing.”

It is immediately apparent on a visit to Aviemore, the tourist heart of the Highlands, that EU nationals here are by no means a drifting population of seasonal workers: 91% of non-UK EU nationals employed by businesses in the region are permanent staff.

Further up Grampian Road, at the four-star Ravenscraig guest house, owner Scott Burns-Smith explains that he “only employs locally”, before adding that a key member of staff is from the Czech Republic. “Her daughter goes to school with my children. The primary school in Aviemore is extremely diverse and it’s great for the kids,” he says.

“I can’t say I was happy about the [Brexit] decision, but I’m feeling positive, and the last 10 years have seen only growth in the tourism sector.”

Before embarking on this independent venture, Burns-Smith worked in senior management for the Macdonald hotel group, whose mammoth resort dominates Aviemore town centre.

A ski lesson in Aviemore


A ski lesson in Aviemore. The area is the tourist centre of the Highlands and a place many non-UK EU nationals have made their home. Photograph: Alamy

It was here that Preslava Gancheva worked before settling a few miles down the Spey valley in Newtonmore. She echoes Burns-Smith’s sentiments: “The local people I know have travelled the world and most have spent time in other countries. This makes life colourful and diverse.”

The abundant natural beauty, and an unexpected job offer, drew her to the Highlands in 2014 from Bulgaria and she is now, like so many other like her, embedded in the local community, exhibiting her photographs of the local landscape at a nearby gallery.

Presenting the Scottish government’s latest analysis of the impact of Brexit in January, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, underlined the serious consequences of a hard Brexit on vital EU migration. Population growth across the Highlands and Islands has been a success story of the past decade, with EU migrants in particular reversing long-term decline and mitigating the effects of an ageing society.

But, as Sturgeon emphasised, Scotland is still facing a significant demographic challenge, with more deaths than births forecast every year for the next 25 years. According to current projections, migration will account for all of Scotland’s population growth up to 2041. Indeed, a recent Scottish government discussion paper on migration called for Scotland-specific visas and further devolution to deal with the country’s acute needs.


If a hard Brexit goes ahead then we will really be up the swanny

Prof Angus Watson

There were 219,000 EU nationals living in Scotland up to June 2017, accounting for 4.1% of the population. There is no doubt that they are fundamental to the Highland economy and society; research for the Federation of Small Businesses found 41% of Highland employers have EU staff in their workforce, rising to 45% at tourism and leisure firms. The comparative figure for the whole of the UK is just 20%.

As the local MSP Kate Forbes explains, the impact of the current uncertainty is emotional as much as economic: “When you have a big influx of population as has happened here, they settle in, have kids, and there are a lot of mixed families in the Highlands. Those families are now feeling unsettled. We hear a lot about the growth in tourism and the food and drink sector, but these are small businesses worrying about where they will find the staff to open next year.”

Aside from tourism, the struggle to recruit healthcare workers into rural areas is well-documented.

Prof Angus Watson, the director of research, development and innovation at NHS Highlands, is blunt. “If a hard Brexit goes ahead then we will really be up the swanny because we do rely so heavily on EU nationals to support our services at all strata, from healthcare assistants to consultants.”

For Katarzyna Michelowska, a Polish carer based in Ullapool, the uncertainty is hard to bear. “For most of my Polish friends it is a big unknown, especially for those with houses or businesses here. It’s all on hold.”

She recalls a recent, ugly encounter in Inverness, with a passerby shouting abuse after hearing her accent. “I’m worried that for people who think in that way [Brexit] will almost give them the right to think that.”

She was particularly shockedbecause her experience of living in the Highlands since she moved from Glasgow four years ago has been overwhelmingly positive. “Everybody is so friendly. They know that they need people like me, especially in care environment, and they know that the majority of eastern Europeans come here to work and want to do something meaningful with our lives.”