Byline: By BRIAN LIRONI
THE toughest ever laws to protect Scotland's wildlife and countryside will come into force tomorrow.
Jail sentences for wildlife crime will increase and fines for damaging the environment will go up.
Jail sentences for badger baiters will be extended from six months to three years and it becomes an offence to harass dolphins or disturb capercaillie during their breeding season.
And loopholes in old legislation will be closed to protect endangered species and special habitats.
Lewis McDonald, Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development, said the Executive was committed to protecting the environment.
He said: 'We recognise that successful conservation means balancing the needs of people and places.'
'Through greater protection for Sites of Special Scientific Interest this Act places Scotland at the leading edge of international biodiversity conservation.' Specific targets of the new Nature Conservation Act include eco-tourists who get too close to whales and dolphins.
The new Act includes an overhaul of the Site of Special Scientific Interest system aimed at protecting the most vulnerable or important land areas in Scotland. …