A ROSS-shire MSP has welcomed a crackdown on high-powered laser pens following a string of alarming incidents brought to her attention.
Consumer Minister Margot James MP pledged to work with manufacturers and retailers to improve laser pointer labelling, indicating that they must not be pointed at eyes or at vehicles, and also announced plans to target online sales by working with retailers such as eBay.
Dingwall-based MSP Kate Forbes, who has been campaigning on the issue following a laser pen attack on a school bus in the Black Isle last year, welcomed the UK government move.
Last month, the North Star reported how volunteer lifeboat crew from Invergordon were targeted whilst out on a training exercise in the Cromarty Firth.
The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said: "Last year, I called for the UK Government to take action on lasers after a school pupil was attacked by a laser pen. I wrote to Margot James to ask for her to strengthen legislation on laser pens so that the sale and use of laser pointers was restricted.
"I am pleased that the UK government has responded to the consultation on laser pens by restricting high-powered laser pointers entering the UK."
She added: "It is also very important that there is more education and awareness around laser pens and so improved labelling is very important. However, this does need to go further as labelling can still be ignored by those who are intent on mischief.
"The consequences of misusing laser pointers can be very damaging, particularly for children. I do welcome tougher penalties outlined in the Laser Misuse Bill because people need to appreciate just how dangerous these laser pointers can be."
The Invergordon incident happened while members of the lifeboat crew were taking part in a training exercise in the evening.
The attack involved a green high-powered laser pen it’s believed was probably used in a moving vehicle travelling between Cromarty and Jemimaville.
Crew member Michael Macdonald said at the time: "I don’t understand why anyone would want to buy a high-powered laser pen. To shine it at someone in a helicopter, a car or a boat is highly irresponsible.
"It can cause serious issues if it comes into contact with someone’s eyes."
Fortunately none the seven strong crew taking part in the exercise was affected by the attack.