Sunday, 31 August 2008

Gibson corrects 'geographically challenged' Peacock

News release
Immediate release


SNP MSP has called Peter Peacock 'geographically challenged' after the Labour MSP claimed that there was no Highlands and Islands representation on the Scottish Governments Food and Drink Leadership Forum.

Mr Gibson pointed out that one of the members, Ken Mackenzie, was born, schooled and lives in the Highlands.

Mr Mackenzie grew up in Drumnadrochit, studied at Inverness Royal Academy, and lives in Inverness. He was heavily involved in the year of Highland Culture as well as communities throughout the region in his capacity as Chief Officer for the Scottish Co-op.

MR Gibson said...

"Last time I checked Inverness was still the capital of the Highlands and Drumnadrochit hadn't magically moved to a greenfeild site outside Barcelona. That seems to suggest to me that some one hailing from Drumnadrochit and living in Inverness is indeed a Highlander. So the claim that there is no Highland Representation on the forum is wrong, unless Peter Peacock and the Labour Party knows something about geography that I don't."

"I find it fairly amusing and mildly worrying that a former convener of Highland Council and Education Minister could be that geographically challenged! I know that Scottish Labour are looking to go in a new direction, I only hope (for their sake) that Peter Peacocks isn't their navigator! Or they might find themselves up the strath without a paddle!"

"Are Labour prepared to support the working groups from throughout Scotland that will help build the first National Food Policy Scotland has had?"


Friday, 29 August 2008

Games act review announced

News release/Environment Release

Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed a response from the Scottish Government that it will start a review of the Games Act before the end of the year.

The response came from Environment Minister Michael Russell in a Parliamentary question on the subject from Rob Gibson.

The Minister stated that the Government intends to carry out a review into the Act before the end of the year.

Mr Gibson, who challenged the Scottish Executive to carry out a similar review 4 years ago when the EU prosecuted the UK for failing to sufficiently protect: black grouse, ptarmigan, red grouse and partridge, said…..

"I welcome the Scottish Government's pro-active response. The intention to review the Game Acts before the year's end is good news. It will allow stakeholders to have their say before changes are proposed."

"For my part the longstanding anomalies of grouse, black grouse and ptarmigan being both game birds and environmentally endangered species has always been a puzzle. I hope that common sense can prevail and that a new regime of protection for all wild birds will result."

"The Scottish Executive did not agree to a review when asked in the past. The new attitude shown by the SNP Government is most welcome and shows it values both sustainable economic development in rural areas and protection of endangered species."



Copy of Q & A regarding gaming laws:


29 August 2008Index Heading: Rural Affairs and the Environment - Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it intends to conduct a review of the Game Acts and, if so, when the review will commence, what its timescale will be and what opportunities will be available for stakeholders to make a contribution.(S3W-15510)


Mr Michael Russell:

The Scottish Government does intend to conduct a review of the Game Acts, which will commence before the end of the year. Early tasks will be to assess the scope of work required and to set a realistic timeframe. Part of the process will be a public consultation, providing stakeholders the opportunity to contribute.


Gibson welcomes ferry review announcement

News release
Immediate release


Rob Gibson SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands has welcomed an announcement from transport Minister Stewart Stevenson that the Scottish Government will carry out a ferry review.

The review will consider current provision of ferry services and what improvements should be made to meet future needs.

Mr Gibson said...

"I welcome the positive Ferry Enquiry response by the Scottish Government. Stewart Stevenson's announcement of a Ferry Review will allow realistic assessment of existing and new routes. That should take certain proposals such as the Lochboisdale to Mallaig out of the realms of speculation. "

"In the meantime the potential to fund and build new ferries for specific routes, for replacement and improvements to roll-off equipment can be considered. The forthcoming Parliamentary debate planned for 10th September on the Transport Committee Enquiry, which triggered the Government responses, is expected to examine the priorities for lifeline services to Scotland's islands."


Thursday, 28 August 2008

Gibson welcome Scottish Government funding to transform derelict land in Highlands

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed £4.5 million of funding from the Scottish Government to Highland Council to transform derelict and vacant land in the region.

The fund, which was announced by Communities Minister Stewart Maxwell, has the aim of creating jobs, promote sustainability, improve quality of life, and stimulate economic growth for communities throughout the Highlands.
The Highland Council will be tasked with making a list of priorities to be funded.

Mr Gibson who met the Minister in Invergordon on the day of the announcement said....

"This is exciting news. For the first time since the scheme was created five years ago the Highlands will be receiving funding. Now it is up to Highland Council to nominate worthy schemes which will benefit every corner of the region.

"It irks me and many others to see good quality land lying abandoned and empty going to waste. I have no doubt that many people in their localities will see the potential in a bit of derelict of waste ground. I would therefore urge them to begin lobbying their councillors to make sure that the money makes it's way to their community."

"The Vacant and Derelict Land Fund has the potential to kick start the economy as well as enrich Communities. i am glad that the SNP Scottish Government has decided to include the Highlands in the scheme."



Photo of Rob Gibson MSP in Invergordon with Communities and Sport Minister Stewart Maxwell MSP and SNP Councillor Maxine Smith (Cromarty Firth ward)

Gibson welcomes start of Green Pig Project

News release - farming release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has lodged a motion welcoming the start the of a scheme which is aimed at lessening pig farmers reliance on expensive soya feed.

The Green Pig Project (an international partnership that includes the Scottish Agricultural College) looks to create a viable alternative to importing of soya by delvoping locally grown legumes for pig feed.

Mr Gibson welcomed the SAC involvement...

"Development of food security which is clean and healthy is a must for all parts of the world in the future. In Scotland we already have a reputation for that therefore it is important that we start making multiplying usages of the excellent produce that we have."

"A reliance of importing animal feeds for livestock is not a sustainable position. So any moves towards lessening dependency on outside factor is welcome and a step forward. It will help producer countries which won't have their environments ruined by supplying soya to the world. It will also reduce feed costs of pig farmers and potentially all livestock producers in Scotland."

"The expertise of Scottish scientist who rightly have a renowned reputation as on conventional crop breeders will be at the forefront of this scheme I have no doubt that it will be another feather in their cap."



Copy of motion:

The Parliament welcomes news of the trialing of animal feed made from home-grown protein; in particular, congratulates the Scottish Agriculture College for backing the international research collaboration on the Green Pig project that plans to use appropriate home-grown legume varieties to reduce the importation of expensive soybean meal; recognises the need to drastically reduce soya imports that impact adversely on the environmental and social needs of producer countries and the expensive long-distance transport costs of this high-protein animal feed for use by Scottish livestock producers; further notes the likely benefits of lessening the input of nitrogen required by home-grown alternatives such as oilseed rape; and believes that the excellent pedigree of earned by Scottish scientists in conventional plant breeding can be best deployed to develop high-protein animal feed on Scottish farms and crofts that will take a natural and essential place in Scotland's National Food Policy.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Gibson calls for fuel break for Far North business's

News release
Immediate release


SNP MSP Rob Gibson has challenged the Chancellor to give Far North businesses and travellers a break over high fuel costs.

Speaking ahead of a visit from SNP Enterprise Minister Jim Mather to Wick this week Mr Gibson said that high fuel prices were one of the major constraints on business success in rural and remote areas such as Caithness and Sutherland.

He continued...

"SNP pressure forced Alasdair Darling to postpone a 2p hike in fuel duty till October. What I am saying to him now is he should give businesses and motorist a break and cancel it altogether along with replacing arbitrary increases with a fuel duty regulator."

"A regulator would stop the fluctuation which we currently see at the pumps. In an era of high oil prices we need that stability both for business and public transport. It is time for the UK Government to wake up to our needs ."

A recent report from the Road Haulage Association stated that UK hauliers found it patently unfair that they continue to subsidise their continental competitors through high levels of taxation on fuel, eight years after the Government announced proposals to address this problem.

Mr Gibson said...

"We need a level playing field on fuel prices throughout the Continent. However what is patently obvious is that when it comes to the UK the Government makes sure that the odds are stacked against people of rural Scotland especially in the North and West."

"Time and time again they have denied SNP pleas for a special derogation on fuel duty which could be achieved through the EU despite these areas paying some of the most expensive prices in Europe. This derogation allows the state to reduce fuel prices and has already happened in France with UK support.

"However when the same has been asked for rural areas of Scotland the answer from the UK Government has always been a flat no. It is another example of why Scotland cannot rely on the UK to speak for our needs at the European top table and why we need a seat of our own."


Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Gibson lambasts policy exchange as 'writing off Highlands'

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson lambasted a report from the right wing think tank which states that the Highlands are not (and never have been) a good place for business and that the reason that people live there are for other reasons.

The report, which was commissioned by policy exchange - which is closely associated with the Conservative party, said;

"The difficulty of connecting the middle of the Lake District, or the Highlands of Scotland, explains why so few people live there: these places, which are outstandingly beautiful, are not good locations for business and never have been. Those who choose to live there do so because they offer other attractions."

in response, Mr Gibson said….

"Writing off the Highlands of Scotland is as incredible as it is stupid. It seems that this policy think tank is stuck in the 19th Century where the Highlands were only a place for hunting, shooting and fishing. It bears no resemblance to the dynamic area it actually is."

"The future for population and business growth in the Highlands is extremely positive. The boom in renewable energy will see more businesses being set up and more people moving to areas such as Caithness, Ross-shire and the Northern Isles. The commercial shipping hub on Orkney and possible link up with Scrabster harbour will see on one of the major shipping ports in the world. Not to mention the continued growth and reputation that the University of the Highlands and Islands will create in jobs and business which will succeed."

"In 19th Century the central belt drew Highlanders in droves. In the 21st Century the power is returning to the Highlands and Islands."

"There are of course many more businesses that prove that ruralility is no issue when it comes to making a success of business."

He challenged the Tories in Scotland to distance themselves from these idiotic comments….

"Do Highland Tories agree with Mary Scanlon (who lodged a motion congratulating the economic regeneration on Unst) or the outdated policy exchange?."



Quote on page 25 of Policyexchange's report: referring to Highlands as well as link to report:

That some areas are innately hard to connect is not contentious. The difficulty of connecting the middle of the Lake District, or the Highlands of Scotland explains why so few people live there: these places, which are outstandingly beautiful, are not good locations for business and never have been. Those who choose to live there do so because they offer other attractions.