Thursday, 23 October 2008

Gibson calls for clarity on freeview roll out for BBC Alba

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has written to the head of Ofcom to ask how much it would cost to make BBC Alba available on freeview before the intended review date of 2010.

MR Gibson says clarity is needed after a rumour circulated saying that is would cost millions of pounds to do so.

In the letter to Lord Currie of Marylebone (chairman of Ofcom) Mr Gibson asked how much the cost would be and how it was broken down. He also inquired what technical adjustments would be required to extend the new station's reach to the bulk Scots and other interested viewers.

Mr Gibson said…

"There needs to be a definitive answer from Ofcom into what the actual cost of moving BBC Alba to freeview. To me the figure which has been banded about seems excessive. However it is hard to know. That is why the answer from an impartial body is of paramount importance."

"I have received near cross party support for my parliamentary motion which calls for BBC Alba to be made available on freeview (As yet no one from the Liberal Democrats has signed the motion). It shows that there is a strong will from nearly all political strands in Scotland that there needs to be a change. I am sure that those involved in the channel and who at present cannot watch it will also agree. It is in the interests of the channel and the language that BBC Alba is made available to many and early."


Copy of Rob's motion and supporters as of 27/10/08

S3M-02511 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): BBC Alba - Speed Up Freeview Option— That the Parliament welcomes the launch of the BBC Alba Gaelic television channel; wishes that all those involved will make the service a success; notes the potential that it has to boost the profile of the Gaelic language while informing and entertaining people throughout the country; however also notes, with disappointment, the fact that this service is not intended to be available through Freeview until after the digital switchover and that this will be subject to a review by the BBC Trust, and calls on the UK Government and BBC to speed up this process so that the channel has the chance to be watched by Gaels and non-Gaels throughout the nation who possess a Freeview box but do not have cable nor a satellite television.

Supported by: Jamie Hepburn, Christine Grahame, Michael Matheson, Robin Harper, Christina McKelvie, Bob Doris, Andrew Welsh, Bill Kidd, Dr Alasdair Allan, Ted Brocklebank, Roseanna Cunningham, Hugh Henry, Kenneth Gibson, Stuart McMillan, Sandra White, Gil Paterson, Mary Scanlon, Dave Thompson, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Aileen Campbell, Ken Macintosh, Jamie McGrigor, Brian Adam, Alex Neil, Nanette Milne, Bashir Ahmad

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Gibson confused by Far North Line claim

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has labeled as baffling and unhelpful claims by a Lib Dem Councilor that the Far North Line may close.

Mr Gibson was speaking in the wake of comments from Caithness Landward Councilor David Flear in which he said that this week's RMT strike might lead the powers-that-be to conclude that the line is not needed.

Mr Gibson who has long campaigned for improvements to the Far North line which stretches from Wick/Thurso to Inverness said…

"Why Cllr Flear is talking down the Far North's economic future is beyond me. The future of Caithness as well as Orkney is extremely positive and exciting. For that future to be realised the line needs to be improved not closed. I do not suppose closing the Far North Line will be top of First Scotrail or the Scottish Government's to do list."

"This type of negative talk does not advance the case for improving the Far North Line or the economy of the area. Yes there needs to be a lot improvement on the Line. There has already been a commitment to improve the signaling on the line which would hardly indicate the actions of government policy that are about to close it."

"If you look at the passenger numbers at stations on the Far North Line it shows that Thurso is the most used whilst Wick is one the most used. That is even with a near 4 hour journey. Therefore if the Dornoch link was implemented the journey would be slashed to around two and a half hours then I would imagine that the numbers would sky rocket."


Thursday, 2 October 2008

'Encouraging response from First Minister' - Gibson

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has labeled as encouraging an answer from the First Minster that the Scottish Government will consider making infrastructure improvements related to Pentland Firth developments a national priority.

Mr Gibson questioned Alex Salmond during First Ministers Question Time. He asked if the Scottish Government would ensure that the Pentland Firth’s tidal power, oil supply base and sea transport hub features would all be treated as one National Development under the National Planning framework.

He also asked if the soon-to-be-published Strategic Transport Projects Review would treat as one high priority speedier rail, safer road, enhanced harbours and an all-weather landing scheme for Wick airport.

The First Minister said that he would consider the proposals.

Speaking after Mr Gibson said…

"The First Minster's response was encouraging. Alex Salmond and Ministers are well aware of the great potential that exists in the Pentland Firth and the positive impact that it can make to the entire Scottish economy. To me it makes sense therefore to treat the developments of renewable energy, harbour and oil hub's as well as improved transport as a national priority. This complementary development will help the region become a power house for the Nation and beyond."

"In the past infrastructure has lagged be development, for example in Nigg the houses weren't built in Alness and Invergordon till much later and the firth bridges took even more time to be built. Whilst in Kishorn the road was never improved during the life of the oil yard. This must not be the same tale for development in the Far North."

"I have also written to the Transport and Energy Minster's making this case. I hope that MSP's regardless of political colours will show their support for developments in the Firth and help back my call. The cat calling and barracking from Labour MSP's during my question was disappointing. Serious questions about developments for remote and rural areas are exciting I would expect them to see the possibilities."


Gibson hails Wick Academy's Scottish Cup success

News release - sports release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has lodged a motion in Parliament to congratulate Wick Academy FC on their recent success in reaching the second round of the Scottish Cup.

Mr Gibson recognised the commitment put in at all levels of the club:

"What a fantastic result for Wick Academy on Saturday - a marvellous achievement considering the travelling involved - but the win must have made the trip home a lot easier!"

"We hope that all the Highland League teams still involved in the Scottish Cup, whether it be replays this Saturday or the second round on 25 October, continue in this fine form and advance even further in the competition."

"This success is so important to the continuing development of football and sport in the Highlands and these are players that our youngsters can look up to and try to emulate."


Copy of Motion

S3M-02643 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): Wick Academy FC Advance— That the Parliament congratulates Wick Academy FC for advancing to the second round of the Scottish Cup with a fantastic win against St Cuthberts FC on Saturday 27 September 2008; recognises the importance of this success to developing football in the Highlands; applauds the players for their commitment to the club and enduring one of the longest round trips for a single game in Scottish Cup history, and wishes Wick Academy and all the Highland League teams good luck for the replays on Saturday 4 October 2008 and the second round on Saturday 25 October 2008.

Gibson welcomes Ministerial response to Shucksmith report

News release
Immediate release


Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has welcomed the ministerial response to the Shucksmith Report to take forward a strong measure of crofting reform.

Mr Gibson, who is a longstanding member of the Scottish Crofting Foundation and its predecessor the Scottish Crofters Union, said there is a particular need to review the outcomes of the regulatory procedures which occupy so much of the staff time in the Crofters Commission.

"I am delighted that the Minister, Mike Russell, has signalled the need for an elected element in the oversight of Commission procedures. I believe that crofters in the six districts outlined need to express their priorities so that crofting can grow and flourish and not be strangled in red tape."

" When you meet crofters away from the high profile public meetings which have appeared in the press there is a strong desire to get more local input to guide the regulatory process and a wish to see crofting develop in ways that are suitable to each crofting area. I will press these demands with the Scottish Government so that all the specific plans included in Shucksmith which the minister has endorsed can then be taken forward. It is an exciting time to embed crofting in the land use priorities of the nation."


Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Gibson looks forward to Pentland Firth marine renewable future

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed an announcement form First Minister Alex Salmond which will pave the way for major renewable energy development in the Pentland Firth

Mr Gibson was speaking following the Caithness Regeneration Conference which was addressed by the First Minister. Mr Gibson said that the commitment shown by the SNP Government to renewable energy will pay great dividend to the economies of Caithness, Orkney and North Sutherland. 

The First Minister announced during the conference that Scottish Power has identified the Pentland Firth (as well as the Sound of Islay) as the first sites for commercial tidal farms, and that the Crown Estates has decide to open the Pentland Firth seabed for commercial marine energy projects to generate more than 700MW of energy by 2020.

Mr Gibson said:

"This is extremely welcome news for Caithness Orkney and beyond. The First Minister's announcement marks the start of a new period in marine renewable development and it is clear that the Pentland as well as the areas bordering it will the centre of that development.


"As the First Minister said the Pentland Firth can be the Saudi Arabia of marine power which makes his announcement great news for the North's renewables industry, as well as the local and national environment and economy."

"The conference was a success and shows that the wide community of Caithness is focusing in on moving towards a new future where marine renewables will be the major focus, the organiseres deserve huge credit for their work."

"The enormous opportunities that the Pentland Firth offers mean increased investment, more jobs and new opportunities. I find that prospect exciting."