Monday, 23 November 2009

'Announce Pentland Firth Leases Locally' - Gibson

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has demanded that the Crown Estate Commission show commitment to the Far North Communities by announcing the proposed leases of sites in the Pentland Firth for marine power production in either Caithness or Orkney.

Mr Gibson has written to the Commission saying that the most appropriate place to make the announcement (which is due in March 2010) would be in the area.
He said that to make an announcement anywhere else would be in-appropriate….

"Making this announcement in either Caithness or Orkney is a must. Not doing so would be downplay the communities that will produce clean power for Scotland the UK and eventually European needs."

"I have written to the CEC to ask them to make their announcement in the Far North."
"The CEC should re-engage with the Far North making the announcement there would be a start."

Mr Gibson has also lodged a motion in parliament on the issue


Copy of motion
S3M-5246 Rob Gibson: Announce Pentland Firth Leases Locally—That the Parliament notes that the Crown Estate Commission is due to announce in March 2010 the proposed leases of sites in the Pentland Firth for marine power development; argues that this announcement should be made in either Caithness or Orkney to show commitment to the area that will ultimately deliver on the renewable potential for Scotland and the rest of Europe, and believes that the decision to make such an important announcement elsewhere is inappropriate

Thursday, 19 November 2009

'Far North renewable infrastructure has to be top priority' - Gibson

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson says delivery of key infrastructure to support renewable energy developments in the Pentland Firth has to be a top priority of HIE and Scottish Enterprise.

Mr Gibson was speaking after he received a response from Enterprise Minister Jim Mather over the Renewable Action Plan timetable.

Mr Gibson asked in a parliamentary question whether the port infrastructure requirements and linked finance for launching tidal and wave power equipment in the Pentland Firth and other parts of Scotland have been identified as required by the Renewables Action Plan timetable.

Mr Mather responded that HIE and Scottish Enterprise were finalising the National Renewables Infrastructure Project report which sets out approaches to funding the key infrastructure identified. The report will form an important role in the delivery of marine renewables leasing round in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters.

The findings are due to be submitted to Scottish Ministers later on in the month.

Speaking after Mr Gibson said that infrastructure implementation in such places as Scrabster harbour and Orkney is of the utmost importance….

"Most MSPs agree that marine renewables need to be developed as quickly as possible to meet agreed climate change targets."

"I expect agencies like HIE and SE to prioritise this work so that funding for Pentland Firth infrastructure developments can begin to be paid out of this year's budgets."

"Anything slower is unacceptable."



Copy of Q & A
19 November 2009
Index Heading: Education and Lifelong Learning

Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive whether the port infrastructure requirements and linked finance for launching tidal and wave power equipment in the Pentland Firth and other parts of Scotland have been identified, as required by the Renewables Action Plan timetable. (S3O-08475)

Mr Jim Mather : Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise are finalising the National Renewables Infrastructure Project (N-RIP) which is a key action from the Scottish Government’s Renewables Action Plan. This project is setting out a spatial framework for the development of key infrastructure in Scotland required to support offshore renewables, with wave and tidal development being a key element of this work. The project will also set out approaches to funding the key infrastructure identified.

The findings of the report will be submitted to Ministers later this month with publication of the findings expected by the end of this year. These findings will play an important role in the delivery of the marine renewables leasing round in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Gibson to open Taste of Tain

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson is delighted to open a day which offers a true flavour of Tain.

The Taste of Tain event (which runs from 12 till 5 PM on Saturday 14th of November) is a community run event which showcases the town's businesses, produce and culinary excellence.

There will be stalls from local businesses as well as music throughout the day. There will also be a cooking demonstration from award winning chefs Sheila McConachie and Graham Harvey on how to cook with whisky.

Mr Gibson said...

"It is a great idea to get all the excellence that Tain has to offer under one roof. There could well be a few Christmas presents bought that day. In the economic hardship it is important that local businesses are not disadvantaged so to have a showcase of this kind can only be good."

"I am delighted to be asked to open the event. Tain has a vibrant culture and small local businesses very much add to it. It allows people to represent the area as well as shape it. A strong culture depends on people being able to live and work in the area. Events like this promote the businesses that are already there as well as the area as an attractive place to live and visit."

"I will be particularly interested in finding out how to cook with whisky…."



Link to taste of Tain website

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Gibson calls for replacement of level crossings

News release
immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has called on Network Rail to start this year to replace dangerous level crossing in the North of Scotland.

Mr Gibson’s call came during a member’s debate proposed by SNP MSP for Kilmarnock and Loudon Willie Coffey on the conduct of inquiries into fatalities at level crossings. Following recent fatalities in Halkirk and Kilmarnock.

Rob said….

“We need to seek a safe environment for rail and road users alike. Network Rail must do much more than it has done. It says that it seeks to develop, in the plans that run alongside last year's media campaign.

"Solutions which could lead to the replacement of some crossings".

"It must start in the north of Scotland and it must start this year.

He also said that Fatal Accident Inquiries need to be changed so they the public could get a clearer picture of the issue.

“It is obvious that the rail regulatory bodies did not take seriously the Cullen inquiry and that FAIs in Scotland must be central to the way in which we address the matter. Transparent records and responses are needed. An FAI can provide those and may follow them up. I would like to know, for example, what effect Network Rail's placing of cameras at the Dingwall crossings has had on driver behaviour. I could ask many other questions, but that is important to know.”

He also asked….

“Network Rail….says that it spends more than £80 million improving the safety of level crossings each year. How much of that £80 million is spent on the most vulnerable crossings? In addition, we need to know how much of the millions of pounds that Network Rail claims it spends on maintenance and renewal programmes is spent on the most vulnerable crossings.

Mr Gibson said due to the trauma that train drivers after they’ve hit a vehicle at a level crossing then it was understandable why the Union would want a go slow over vulnerable crossings. However he said that the increase of journey times would also make the trains themselves less viable.

Speaking after M r Gibson said he was impressed with the debate and welcomed the suggestions made by Willie Coffey and the response to the debate by the Minister.

“Accidents in the North of Scotland are increasing with more devastating effects. It is time that Network Rail starts to invest quickly to help improve the safety for road users and rail users alike .

"It is also time that FAI’s are changed to take into account the bigger picture of the incident. I look forward to changes coming soon.


Thursday, 5 November 2009

Gibson Welcomes Migdale confirmation

News release
Immediate release


Delivering as opposed to scaremongering' was how Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson greeted the news that the SNP Scottish Government has given official go ahead for a new hospital in Migdale.

Mr Gibson who was due to ask a question on the subject this afternoon said he was bemused by recent reports which seemed to be suggest that the hospital would not be replaced.

He said that the recent unfounded scaremongering has caused concern in the local community and called for a more circumspect opposition in the future.

"The SNP Government has delivered for the people of Sutherland whilst our opponents can only spread scare stories. There was no danger to the hospital whatsoever."

"I am glad that I can end this nonsense over claims surrounding Migdale hospital. Elderly people genuinely concerned regarding what they have been reading and hearing in recent weeks. In the end it was for nothing. So I look forward to a new hospital which will deliver for the people of Central Sutherland."

"Direct action from the SNP Government will deliver this hospital for the people. Years of prevarication and delay which marked the Liberal Democrat and Labour years of Government in Scotland delivered nothing.."

"I can reassure the people who have intimated their concerns regarding the future of the hospital that it will be built. I thank the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Nicola Sturgeon for her longstanding and consistent support for this project."


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Gibson calls for council insurance claim

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson is urging Highland Council to make an insurance claim against the MoD for the bill to repair Laxford bridge.

Mr Gibson made the call following a response he received from Armed forces Minister Bill Rammell in which he said that if the local authority was to make a claim against the MOD for the cost of the damage then it would be investigated by a third party insurer.

The bridge was damaged last month when a military vehicle toppled over the edge striking and damaging the parapet.

Mr Gibson said that he hoped that the Highland Council would make a claim…

"I am glad that the bridge opened to all traffic last week. Great credit has to go to the workers who managed to open it up so quickly.

"However I do not think that the hard pressed tax payers of the Highlands should have to fork out for this repair. I hope that the Highland Council will make a claim against the MoD. In a time of economic hardship where everyone is cutting back on expenditure including the council then it would be a counter productive not to attempt to recoup the cost of repairs to the bridge."

"The fact is that it was the MoD who caused this damage. There is a way by which the council can make a claim. Therefore the very least they should do is make that claim."

Mr Gibson also said that the Minister said that representatives of the community had a chance to make their feelings known about road usage by the military. At the next military forum which is attended by representatives from the Scottish armed forces.


Gibson backs use of recycled tyres

News release
Immediate release

SNP MSP Rob Gibson has called on Highlands and Islands Councils (and others across Scotland) to seriously consider using recycled tyres in engineering projects.

Mr Gibson call came following a meeting with Dennis Scott at the Northern Tyre recycling centre.

The Evanton based outfit takes tyres from across the region and compresses them (around a hundred forty at a time) into bales which can then be used in flood defences as well as foundations for roads, buildings, embankments and dams.

Mr Gibson said that recent flooding was a portent of things to come and that councils were going to have to become more adept and innovative at dealing with the problem. He said that using tyre bales which are produced at Evanton would be a way to help shoring up flood defences and stabalising embankments which could slip in heavy rain.

He said…

"What we have seen over the weekend and in recent months is unfortunately the future. Increased rains will lead to increases in flooding coupled with destabilasttion of cliffs and embankments. Erosion is going to be an real problem as the climate change era intensifies. That is why councils and other organisations need to heed this sustainable low tech solution."

"From what I have seen in Evanton there is no doubt that this is a simple device which works. It also has the benefit of making use of old tyres, lessing the need for landfill and also reduce the amount of fly tipping."

"Indeed this is already proven technology as the road from Syre to Kinbrace proves. The tyres act as a foundation for the road making sure that it doesn't sink into the peat. There must be many miles of roads in the Highlands, Islands and Scotland which have that problem. So a simple solution such as recycled tyres is welcome."

"I was greatly encouraged by my meeting with Dennis, his enthusiasm and drive is making sure that the technology and ideas are spread far and wide. The enterprise has a dual function of making use of waste whilst providing good quality and long lasting materials to make a real difference to engineering projects that save cash and recycle unwanted tyres."



Photo Of Dennis Scott and Rob Gibson at Centre in Evanton