Thursday, 30 April 2009

Gibson calls for fuel duty powers

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has called on fuel duty to be decided by the Scottish Parliament.

During a debate in the Scottish Parliament Mr Gibson said that the fuel issue is prime example of the limitations of Scottish devolution. He went onto say that only Holyrood control over taxation for fuel duty would allow fair fuel prices in rural and remote areas.

During the debate he rounded on the Liberal Democrats for saying one thing but doing another. He pointed the bulk of the Highland Lib Dem 'team' , Lord John Thurso (MP Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross), Alistair Carmichael (MP For Orkney and Shetland), Danny Alexander (MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey) and Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye and Inverness West) were absent from a vote which would have stopped rises in fuel duty this week.

The latest budget will see a 2 pence per litre rise in fuel duty, then 1p a liter above inflation each April for the next four years

Speaking after the debate he said…..

"The Lib Dems are fond of saying one thing but doing another. This is the case for fuel duty so it was highly irritating to hear the pious words of Lib Dems during the fuel debate in Holyrood whilst it is clear that the bulk of their Highland and Islands MP's do not have the guts to vote against rises in fuel prices which will come this year."

"With unerring regularity the Lib Dems launch a campaign or petition against high fuel prices however when there is a chance to vote against increases in prices then they are posted missing. Despite this they manage to vote on the following issue of alcohol rises fact they manage to vote on an issue straight after. They are betraying those that they represent. They should have the guts to stand against their UK party leadership and support the people who they claim represent and vote against rises in fuel duty. Lib Dem Argyll MP Alan Reid had the guts to vote against his party's wishes and fuel rises, Lord John Thurso and Messers Carmichael, Alexander and Kennedy did not."

"What is clear form the debate is that fuel duty should be decided in the Scottish Parliament. In countries like Ireland you find prices at a lower level than Scotland. There is near parity throughout the country that is something that could be achieved if only we had the power to do so."



April 30, 2009

Scotland's first Marine Bill is set to deliver more opportunities to boost the economy while improving conservation measures

It follows calls from environmental groups, the marine industry and coastal communities for more effective, joined up management of Scotland's unique seas.

The Bill has been officially introduced to the Scottish Parliament:

Key measures include:

• A new marine planning framework so that increasing use of the seas for energy, fishing, aquaculture, recreation and other purposes is well managed

• The new planning system will create a more stable environment for investment

• New Marine Planning Partnerships will involve local agencies, communities and stakeholders to ensure a strong local voice

• A simpler licensing system will reduce the administrative burden and cut bureaucracy reducing business costs in key growth areas such as renewable energy

• Improved marine nature and historic conservation to safeguard and protect Scotland's unique habitats, wildlife and marine archaeology and wrecks

• Full regulation of seal management giving much improved protection for seals and a new comprehensive licence system

Speaking at Edinburgh's Newhaven Harbour today, Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

"Today marks an exciting milestone. Our seas support tens of thousands of jobs, generate billions of pounds for our economy, put food on our tables and are set to play an increasing role in powering our nation through wind and wave power.

"We are introducing the framework to help deliver a new future for Scotland's seas. Our Marine Bill aims to maximise economic growth while ensuring future generations can still enjoy this world class environment.

"We have listened and are now responding to demand for change by delivering a Bill that will make the most of Scotland's unique coastal and marine environment without spoiling one of our most prized treasures. It will create a simpler regulatory system for the marine environment and allow greater local participation in marine and coastal matters.

"Scotland holds a quarter of Europe's total tidal and offshore wind resource and 10 per cent of its potential in wave power. Our seas generate more than £2.2 billion for the Scottish economy. We have huge potential to increase economic growth from our seas but need to do so in a sustainable way. We need to remember that Scotland is also a leading marine tourism destination and any changes should not be at the environment's expense.

"Striking the right balance between the long-term viability and growth of our marine industries and the enhanced protection of our special marine environment is at the very heart of our Bill.

"We are repealing the existing seals' legislation – which is 40 years old – and introducing a ban on the shooting of seals except within a well-managed licence system.

"The Bill also maps out the way forward on Scottish Marine Regions, providing a way for local interests to have a say over their local seas. The consultation showed strong support for this proposal, but we must ensure that we are not creating an additional layer of bureaucracy. "

Lloyd Austin, Head of Conservation Policy for RSPB Scotland, said:

"Scotland's seas and coasts are arguably our most precious natural resource, and with this new Bill, we could become a world-beater in conserving the marine environment. Our seas bring us jobs and prosperity from our marine industries and our amazing wildlife, from puffins to dolphins, which attract tens of thousands of visitors each year.

"To achieve a sustainable future for these industries, the Marine Bill must protect Scotland's jewel in the crown by putting the environment first in any decisions about how we manage our seas. A Marine Bill which fails to protect wildlife will also fail our coastal towns and businesses."

Ian Jardine, Chief Executive of Scottish Natural Heritage, said:

"This is a very important day for Scotland's seas. The Bill provides the opportunity to improve and streamline marine management, safeguard Scotland's famed marine wildlife and ensure our seas are healthy and productive for the future. SNH has been supporting the Scottish Government in developing the proposals.

"We look forward to working closely with Marine Scotland to progress the valuable actions proposed in the Bill and to deliver the management changes our seas and marine users urgently require."

Jason Ormiston, the Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, the green energy trade body, said:

"The Scottish Marine Bill needs to provide the framework for the successful sustainable development of more than £10 billion capital investment in marine renewable energy by 2020. It should ensure that all stakeholders work together to maintain the quality of Scotland's seas and therefore make a massive contribution in the fight against climate change."

Professor Ian Boyd, Director of the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews, said:

"The changes proposed within the new Bill are to be welcomed. They form a strong basis upon which future management of seals can be built within a context that helps the interests of all those who have interests in these animals and the use of the marine environment."


1. A short video on the Marine Bill is available from:

2. Scotland's seas generate more than £2.2 billion of marine-industry (excluding oil and gas) and provide 50,000 jobs in Scotland. They support approximately 6,500 species of plants and animals (44,000 if microbial species are included). The value of landings by Scottish fishing vessels is £348 million.

3. Scotland has 18,862 km of coastline, 59 per cent of the UK total, and 470,000 km² of seas, 60 per cent of the UK total. Wildlife tourism is an important sector for Scotland, it generated around £210 million pounds for the Scottish economy in 2006. Leisure boating in Scotland tourism spend is £248 million.

4. 'Sustainable Seas For All' - A Consultation on Scotland's First Marine Bill was launched on July 14, 2008. The consultation period for Scotland's first marine bill closed on October 6, 2008.

Sustainable Seas For All: A consultation on Scotland's first marine bill
Analysis of Responses to the Public Consultation on the Scottish Marine Bill

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Gibson decries glaring omission

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has decried the glaring omissions of music and literature in VisitScotland's latest campaign.

Mr Gibson comments concentrate on the 'Perfect Day' website which offers visitors suggestions on how to spend a perfect day in Scotland. The campaign runs till the end of August.

Categories contained on the website include; Walking, Golf, By the Sea (Coastal activities), Wildlife, Food and Drink and Adventure.

However there is no specific category given to music festivals whilst VisitScotland's refusal to promote Scottish literature that relates to many Highland places is evident it's omission . Even though there is a Film and History section.

Mr Gibson said....

"In a time when it is hard to travel around the Highlands and Islands (let alone Scotland) without tripping over a music festival of some kind then it beggars belief that there is so little made of them."

"As a former organiser, sometime participant and regular attendee of music festivals I know the importance that they play in the local communities. There are a lot of people who plan there holidays around particular music festivals."

"Féis Ceilidh Trails, Blas, Belladrum, Rockness, Orkney and Shetland Folk Festival's, Heb Celt and the Northern Nashville Caithness Country Music Festival are just some of the events which draw people from near and far to the Highlands and Islands. For many a weekend at a music festival is as perfect as spending a weekend in St Andrews playing Golf. VisitScotland are serially remiss in failing to recognise this in their latest campaign. A cursory glance at the DiscoverIreland website shows that they are better at advertising their festivals and culture on the front page of their web site. VisitScotland should take a leaf from their book."

"Scotland is world renowned for it's music and party spirit these come together at festivals. It is part of the soul and beating heart of the nation."

"I am again disappointed by the dumbing down approach of VisitScotland. A few years ago I wrote the Chief Executive asking why the organisation would not promote literature. The response came along the lines that literature was considered part of the high arts ergo not many people would be interested."

"This attitude ignores places like Raasay that are far more visited because of the book 'Calum's Road' by Roger Hutchinson. Meanwhile Visit Scotland promotes Hamish McBeth and Monarch of the Glen Country (in it's film and history section). Both of which were books adapted for TV."

"Everyone has their idea of a Perfect Day in the north and west music and literature are key parts not to be missed."


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Gibson welcomes Euro outcome on fire fighters

News release
Immediate release


Rob Gibson has welcomed news that will safe guard retained fire fighters hours in Scotland

He was commenting after news emerged the current status of the Working Time Directive will continue after talks
in Brussels on changing the regulation, including ending the UK opt out collapsed.

The Parliament’s vote to end the UK opt out had caused concern particularly among retained fire fighters unions.This was especially concerning as the Scottish LibDem MEP voted to end the opt out. However negotiations will continue to protect many emergency workers services in rural Scotland.

Mr Gibson said...

"If the opt out had gone ahead there would have been ramifications for many staff including care workers coast guards health professionals and of course retained fire fighters. However it is better that the talks have ceased before the European Election so that something better can be sorted out after."

"I am glad that a measured and reasoned approach has been taken by the SNP Euro MP's as well as the Scottish Government to this issue. Yet again the Scottish interests are best represented by the SNP."

"The SNP have offered a clear and constituent line during the working time opt out. That is to be promote the interests of the country and it's workers. That is more than could be said of others like the sole Scots Lib Dem MEP who voted against the UK opt out, whilst her party in Scotland then attacked and scare mongered about the consequences of her vote.

"The facile scaremongering by the Lib Dems is yet another disappointing chapter from a party which is fast believing that the politics of fear is the best way to proceed. I am glad that reasoned and measured discussion wins out in the face of hysteria."


Gibson urges severe punishment for train vandals

News release
Immediate release


Rob Gibson has urged Police to come down hard on those found to be vandalising trains in the Highlands.

The SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands was speaking in the wake of an attack on the National Express London to Inverness service on Monday night.

Commenting on the damaged train the following day which suffered a smashed window after vandals threw a stone at it in the Cradelhall area of the City he said….

"These vandals must be seriously punished, their reckless and completely unacceptable act could have caused major injury or worse. It shows a completely thoughtless for human life and hopefully it is not the start of a trend."

"I hope that these culprits are found speedily and that they are punished severely. There is no excuse for such behavior. I hope it does not lead to the situation where more protective barriers have be constructed at points throughout the rail network around the railway lines in the Highlands.


Sunday, 26 April 2009

MSPs take up call for special joint inquiry into banking collapse

SUNDAY HERALD CAMPAIGN: By Tom Gordon and Paul Hutcheon

HIGH-LEVEL TALKS have started to secure a parliamentary investigation into the collapse of RBS and HBOS, the Sunday Herald can reveal.MSPs on the finance and economy committees at Holyrood are discussing holding a special joint inquiry into what happened to Scotland's financial giants and what it means for jobs and the economy.

The moves are in response to last week's launch of a Sunday Herald campaign for an investigation into how the country's two biggest banks fell from grace, and what lessons can be learned from their fall.

The idea has attracted support from figures including first minister Alex Salmond, historian Tom Devine, former solicitor general Lord McCluskey, and Sir Peter Burt, former chief executive of Bank of Scotland.

Tavish Scott, the Scottish LibDem leader, Green leader Patrick Harvie, and Independent MSP Margo MacDonald have backed it. Labour and the Conservatives remain to be persuaded.

This week the Sunday Herald prints a form to help you petition your MSP.

On Tuesday, Rob Gibson, the SNP deputy convener of Holyrood's economy committee, wrote to Iain Smith, its LibDem convener, to suggest an in-depth Scottish parliament investigation by a combination of their committee and the finance committee.

He said: "It could be set up on an ad- hoc basis and include some members of each committee picked for the task."

The next day, Linda Fabiani, an SNP member of the finance committee wrote in similar terms to SNP convener Andrew Welsh.

"This would allow the parliament to show leadership on behalf of Scotland," she said.

It is understood clerks to both committees are now considering the potential remit of an inquiry. Regulation of financial services is reserved to Westminster.

Fabiani said: "Any inquiry must hear from regulators as well as bankers and it would be ridiculous if Scotland could not hold an inquiry because UK bodies and the Treasury could not be compelled."

Sandra White, the SNP list MSP for Glasgow, this weekend tabled a parliamentary motion calling for an inquiry, and Jim Wallace, the former deputy first minister, said he wanted a joint inquiry by both the Scottish and UK parliaments on the issue.

"Surely this could be an opportunity for our elected representatives at both Westminster and Holyrood to devise a way of establishing a joint parliamentary committee to inquire into these issues?"

Friday, 24 April 2009

Gibson calls for rail shake up

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson is writing to Scotrail to demand a fairer pricing policy which does not discriminate against Friday travellers.

His call came after his step daughter pointed out that if she could have saved around £10 on a return ticket from Glasgow to Inverness if she booked 4 seats as opposed to one.

Under a scheme from Scotrail 4 passengers can block book seats at a price of £42 (or £10.50 for each ticket) for all four people through a scheme called 'Friends Fare'. However an peak return on the same route (leaving on a Friday) costs £50.

Mr Gibson said …

"It is time that Scotrail simplifies it's pricing policy, it is ridiculous that someone can block book four seats for less than the cost of one. It could tempt people to block book and only use one seat!"

"In the climate change era set against rising fuel prices and deflation then it is unbelievable that passengers are been discouraged by traveling on rail by ludicrous pricing policies. These policies are counter intuitive and counter productive. Passengers should be encouraged to travel by rail no matter what day at a fair price. Single travelers on a Friday are facing discrimination which is uncalled for."

Mr Gibson also made a call for a seven day rail service….

"As it stands the rail service in Scotland is in need of great improvement. As it stands it Scotland only really receives a four day rail service. Friday's see higher prices, Saturdays see's disruptions and Sundays see's a vastly reduced timetable."

"Network Rail need to work to change this situation so that a truly seven day rail service can be brought about. "


Thursday, 23 April 2009

MSPs must fight for high-speed network

From The Herald, Thursday 23 April 2009
By Brian Currie

Scotland must fight its corner if it is to secure a high-speed cross-border rail link, MSPs have been told.

They overwhelmingly backed a report by Holyrood's Transport Committee which said any development of a high-speed network across the UK must include Scotland from the outset.

SNP MSP Rob Gibson highlighted The Herald's campaign to improve rail services, contrasting failings highlighted in reports with the "step-change" travellers experienced when using Eurostar.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie, the committee convener, told Parliament the UK had been left behind by other European countries which invested heavily in their rail networks during the 1980s and 90s.

He welcomed a recent announcement by UK Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon that a company would be set up to look at future rail travel, beginning with a link between London and the West Midlands. However, he warned: "It is essential that Scotland begins to fight its own corner, very clearly making the case that if high-speed rail is going to be built, it should be built all the way making the maximum possible gain in journey times."

He said a strong business case and political consensus should be built up around the concept to ensure it benefited Scotland. "We need those systems to be capable of withstanding several changes of government, both at UK and Scottish level to maintain the momentum and make sure that the idea becomes a reality," he added.

Labour's transport spokesman Des McNulty said Scotland had more to gain from high-speed rail than almost any other part of the UK.

"It's our access to the south east of England and through the south east to continental Europe and other places. It's absolutely crucial for us."

Budget is Highland & Island Unfriendly - Gibson

Press Notice: Immediate Use

Highland and Island unfriendly is how SNP MSP Rob Gibson summed up the Wednesday's budget.

The Highlands and Islands MSP was commenting after Alasdair Darling announced hikes in duty for fuel and whisky coupled with swingeing cuts to the Scottish Government spending budget and a question mark over where funding for renewable projects such as developments in the Pentland Firth wave and tidal opportunities.

Mr Gibson said….

"There is very little to cheers people or business in the Highlands and Islands."

"Yet again a Chancellor in London has hit the vital industry of whisky with a 2p increase whilst penciling in a 3p rise of fuel over the next year. In short this budget takes more than it gives from the Highland economy."

"The Chancellor has hit the main export from the Highlands and Islands yet again and this time it will be most keenly felt because of the recession. The SNP Government has raised the international profile of whisky as the First Minister did on a recent trip to China, then inexplicably the UK Government target the industry unfairly. This point was rammed home by Gerry O'Donnell director of The Famous Grouse at a reception I hosted in Parliament last night. A collaboration with the RSPB to safeguard the Black Grouse attracts 50p from every bottle of Black Grouse whisky. It does not deserve to fail."

"One criticism of previous Chancellors is that they didn't fully appreciate the price of fuel in remote and rural areas. That cannot be said of the current one who was shocked by the price of a litre of petrol during a recent holiday in the Western Isles. Why therefore did he decide to push through a 2p rise in fuel duty plus an extra percent each subsequent year on the people and businesses of the Highlands and Islands is beyond me."

"However it is sure that this will hinder Highland and Islands firms from emerging from the recession. People who live in remote and rural areas who need their cars more, will also pay more for their fuel and will suffer disproportionately ."

"The news of investment in offshore wind and renewable sector are good news however the Budget is opaque as to where that money will go. If the Labour Party are honest in their commitment to both the Highlands and renewable energy then I expect to see massive investment in the Pentland Firth. As well as ending the step transmission charging regime which makes it far more expensive to produce renewable energy in the North and West than it does in the South."


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Gibson welcomes business bonus Figures

News release
Immediate release

Over 5000 local businesses have saved over £15,000,000 thanks to the SNP's Scottish Government Small Business Bonus Scheme.

The figures released by the Scottish Government show that in the Highlands 5,642 businesses received a cut in rates.

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson welcomed the news saying that it will make a real difference….

"This scheme continues to help small local business throughout the Highlands and islands. It shows the SNP's Government support of local businesses which are often the life blood of Scottish Communities."

"This measure was started before the recession but will now serve as a key plank in the recovery from the recession. From the start of this month (As a result of the scheme) ten of thousands of businesses in Scotland will pay no rates what so ever."

"In the tough economic times in which we are in then it is important that more businesses make to most of the scheme. The Government are taking that message to the business community and will work with partners like local authorities to reach as many as possible."

"As has been pointed out to me by a business owner there is a problem with small businesses which have multiple properties. While of course it is right that large chains with many properties are ineligible, John Swinney and his team will look at what more can be done for smaller businesses who find themselves unable to access rates relief due to having more than one property. I am heartened by the Scottish Government intention to undertake a consultation on this issue in due course."


Sunday, 19 April 2009

Gibson calls for NTS land to be given over for allotments

News release
Immediate release

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has called on the struggling National Trust for Scotland to make land available for allotments to help local people grow their own fruit and vegetables.

He said…

"I am writing to the Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland to clarify its policy on creating allotments on its land."

"I am aware that the National Trust in England is committed to create 1,000 new allotments on its land down south. Surely the NTS should be doing the same for Scots?"

"Both the NTS and Historic Scotland should meet to discuss how they can boost the cause of home produced food. There must be many hectares in trust that could be put to community use. At a time when the national Scottish Food and Drink policy is taking off and the recession is turning people's thought to saving money, the demand for allotments outstrips supply."

"Highland Council is set to consult on an allotments policy next month. The SNP has identified individual and community support, for example in Inverness. National trust properties can do their bit and earn a small rental income to their coffers from marking out new allotments."


Wednesday, 15 April 2009

'Crofting Reform Not A Distraction' - Gibson

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has slammed Labour MSPs who try to divert attention from the mess into which crofting sank under previous governments by blaming the SNP Government for implementing key Shucksmith proposals to stabiles crofting population and end the sell off of good crofting land for profit.

He said,

"Highland Labour MSPs think that crofters have a short memory. It was Labour and LibDem ministers in 2007 who attempted to remedy the mess their abortive crofting reform bill left behind. When they set up the Crofting Enquiry under Prof. Shucksmith they sought solutions to the forces undermining crofting. Next month the SNP Government will reveal its law changes to achieve that. Now is not the time to halt that process."

"The current economic crisis is only the tip of a huge iceberg of unresolved problems for crofting which the SNP Government inherited from its predecessors. How can Labour be so crass as to propose that law reform will ignore this economic reality? Crofting can only succeed if fair transport prices are assured for livestock. Also the catastrophic population decline of the Western Isles of 18% in 20 years indicates that the problems have not just arisen through the Downing Street Downturn of the last six months."

"The offer of Labour MSPs to work with Scottish ministers on their terms is merely a headline grabbing distraction. When some of the Shucksmith proposals were accepted by the SNP government and are revealed next month that will be the basis for planning a sustainable future for our least favoured areas.

"LFASS and the SRDP were both planned by Labour and LibDems in the government before 2007. Crofting reform needs to stabilise human lives in the crofting areas as a first step, so absenteeism and bloated land sales of croft land must be curbed and new entrants encouraged to work the land. In a world needing food, the crofters brand will only succeed when comprehensive croft reforms are decided in Parliament."

"New Labour and LibDems can carp all they like, crofting is reaping the whirlwind of their mismanagement which the SNP Government will try to sort out."



For immediate use; Wednesday 15th April 2009


Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed the core proposals of the Scots Law Commission to end the different treatment of moveable and heritable property in the law of succession.

Mr Gibson consulted on a Member's Bill in 2006 to address problems with the law of succession during which time the SLC made proposals to modernise succession law.

Mr Gibson's main goals in amending the existing law were to remove any distinctions between heritable and moveable property, and to equalise the rights of inheritance so that the spouse, civil partners, co-habitees and heirs can succeed to heritable property in the same manner as to moveable property.

Commenting on the SLC report on Succession published today Rob said,

"I am pleased that the SLC has decided to make the rules in its proposals as simple as possible.

"I welcome the right of spouses, civil partners, co-habitees and children to share in the estate of the deceased both in the moveable [house and goods] and heritable [land] property.

"This recognises that the heritable property may be by far the most valuable asset in the estate. In particular the rights of spouses and children are rebalanced so that modern circumstances of more complex family relationships and longer lives are accounted for.

"I recognise the concerns of farmers that their business can be carried on without being divided up. I am confident the SLC has addressed this point of view with clarity.

"However, I am still concerned that the ultimate distinction in law between heritable and moveable property has not been addressed. Nevertheless the rights outlined in the SLC report go a long way to providing the chance for the Parliament to pass modern succession law."


1. The Consultation launched by Rob Gibson on a members bill in 2006 is attached;

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Flow Country for World Heritage Status

Photo above: Group in the Flow Country - from left: Stuart Howsden Director of RSPB, Rob Gibson MSP, Iain Jardine and Lesley Cranna SNH, George Capbell RSPB, plus another RSPB/SNH representative

The case for the Caithness and Sutherland Flow Country to be put forward as an UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) will be aired at the SNP Special Conference this week.

An all encompassng amendment to Conference will include the SNP's Sutherland and Thurso branches' joint amendment for the 1500 square miles 11,000 hectare plus blanket bog to be put forward for candidature for world heritage status. It is merged with a call for similar status to be given to Arbroath Abbey.

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson who opened the the Flows National Nature reserve in August 2007 has long been a supporter of WHS for the Flow Country said....

"The Flow Country is of great significance not just to the environment of Scotland but also that of Europe. Carbon capture plays a vital part in fighting the effects of climate change and the Flow Country is one of the largest natural occurring natural carbon sinks in the World. For that reason alone it must be recognised worldwide."

"The case for WHS was underlined to me recently when the Economy,Energy and Tourism Committee visited the UHI Environmental Research Institute in Thurso, where Prof Stuart Gibb expanded on the unique size and diversity of species of the blanket bog."

"The Flows is a place of sanctuary or many birds and other species which in itself attracts people to the area. This will help the economy in a remote part of the Country. International recognition will have the dual benefits of protecting the area whilst attracting more people to view the wildlife and rare flora ad fauna which it supports in this wet desert."

"WHS status for the Flow Country is an idea whose time has come. It will become increasingly importantin the future . WHS for the Flow Country is for the world of tomorrow and so work should be started on recognising it today."

"It is incumbent therefore that the UK Government (which is in responsible for nominating candidates for WHS) pushes the Flow Country case for WHS. if it is true that UK Government are considering stopping any future WHS bids then they are not doing the best by the people or the environment they purport to represent especially as we reach the historic conclusion of the Scottish Climate Change Bill in the Parliament."


Friday, 3 April 2009


For Immediate Release
– Friday 3rd April 2009

SNP MSP Rob Gibson – a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee – has called for the former chief executive of the Dunfermline Building Society Graeme Dalziel to explain comments he made to the committee late last year where he indicating the society was running well and meeting stress-testing requirements.

This is at variance with revelations that the Financial Services Authority was warning that the business was under-capitalised and at risk of failing stress tests.

Commenting Mr Gibson said:

“Looking back at the comments made by Graeme Dalziel about stress testing and saying they had capital to ride out the financial crisis, it seems to me that the timing of this was rather close to the point where the FSA was giving them advice that they didn’t have the capacity to ride it out.

“If so he was either being economical with the truth, or indeed it wasn’t true at all.

“When the fallout from this is dealt with we have to understand why it happened, questions which the First Minister raised about the management of the Dunfermline who had the responsibility.

“It would be a good idea if Mr Dalziel could explain and give some more detail and elaborate on what he meant at the committee meeting.”



During the Committee hearing Graeme Dalziel said:

“As is the case with other building societies, more than 75 per cent of our funding comes from retail investors, which helps to make the model robust. That is important. When I talk to members up and down the country, I find that they can see how safe a local building society is; they can touch and feel it, and they know that we are putting something back into the community in an economic sense.

“The fact that we are well funded by individual investors means that, at the moment, we are not as pressurised in the wholesale markets.”

"In the two more recent cases, the building societies' assets were not in straightforward prime residential mortgages, but in other things, so the capital base was stretched. Our stress testing shows that we have the capital to withstand and ride out what might be classified as the perfect storm. There is an opportunity for our building society to grow organically in Scotland, as well as south of the border."

The Committee transcript can be accessed here:

More details are available here: