Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Gibson praises those trying to open Far North Line

News release

Immediate release 22/12/10

Seven feet drifts and fallen trees have helped close the Far North Rail Line during the latest blast of winter the wintery spell recently.

The information was released to Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Mr Gibson after he contacted Network Rail asking why the line had been closed.

The response from network rail said that....

‘ The problems experienced recently on the line are due to the volume of snow over an extended period of time. We do plough the lines and across Scotland we have 10 snow ploughs with half of those dedicated to the North. Despite the ploughs being fully in operation it has still proved difficult to keep the line clear of snow, partly due to fresh snowfalls and partly due to drag from trains pulling snow onto the line. The amount of snow has meant in some cases the snow plough was unable to get beyond Forsinard.’

‘In addition, we have faced a particular problem with snow laden trees falling on the line. It has proved difficult on many occasions getting maintenance staff to the location due to the remoteness and impassable roads.’

Snow plough deal with snow on line

Mr Gibson has praised the work of the maintenance staff which have battled the elements to try and keep the line open....

“I pay tribute to the maintenance staff who have been working hard to keep the line open. However it seems that sheer weight of snow and fallen trees have prevented it. The weather has been particularly bad in the north and as the pictures show there is a great deal of snow to shift as well as the problems of falling trees.”

“I was concerned about the prolonged closure of the route but am sure that Network Rail are doing all they can to open the line. I wish the people out on the line all the best in their endeavours.”


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

End cheap LibDem politicking - SNP

Immediate Use: Tuesday 21st December.

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands branded scare stories over Scrabster funding as cheap LibDem politicking.

A busy day at Scrabster

He said,

“The SNP in Highland, in Parliament and in Government is fully committed to developing renewable energy in the North. There are serious funding negotiations underway to complete the Scrabster Harbour package. It does not benefit from this cheap politicking of Lib Dem councillors in the local press.”

“Let’s not forget the LibDem culpability for the failure of the UK Coalition Government to release the Fossil Fuel Levy of £200 million currently sitting in Danny Alexander’s Treasury Bank account. That money would meet the costs of Scrabster and much more.”

“Instead of playing politics all parties should work together to bring renewable energy development in the North, including the pioneering wave and tidal developments in the Pentland Firth. These plans at Scrabster Harbour are proposed by a commercially-sound Trust Port with a profitable track record.”

“The Lib Dems are demeaning the Harbour Trust and needlessly worrying the people of Caithness and North Sutherland which the Trust serves so well.”

“Regarding the Highland Council’s recent closed door meeting, this half-cocked LibDem council story breaches confidential debate ahead of a final decision in February. Scrabster Harbour is a sound project with widespread support and enormous potential which needs none of this tittle-tattle.”

Thursday, 16 December 2010


For Immediate Release – Thursday 16 December 2010




Commenting on the attacks by the LibDems on the SNP Government’s proposals to introduce a levy on supermarkets to redress the imbalance felt by many small retailers who have seen their customers pulled away, SNP MSP Rob Gibson – vice-convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee – highlighted how the LibDems took a totally different stance against supermarkets before the SNP proposed the levy.

LibDem attacks on supermarkets in the past included accusing them of “bully boy tactics” and having “overwhelming power”, saying farm businesses had “gone to the wall” because of supermarkets, and in one instance that local trade by independent shops would be “damaged by a new supermarket”.

Commenting Mr Gibson said:

“This is another example of a party that has no principles and will opportunistically adopt any conflicting stance just to attack the SNP. As we have seen with VAT, early cuts and most recently tuition fees, the Liberal Democrats will make any promise for votes but the renege.

“I’m sure many jaws dropped when they heard the LibDems become the defenders of supermarkets after spending so many years attacking supermarkets at a local level.

“Now they have become the supermarket’s friends and now ignore what small businesses say. They also appear to miss the other point that it is the early cuts his party is now supporting that means new sources of revenue have to be acquired.

“In short their new stance is not only sheer hypocrisy, it is sheer opportunism.

“Small businesses are the lifeline of our economy across Scotland and the SNP will do what it can to protect them in these difficult times as well as give them the opportunity to grow.”



Examples of the LibDems attacking the power and influence of supermarkets:

1. Tavish Scott

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott today joined the Liberal Democrat Westminster and Holyrood spokespeople for Edinburgh North and Leith, Kevin Lang and Alex Cole-Hamilton to visit local traders in Stockbridge, Edinburgh.

“Local traders are understandably concerned about the impact that a new Sainsburys could have on their businesses, particularly during a recession. The shoppers I met were very proud of Stockbridge’s reputation for good quality independent shops.

“It would be a real loss to this community if local trade was damaged by a new supermarket that shoppers in the area don’t appear to want or need.”

- 21 April 2009

2. Jeremy Purvis

On his website Jeremy Purvis lists his 11 Priorities including: "More support for local retailers struggling against the big supermarkets"

3. George Lyon

“For too long farmers have had to bare the brunt of light touch regulation on the overwhelming power that major supermarkets enjoy."

George Lyon, Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland

28 October 2009

4. Alistair Carmichael

Commenting on today’s announcement from the government that they have accepted the Competition Commission’s (CC) recommendation to establish an independent body as a ‘supermarket ombudsman’, Orkney and Shetland MP said; “Today’s announcement is as welcome as it is overdue...I wonder how many farm businesses have gone to the wall in the time that the government have been thinking about this.”

13 January 2010

5. Jim Hume

Hume pushes Lord Mandelson for supermarket ombudsman

Jim Hume, Liberal Democrat MSP for the South of Scotland, has today written to Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, urging him to instigate measures which will see the creation of an Ombudsman to oversee the workings of the food supply chain.

"Consumers want to know that producers are getting a fair share of the market and they are often tired of what many have described to me as “bully boy tactics” demonstrated by large retailers in negotiating contracts."

17 November 2009

Gibson labels Coastguard proposal as 'Totally Irresponsible'

News release immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP has labeled the UK Government as 'totally irresponsible' following reports that it is considering leaving Scotland with one fully operating Coast
Guard Station.

Mr Gibson comments come after a proposal from the UK transport Department to save costs by leaving one main control centre at Aberdeen, with a second station operating in daylight hours at either Shetland or Stornoway.

Mr Gibson also criticised the announcement that the future of sea and rescue services

Mr Gibson said...

"This is totally irresponsible from the UK Government, they are putting cost savings ahead of savings lives which could have disastrous effects on shipping around Scotland."

"The sinking of the Jambo, and of course the Braer disaster are just tow examples of why there needs to be two full time Coastguard stations. I dread to think what the consequences will be if either one is closed. With the proposal to get rid of important tugs around the Coastline then this decision can be seen as a double whammy, which makes Scotland's coast more


"If the Stornoway station goes then it will put serious question marks over the safety of the area which it cover from Ardnamurchan to Cape Wrath and the Western Isles, areas known to be extremely hazardous for shipping. The water around, Fair Isle, Orkney and Shetland are also extremely precarious. In the future it is very likely, given the renewable revolution, that these waters will see an increase in usage, so it beggars belief that there could be a reduction in coverage. I would urge the UK Government to think again on this particular cost cutting initiative".

"Indeed the proposal to keep the station open in daylight makes no sense. In Shetland you near enough have the midnight sun, and it stays brighter later in Stornoway in the summer as well.

Conversely in Winter the daylight is very short, it makes no sense what so ever."


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Gibson welcomes Peatland announcement

News release immediate release


Brilliant news that shows how important Scotland is in reducing world green house gasses was how Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson greeted the news that the Scottish Government are to carry out research funding to restoring Peatlands and that the

CancĂșn summit agreed that developed countries can reduce their carbon emissions by rewetting Peatlands.

The Scottish Government has given £200,000 for the project which will be run by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the RSPB will make bolster the work already being done in the Flow Country to restore peatlands.

Commenting Mr Gibson who is a long proponent of restoring peat bogs said….

"This is brilliant news on two levels firstly the continued support from the Scottish Government for rewetting of peat bogs and the fact that peat bogs are to play an important role
globally in reducing carbon emissions."

"60% of Scotland is covered by peatlands or carbon rich soils and the peatlands hold more Co2 than all the forests in the UK. So make no mistake this is a chance for Scotland to lead the

way in the world."

"We have already led the way with world leading climate change legislation, now we have an excellent opportunity to do it again. The work being carried in the Flow country in Caithness

and Sutherland is of extreme importance and will go a long way to helping the planet reduce green house gasses."


Contact 0787 967 4335



Link to document -

The discussion paper has been prepared by the Government with support from SEPA, SNH and Forestry Commission Scotland and is intended to inform that debate.

There are 1.5 - 2 million hectares of blanket bog in Scotland making it our most extensive terrestrial semi-natural habitat.

The peat underlying blanket bog represents our largest terrestrial carbon store at around 1,600 million tonnes.

The Scottish Government is supporting Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)'s project, Managing and Restoring Blanket Bog to Benefit Biodiversity and Carbon Balance - a Scoping Study.

This study, to be carried out within the next year by the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute (MLURI), will include:

* a up to date review of relevant habitat restoration methods, activity and success;

* national and regional overviews of the extent and condition of the blanket bog resource; and

* engagement with land managers, and the research and policy communities to determine priorities and potential pilot sites.

The Scottish Government will host a stakeholder meeting in the New Year to review the implications of the proposal following the UNFCCC meeting in Cancun, regarding the inclusion of the GHG emission benefits of wetland management (such as peatland restoration) in the national GHG Inventory and to consider next steps.

Work to protect our carbon rich soils includes financial support through the Scotland Rural Development Programme, regulation and the planning regime, and guidance such as that
on locking carbon in soils promoted by the Farming For A Better Climate initiative.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Gibson congratulates Evanton Co-op Staff

News release  immediate release


Highlands and islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has lodged a motion congratulating the staff at the award winning Co-op food store in Evanton.

Rob Gibson MSP & Cllr Maxine Smith outside the store

Mr Gibson who lives in Evanton and is a regular shopper there, lodged the motion after the store beat off competition of nearly 3,000 other throughout the UK to land the Customer Promises in Action award, which is given for the best customer service at a glittering awards ceremony in Manchester.

The Evanton staff received the award after mystery shoppers highlighted the staff’s speed and friendliness.

 In a visit to the store Mr Gibson said…

"It is great to know that I shop at the best staffed Co-op in the UK. I am not surprised that the Evanton staff won this accolade as you are always made to feel welcome here."

"Great credit has to go to all the staff in the store. They all ensure you get a warm welcome and excellent service. You could say that this award is the dividend for the staff and the real dividend is for the customers who are so well served."



Copy of Motion

S3M-07581 -  Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): Evanton Co-op Wins UK Customer Service Award— That the Parliament congratulates the staff of Evanton Co-op food store for winning the Customer Promises in Action award in competition with nearly 3,000 stores in the Co-operative Group in 2010; notes the regular customer feedback from mystery shoppers that highlighted the staff’s speed and friendliness that led to what it considers this prestigious award, which was presented at a glittering dinner for a thousand Co-op staff in Manchester; wishes Gemma Macnab and all her team at Evanton Co-op all the best for the busy Christmas and New Year season, and commends such a committed staff who offer the village what it considers such a first-class service.

In Evanton Store, left to right, Lisa Redwood (assistant manager),
 Roy Calder (Customer Services Assistant), Gemma Macnab(manager),
 Cllr Maxine Smith and Rob Gibson MSP

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Gibson warns against centralisation

News release Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has warned against centralisation of services following news that there is to be a joint Highland Council and NHS Highland proposal to merge the future of provision for health and social care in the region.

He also called for transparency and accountability from both organisations if they are to gain the confidence of the public.

The plan is to create a single lead agency for adult community care services and for children’s services. The Childrens service would be led by NHS Highland, whilst the lead agency

for the provision of children’s services would be The Highland Council.

Mr Gibson said...

"The Highland Council and NHS Highland must ensure that provisions will delivered in every size of community. Streamlining must not mean centralisation. These proposals must not be a charter for centralisation, it will be deemed to be a success if there is top quality services are delivered to every part of the Highlands."

"NHS Highland will have to offer far greater levels of transparency and accountability if patients and clients are to have confidence in its work."


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Gibson welcomes rural funding

News release immediate release


Highlands Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed Scottish Government funding which will safeguard the future of peat lands in Caithness and Sutherland, as well as environmentally important areas in Ross-shire.

Rural Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochead announced that £40,052 has been earmarked for an upland management plan at the Ben Wyvis Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Allt na Caorach Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Ross-shire. The project includes woodland, wildlife and open range deer management. This work will play an important role in bringing the notified special features of the Clach Liath na Caorach SSSI and Ben Wyvis SAC back towards favourable condition as well as enhancing the habitat for black grouse.

Mr Lochead also stated that Tongue Common Grazings Committee in north Sutherland has been awarded £93,938 to manage the 440 hectare West Borgie peatland SSSI. This will keep the site in favourable condition and help the Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands SAC, Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site to remain in favourable condition. Plans include moorland grazing on upland and peatland and removal of scrub and woody vegetation from the site. This will contribute to the National Target of bringing the notified special features of 95% of Scotland’s nationally important nature sites into favourable condition, or maintaining them in favourable condition

The announcement which is part of the rural priorities part of the latest round of the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP), will see jobs created and safeguarded.

Mr Gibson said....

"This announcement has multiple benefits, it will see local community take a active control of their environment as well as creating jobs and benefiting the environment."

"In this climate change age it is especially important that peat lands are maintained and brought into use. They are a vital aspect of the environment that lock away carbon, which in turn helps meets Scotland's carbon reduction targets."

"The North of Scotland is going to play a vital role in the future of Scotland, the Scottish Government realise this, and are investing in it. Announcements like this not only go some way to safeguarding the environment but also the communities that work in the places supported by this scheme."


Thursday, 2 December 2010

Gibson welcomes report prediction

News release Immediate release 02/12/10

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed a report which predicts that visitors to Caithness and Sutherland could grow by 30% over the next 10 years.

The HIE report looked into current and future leisure and business demand to help accommodation providers in the area plan for growth.

It took into account the impact of the decommissioning of Dounreay, the growth of renewables for business tourism, the redevelopment of John O'Groats and the expected increase of

domestic and international visitors.

"This is an encouraging report for Caithness and Sutherland.  The future that the renewables revolution offers a great opportunity for all sectors and that includes accommodation for


"I believe that Caithness and Sutherland will have a bright future. However great credit is due to the promotion of the area as a tourist destination, such innovations as the Wick Marina, and actions by North Highland Tourism are making a real and positive difference, as will the redevelopment of John O' Groats."

"Caithness and Sutherland do have an exciting future which I am convinced will see more people not only visiting the area but also work and live in it. This report shows the potential,

Caithness and North Sutherland are not just the jumping off points for Orkney, there is a wealth of history and attractions worth investigating by visitors."
 "‘Staycations’ are likely to continue according to Visit Scotland, so a visit north should be a definite destination for far more Scots."


Gibson welcomes launch of song website

News release Immediate release 02/12/10

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has lodged a motion celebrating the launching of a website that will give children a chance to learn Gaelic and Scots song.

Scotland’s Songs learning resources on the Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) website, allows people to access a collection of 130 Gaelic and Scots songs and tunes as diverse as bothy ballads to psalm singing.

The site includes full lyrics and musical notation, it is also freely available to all Scottish classrooms which allows teachers to easily incorporate into their teaching practice.

Mr Gibson said....

"I am always heartened to see Scottish music become more accessible. I well remember the time when it was marginalized and looked down upon so this website is a further example of the total overhaul that has happened in the approach to the subject."

"I warmly welcome the chance for people of all ages to discover or rediscover some classic Scottish songs from the past and present. Music is part of the living tradition and this website as this website illustrates.

"It will allow children in schools around the country to connect with their heritage as well as spark an interest in our unique traditional music. I hope that the website will be well used throughout Scotland and beyond."



Link to LTS website

Copy of motion

S3M-07527 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (SNP): That the Parliament

welcomes the creation and launch of the Scotland’s Songs learning resources on the Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) website, which makes a large collection of 130 Scots and Gaelic songs and tunes from across the nation, including full lyrics and musical notation, freely available to all Scottish classrooms; further notes that Scotland’s Songs allow for teachers to easily incorporate Scottish musical education into their teaching practice, which further supports the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence, and encourages and supports all of the schools in Scotland to include Scotland’s Songs as a key part of all students’ educational experience at all levels.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Gibson welcomes Isleburn announcement

News release

Immediate release 01/12/10

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed the news that Easter Ross business Isleburn has secured six major contracts to build oil and gas production hardware for the North Sea, totaling more than £16 million.

Mr Gibson said…

"This is great news for Isleburn and the Easter Ross economy. They are proving that they are the UK's leading fabricators in this field and in a time of economic hardship the news is a
major boost."

"Isleburn are an example of what can be achieved they have a positive attitude and are not afraid to work with others to take their business forward. The engineering skills that exist

in Easter Ross are well utilized by such ventures and it is clear that they are a positive example to others of what can be achieved."

"The energy sector is vital to the whole of the Highlands and Islands and to see such announcements as this is very encouraging. I expect to see Isleburn go from strength to

strength in the future; Which can only be a good thing for the local economy and stature of the area."


Monday, 29 November 2010


Following a briefing meeting with Pairc Trust Directors on Friday 26th November, Alasdair Allan and Rob Gibson, both MSPs representing the SNP, have called on SNP Ministers to take an early and positive decision on the current applications from the Trust under Part 3 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act to purchase land and a lease on the Pairc Estate on behalf of the local community.

Alasdair Allan said: ‘I have been following this complex case closely over the years and give my full backing to the Pairc Trust in their efforts to buy the estate to further community development. The community have clearly expressed their wishes in two ballots, and I have no doubt it is in the overall public interest for this long-running saga to be brought to a satisfactory conclusion without further delay. I urge Ministers to take decisions before Christmas so that the process of valuing the land and lease can get under way.’

 Rob Gibson said: ‘This is a test case and will have implications throughout the Highlands and Islands. It is intolerable that the clear intentions of Parliament in passing this legislation, and the wishes of the majority in the community, have hitherto been thwarted by the delaying tactics of the landlord. It is now a month since Ministers were in a position to take a decision on the Trust’s two applications submitted in February 2010, and I call on them to take a positive decision in the next few weeks. This will send an unambiguous signal to the landlord that in Scotland we believe that the overall good of the community should be given more weight than private financial gain.’
Rob Gibson MSP at Pairc

Under the Act, Scottish Ministers were in a position to take decisions on the Pairc Trust’s two 2010 applications on 29th October. They received a response from the Pairc Trust to comments made during consultation on their applications two months before then. Politicians from across the political spectrum, other community land organisations, and the Scottish Crofting Federation, have all backed the Pairc Trust’s call for an early decision. The applications are understood to be under active consideration.

For further information, please contact John Randall of the Pairc Trust on 01851 880365.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Gibson welcomes youth music initiative funding

News release:  Immediate release: 23/11/10

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed a Scottish Government commitment to continue to funding a music scheme which offers young people a chance to participate in music.

Mr Gibson was speaking after Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop confirmed that the Scottish Government would fund the youth music initiative to the tune of £10 million for a further year.

The YMI allows all children the opportunity of one year's music tuition by primary six.

Mr Gibson himself a musician and former music festival organiser said...

"So much good is done for the self-esteem of young people in playing and listening to live music. I know in Highland Council area that our wealth of traditional music is capturing young

"This scheme has great presence in the north and west there is great talent here. I am glad that the Scottish Government has made the funding available for a further year. I know several
tutors and have seen the scheme in action in Dunbeath and was very impressed.

"In times of economic austerity it is encouraging to see that the Government has not turned its back on culture. Music is a vital part of the cultural life of the Highlands and Islands as
well as Scotland so to see it be supported is heartening."

"I am delighted that the SNP Government puts a high priority on this key part of being Scottish and the proximity to St Andrew's Day underlines the great work done by inspiring tutors."


Notes to editor


The Youth Music Initiative (YMI) is currently funded at £10 million per annum, with £8 million being routed through Creative Scotland to local authorities into schools to ensure

that all children receive the opportunity of one year's music tuition by primary six.

The Scottish Government currently has a funding commitment until March 2011 and a further #10 million for YMI was included in the draft budget for 2011-12 announced on November 17, 2010.

The Scottish Government's Education and the Arts, Culture and Creativity Action Plan was launched in September 2010 and can be accessed at:

Monday, 22 November 2010

HIE kick starts Scrabster development

News release - Immediate use

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has praised HIE for committing £5 million to begin the transformation of Scrabster Harbour as a base for marine renewable servicing.

He welcomed the news from HIE today Monday 22nd November and commented,

" Scrabster Harbour Board has pioneered the transformation of the Far North economy. They deserve every praise for pledging around a third of the cost to the Phase One project which will strengthen quay and deepen a berth for handling renewable equipment and other commercial shipping uses. Now HIE has placed an important brick in the wall of the total sums required. Its up to other funders to follow their lead."

"The SNP Government has ambitious aims for Pentland Firth renewables seabed leases, the most recent of which was won by MeyGen for the Inner Sound between Stroma and the Caithness coast. MeyGen want to base their operations at Scrabster.

"Now HIE has begun the serious business of delivery to meet tidal and wave power targets that require port infrastructure for a start. Well done to the HIE Board for quickening the pace of development in Caithness. The whole county will welcome their commitment."

Friday, 19 November 2010


News release immediate release 19/11/10

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands has highlighted the role which local authority care homes play in remote and rural areas.

Speaking in a care home costs debate Mr Gibson said that whilst it seemed easy for private care homes to operate in areas of large populations the same could not be said of  low population areas such as North West Sutherland. Mr Gibson also said that the modernisation of existing care homes should be made a priority of the Council.

Mr Gibson highlighted the fact that in the Highland Council area there had been a long running story as to whether existing care homes should be modernised…

"For various reasons some care homes are no longer fit for purpose. However it is worrying to see the way in which the council has gone about modernising them. It has called into question the ability of the council run care home to deal with key issues that the private sector is often unable to cope with. For example council owned care homes have been well geared to provide respite care."

Mr Gibson went onto speak about the difficulties with Duthac house care home in Tain.…

"Duthac House has section that was built in the 1980's and which has been given very nearly top marks by the care commission. If it were maintained Duthac house would be able to cope with the general run of older people during the next four or five years, which will be years of austerity."

"However, the Lib Dems-Labour-Independent led council has wasted quite a lot of money on abortive new build plans; It has spent £2 million on plans for that., rather than on maintenance. There is work to be done in the home and I wonder why money could not have been spent on looking after the existing facilities in these tough times."

"Mr Gibson questioned the disparity in costs between running a council care home to a privately run one. In 2006 the average price for a place at a Highland council run care home was £612 per week, whilst the cost came to £424 per week in the independent sector."

He also said that the disparity had grown since then and questioned why there was so much disparity in costs…

"What was going on at that time in the council owned care homes? Were the extra costs due to the provision of pensions, better training, and the higher quality of staff in those care homes compared with others?"

"In private care homes not far from Tain, there are very poor standards (in the private sector) that must be improved rapidly."

Speaking after Mr Gibson said.

"Care homes in the public sector are generally better, it is up to the council to make sure that they are a viable and positive alternative to the independent sector."


Wednesday, 17 November 2010


News release Immediate release 17/11/10

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has warned that unless Scotland gets full powers over it's finances then the country can look forward to a decade of decline.

Mr Gibson was speaking following the budget, which was caused after the Conservative/Lib Dem UK Government cut 1.3 billion from the Scottish block grant meaning that the SNP Scottish Government had to adjust the Scottish Budget accordingly.

Some of the commitments brought forward by John Swinney are;

The Budget of NHS Highland is to be increased by £15 million next year and there has been a commitment to finishing the Migdale hospital in Bonar Bridge. The Council tax freeze will be in place for a further year; HIAL airports including Wick will receive increased funding. The continuation of RET for the Western Isles ferry routes. There is also to be a increase in long distance services to and from Inverness south on the
Highland mainline from 9 to 11 trains per day.

HIE will not be scrapped.

Commenting on the budget Mr Gibson said…

"Two thirds off these cuts to the Scottish block grant comes from Labour and a further third from the Conservatives and Liberals. John Swinney's job is to deal with the hand dealt to him and Scotland."

"Until the Scottish Parliament gets full controls over the powers over the financial levers then the country can look forward to many more cuts, as it is relent on the UK Government to get its money. It is no exaggeration to say that the UK will deal cut upon cut to Scotland for the next ten years. It is not a situation that anyone should be happy with."

"I am pleased that despite the UK imposed cuts that John Swinney has managed to safe guard the NHS budget and council tax freeze."


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Gibson to push H&I EU funding case

News release Immediate release 11/11/10

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson will speak with Europe Minister Fiona Hyslop to make sure that the Highlands and Islands continues to benefits from European funding.

Mr Gibson was speaking following a HIE Partners meeting (which is made up of HIE, UHI and the seven local authorities) in Inverness on European funding for the region.

Mr Gibson said...

"The Highlands and Islands have benefited hugely from EU funding over the years, from crucial transport links like the Dornoch and Cromarty road bridges to widening of roads in the West it is clear that membership of the EC and EU has brought improvements to the areas that otherwise would not have happened."

"It was regrettable that due to a mistake by the Office of National Statistics in London we lost out on Objective 1 funding, therefore it is crucial that the case for increased funding for the area is made at a UK and EU level."

"I will be pressing home the importance of the issue to the Europe Minister when I meet with her. £1.8 billion cuts from Westminster are coming down the line to Scotland and will be
felt across the Highlands and Islands . Therefore continued finance coming to the region will surely make a positive difference."

"I think that we can make a great case for funding to help with the renewable revolution. Port infrastructure such as Scrabster and Nigg is in need of funds to help make it ready to service

the new industry. Following 2013 when the new funding is announced it will be vital for Europe that it invests in the Highlands and Islands. It is incumbent that all levels of Government are singing from the same hymn sheet. I will be doing all I can for that to happen."


Monday, 8 November 2010


News release

Immediate release 08/11/10

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson MSP Has welcomed the signing of a UK China agreement that only whisky produced In Scotland will carry the label Scotch in China.

The deal means that Scotch Whisky being sold in China will be sold according to the same rules as the UK, ensuring that whisky drinkers are getting exactly what it says on the bottle.

Mr Gibson, whose region contains 95% of Scottish distilleries, said...

"This is excellent news, The Highlands and Islands is the heart and soul of high quality whisky and supports a large number of jobs and communities."

This agreement will help safe guard the excellent reputation of brand n china. It is good news for distillers in places like Wick, Brora, Easter Ross, Orkney and far beyond."

"China and the Far East market offers great opportunities for the whisky industry. The safeguards that are now in place mean that there will be greater scope for advancement of our unique Scotch brand."

"This agreement could lay the platform for greater inroads into the Chinese and Far East market, it is very good news."


Thursday, 4 November 2010


News release

Immediate release 04/11/10

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has lodged a motion calling on the USA to stop the spread of GM salmon.

Mr Gibson's motion expresses concern that the Food and Drug Administration in the United States of America may consent to the farming of genetically modified (GM) salmon; which if they escaped would cause havoc with the DNA of wild Atlantic salmon and farmed stocks in Scotland.

The Motion goes on to call for the Scottish Government to make representations to the UK Government and the European Union about Scotland’s right to maintain the biodiversity of wild Atlantic salmon and farmed salmon in its waters.

Mr Gibson said…

"The Salmon industry in Scotland is worth £400 million and employs many people in remote and rural areas of the Highlands and Islands. I am greatly concerned that if the Americans give the go ahead for mass production of GM salmon then there could be grave consequences for stocks for salmon both wild and farmed in Scotland and beyond."

"GM salmon isn't even 100% salmon it is only one third salmon the other genes are taken from the Ocean Pout and the pacific Chinook. I don't see how under trades description laws they could get away with actually calling it salmon."

“Above all the wild Atlantic Salmon would be very vulnerable to GM contamination. That must be resisted with vigour.” I met the CEO of Loch Duart Salmon Nick Joy last week. He has strongly worded views published in the Huffington Post in the USA in opposition to GM salmon consents. I agree wholeheartedly with the reasons for his concern.

"It is important that the Scottish Government make representation to both the UK Government and EU Commission on this issue. The dangers of GM salmon are great and Scotland in particular the Highlands and Islands would be greatly damaged from ny escape of GM salmon."



Copy of Motion

S3M-07311 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): Beware GM Salmon— That the Parliament notes with concern the possibility that the Food and Drug Administration in the United States of America may consent to the farming of genetically modified (GM) salmon; considers that escapees are likely to occur through time and can easily reach the shores of Scotland, altering forever the genetic integrity of wild Atlantic salmon and of quality Scottish farmed salmon, and calls on the Scottish Government to monitor the GM salmon consent process in the USA and express, both directly and via the UK Government and the European Union, Scotland’s right to maintain the biodiversity of wild Atlantic salmon and farmed salmon grown in its waters.

Copy of Nick Joys article in Huffington Post

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


For Immediate Release: 3rd November 2010




SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP and Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson have today (Wednesday) condemned proposals from the European Commission for EU member states to dispose of nuclear waste by means of deep geological burial. The suggestions come in proposed new EU legislation on the management of radioactive waste.

Mr Hudghton attacked the "out of sight, out of mind" attitude of the Commission and called for nuclear waste to be kept retrievable in near site, near surface facilities where it can be safely monitored.

Mr Gibson highlighted the rejection some 20 years ago by the people of Caithness of a nuclear dump in the north of Scotland - and called on the Commission to rethink its strategy.

Mr Hudghton commented:

"The nuclear industry has left a long-term toxic legacy which will be with us for generations to come. This legacy in itself should point policy-makers around the world towards developing more renewables to meet our future energy needs - and away from the dangers of nuclear.

"Nevertheless, decades of nuclear power have left us with a problem we must deal with and the storage and disposal of radioactive waste must be addressed.

"Nuclear waste should not be simply shoved underground with unknown consequences for future generations.

"The European Commission today has revealed an 'out of sight, out of mind' approach which is wholly unacceptable.

"We owe it to our children and grandchildren to make up for some our past mistakes in energy policy - and not to leave them an underground nuclear time bomb with potentially devastating consequences."

Mr Gibson added:

"Some 20 years ago the people of Caithness voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to reject proposals for a nuclear dump in the north of Scotland. That rejection is mirrored by the current Scottish government which is developing policy away from deep geological disposal.

"Scotland, like other countries in Europe, must deal with its radioactive waste. However, this should be done in such a way as to minimise the transportation of hazardous cargoes and to maximise our ability to monitor in the future.

"Deep disposal implies centralised facilities and impairs future abilities to monitor and retrieve the waste.

"The Commission's proposals therefore fail on a number of counts - and I call upon the EU to reject these suggestions."

Notes for editors

The Commission proposal on the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste states "it is broadly accepted at the technical level that deep geological disposal represents the safest and most sustainable option as the end point of the management of high level waste and spent fuel considered as waste. Thus moving towards implementation of disposal should be pursued."

Whilst the UK government has previously announced its preference for deep geological dumping of radioactive waste, the Scottish government has advocated near site, near surface nuclear waste facilities.

In a 1989 referendum organised by Caithness district council 74% of the population rejected plans for a deep nuclear dump at Dounreay.