Thursday, 28 October 2010

Gibson accuses Lib Dems setting back renewables

News release

Immediate release 28/10/10

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has accused the Liberal Democrats of setting back renewables industry by a minimum of 3 years in a dangerous political games.

Speaking in a debate in Parliament today Mr Gibson said that the UK Government's attempt to make the money in the fossil fuel levy the seedbed for the new green investment bank was

unacceptable and would severely hamper the Scottish Government in funding the infrastructure which is needed to support the industry now.

Mr Gibson said that the Scottish Secretary of State Michael Moore had given the game away by saying that Scottish Ministers could only access the vital funds before that by paying 100%
pay back to the Treasury.

Mr Gibson said that this decision would affect jobs and development in Caithness and beyond….

"This is smoke and mirrors -pretending that they care but refusing to make Scotland’s money available when it is urgently needed without a penalty of equal amount to the Scottish Block
Grant. Tell that to the people of Caithness. Tell that to the enterprising board of Scrabster Harbour trying to facilitate the renewables revolution."

"This very week the Crown Estate announced the new seabed lease on the Inner sound between the Caithness coast and Stroma island in the Pentland Firth. Scrabster Harbour is the

preferred base of operations of the chosen bidders Atlantis."

"How are harbours to launch tidal and wave machines, offshore wind mills or firms to get the kick start projects to realise our huge marine energy potential? Into the bargain this week

the UK announcement that £60m harbour development would not be available in Scotland."

He also lambasted Lib Dem Environment Minister Chris Hune who snubbed both the Scottish Parliament committee on climate change and Scottish Minister earlier this year.

"Scottish LibDems must answer for Chris Huhne - he snubbed the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee due to meet in public session on 5th October. He snubbed the Cabinet Secretary, John Swinney."

"Respect for the Scottish Parliament? –zero from London. In reality our efforts to promote renewables - set back by over three years! What a record for five months of LibDems in the UK
coalition government!"

Mr Gibson ended by saying…

"The UK Green Investment Bank should be set up quickly and based in Edinburgh. It should not be funded by looted Scottish FFL funds which at this crucial stage are needed to keep the

Scottish Government's and Scottish Parliament's agreed climate change targets and renewable energy delivery on track."

Speaking after Mr Gibson said…

"It is clear that the Lib Dems on both sides of the border are more interested in sinking the SNP Government that re-floating the Scottish Economy. They are acting in a shameful way, what
they should be doing is working with Scottish Government to help create a new economic future for Caithness and other areas in the Highlands and Islands and Scotland. What they are doing

is playing petty games which will do nothing to help create jobs or grow the economy. It is a disgrace."


Wednesday, 27 October 2010


Press & Journal - 27/10/2010

Ctizens advice bureaus help take pressure off councillors, says the snp’s rob gibson

IT IS vital that Highland Council fulfils its economic obligation to keep up support for citizen advice bureaus, especially in the current economic situation, a Highland MSP said yesterday.

Highlands and Islands nationalist member Rob Gibson spoke out after meeting the manager of the Ross and Cromarty Citizen Advice Bureau, Mhairi Wylie, at Alness.

Mr Gibson, a former chairman of Ross and Cromarty CAB, said:

“In good times and bad CABs help take pressure off councils and councillors. I am acutely aware of the vital importance that it plays in our community.

“Indeed my colleague Bill Kidd MSP has highlighted the invaluable help that CABs play in helping people deal with the changes in the benefits system, especially regarding incapacity benefits. The new system for determining who is fit for work, the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), is thought to be unfit for purpose and often gets it wrong, thus making people work who are not fit to.

“However, 70% of clients who have appealed against their ESA decision and were represented by a bureau adviser have had their appeal upheld. The evidence-based system that the CABs employ makes for a and clearer case.”

Mr Gibson added:

“In these times of economic hardship it can be argued that CABs are more important than others.

“And therefore they should be given increased support not less.”

Read more:

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has challenged BT and HIE to link the Highlands and Islands up to super fast broadband.

In 2008 Mr Gibson launched a consultation across the Highlands and Islands on the need for super fast broadband in the region. The results made a compelling case with overwhelming responses stating that it was badly needed for work as well as personal use.

Earlier this week the First Minister said that he wanted the whole of Scotland to be served by 2020, whilst the UK Government announced that the Highlands and Islands are to be a test bed for the new technology.

Mr Gibson said...

"The latest announcements on super fast broadband are welcome. My survey was one of the first which crystalised how much demand there was for super fast broadband and how inadequate the system was in many parts of the Highlands and Islands."

"I believe that the findings of my survey has played a part in the latest developments. However it is now up to the HIE and BT to deliver this for every part of the North and West quickly."

"My consultation showed that many people rely on the internet for work, in these dark economic days then it is important that all business has a chance to flourish, sub standard internet provision has held back the area for a long time. Hopefully HIE and BT can implement the changes needed."


Monday, 25 October 2010


News release

Immediate release 25/10/10

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has spoken of the importance for continued council support for Citizens Advice Bureaux across the region.

Mr Gibson words came following a meeting with manager of the Ross and Cromarty Citizen Advice Bureau Mhairi Wylie in Alness.

Mr Gibson a former chair of Ross & Cromarty CAB in the 1980s said….

"Given the current economic situation it is very important that the Council fulfils it's economic obligation to keep up support for CABs. In good times and bad CABs help take pressure off councils and councillors. As a former chair of the CAB in Alness I am acutely aware of the vital importance that it plays in our community."

"This was further driven home to me during my meeting today. Indeed my colleague Bill Kidd MSP has highlighted the invaluable help that CABs play in helping people deal with the changes in the benefits system especially regarding incapacity benefits. The new system for determining who is fit for work I (Employment and Support Allowance ESA) is thought to be unfit for purpose and often gets it wrong thus making people work who are not fit to.

However 70% of clients who have appealed against their ESA decision and were represented by a bureau adviser have had their appeal upheld. The evidence based system that the CABs employ makes for a and clearer case."

"it I s therefore incumbent on Highland Council not to threaten this extremely important community service so that those who are unfairly treated have a course of action open to them to seek justice."

"In these times of economic hardship it can be argued that CABs are more important than others therefore they should be given increased support not less."


Thursday, 21 October 2010


An exhausted but happy Inverness Highland Games touring party arrived back in the Highlands on Wednesday with the applause of more than 100,000 Basques still ringing in their ears.

Led by Scottish MSP Rob Gibson and Highland Councillor Roy Pedersen, the tour was sponsored by the Basque Regional Government and Bòrd na Gàidhlig in support of the development of sporting and cultural and linguistic links between the Basque Highlands and the Scottish Highlands. The touring party consisted of Highlands Dancers, the Caledonian Canal Ceilidh Trail Band, the Highland Youth Pipes and Drums Band, Instrumental Band, Grousebeater Sound System, local DJ Andi Candoo and performers from Eden Court who brought Tour Mascot Jacobite Jess and the three Haggis People to life.

The Highlanders were based in the village of Segura in the Basque Mountains and were officially welcomed by the Regional Governor in San Sebastian. An evening festival was held in their honour at which Basque and Scottish performers combined for the first time to entertain the large crowd. On Saturday, the group were joined by The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Big Rory and Ochie the Dog and heavies from Australia, Japan, Germany and Belgium and the current Scottish Junior Champion Kyle Randalls of Grangemeouth in staging a full scale Highland Games and concert in Ordizia.

On Sunday, the show moved to Pamplona as part of the Naforroa Oinnez Festival which is one of the biggest festivals, both physically and in terms of the entertainment on offer, staged in Europe. The purpose of Naforroa Oinez was to raise funds for the building of a Basque language High School. Helped by the high profile that had been achieved by the images of the Inverness Highland Games performers that had appeared on television and on the front page of newspapers across the north of Spain and Southern France, this was achieved when record crowds appeared.

Current Inverness Highland Games Champion Aaron Neighbour of Australia emerged victorious after two days of intense Highland Games competition and then announced that he would be retiring from competition to concentrate on his preparations to be selected to compete in the 2012 Olympics.

The tour ended with the presentation of a medal to Tour Manager Gerry Reynolds after the organisers announced that the Inverness Highland Games Arena had been voted the most popular by the spectators, who had visited the six arenas situated around the 7.5 kilometre site.

Highland Councillor Roy Pedersen said " The purpose of the tour was to further connect our communities through music, sport and language and this has been achieved extremely successfully. Each of the groups on this tour combined superbly to give our hosts a taste of the Highlands that they will never forget and were a credit not only to Scotland but themselves.”

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Gibson Welcomes moves to ease social housing pressure in Caithness

News comment

Immediate comment


Highlands and island SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed steps from

the SNP Scottish Government to solve a shortage of affordable

housing in the West of Caithness.

Commenting on the announcement by Housing & Communities

Minister Alex Neil Mr Gibson said...

"This is welcome news from the Scottish Government and shows

that the SNP are aware of the dire situation regarding

affordable housing and are acting to alleviate the problem."

"To extend the pressured area status to include many

communities in Caithness is the right move and shows that the

extent of the problem that exists. Affordable housing is an

important issue to many and I am warmly welcome the steps from

the SNP Government to solve the problem."


Note to editor


Right to Buy changed significantly when the Housing (Scotland)

Act 2001 reduced and capped discount levels, extended the

qualifying period to five years and introduced the pressured

area mechanism.

The pressured area designation lasts for 5 years and by

designating the following areas, the Modernised Right to Buy

will be suspended for tenants with modernised tenancies for the

majority of communities in Highland for a period of five years.

The exception being Caithness where the Modernised Right to Buy

suspension would only apply to Thurso and small neighbouring

communities within the Thurso settlement zone.

Renewal of the existing suspension of the Modernised Right to

Buy includes the following 'Pressured Area' designated communities:

* All communities in Badenoch & Strathspey.

* Communities in the Inverness Area (except Merkinch and Hilton).

* Communities in Lochaber (except Kinlochleven; the Plantation

estate and the three streets of Carn Dearg; The Corries and

Polmona in Claggan).

* All communities in Nairn.

* Communities in Ross & Cromarty (except Alness, Aultbea,

Balintore and Milton).

* All communities in Skye and Lochalsh.

In addition, suspension of the Modernised Right to Buy will

also expand to include the following communities:

* Merkinch and Hilton in Inverness;

* Kinlochleven; the remaining streets in Fort William i.e.

Plantation estate and the streets of Carn Dearg; The Corries

and Polmona in Claggan

* Alness, Aultbea; Milton and Balintore;

* Sutherland;

* Thurso and the small neighbouring communities within the

Thurso settlement zone1 (i.e. Forss; Geise; Glengolly;

Janetstown; Scrabster;

Weydale) in Caithness.

1 Settlement Zones in Highland are geographical areas based on

the historical catchment areas of schools and are used to

define community areas.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has questioned why Chris Huhne snubbed the Scottish Parliament's Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, preferring instead making a repeat announcement on a £2 million grant for Scrabster harbour development by the NDA.

He said, "on Tuesday this week the Secretary of State for DECC Mr Huhne agreed to give evidence to Holyrood's EET committee. We agreed to shift our normal meeting time from Wednesday mornings to accommodate him. Ten days ago the committee was told his plans could no longer fit in an evidence session. The respect agenda towards MSPs by the London minister is shaken by Mr Huhne's action.

Mr Gibson went on,

"News that Mr Huhne visited Caithness instead and reannounced a welcome £2 million grant from the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency to help develop Scrabster Harbour. Newspapers carried this grant news two weeks ago. Why did Mr Huhne not announce the release of the Fossil Fuel Levy, raised in Scotland and locked up by Treasury rules? That would have helped bridge the funding package needed to get renewable related work at Scrabster going more quickly."

"All in all, Mr Huhne's visit to Caithness and then Shetland were LibDem party oriented. When he snubbed the Scottish Parliament he did not have the decency to bring new funds from the London coalition that can allow prime Scottish wind, wave and tidal resources to produce clean electricity that is vitally needed to meet UK carbon reduction targets."

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament praising those that managed to successfully bid for the Royal National Mod to be held in Caithness this year.

The National Festival of Gaelic culture will take place from the 8th til 16th of October.

In his motion Mr Gibson congratulated the enthusiasts in Caithness and North Sutherland for successfully bidding for and securing the event.

Mr Gibson's motions says that that the multiple linguistic heritage of Caithness (which includes a strand of Gaelic) can be boosted and underpinned in the future by the Mod. And that the legacy of the Mod could be an increasing cultural confidence in the Far North as it's economy turns towards renewable energies and local food and drink produce.

The Motion also calls for the public and private sector to commit and maintain the connection between a healthy economy and confident rooted communities which the Mod can help sustain.

Mr Gibson, who will be attend to the opening ceremony this week said….

"Those that have brought the Mod to Caithness deserves huge credit. Especially Raymond Bremner he has done a power of work to make it happen and I am sure that it will all be worth it. It promises to be a special event and I am sure that Caithness folk will give a warm welcome to those thousands who make it ower 'e Ord."

"Such events as the Mod have the capacity to give a place a sense of identity. Caithness is unique in Scotland it has a rich and diverse cultural and linguistic heritage. It has Nordic, Scots and Gaelic strands and heightened awareness of one will also lead to a confidence and interest in the others. The Mod can lead to a more self confident and stronger county. That legacy would be something of great value."

"A strong and rooted community is an integral part of a strong and vibrant economy. The more events like this then the better. I look forward to other strands of Caithness culture given a higher profile in the County. Caithness is on the cusp of great change. The renewables revolution will open up more opportunities and change the economic outlook. It is important that with this change the culture remains strong too. The Mod and other events are part of this process."


The full text of the motion lodged in the Scottish Parliament by Rob Gibson MSP is as follows;

S3M-07182 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): Fàilte gu Mod Ghallaibh, Welcome to Caithness Mod— That the Parliament congratulates enthusiasts in Caithness and North Sutherland for being successful in their bid to mount this year's festival of Gaelic culture, Mod Ghallaibh 2010; looks to a hearty Caithness welcome for the competitors and participants at this year's event, from 8 to 16 October, in Wick and Thurso; believes that what is considered to be the multiple linguistic heritage of Caithness should be enhanced by a heightened awareness of the Gaelic strand of that heritage; seeks to realise a legacy from the Mod of increasing cultural confidence in the far north as its economy transfers its focus onto renewable energy sources from wind, wave and tidal power as well as the sustainable produce of land and sea, and seeks both public and private sector commitment to maintain and increase the connection between a healthy economy and confident rooted communities, which it believes that a successful Mod can underpin.

The Member has provided the following translation:

Gu bheil a’ Phàrlamaid a’ cur meal an naidheachd air muinntir Ghallaibh agus ceann a tuath Chataibh a tha air a bhith soirbheachail nan tagradh airson Mòd 2010 a chumail ann an Gallaibh; thathar a’ dùileachadh gun tèid fàilte chridheil a chur air luchd-farpais agus luchd-compàirt aig tachartas na bliadhna seo, a ghabhas àite bho 8 gu 16 Dàmhair, ann an Inbhir Ùige agus Inbhir Theòrsa; gu bheil a’ Phàrlamaid a’ creidsinn gun chur Mòd 2010 ris an inbhe a th’ aig a’ Ghàidhlig mar phàirt de dhualchas iomadh-fhillte Ghallaibh; thathar cuideachd ag amas gur e an dìleab a dh’ fhàgas a’ Mhòd misneachd chultarail sa cheann a tuath fhad ’sa tha fòcas eaconamaidh na sgìre a’ gluasad gu bunait cumhachd ath-nuadhachail agus toradh seasmhach na mara agus an tuath; tha a’ Phàrlamaid a’ sùileachadh gun tig taic bhon roinn phoblach agus an roinn phrìobhaideach airson an daimh eadar eaconamaidh fallainn agus coimhersnachdan misneachail, a tha Mòd 2010 a’ riochdachadh, agus a dhaingneachadh anns an àm ri teachd.