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.