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."