Tuesday, 25 January 2011


For Immediate Release – Tuesday 25th January 2011



Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has warmly welcomed the news that Global Energy Group has been named as preferred bidder for the Nigg Yard in Easter Ross.

Global, a leading energy industry service company with head offices in Aberdeen and Inverness, predicts redeveloping the yard could create in excess of 1,500 skilled jobs on the 238-acre site and deliver a huge, sustainable boost for the supply chain and local businesses.

Mr Gibson said that it was great to see a local firm get the nod.

Commenting he said:

“This is very welcome and is a step forward in engaging Nigg in the wider Scottish renewable revolution.

“Every part of the Highlands and Islands has a part to play in the renewable revolution and a fully functioning Nigg is a vital part of this. Today’s news makes that more of a possibility.

"I am glad to see a local firm with a proven international track record has been named the preferred bidder. Global Energy Group is a key economic player for the local and national economy.

“I hope that a speedy decision is made so that Nigg can start contributing to the green renewable future of Scotland and Europe. As it contributed to Scotland’s and Europe’s oil future in previous years.”


Friday, 21 January 2011

Gibson questions opposition posturing

News release

immediate release 21/01/11

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP said he is disappointed by opposition parties posturing over the SNP's Government budget.

Mr Gibson said that the decision from Labour and Liberal Democrats to vote against the Council tax freeze in the finance committee and the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour's decision to vote against a small levy on giant supermarkets (which would create over £30 million for the country) was unfair and counter intuitive.

Speaking after the votes Mr Gibson said...

"I suppose it is to be expected from the opposition parties but it still is a baffling decision from some of the parties. For Labour and the Lib Dems to punish everybody by increasing council Tax in the middle of toughest economic times for a generation whilst at the same time giving a fillip to big business tells al lot about their social aims."

"The decision from the opposition parties would take a minimum of £30 million away from public spending right at the time in which it is needed. I would urge them reconsider their

position. Or at least ask the opposition where they will find an extra 30 million form."

"John Swinney and the SNP has produced a fair and balanced budget in the face of great cuts from Westminster. It will spare our pensioners and families from council tax rises in order to help household budgets and redresses the balance for business with a small levy on supermarkets."

"The SNP's council tax freeze has helped households across Scotland, sparing the average household over £300 over four years, whilst Labour, Lib Dem and Tory have increased VAT,

increased fuel prices and even pushed up National Insurance."

"While the SNP is budgeting for a fairer Scotland, helping families meet rising costs Labour wants to increase unfair taxes on pensioners and scrap a fair levy on supermarkets."

"Apart from being negative, mumping and moaning, the opposition has singularly failed to come up with ideas or alternatives to deal with the Lib Dem and Tory spending cuts. I await their ideas, if they appear, with interest."

"As it stands the SNP is the only party firmly supporting Scottish households and small businesses as well as investing in jobs and public services."


Thursday, 20 January 2011

Gibson welcomes Scottish Government's waste policy

News release

immediate release  20/01/11

The Scottish Government have reiterated their opposition to deep waste repository site for nuclear waste, in favour of near the surface storage. Following publication of Scotland's higher
activity radioactive waste policy.

In response to a question by Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Richard Lochead said that the Government's policy remained the same.

Mr Lochead said that the Policy is not prescriptive in its approach, recognising that it applies to Waste which may not be produced for decades and for which long-term management options
may not be feasible at present or have yet to be developed.

Mr Gibson said...

"This is a sensible, grown-up attitude from the Scottish Government. The idea of looking after the waste that was created in Scotland is the right approach to the problem we inherit."

"Long-term near the surface and near the site storage is the right idea. A single deep repository site is potentially dangerous and means it would be harder to monitor and retrieve
should there be a problem."

"The Scottish Government's policy is in keeping with much of the international thinking today."



Copy of Q and A



20 January 2011

Index Heading: Rural Affairs and the Environment

Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive when it will provide an update on its policy for the long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste

arising in Scotland.


Mr Richard Lochhead :

I am pleased to announce publication today of the Policy for higher activity radioactive waste arising in Scotland and also the Post-Adoption Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
Statement. The documents can be accessed at
www.scotland.gov.uk/hawpolicy and www.scotland.gov.uk/hawpostadoption. Copies of the documents have also been placed in the Scottish Parliament’s Information

The Scottish Government position remains that it does not support deep geological disposal of radioactive waste. The Scottish Government Policy is that the long-term management of
higher activity radioactive waste should be in near-surface facilities. Facilities should be located as near to the site where the waste is produced as possible. Developers will need
to demonstrate how the facilities will be monitored and how waste packages, or waste, could be retrieved. All long-term waste management options will be subject to robust regulatory


The Policy is not prescriptive in its approach, recognising that it applies to Waste which may not be produced for decades and for which long-term management options may not be feasible
at present or have yet to be developed.

The Scottish Government has worked closely with a wide range of stakeholders to shape the final policy. We will continue to engage with stakeholders in developing the Strategy to
implement the Policy.



For immediate use: Thursday 20th January 2011




As SNP First Minister Alex Salmond announced 130 new jobs for Glasgow and the prospect of hundreds more for Dundee during First Minister’s Questions Labour offered no ideas for growing Scotland’s economy or delivering economic growth.

As the opposition obsessed over square brackets Alex Salmond made clear that with increased economic powers Scotland could grow her economy whilst the Tory Scotland Bill threatens to cut Scottish wealth and spending.

Labour have failed to mention economic growth at First Ministers Questions for three months.

SNP MSP and Economy and Energy Committee member Rob Gibson said:

“Alex Salmond’s announcement that hundreds of green jobs are heading to Scotland is the kind of achievement for Scotland, bringing in jobs and boosting the economy, that people rightly expect from their Scottish Government.

“Instead of bringing forward ideas for jobs or to grow the economy Labour are backing a Tory tax plan that risks cutting Scottish spending and cutting Scotland’s ability for economic growth. Labour’s obsession with a square bracket instead of concentrating on jobs for people all across Scotland is an effort to hide the problems inherent in the Scotland Bill and their support for new Tory taxes.

“What matters in this debate is that the Scottish Parliament has the powers needed to create jobs and grow the economy for the people of Scotland. The SNP is arguing for the power to create jobs, Labour simply want to raise taxes.”

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


News release

Immediate release: 19/01/11

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has challenged Nick Clegg, and his Highland colleagues to cut the Highland and Islands some slack.

Mr Gibson made the challenge on the eve of a visit from the Deputy Prime Minister to the Highlands…

Mr Gibson said that the region was getting a raw deal from the UK Government...

"Closing down coastguards, military bases, privatizing of search and rescue, increasing fuel prices, tax rebate penalties against mountain rescue teams, refusal to make money available for renewable investment, it is clear that the Highlands and Islands are getting a raw deal from the Liberal Democrats and Conservative UK Government. The lib Dems are taking their voters in the north for granted."

"Time and again the Lib Dems have promised to end the fuel scandal in the North however that is far away from happening, if it happens at all. Many people in the Highlands have placed their faith in the Lib Dems because of this issue. I think that the Lib Dems they should have a little more respect for the people of the Highlands and Islands and deliver on one of their biggest promises and cut the region some slack. Perhaps Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander or another Lib Dem MP from the Highlands could explain to those that are having to fork out vast sums of money for fuel why this has to be the case."

Monday, 17 January 2011


News release

Immediate release: 17/01/11

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed an announcement from Energy Minister Jim Mather for the go ahead for a hydro electric scheme in Sutherland.

The scheme situated on Maldie burn (near Kylestrome) will create around 25 jobs during the construction phase and when completed will produce 4.5 megawatts which is enough to power
2,500 homes.

Mr Gibson said...

"This is great news and shows the potential that Sutherland has in creating green energy and jobs."

"This announcement will have a triple benefit, which are sorely needed at this time. It will offer much needed employment to the construction industry during the recession. also it will help reduce carbon emissions and increase energy security for Scotland."

"This scheme is another example of that fine Highland tradition of harnessing the power from the glens. Hydro electricity is still an important part of energy make up in Scotland. It is a

sustainable source of green and clean energy, which is found in abundance throughout the North and West, i am sure that Sutherland will continue to play a vital role in making sure

that it is utilised to its full potential."


Sunday, 16 January 2011


For Immediate Release – Sunday 16th January 2011



Scotland’s roads would have been facing even greater pressures if plans by Labour to cut the roads budget had been realised says Highlands & Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson - a member of the Scottish Parliament's Transport Committee.

Mr Gibson raised the issue after Labour's Michael McMahon ATTACKED the £15 million the Scottish Government had made available about the effects the prolonged winter conditions have had on council funded roads.

Mr Gibson pointed out that Labour had attempted to cut £10 million from the roads budget in 2008 would have exacerbated these problems. As a Transport Committee Report from January 2008 shows Labour attempted to cut £10 million from last year’s budget, a further £10 million this year and another £10 million in the year ahead.

Commenting Mr Gibson said:

"It is astonishing that Labour would attack extra money being made available to help councils repair Scotland's roads after the recent winter weather.

"However it would appear Labour’s hypocrisy on this issue knows no bounds as they would have CUT Scotland's roads budgets. Attempts at politicising this serious issue are as dodgy as all their claims and also highly hypocritical.

“We have gone through an exceptional and prolonged period of winter weather and local councils will naturally be concerned about how this will affect their roads budgets.

"However Labour’s plans for a £10 million funding cut in the roads budgets would have had a disastrous impact on our roads network at this time of year.

“The last few weeks highlight the folly of Labour’s proposal to cut £10 million a year from the road maintenance fund."



Minutes from the Transport Committee Report Jan 08

The Committee notes the Cabinet Secretary’s comments in relation to the winding down of the route development fund and the on-going activity he has highlighted in relation to the promotion of Scotland. However, a majority of the Committee is of the view that steps should be taken to provide alternative and specific support to encourage the development of new air routes.

304 It therefore recommends that the Support for Air Services spend should be increased by £10m per annum and that this should be funded by a transfer from the Routine and Winter Maintenance Level 3 line. (304 Charlie Gordon, Alex Johnstone, Cathy Peattie and David Stewart agreed; Rob Gibson, Patrick Harvie and Shirley-Anne Somerville dissented; Alison McInnes abstained)

Finance Committee Report Jan 08

Elaine Murray proposed the addition of the following text:

The Committee recommends that a Support for Air Services Fund should be created, at a cost of £10m per annum. This will be funded by a transfer from the Routine and Winter Maintenance Level 3 line.

The proposal was disagreed to by division: For: 3 (James Kelly, Tom McCabe, Elaine Murray), Against: 4 (Derek Brownlee, Joe FitzPatrick, Alex Neil, Andrew Welsh), Abstentions: 1 (Liam McArthur).


John Swinney - Budget stage 1 debate

The Labour Party came forward with a range of propositions, none of which was successful in the Parliament's Finance Committee. Those included the bizarre proposition to reduce the winter maintenance budget just as Scotland was in the grip of some of the heaviest snow we had seen in many years—a short-sighted proposition if ever I saw one.

Monday, 3 January 2011


Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has hailed the announcement of ERDF funds of £2.5 million for Scrabster Harbour renewables infrastructure.

He said, "It’s a great start to 2011 for Scrabster Harbour. The award of £2.5 million from European Regional Development Funds pushed the sums needed to develop the quay and basin plan for launching marine renewables and general cargo handling much nearer to target. I hope that the small gap can now be bridged to see the starting gun fired this spring."

"The Scottish Government, HIE and the Highlands and Islands Partnership along with Nuclear Decommissioning Authority funds are pledged to back up the substantial cash input by Scrabster Harbour Trust itself. Caithness can be proud of the Harbour's determination. All parties should welcome this latest good news."


Note from Scottish Government PR today 3rs Jan 2011

• Scrabster Harbour Marine Renewable Infrastructure receives £2.5 million towards the development of strategic marine renewable port infrastructure at Scrabster Harbour. The ERDF funding is being requested specifically for investment in quay side facilities including a large lay-down area, lifting pad, lighting and security and is intended to satisfy the needs of the rapidly growing marine energy sector in Scotland. It will also deepen and strengthen the area's capacity to deliver on the Government's renewable energy targets.

Sunday, 2 January 2011


For Immediate Release Sunday 2nd January 2011





The SNP will move to ensure full devolution of the Crown Estate Commission through amendments to the UK Government’s Scotland Bill if the Tory Government does not act to transfer full responsibility and revenues to Scotland.

Devolving the Crown Estate Commission– in particular its responsibilities and administration for Scotland’s shores would see the Scottish people able to benefit directly from Scotland’s offshore renewable energy boom.

It would also allow the shores and seabed to be managed in the interests of Scotland’s coastal communities rather than the Treasury’s bank account.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on securing community benefit from offshore renewable developments. Full devolution of the crown estate revenues from leasing the seabed could form a vital part of an energy fund for investing in Scotland’s future.

Despite repeated calls in opposition for the Crown Estate to be devolved the Lib Dems failed to include it in the Scotland Bill. Lord Wallace, one of the Ministers responsible for the bill was an advocate of devolving powers over the Crown Estate, as was the Lib Dem Chief Whip, and the Lib Dem leader in the Scottish Parliament.

The SNP today questioned if the Lib Dems still backed Crown Estate devolution and would vote to include it in the Scotland bill.

If opposition parties support the SNP’s call to make the Scotland Bill better with devolution of the Crown Estate to Scotland the Scottish Parliament could pass a legislative consent motion that called for the Crown Estate to be devolved.

If opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament do not support devolution of the Crown Estate within the Scotland Bill the SNP will put forward amendments in Westminster to the bill.

Confirming the SNP’s intention Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson, a long time campaigner for Scottish control of Crown Estate lands and revenues on and offshore and an advocate of offshore renewable energy said:

“Scotland knows the Scotland bill, like devolution and like our nation can be better.

“Scotland, in particular the highlands and islands, has called for control over her seas and shores for 20 years. Scotland should not have to wait any longer.

“The SNP will pursue through the Scotland Bill the full devolution of the Crown Estate, its land, shores, rights, responsibilities and revenues in Scotland.

“Crown Estate properties would then be Scotland’s properties and our foreshores and seabed could be managed in the interests of the Scottish people, not the London market and the Treasury bank account.

“We are now in the beginnings of an offshore energy boom that requires effective management of our seas and our shores, support for our ports and our harbours and the leasing of our seabed in a way that brings long term benefit to the people and economy of Scotland.

“In 1998 Lord Sewel made clear the decision to reserve the crown estate was connected to regulation of oil and gas, keeping scotland’s hands off Scotland’s oil. The failure of Tory, Lib Dem and Labour to devolve the Crown Estate now Scotland is looking at a second offshore boom raises serious suspicions that once again the UK is seeking to capture Scotland’s

energy windfall keeping the direct benefit away from the people of Scotland.

“All the Scotland Bill offers is consultation over the appointment of a Commissioner for the Crown Estate. That is an appalling offer that insults our communities, our industries and our potential. Coastal and islands communities, our renewable energy industry, our harbours and our fishing fleet know that we can do better for Scotland.

“The SNP will put forward full devolution through the Scottish Parliament and if Holyrood and UK Ministers do not back devolution SNP MPs will put forward amendments in the House of Commons to bring Scotland’s seas into Scottish control.”

SNP MP for Constitutional Affairs Pete Wishart added:

“We are getting used to seeing Lib Dem’s selling Scotland out. They failed to include devolution of the Crown Estate in the Scotland Bill but the SNP will give Lord Wallace, Tavish Scott and their colleagues another chance.

“UK Ministers can either include devolution of Crown Estate in the bill voluntarily or the SNP will move an amendment on it.

“Scotland’s seas and shores should benefit Scotland’s people. That is an essential principle and one the SNP will pursue through Parliament and with the people of Scotland.”


Note to Editors:

1. The value of Crown Estate offshore assets:

• The Crown Estate Scotland report 2010 puts the value of the CEC’s marine assets at £53.8 million, up 17.2% on the previous year.

• The Crown Estate is responsible for approximately half of Scotland’s foreshore and almost the entire seabed out to the 12 nautical-mile limit.

• The Crown Estate also holds rights to renewable energy and gas storage in waters from 12–200 nautical miles offshore adjacent to Scotland.

• In 2009-10 the CEC’s offshore activities in Scotland produced a surplus of £6.8 million

2. In 2006 six local authorities across the Highlands and Islands along with HIE commissioned a report into the operation of the Crown Estate Commission in Scotland. The report which was presented to the Labour and LibDem Scottish Executive concluded: “There are relatively few public benefits in Scotland from the way these Scottish resources are managed at present, most notably the CEC’s management of Scotland’s territorial seabed and continental shelf rights and approximately half of Scotland’s foreshore. The very limited accountability in Scotland over the management of these Scottish resources has also become worse since devolution. “

The full report can be found at


3. Freedom of information requests by Rob Gibson show Orkney council paid over £60,000 in rent to Crown Estates for facilities at piers last year,

Highland council paif over £18,000 and the Scrabster Harbour Trust an average of £24,000 each year since 2003.

4. Lord Sewel – 27th July 1998 – on Crown Estate reservation: I think that it might be helpful if I explain what provision the Bill currently makes for dealing with the ownership and exploitation of the seabed.

“As noble Lords will be aware, the Crown Estate's Scottish interests include ownership of much of the foreshore and the seabed and the mineral resources in the UK Continental Shelf, excluding coal, oil and gas. Under the Bill, the remit and function of the Crown and the Crown Estate Commissioners, would be reserved. However, the property and interests of the Crown Estate would be subject to the Scottish parliament's legislation in such areas as planning law, land law and environmental protection.

One aspect which would not be devolved, however, is the ownership of, exploration for and exploitation of deposits of oil and natural gas. This appears to us to be the most sensible way of allocating responsibility for the seabed. Further offshore, the seabed is, and will continue to be, exploited for its oil and natural gas reserves which lie underneath. That is already a reserved matter. These resources are a UK asset and we believe that they should be regulated on that basis.”

5. Lib Dem support for the devolution of the Crown Estate includes:

Lord Jim Wallace (LD), former Deputy First Minister now Advocate General (4th April 2010)


We have known for some time that Holyrood can legislate on Crown Estate property in matter such as planning.

“But MSPs at Holyrood should certainly examine this report from the Commons Treasury Committee on the management of the Crown Estate and their powers. In addition the next UK Parliament should look at the powers of the Scottish Parliament in light of this report. I certainly endorse the committee’s recommendation that the next Government review the operation

of the Crown Estate. It is long overdue.”

Dr Michael Foxley, leader of Highland Council, said “We have been campaigning for years over the Crown Estate. “Scotland already owns its seabed, now we must be able to manage it in Scotland directly.”

Tavish Scott: 27th April 2007: SEND THE CROWN ESTATE PACKING

Tavish Scott, the Scottish Liberal Democrat Candidate for Shetland, said that the days of the Crown Estate’s control of Shetland’s seabed must be numbered. Tavish Scott recently met the author of the major report into the Crown Estate’s powers, Robin Callander, to discuss how to achieve local control.

Tavish Scott said, “The Crown Estate’s control of Shetland’s seabed, and the taxes they levy on Shetland, are unacceptable. They tax our aquaculture industry and our harbours and marinas. They even seek Royalty payments when a harbour authority wants to dredge the seabed to improve navigation and to offset the cost by using the dredged material elsewhere.

And, with marine renewable projects in the offing, they will control and tax the wave and tidal power developments and the cables which bring the power ashore.

“The time has come for control of the seabed to be passed from London to the communities who depend on the coastal waters. I will be working with Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, so that the UK Marine Bill can include measures to give Shetland back control of its seabed. To an island community, the seabed is a vital resource. How it is best used, and how to sort out the conflicting interests of different groups – fishermen, fish farmers, leisure sailors, environmentalists and new industries - is something best dealt with in Shetland.”

Tavish Scott: 24th May 2007: CROWN ESTATE AND THE SEABED

Tavish Scott said, “There has been a lot of talk in Parliament this week from the minority Executive about building consensus on individual issues. I hope that, in that spirit, they will offer their support to Liberal Democrats and others arguing the case for Scotland’s seabed to be removed from the control of the Crown Estate. I also hope Labour MSPs will support
my motion to put pressure on London Labour Ministers who are currently showing little sign of agreeing to the proposal.”

S3M-00074 Tavish Scott (Shetland) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): The Crown Estate and Scotland's Seabed— That the Parliament notes the importance to Scotland of the seas around its shores, which support fishing, aquaculture, tourism and marine transport industries, and increasingly will support Scotland’s growing marine renewable energy industry; further

notes that the control of the seabed remains with the Crown Estate which controls most marine developments and levies charges for the use of the seabed; believes that, if Scotland’s coastal and island communities are to be sustained and Scotland’s marine renewable energy potential is to be developed for the maximum benefit of Scotland, control of the seabed should pass to democratically accountable Scottish authorities, and therefore further believes that the opportunity presented by the proposed UK Marine Bill to devolve control of Scotland’s seabed to Scotland should be taken and that, in the meantime, the Scottish Executive should examine

the conclusions of the Crown Estate Review Working Group in order to use every opportunity to use devolved powers to maximise Scotland’s influence over the operation of the Crown Estate in Scotland.

Supported by: Mr Liam McArthur, Mr Jamie Stone, John Farquhar Munro

Lodged on Thursday, May 24, 2007; Not Current as of Tuesday, September 25,