20th Anniversary of Ecology Centre celebrated in Parliament

Earlier this month I was delighted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Kinghorn Loch Ecology Centre at Kinghorn Loch by holding a debate in the Scottish Parliament.

I was also pleased to meet with staff and volunteers prior to the debate, giving them a tour of Parliament and hosting them afterwards for a small reception.

The Ecology Centre is a great example of an inclusive, community-led charity that aims to inspire positive change through connecting people and the environment.

Over the years the site has developed and is now an impressive facility with many different projects engaging with local people of all ages, involving them in making positive change in their community.

Claire calls for support to save BiFab jobs

This week I questioned the Scottish Government on the shock announcement of redundancies at BiFab.

I have worked closely with workers at the yards in the recent fights for their future and will continue to do so during these troubled times.

With the Scottish Government knowing about these job losses two days before workers, there are serious questions to be asked about worker and trade union engagement.

I also asked the Scottish Government – who has a stake in the yards – what they will do to bridge the gap while the company bids for new long term contracts. Continue reading

BiFab buyout welcomed

Great news for workers at BiFab today as it has been announced that Canadian company DF Barnes has secured the future of the yards in Methil, Burntisland and Arnish.

This is testimony to the commitment, attitude and effort of the workforce and trade unions which has been nothing short of exemplary in a time of great uncertainty for the company.

As the full details of the deal emerge we need to ensure that as much of the existing workforce as possible are able to remain in their roles, whilst growing the company to ensure those that lost their jobs are offered opportunities to return.

This must be the next step in cementing the long term future of BiFab and the yards. We now have the opportunity to put BiFab at the heart of Scotland’s renewable sector whilst competing in a worldwide market. This will hopefully secure much needed jobs for the local economy.

Throughout my time as a local MSP I have been fully supportive of the yards and the workers. I hope to meet with representatives from DF Barnes at the earliest opportunity, hear about their plans for the future and offer any support I can in securing new contracts.

Cross-party effort to help secure BiFab jobs

Following the cross-party BiFab meeting I arranged before recess, it was agreed that we would join together to lobby the U.K. Government to call for their support for BiFab and their yards. 

These yards are vital for the Fife economy and the workers in Methil and Burntisland deserve all the praise they have been receiving for the work that they are continuing to do during these precarious times for the company.

That is why I was joined by MSPs from all parties as we put our names to a letter to the Business Secretary Greg Clark calling on him to do all he can to encourage investment into BiFab and work towards the Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Project being awarded to Burntisland Fabrications.

Parliament is speaking with one voice on this. All five parties have signed the letter and we are all clear, the future of BiFab must be secured

You can read the full text of the letter below: Continue reading

Cross party meeting to secure BiFab’s future

Yesterday in Parliament I held a cross party meeting at the Scottish Parliament to discuss the future of Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab). The meeting saw trade union representatives and workers from the yard lobby and answer questions with a number of MSPs from Scottish Labour, the SNP, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

With the company coming to the end of its Beatrice Contract there are concerns that a gap in the order book could see reductions to full time staff with the possibility of two of the three yards having to close their gates.

I am pleased that workers had the opportunity to lobby MSPs directly just as they successfully did in 2015. I’d also like to thank all the MSPs that turned up to listen to their concerns, the turnout shows that BiFab workers have the clear support of the Scottish Parliament.

We must use that political will to try and secure the long term future of the yard. We must now put pressure on the UK Government and engage with the consortiums tendering their contracts for the year ahead. Continue reading

Claire raises BiFab’s future at FMQs

Recently I met with BiFab workers and trade union representatives at their yard in Methil to discuss their future and concerns as we near the end of their current Beatrice contract.

I also raised the issue directly with the First Minister during FMQs where I called for continued Government support to ensure we can protect jobs and the company can survive any gap in their order book.

That is why I am hosting a meeting in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow to allow trade union members to meet and lobby MSPs from all parties as we work to secure the future of the yards.

I previously held a similar lobby in 2015, which led to cross party pressure on the UK Government ahead of the awarding of the current Beatrice contract. Continue reading

Claire welcomes fracking ban

Today I questioned the Energy Minister as he announced that the current moratorium on fracking will be extended indefinitely.

As a long time campaigner against fracking in my region welcome this move, however it still stops short of an outright ban. I’ve been campaigning against fracking and UCG locally since 2012 and I will continue to support any efforts to introduce a full legislative ban.

I do not believe that the potential risks to public health and the environment have been addressed and I believe that the exploitation of another fossil fuel will hamper our climate change priorities. Continue reading

Time for a frack free Fife

Following the successful campaign to have underground coal gasification banned in Fife and across Scotland I have today called for the Scottish Government to back plans to ban fracking in Scotland and ensure a “frack free Fife”.

The banning of UCG was only the first step. Now the Scottish Government must work with Scottish Labour in banning fracking. Anything less is unacceptable.

All evidence points to the fact that fracking, yet another fossil fuel, will have a negative impact on our environment. It is an unnecessary and environmentally damaging process that has no place in Fife.

This is about the air we breathe, that water we drink and the communities we live in. That is why Labour will change the law and ban fracking in Scotland, just as we promised in our election manifesto.

My colleague Claudia Beamish MSP, has launched a consultation to ban the continuous process in Scotland and I would encourage everyone to put forward a submission to the consultation and unite behind calls for a frack free Fife.

Earlier this year the Scottish Parliament passed a motion calling for such a ban. The motion was passed due to Labour votes as a result of the SNP abstaining. The Scottish Government must listen to locals and community groups, the very people that will be impacted by the potential of drilling under their homes.

It is time for a frack free Fife.

Claudia Beamish’s consultation paper can be found at https://frackingbanbill.com/

The public can respond to the consultation here: http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/Fracking/

Claire welcomes UCG ban

After first raising concerns over Underground Coal Gasification in 2013, I’m delighted that today it was announced UCG has no place in Scotland.

It was clear from the outset that this was an unnecessary and environmentally damaging process that had no place in the region.

I was pleased when my successful call to have UCG include in a moratorium was accepted last year and that research has now left the Scottish Government with no option but to rule UCG out.

Whilst Fife will no longer be a guinea-pig for UCG, this can only be the first step. The Scottish Government must now come out and ban fracking so once and for all we can have a Frack Free Fife.

You can read more here.

 

Claire calls for Fife MSPs to vote for a ‘Frack Free Fife’

Tomorrow the Scottish Parliament can vote for a ban on fracking in Scotland after Scottish Labour submitted an amendment to a Government motion that calls for the ban to be introduced.

I have been campaigning for some time for a Frack Free Fife and this week offers the perfect opportunity for all Fife politicians to unite behind that goal.

Currently the Scottish Government has stopped short of implanting a full ban on fracking, introducing a moratorium (a short term pause) on the process instead. This is despite repeated calls from Scottish Labour, the Lib-Dems and the Green’s for an outright ban.

The Scottish Government can take decisive action against UCG and fracking in Fife and we know that from community groups, to national environmental organisations, to Fife Council there is support for an outright ban. Continue reading