Today the Species Champions initiative is relaunched in the Scottish Parliament. The initiative, run by Scottish Environment LINK, asks MSPs to become champions for wildlife in Scotland.
I am delighted to been one of the first champions announced on its launch date as I continue to champion the puffin, an iconic bird that can be found off the coast of Fife.
In the last parliament I tabled many questions and motions on puffins and the risks that they face and I look forward to working with RSPB Scotland once again in this parliament.
So far 48 MSPs have signed up to champion a specific Scottish species, which means over 80 MSPs have still to take part.
To find out who has already signed up and who you need to politely ‘badger’ to take part, you can check out the species champions webpage here: http://www.scotlink.org/work-areas/species-champions/
I was delighted to attend the recent Coalfields Home Internationals at Forthbank Stadium to watch teams from Benarty and Alloa battle it out with teams from Derby, Hartlepool, Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil.
Coalfield Regeneration Trust do a great job in supporting and empowering coalfield communities across the country and this football tournament was the culmination of a nationwide competition that pitted teams of 14 to 16 year olds against each other.
I was delighted that my region was hosting the final and that two local teams had made it through the Scottish section. I was also pleased to see Kelty & Blairadam Pipe Band providing the entertainment throughout the day.
Congratulations to the team from Hartlepool who were the overall winners.
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
Recently the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) announced the classifications of bathing waters for throughout Scotland, including Fife.
According to SEPA, 4 of Fife’s 14 designated bathing waters have been classed as ‘excellent’ with a further 7 rated as ‘good’. Only one area, Kinghorn Harbour Beach, was rated as ‘poor’.
The classifications are a result of the new European classification system which has resulted in much tighter water quality standards. Under the new regulations, four years of monitoring data is used to provide a more consistent picture of water quality.
The 4 ‘excellent’ areas in Fife are amongst the 17 across the country that received the top rating. A further 38 throughout Scotland were rated as ‘good’, 12 ‘sufficient’ and 17 as ‘poor’. Continue reading
Today I took part in a member’s debate celebrating the work of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.
The trust is based in Alloa and has worked across the Mid Scotland and Fife region in the past 15 years carrying out excellent work regenerating and addressing the challenges facing former mining communities.
Thirty years after the decline of the coal industry, there is a continuing legacy of poverty and deprivation, a set of circumstances which in recent years, has faced further pressure. There are still worse levels of deprivation in coalfield committees when compared to other areas, and the Trust report that Fife, by some margin, has the largest and most pronounced concentration of coalfield deprivation in Scotland.
I was able to highlight the Trusts work in Methil, where they provided grants to groups and projects through their Participatory Budget Fund. The fund has proved a success and for every £1 invested though participatory budgeting an additional £5 of external funding has been secured.
Communities living with poverty often feel remote from decision making or feel as if their vote at the ballot box doesn’t change their lives or community very much. Projects such as this give communities power, control and decision making, bring people together to improve their community and I am happy to continue to work with them in delivering change in Mid Scotland and Fife.
This week SCIAF joined us in the Scottish Parliament to celebrate their 50th anniversary, hosting a well attended evening celebrating on Wednesday.
It was good to meet and discuss all the fantastic work they do throughout the world. I look forward to further conversations as we work together in my role as Democracy spokesperson for Scottish Labour.
I have called for the Scottish Government to bring forward their proposed consultation on unconventional gas and fracking. The current delay is leaving the people of Fife and Mid Scotland voiceless as plans for underground coal gasification (UCG) continue in the area.
In January, following pressure from campaigners, the Scottish Government announced that it was bringing forward a moratorium on granting future consents on unconventional oil and gas developments in Scotland. At the same time they announced plans to hold a public consultation.
However we are 5 months on and a consultation has still to be published. Meanwhile proposals for UCG are continuing and people across Mid Scotland and Fife are not being given the opportunity they need to voice their concerns. Continue reading
It’s time for a frack free Fife and that is why I am backing calls from Scottish Labour for a triple lock system to guard against fracking in Scotland.
Under plans announced by Jim Murphy, Scottish Labour will use the new powers from the Smith Commission to stop fracking in Scotland. This move would stop Fife being a “test bed” for the controversial process.
I have long been campaigning both in Fife and the Scottish Parliament for the Scottish Government to take action against fracking. I have called for robust national guidelines and the introduction of buffer zones.
I’ve always been clear though that this was only the start as the decision on fracking in Scotland rests ultimately with the Scottish Government and should take into account the concerns of locals. Continue reading
Last week I gave the opening address of the SEPA and SRUC two day conference on land use and sustainable development, a text of my speech follows:
Since the first conference in 1995 there have been a number of legislative changes to land management, including the abolition of feudal tenure, the agricultural holdings act, the Climate Change Act and the subsequent development of a land use strategy, as well as the introduction of right to roam and the establishment of National Parks. However, despite these changes the challenges of implementation still remain and these are ones we must all address, be that as politicians, campaigners and activists, land owners, managers and users.
Like many Fife villages Kelty, where I grew up, illustrates how diverse land use in Scotland can be. From electricity pylons stretching across farmland, to St Ninian’s opencast and wind turbines by Mossmorran. Next to the opencast is Blairadam Forest owned by the Forestry Commission, beyond Benarty Hill is RSPB’s Loch Leven nature reserve, while on other side sits Lochore Meadows Country Park. Continue reading