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30 January 2003

Parliamentary Report Questions BAA plc Ownership of Aberdeen Airport

“Vital the handcuffs are taken off our local airport’s ability to compete” says MSP Stevenson

The Scottish Parliament’s Enterprise Committee has published a hard-hitting report on Scotland’s tourism industry this week. In particular it has highlighted the potential constraints placed on BAA plc’s Scottish Airports.

Speaking on the future of Aberdeen Airport, Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson said;

“The Parliament’s Enterprise Committee is spot on. BAA plc own Aberdeen Airport because they want as many people as possible to fly to their big international airports near London.

“If a passenger has to change planes at Heathrow that’s two landing fees and two passenger charges for BAA’s shareholders instead of the one that a direct international flight would earn them.

“Is it any wonder then that Aberdeen Airport languishes as a BAA backwater? I have written to the Department of Trade and Industry demanding that they conduct an investigation into this restrictive practice that is so damaging to our area.

“With the economy of the North-East under threat from Brussels bureaucrats determined to close much of our fishing industry, we cannot afford any other externally imposed constraints.

“We need Aberdeen Airport released from the deadly embrace of London-based BAA and able to develop its true potential as a vital part of our economic infrastructure.”

28 January 2003

Fishing Redundancy Package Misses Target

“Fishing Communities in the North-East will be bitterly disappointed at Labour-Liberal plans to reduce the size of the industry dramatically” says MSP Stewart Stevenson.

Banff and Buchan MSP, Stewart Stevenson, who represents the largest white fish dependent areas of Scotland, has hit out at Government plans to reduce the fleet. Speaking today Stevenson said,

“The £50 million package announced today is neither an investment in our industry nor a lifeline for it. With the bulk going to scrap boats, owners and banks may benefit. Fishermen and onshore industries vital to our future prospects will gain little or nothing.

“After Ross Finnie signing up to the biased European deal that is causing so much anger, he now wants to cut back our future prospects. This at a time when more UK money will be sent to the EU for Spain, Portugal and Ireland to build new boats.

“It is inevitable that our licences and quota will end up in foreign hands if this madness is pursued. The sight of others harvesting our fish in years to come will be a continuing source of despair for all in the North-East.”

Turning to the SNP’s plans for the future, Stevenson commented,

“During our consultation with all sections of the fishing communities over the last few weeks, it has been clear that no-one saw further draconian cuts as a way forward.

“We demand an early return of power over our fishing grounds to the affected communities. The Regional Advisory Committees planned by Europe must become Management bodies with full powers.

“Funding for compulsory days in harbour must be found. And the European Union which has mis-managed fishing for years must provide financial support.”

Finally Stevenson looked to the political changes needed,

“The Common Fisheries policy from Europe has failed us. Now our own government rub salt in our wounds.

“We need a change of policy. And the only way to achieve that is with a change of government. An SNP government after 1st May would put fishing at the heart of its concerns.”

PFI Accounting Mysteries Deepen

“Transparency is totally missing from Kilmarnock private prison contract” says MSP Stewart Stevenson

A Parliamentary answer has revealed that neither the Scottish Executive nor Kilmarnock Prison Services Limited [KPSL] are holding the Kilmarnock prison building asset on their books. Speaking after the Scottish Executive revealed what they describe as an “apparent anomoly”, Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson said,

“During my investigations into the Scottish Prison Service Estates Review last year, I raised a number of questions about the PFI used for Kilmarnock Prison. In particular I highlighted that KPSL had claimed in their 1999 accounts to have sold the prison to the Home Office.

“Each time I queried this I was assured that this was an error. The company [KPSL] indicated that the error was that the sale had actually been to the Scottish Office and not to the Home Office. Ministers indicated to the contrary that no such sale had taken place.

“Finally, this Labour-Liberal Executive has had to come clean and admit that there is an accounting muddle of significant proportions at the heart of this PFI contract.

“With the private company denying that they hold the asset that is the prison buildings at Kilmarnock, there is a serious risk that liabilities lie not with KPSL but with the Executive.”


Turning to Parliamentary exchanges between Ministers and the MSP, Stevenson continued,

“It is vital that the review by the Financial Reporting Advisory Board is completed as a matter of urgency. Clarity is vital if the public purse is not pick up unexpected costs at some point in the future.

“Financial fiddle or malicious muddle; either way PFI as an appropriate way for public projects is increasingly discredited. This is another nail in its coffin.”

17 January 2003

MSP Warns of “Open Door” for GM Contamination

“Rural Affairs Minister Finnie must guarantee that new regulations will protect Scotland’s crops” says Stewart Stevenson.

The Scottish Executive’s plans to reduce the controls over the distribution of seed came under attack today. New regulations before the Rural Development Committee propose adoption of EU rules that remove need for official seals on containers of seed.

Speaking today, Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson said,

“Scotland has a reputation for quality food based on clean air, pure water and high standards. This has been under threat by cross-contamination from the various GM crop trials across the country.

“The new regulations proposed could introduce a new route for GM material to enter mainstream crops. The Executive’s plans for bulk delivery of seed to end users would remove the present safeguards by allowing unsealed containers to be used for distribution.”

Referring to the Organic Targets Bill and the Executive’s own plans for increasing Scotland’s share of the organic food market, Stevenson commented,

“A successful strategy for increased organics production depends on purity of our environment. The GM trials put this at risk. The proposed new distribution system has not been piloted in Scotland and the special risks from GM do not appear to have been considered in drawing up the new regulations.”
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