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30 July 2010

Northern Isles ferry services

Views of Orkney and Shetland communities are being sought as part of a study into potential cost reduction measures on the Northern Isles ferry services currently provided by NorthLink Ferries.

The study will consider the potential impacts the proposed changes may have on businesses, organisations and individuals. It will be carried out by BM Consulting and Reference Economic Consultants who will shortly contact a range of ferry users and other interested parties for their views.

This work will be overseen by a working group drawn from the Scottish Government, Orkney Islands Council, ZetTrans and NorthLink Ferries. It follows the commitment given by Ministers earlier this year to carry out further work to explore options to achieve savings on the services.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"It is vital that the Orkney and Shetland communities are able to play their part in contributing to long term sustainable economic growth for Scotland. These lifeline services provide a vital transport link and it is important that we look at how we can continue to provide a cost effective and efficient service within the current challenging economic climate".

The work will be carried out over the next few weeks and the working group will report back to Ministers in the autumn.

People can also contribute their views by email to NIF consultation or by writing to: Scottish Government, Ferries Division, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ.

The deadline for making comments to the Scottish Government is Tuesday, 31st August 2010.

Transport Minister strikes out on bridge hits

Bridge strikes, frequently caused by lack of driver awareness of bridge heights, is costing the public purse around £0.5 million a year.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson today highlighted the costs at the annual industry TruckFest show in Edinburgh as he launched a new driver information campaign to raise awareness of the risks to drivers of high vehicles approaching bridges.

The Transport Scotland ‘Strike it Out’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of striking a bridge as well as highlight the cost to the public of repairs and delays.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Bridge strikes impact heavily on road users, both in terms of delays whilst an incident is being dealt with and later as repairs are carried out, often at substantial cost.

“While it is fortunate that to date there have been no serious injuries or death as a result of a bridge hit, it is important that for a small investment we can raise awareness of these risks and help provide advice to prevent bridge strikes happening in future.

“We are working with a number of industries, including road and freight hauliers, farming, ferries and ports to help communicate the message to drivers of high vehicles to check and plan their route before setting out and carefully consider bridge signs on approach.”

The standard height for a bridge is 16 feet 6 inches (approx. 5 metres) however the majority of strikes occur on trunk road bridges above this height.

In Scotland at least ten road bridges are hit each year, at a danger to both the vehicle driver and the public, and a significant cost - in the region of £500,000 each year for repairs alone. The most commonly hit road bridge is the Chartershall Bridge, crossing the M9, which has been struck 17 times causing it to now be closed, whilst the Challoch Rail Bridge (spanning the A75 at Dunragit) is the most frequently struck rail bridge in the UK, hit 18 times during 2009 and causing frequent closure of the A75.

Phil Flanders, Director Road Haulage Association (RHA) Scotland said

“Whilst the number of bridge strikes compared to journeys made is very small they can have a very serious knock-on effect and the RHA fully supports the Transport Scotland campaign to increase awareness amongst drivers of high vehicles”

Chris MacRae, Head of Policy – Scotland, for the Freight Transport Association, said:

“FTA supports this initiative to raise awareness and provide routing information for vehicle operators. The consequences of bridge strikes for safety and network disruption are severe. We work with Network Rail and other authorities in this area and will be helping to distribute the leaflet produced by Transport Scotland as part of this campaign.

“A main cause of bridge strikes has been an over reliance from some drivers on their sat-navs, which is why FTA worked closely with industry to produce a lorry-friendly unit. It is hoped that this will help end those all too familiar stories of lorry drivers coming unstuck after using sat-nav designed for cars.”

A copy of the bridge strikes leaflet can be downloaded at www.freightscotland.org/lowbridges
or www.transportscotland.gov.uk/road/bridges-and-structures/high-loads.

28 July 2010

MSP Attends Banff Museum Launch Event

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson attended an event in Banff Museum, High Street, Banff, this evening to mark the taking-over of the running of the museum by a local partnership. 

A partnership of local community, voluntary and heritage organisations has a two year contract from Aberdeenshire Council to operate the museum. 

The partnership has already extended opening hours; opened during the recent COAST Festival; will be opening during Banffshire History Festival (which is this Saturday); and have already exceeded last year's total visitor numbers. 

Commenting, Mr Stevenson – who made representations to Aberdeenshire Council on behalf of the group last year – said: 

"This is a tremendous community effort pulling together many local groups and I commend all those who have made this project, even at this early stage, such a success. 

"There is an important place for local history collections such as those in Banff and it needs to be accessible to the townspeople as well as hopefully providing something of interest for visitors to the town."

27 July 2010

Stevenson Hails Next Step Towards Renewable Manufacturing Future For Peterhead

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the publication by Scottish Enterprise of Stage 2 of the National Renewables Infrastructure Plan (N-RIP).

The first stage of the plan identified Peterhead as one of eleven key sites that would see the necessary infrastructure developed to encourage the development of manufacturing facilities for the offshore renewables industry.

Today's report states that a combined public and private investment of £223 million would support the creation of 5,180 jobs and generating a significant economic boost to the locations identified. The report also recommends that the eleven sites are organised into three regional manufacturing clusters.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

"When Peterhead was identified as one of the key sites that would be developed for manufacturing offshore renewable equipment, it was a development that had the potential to substantially boost the economy of the town and the surrounding areas.

"The publication of this new report represents important progress towards achieving that aim as it both identifies the investment that will be needed and outlines the scale of the rewards that are available.

"Scotland has 25% of Europe's offshore wind and tidal energy potential and 10% of its offshore wave energy potential. The scale of the economic opportunities available is enormous, and Peterhead can be right at the cutting edge of these developments.

"Today's report is real progress towards creating more skilled jobs in the area and boosting the local and national economy as a result."

26 July 2010

Stevenson Applauds New Strategy To Support Scotland's Carers

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government’s new five year strategies for supporting carers and young carers which will see £5 million invested in providing respite opportunities. For the first time, the Scottish Government has published a separate strategy for young carers, recognising the unique challenges they face.

The strategy includes increasing investment on training for carers, giving greater priority to carers’ own health and establishing a Carers Rights Charter.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The immense contribution that carers make to the wellbeing of their loved ones is something that cannot be underestimated or applauded highly enough. It is often an extremely challenging and demanding task and as a society we owe it them to ensure that as much support for carers as possible is in place.

“This new strategy will help shape that support for the next five years and I welcome its publication. The funding for respite care in particular is particularly welcome and will help to relieve some of the pressures carers face in their own lives.

“The fact that there is now a separate strategy in place for young carers is an important recognition of the specific challenges that they face. This is an important development for carers in Banff & Buchan and I am optimistic that it will help ease some of the enormous burden on unpaid carers.”

Details of the Scottish Government’s carers strategies can be found at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/07/23153304/0

22 July 2010

Stevenson salutes local climate effort

Government funding helping communities like Comrie and Twechar go green

Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson is visiting Comrie tomorrow (Friday, 23 July) to see how a local community-led project is reducing village’s carbon footprint.

Funding from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund (CCF), is helping the Comrie Development Trust develop projects including a street-by-street insulation programme, community composting, food production, renewable energy production for community buildings and a local transport plan.

The Minister will be shown around the nearby Cultybraggan Eco–Hub, the former army base which has been redeveloped, again using the support of the CCF. The site now includes green buildings for local workspace and manufacturing, allotments for local food production and scope for leisure and recreation opportunities.

The Comrie Development Trust has received almost £476,000 for 2 groundbreaking projects from the Climate Challenge Fund.

Earlier in the day, the Minister will be in Twechar to see the work of Green Energy Aware Twechar – which is similarly using funding from the CCF to bring a community together to reduce Carbon emissions.

Speaking ahead of the visits, Mr Stevenson said:

“Only by working together in communities across Scotland can we hope to achieve the world leading climate change targets we have set.

“That is why the projects I am visiting today are so important. It shows people coming together where they live and taking innovative and concerted action to reduce carbon emissions.

“There are 261 CCF funded communities across Scotland and I hope that examples such as the ones I have visited today can inspire even more communities to take action to reduce carbon emissions.”

21 July 2010

Stevenson applauds community action

Minister highlights local efforts to tackle climate change on Moray visit

An historic woolmill, allotments and a community centre will be visited by Scotland’s Climate Change Minister tomorrow (Thursday, July 22).

Stewart Stevenson will be in Moray to see how local people are playing their part in tackling climate change through initiatives backed by Scotland’s £27.4 million Climate Challenge Fund.

His first visit is to the Knockando Woolmill at Aberlour. The mill has received £9,122 from the Climate Challenge Fund towards the use of wool insulation to reduce emissions and a further £96,000 from the Scottish Government-funded Community and Renewable Energy Scheme to install an efficient wood pellet heating system.

The Minister then visits the Glamourhaugh Community Allotments to see how the Huntly Rotary Club project, supported by climate challenge funding of £9,820, is progressing.

Mr Stevenson later travels to Findhorn Ecovillage to learn how £241,450 from the Climate Challenge Fund is being used by The Park Ecovillage Trust to develop a "hands on" sustainability education package for schools that will prepare students to take action to reduce their carbon footprints. He will inspect "eco-kits", including renewable energy generating photo-voltaic cells, small wind generators and solar-thermal panels which will be used in school learning projects to power a water purification system.

Mr Stevenson said:

"The Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) has captured the imagination of communities all over Scotland and demonstrated nation-wide commitment to reducing carbon footprint.

“I am delighted to be visiting Moray to see for myself how local initiatives are empowering communities to play their part in tackling carbon emissions.

“From the historic Knockando Woolmill and Glamourhaugh Community Allotments to the Findhorn Foundation Community Centre, the people of Moray are at the forefront in championing local efforts to create a greener and increasingly sustainable Scotland.”

Details of visits – Thursday, July 22

Venue: Knockando Woolmill, Aberlour, Moray, AB38 7RP
Time: 9.30 am

Venue: Glamourhaugh Community Allotments, Gladstone Road, Huntly, AB54 8EX
Time: 1.30pm

Venue: Findhorn Foundation Community Centre, IV36 3TZ
Time: 3.30pm

Green initiatives keep new line on track

The new Airdrie – Bathgate route will be a significant enabler towards a greener Scotland said Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson today.

The Minister was speaking during a visit to Bathgate to see some of the initiatives being implemented at the relocated station in advance of the new line opening in December.

Mr Stevenson said:

"Scotland has the toughest climate change legislation anywhere in the world and our climate change delivery plan means persuading motorists to get out of their cars and use more sustainable forms of transport. That's why we are investing £300 million in the Airdrie – Bathgate route to bring considerable benefits for the communities along the route, forming a direct rail link to Glasgow and Edinburgh for towns like Caldercruix, Blackridge and Armadale for the first time in 50 years.

“Together with the Scottish Government’s £4 million cycling plan, the new cycle path being constructed as part of this project will help us achieve our 2020 target of 10 per cent of all journeys taken in Scotland be made by bike.

“The work here is clear evidence of Network Rail’s efforts to employ environmentally friendly practices as an integral part of this project as it moves towards final delivery.”

Ron McAulay, Network Rail director, Scotland commented:

“We’re proud to be delivering this hugely important new rail line and look forward to seeing the enormous time and effort invested in this project coming to fruition in the next few months. Throughout the construction of this railway, we have been careful to put in place measures which reduce the environmental impact of our work and enable a positive legacy for communities across West Lothian and North Lanarkshire. We believe that positive legacy will continue when the new electrified line begins operating quieter, cleaner trains from December this year.”

Network Rail’s efforts to minimise the environmental impact of the project have taken on numerous forms across the 24 km of the route:
  • to reduce stress and disturbance of local birdlife, all vegetation clearance has been kept to non-nesting months. Appropriate vegetation replanting is planned once construction of the new railway line is complete
  • pulp and bark from felled trees has been used to improve the quality of the earth and used as flooring in a local playground
  • artificial badger setts and otter holts have been built in some locations to provide new accommodation away from the new railway
  • specially designed newt fences have been erected to stop great crested newts (a European protected species) from accessing the construction site or the new railway
  • to protect the Hillend reservoir from becoming choked with silt, a boom has been installed adjacent to the project’s nearby construction site
The new Bathgate Station will include a ticket office, two platforms, a footbridge, lifts and stairs. With a new access footpath from the town centre and 400 car-parking spaces, the station will offer a real public transport alternative.

Four trains per hour will stop in each direction with an approximate journey time of 25 minutes to Edinburgh and 45 minutes to Glasgow.

The project is funded by the Scottish Government through Transport Scotland.
Further information can be found at www.airdriebathgateraillink.co.uk

Minister for Climate Change Visits Action Outdoors

Mr Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, visited the Action Outdoors Centre in Redding today to hear all about the innovative learning facilities’ green credentials.

The Minister was met by representatives of some of the funding partners behind the Centre, which recently scooped top prize in the Education and Learning category of the British Urban Regeneration Association’s Waterways Renaissance Awards 2010: David Lamont, Head of Operations, British Waterways Scotland; Karen Moore, Development Director Scotland, The Waterways Trust Scotland; Sheila Maxwell, Community Regeneration Officer, Linkwide Housing Association, which specifically funded the Green Action Project; as well as Fiona Hamilton, Project Development Manager, Action Outdoors and Action Outdoors Volunteers, Adam Wond, David Walker, Nathan and Andrew Murphy.

The Minister’s tour began with an introduction to the green energy pump which generates heat for the Action Outdoors Centre.

The energy saving heat pump was funded by the Scottish Community & Householder Renewables Initiative (SCHRI) and the Waterways Trust’s Green Fund which was established with UK Boat Hire, Britain’s leading canal hire boat company to invest in low carbon technologies and other environmental projects which help mitigate for the carbon emissions caused by holidays taken along the canals and rivers.

The pump works on the same principle as a fridge – cooling one part of the environment and thereby generating heat. In this case, using pipes submerged in the canal, a refrigerator plant cools the canal water and makes use of the heat recovered to provide hot water and central heating for the Action Outdoors building. Heat generated in this way has much reduced carbon emissions compared with conventional gas or oil boilers.

The visit also afforded the Minister the opportunity of hearing more about the new Green Action Project which is based at the Action Outdoors Centre.

Co-ordinated by Action Outdoors and The Waterways Trust Scotland, the Green Action Project is designed to give local 16-24 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds greater employment opportunities and access to potential further education. Specifically, project participants are given the opportunity to enrol on a 12 week long environmental or tourism volunteer training programme, working through the environmental programme on the canal or at Action Outdoors or taking the tourism programme at The Falkirk Wheel.

Green Action participants are also given the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities on the canal as part of a personal and social development programme.

To date, 36 participants have successfully completed one of the training programmes and six young people have moved into employment or training as a result including one young person now employed full-time at The Falkirk Wheel.

The Minister also met with some of Action Outdoors’ regular participants whilst they took part in canoeing and kayaking on the Union Canal, just outside the Centre.

Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, said:

“The Action Outdoors Centre is making the best use of its immediate environment in an innovative and successful effort to reduce carbon emissions.

"I am delighted to be in Falkirk to see how this centre is rising to the climate change challenge by harnessing the potential of our canals to contribute to a sustainable and active future - and ultimately helping Scotland to achieve its world leading emissions reduction targets."

Karen Moore, Development Director Scotland, The Waterways Trust Scotland, said:

“We are delighted to welcome the Minister to Action Outdoors today. Since it opened in 2008, through the enthusiasm and efforts of funders, management and volunteers, the centre has gone from strength to strength and we are now seeing the real benefits to participants coming through as they develop a raft of new skills, both personal and those enhancing their employment potential.

“We are also particularly proud of our environmental activities which underpin our core objective – to encourage as many people as possible to get out and about on the Scottish canals, enjoying the wildlife, heritage and open space, whilst ensuring that the waterways are nurtured and sustained for the enjoyment of future generations.”

18 July 2010

Transport Minister takes a walk Underground


A midnight walk through ageing tunnels below the city of Glasgow might not be how most politicians would choose to spend their evening.

However the Transport Minister did just that recently with a visit to Scotland’s only Subway network.

Stewart Stevenson pulled on his hard hat and safety boots to witness first hand the labour intensive work carried out each night into the early hours that keeps the Victorian system running.

The Minister described the experience as “revealing” and said he now fully appreciates the level of work being done behind the scenes to keep the Subway operating and transporting about 14 million passengers a year. The balance between maintenance and operation is one that needs to be managed very carefully

Speaking to SPT Express, Mr Stevenson said:

“It’s terrific to visit a piece of Victorian engineering, to see it still serving a purpose in the 21st Century but also of course to see the challenges there are in maintaining something that was designed and built in another age.

“The system in Glasgow of course is unique in terms of its gauge and technology, so I wasn’t greatly surprised by the amount of manual labour involved but seeing it and seeing the work that has to be done to deal with bolts that won’t come loose and have to be mechanically drilled out is very revealing as to the challenges there are in keeping the system running.”


He added:

“Maintenance is a huge challenge, different parts of the network have different types of water, there’s limestone coming out of the render, hydrogen sulphite coming from old coal seams – all sorts of different challenges that have to be responded to by the very engaged and intelligent team of engineers who are working through the night to make the system continue to work during the day for so many people.

“Obviously one of the things people have been looking at is whether we can extend the operating hours of the Subway. It’s clear that the balance between maintenance and operation is one that needs to be managed very carefully indeed and I will certainly take away something to think about in respect of achieving that balance, which SPT has to juggle all the time.”

MSP Announces 10th Annual Surgery Tour

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has announced details of his forthcoming surgery tour of local communities which commences next week.

This year will be the tenth such tour that Mr Stevenson has undertaken, covering over 40 communities from Sandend in the far west to Cruden Bay at the south-western end of the constituency and inland to Auchnagatt, New Deer, Aberchirder and Inverkeithny.

On day two of his surgery tour, Mr Stevenson will clock-up a milestone 650th surgery when he calls at Macduff.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

"The annual surgery tour with my mobile office is always extremely enjoyable and I think also that people appreciate having their MSP come to their own community rather than having to go to one of my 'static' surgeries in a nearby town or village.

"Even in this age of electronic communications, people still value being able to have face-to-face contact with their elected representatives, which is important. It also gets me into some of our smaller communities which I may otherwise not have reason to visit during the course of a year."

This tour will also be Mr Stevenson's final tour of some communities owing to boundary changes in the Scottish Parliament constituencies which take effect from May 2011. The Banff & Buchan Scottish Parliament constituency will disappear and be replaced by the new constituency of Banffshire & Buchan Coast. Meanwhile, communities in Central Buchan, along with Inverkeithny, Cruden Bay, Hatton and Longhaven will move into a new East Aberdeenshire constituency from next May.

Mr Stevenson continued:

"I'll be very sad to lose these communities as I have very much enjoyed being their representative in Parliament. I will of course continue to be their MSP up until May 2011 when the boundaries change and will continue to serve them with surgeries. However, the tour with my mobile office is an annual summer event so this will, sadly, be the last time the tour takes me to Central Buchan, Cruden and Inverkeithny.

"I'm looking forward to the challenges presented by the new Banffshire & Buchan Coast constituency which stretches from Boddam and Peterhead in the south all the way to Buckie in the west. The SNP's candidate selection process is underway and if I am fortunate to be selected by the local party members and then elected by the people I shall endeavour to do my best for the new constituency, as I hope I have done for Banff & Buchan during these last nine years."


Details of the tour are as follows:

Monday 26 July


New Pitsligo              10.00am – 10.25am             The Square
Strichen                    10.40am – 11.05am             North Street
Memsie                      11.20am – 11.35am             by BT exchange
Rathen                      11.45am – 12.00pm             by Public Hall
Lonmay                     12.10pm – 12.25pm             adj. Ban Car Hotel
New Leeds               1.45pm – 1.55pm                 Manse Street
Fetterangus             2.10pm – 2.25pm                 Hall car park
Old Deer                    2.40pm – 2.55pm                 opp. old Post Office
Stuartfield                 3.05pm – 3.20pm                 The Square
Auchnagatt              3.30pm – 3.45pm                 Hall car park
New Deer                  4.00pm – 4.20pm                 Hall car park
Maud                          4.30pm - 4.45pm                  Station car park


Tuesday 27 July


New Byth                  10.25am – 10.40am             The Square
Gardenstown          11.00am – 11.15am             adj. Petrol Station
Macduff                     11.30am – 12.00pm             Knowes Hotel car park
King Edward           1.20pm – 1.30pm                 lay-by at Kirk
Fisherie                     1.40pm – 1.50pm                 Craigwall Cottages
Crudie                       2.00pm – 2.10pm                 lay-by
New Aberdour         2.30pm – 2.45pm                 car park
Rosehearty              3.00pm – 3.20pm                 The Square
Sandhaven              3.30pm – 3.45pm                 St Magnus Road opp. park
Tyrie                           4.00pm – 4.10pm                 adj. old Post Office


Wednesday 28 July


Longside                  10.15am – 10.30am             Main St. car park
Mintlaw                      10.40am – 11.05am             Newlands Road
Hatton                       11.30am – 11.45am             Hall car park
Cruden Bay             12.00pm – 12.20pm             Main Street
Longhaven              12.30pm – 12.45pm             Hall car park
Boddam                    12.50pm – 1.05pm               Russell Street
Rora                           2.35pm – 2.45pm                 Hall car park
St Fergus                  2.55pm – 3.10pm                 opp. Shop
Crimond                    3.25pm – 3.45pm                 Kirk car Park
St Combs                 3.55pm – 4.15pm                 Hall car park
Inverallochy             4.25pm – 4.45pm                 adj. Post Office


Thursday 29 July


Easterfield (Inverkeithny) 10.15am – 10.25am             adj. School
Aberchirder              10.45am – 11.10am             The Square
Cornhill                     11.25am – 11.45am             Car park
Fordyce                    12.00pm – 12.15pm             adj. Castle
Sandend                   12.30pm – 12.45pm             adj. Phone Box
Portsoy                     2.00pm – 2.25pm                 Church Street
Boyndie                    2.40pm – 2.50pm                 opp. Boyndie Centre
Whitehills                  3.00pm – 3.20pm                 Seafield Street
Inverboyndie           3.30pm – 3.40pm                 adj. Bridge
Alvah                         3.55pm – 4.05pm                 adj. Linhead Hall
Forglen                     4.25pm – 4.35pm                 Bogton Row

12 July 2010

Direct trains to Blackpool back after almost 20 years

After an absence of nearly twenty years, direct trains will be carrying holidaymakers between Glasgow and Blackpool this summer.

First TransPennine Express will run the new service at weekends through the peak summer season from 2 July until 5 September.

Fares for the through journey to Blackpool will start at just £17 single.

Leo Goodwin, commercial director for First TransPennine Express says:

“With UK resorts expecting a busy summer and Blackpool in particular we hope this new direct service and great value fares will prove popular and make the train an even better choice for holiday train journeys.”

It is the first time since 1992 and the days of British Rail that trains have linked Glasgow directly with Blackpool making it that little bit easier for some of the ten million visitors attracted to the town each year.

Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister for Transport at the Scottish Government, said:

“With the summer holidays starting shortly, this is fantastic news for people looking to take a break in the UK. This service will enable travellers to use more sustainable forms of transport while encouraging more visitors to both Blackpool and Scotland alike”

Direct trains will run

Every Friday from 2nd July to 3rd September:
Leave Glasgow Central at 1254; arrive Blackpool at 1604

Every Saturday from 3rd July to 4th September:
Leave Glasgow Central at 1010; arrive Blackpool at 1311

Every Saturday from 3rd July to 4th September:
Leave Blackpool at 1315; arrive Glasgow Central at 1642

Every Sunday from 4th July to 5th September:
Leave Blackpool at 1730; arrive Glasgow Central at 2045

Councillor Maxine Callow, Cabinet Member for Tourism and Regeneration at Blackpool Council, said:

“We are delighted that this new direct service has been introduced. We welcome holidaymakers from Scotland at special times every year and hope that this service will encourage them to visit more often during the summer.”

Full details of all train times and fares can be found on line at www.tpexpress.co.uk.

6 July 2010

Stevenson Applauds Publication Of New SFF Environmental Policy Statement

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the publication of an updated Environmental Policy Statement by the Scottish Fishermen's Federation which underlines the industry's ongoing commitment to fishing in an environmentally responsible manner.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

"The publication of the first Scottish Fishermen's Federation's Environmental Statement in 2008 was a major landmark which demonstrated to the world the commitment that the industry in Scotland has to sustainable and environmentally responsible practices.

"Nobody has more to gain from fishing being both profitable and sustainable than the Scottish fishing industry itself, and as well as showing a commitment to protecting the health of the stocks it relies on, the statement helped to re-affirm the first class reputation of the Scottish fleet to consumers.

"This updated statement takes into account the changes and innovations that have taken place in the last two years and clearly demonstrates that the importance the fishing industry places on sustainability has not faded. It is an approach which I applaud and I believe that the industry in Scotland's determination to play an active role in conservation despite the difficult circumstances they face is something they should be truly proud of."

5 July 2010

Green Bus Fund Opens

APPLICATIONS INVITED FOR £3.4 MILLION FUND

Buses in Scotland will be helped to go green thanks to a new £3.4 million Scottish Green Bus Fund launched today.

Bus Operators, local authorities and regional transport partnerships are being invited to apply for funding to help with the additional up front costs of buying low carbon buses.

The scheme will provide a fresh incentive to operators to purchase eco-friendly vehicles for their fleet as well as help stimulate demand for green technology in Scotland.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"Scotland has the toughest climate change legislation anywhere in the world and meeting these tough targets will require decisive action. Our climate change delivery plan makes clear we need to decarbonise almost all road transport by 2050 which is why we're helping our bus industry invest in the latest emissions reducing green technology.

"This Government is taking action to reduce emissions from transport and this announcement follows the recent launch of a £4.3 million scheme to encourage the use of low carbon vehicles by Scotland's public services.

"Scotland's role in the global effort to reduce emissions will create clear economic benefits and help maintain a thriving economy. We are leading the way in the development of low carbon transport technology and it's important we play to these strengths as we look to secure economic recovery and future sustainable economic growth.

"The Scottish Green Bus Fund will make an important contribution to achieving our target of reducing emissions by 42% by 2020 and I'd encourage bus operators to use this opportunity to introduce green buses to their fleets."

2 July 2010

A77 Symington and Bogend Toll Improvements move closer

A multi-million pound project to provide grade separated junctions at Symington and Bogend Toll on the A77 has taken a significant step forward with the publication of made orders today.

The scheme, which is located between Spittalhill Interchange and Dutch House roundabout, bring safety benefits to road users on the A77. The scheme will also deliver improved accessibility to and from this busy trunk road that connects central Scotland to Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway while providing vital access to the ports of Cairnryan and Stranraer.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

“Earlier this year the Scottish Government set out the actions being taken across the public sector to position Scotland’s economy for recovery and boost the long term performance of our economy.

“Our strategy includes delivering transport infrastructure improvements to encourage sustainable economic growth. Together with other projects such as the £9 million Burnside scheme, this investment will contribute to safety improvements and reduce journey times on this lifeline route.”

The A77 carries approximately 34,000 vehicles a day through this stretch and is not only a key link for Ayrshire communities but provides connections to and from Glasgow and further west via the M77.

This scheme will improve safety along the route with the closure of central reserve gaps along a 4.5 mile (7.3km) section of the route. Grade separated junctions at Symington and Bogend Toll will provide for safer manoeuvres at these junctions.

Interested parties can view the orders during business hours from 2 July 2010 to 13 August 2010 on (Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays) at Transport Scotland, Buchanan House, 58 Port Dundas Road, Glasgow, G4 0HF; South Ayrshire Council, County Buildings, Wellington Square, Ayr, KA7 IDR; Symington Library, Brewlands Road, Symington KAI 5QZ

A77 overtaking scheme progresses

A scheme to widen the A77 carriageway between Parkend and Bennane has moved forward with the issue of tenders.

The multi-million pound scheme will see construction of nearly two miles of widening works, allowing for dedicated overtaking opportunities in either direction. The scheme will enhance this vital route between the central belt and Stranraer and Cairnryan ferry ports by improving traffic flow, reducing journey times and ferry travel related convoys.

Stewart Stevenson, Transport Minister said:

“I am pleased to see this important A77 scheme progressing quickly with the issue of the tenders.

“This scheme is part of £60 million of planned investments along both the A77 and A75 and complements £29 million of investment already undertaken on these key tourist and business routes.

“It is vital that our visitors, both commercial and tourists, see that Scotland is open for business. Better access to and from our ports at Stranraer and Cairnryan will bring significant benefits, ensuring long term sustainable economic growth across south west Scotland and beyond.”

The tender process is expected to be completed by autumn 2010 and it is anticipated work can start on site soon after for an expected opening in spring 2011.

The 86 mile long A77 is a main link for south west communities and businesses, and this section of the route carries up to 3000 vehicles a day.

A9 dualling project moves forward

A multi-million pound project to deliver an additional length of dual carriageway on the A9 at Crubenmore took a further step forward this week with the issuing of tenders.

The project will see construction of almost two miles of dual carriageway (2.7km) providing improved overtaking opportunities on the A9 to the north of Crubenmore, reducing journey times and improving traffic flow on this key route connecting central Scotland to the Highlands.

Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This is an important step forward for dualling of the A9. These works complement improvements currently underway at Moy and Loaninghead, as well as a number of schemes already completed on this vital route.

“The project is a further example of our commitment to dualling the A9 on a progressive basis and will bring significant benefits to commercial and tourist traffic through more reliable journey times to and from north Scotland.“

When completed, the scheme will support businesses, communities and tourism throughout Scotland by improving the access to and from Inverness and the Highlands.

The tender process is expected to be completed by Autumn 2010 and it is anticipated work can start on site soon thereafter, with an expected completion in late 2011. Some advance works may be carried out later this year.

1 July 2010

MSP To Present Award To New Deer School

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson will present the UNICEF Rights Respecting School award to the children of New Deer School on Friday 2 July (tomorrow) at 11.15am.

Over the past session the school has worked towards an understanding and a better practice of Children's Rights according to the Charter of the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child. This has involved an examination of the school ethos with regard to this and also a wider study of Global Citizenship. New Deer School was assessed by a representative from UNICEF and awarded Level 1 in the scheme.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“I’m absolutely delighted for the pupils and staff at New Deer School. This is a tremendous achievement to gain such a prestigious award.”
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