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31 August 2011

Moorland Management Message To Minister

Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change was welcomed to The James Hutton Institute’s Glensaugh Research Station today (Wednesday 31 August 2011) to find out more about issues affecting moorland areas.

The visit was jointly arranged by The James Hutton Institute and the Moorland Forum and aimed to highlight the work being undertaken by the two bodies, as well as the practical measures the Research Station undertakes with regard to upland hill farm management.

Following an introduction to some of the key issues, the Minister was led on a tour of the Research Station by Farm Manager, Donald Barrie. Glensaugh has provided facilities for agricultural and land use research since 1943. Typical of many hill farms in upland Scotland, it comprises just over 1,000 hectares (ha) of which 865 ha is semi-natural/moorland communities, 88 ha permanent pasture and 60 ha improved pasture/arable.

Simon Thorp, Director of Scotland’s Moorland Forum led a discussion on the importance of attracting private investment to upland areas and well as ensuring an effective level of dialogue between different interests within upland communities. Local development plans that identify the needs and wishes of the upland management community as a whole as well as improved communication and coordination between Government Agencies and NGOs with local landowners, land managers and other community interests were identified as barriers to be overcome.

The Minister also heard of the need to manage peatland for effective carbon management. High carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are one of the key causes of climate change and Scottish soils, particularly peatlands are an important store of carbon. Peatlands should grow and accumulate carbon, however inappropriate management, such as drainage or over-grazing, can lead to carbon losses. Research at The James Hutton Institute aims to understand the impacts of both land use and climate change on peatlands, investigating the best options for restoring and managing the carbon sink function of our peatlands.

There was also interest in the agroforesty trial area which offers a range of benefits compared to conventional systems. Integrated livestock grazing and woodlands plots can not only add to the landscape quality of the countryside and its tourism value but the shelter from the trees can encourage better pasture growth, feeding, and animal welfare for livestock.

Simon Thorp, Director of Scotland’s Moorland Forum said,

“The Moorland Forum brings together a range of expertise and offers a unique opportunity within Scotland to deliver dialogue and debate on upland issues. We welcome this opportunity to liaise with the Minister on the future of the uplands. The challenge is to bring people together to inspire solutions and working with The James Hutton Institute we can use science to help us deliver solutions.”

Professor Iain Gordon, Chief Executive of The James Hutton Institute said,

“The James Hutton Institute is well placed to be a key driver in addressing the challenges land in Scotland faces today. Glensaugh is the ideal venue to demonstrate upland management and partnerships, such as today’s event with the Moorland Forum, are important to help deliver science into the policy agenda.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP said,

“I’ve had a very interesting morning. There is nothing more valuable for a Minister than to get out on the ground, meet people involved in the science as well as those implementing environmental and land use policies and engage in discussion around the issues.”

Stevenson Highlights Bank Of Scotland Grants

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is highlighting the availability of grants from the Bank of Scotland Foundation for local charitable groups.

Twenty-three charities across Scotland received nearly £290,000 in the first tranche of donations from foundation.

The foundation is now seeking applications for the latest round of donations.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The small grants programme accepts applications for amounts up to and including £20,000 from charities registered in Scotland. It particularly seeks to help with the development and improvement of local communities and also financial literacy and financial inclusion.

“I would like to urge local charities to apply. Further information and application forms can be found on their website at http://bankofscotlandfoundation.org/small-grants-programme or you can call 0131 243 7053. The closing date for receipt of applications is 5pm, Friday 14th October 2011.

“I hope that charities in Banffshire & Buchan Coast will be able to benefit from this scheme.”

30 August 2011

Stevenson Urges Support For Suicide Prevention Week

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has highlighted the importance of Suicide Prevention Week, which takes place from 4th -10th September.

Commenting on the awareness event, Mr Stevenson said:

“Every day, around two people die from suicide in Scotland, which is two deaths too many so we need to be looking to the ways in which to reduce this sad statistic which affects all ages, genders and cultures.

“The starting point can be to reduce the stigma associated with suicide and demonstrate that talking about problems is not a weakness, but a necessity and that it is the responsibility of all in society to tackle this problem, and not simply hide it away. We must acknowledge that simply talking about suicide does save lives. Hopefully, people will learn to recognise the signs of someone becoming vulnerable, so that preventative action can be taken.

“It is about time that suicide stops being one of society’s taboos, which is a hidden killer and one of the biggest killers of young Scottish men.

“For those wishing further information they should visit: www.chooselife.net.”

Name That Beaver

The first beavers to be born in the wild since they were hunted into extinction hundreds of years ago will be named by Scottish school children.A competition to choose the names was officially launched by Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson during a visit to the Scottish Beaver Trial in Knapdale Forest, Argyll, which was recently recognised by Lonely Planet magazine awards as a European travel highlight.

The Minister visited the Dubh Loch site to see the beaver's landscape, dam and new 'Beaver Detective Trail' footpath.He was also taken to Loch Linnhe to view a beaver lodge by boat and met representatives of the organisations involved in the trial.

Mr Stevenson said:

"This trial of reintroducing beavers back into the wild in Scotland in a controlled and supervised way was an important step forward for Scottish conservation and tourism. These charismatic creatures play a key role in providing good habitat for a range of wetland species, while generating interest in Knapdale and Scotland from far afield.

"It is great news that this landmark trial has proven successful in breeding its first kits last year, following the reintroduction of beaver family groups to Knapdale in 2009. We hope this breeding will continue and invite name suggestions from young people to welcome the kits.

"By engaging people in the trial, we hope it will help boost interest in the wider research over the next few years. This research will play a crucial role in assessing the long-term future for beavers in the Scottish landscape."


Scottish Beaver Trial Project Manager Simon Jones said:

"I am delighted that the Minister for the Environment has come to Knapdale to see the Scottish Beaver Trial for himself.

"The Trial has become a major tourist attraction and we were recently commended by Lonely Planet. They're a great boost to the local economy.

"The Minister has also seen the conservation benefits of beavers in Scotland. Beavers are ecosystem engineers who modify their environment and experiences from other countries shows that they can bring new species and a greater variety of wildlife to their area.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the names that children come up with for the beaver kits."


Children wanting to suggest a name for the kits can apply online to gtinker@swt.org.uk. The winning names will be announced by the Scottish Beaver Trial later this year.

The Scottish Beaver Trial is a partnership project between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and host Forestry Commission Scotland.

This is a planned and licensed trial where there has been consultation with and involvement of local people and businesses. Careful monitoring of the impact of the beavers has taken place from the outset.

It is a time-limited trial which is due to run until 2014, and followed years of lobbying by ecologists and conservation experts who believed the beaver has been a missing part of wetland eco-systems since being hunted to extinction in the 16th century.

Research into the five-year trial is coordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is the independent body tasked by the Scottish Government to co-ordinate the scientific monitoring of the trial.

SNH will report to the Scottish Government at the end of the trial period and a decision can then be made on the future of the beavers in Knapdale Forest and elsewhere in Scotland The competition will be judged by representatives from one of SWT's corporate sponsors Biffaward. The prize is a 'beaver safari' boat trip for the winning child plus one parent/carer.

MSP Supports Warmer Communities Initiative In Crimond

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is supporting the Warmer Communities Initiative with a visit to Crimond Community Centre at the invitation of Energy Action Scotland (EAS).

The centre has had a very old and inefficient heating system replaced by a new highly efficient system. This change will mean the building will be much cheaper to heat, warmer and more environmentally-friendly.

Committee Vice President, Sheena Scott explained:

Ian Hackers, Exxon Mobil
Sheena Scott, Community Centre VP
Stewart Stevenson MSP
Norman Kerr, Energy Action Scotland
“Crimond Community Centre is really important to the local community, but like many old buildings it is both difficult and expensive to heat. The new heating system will bring real benefits to the many users of the Community Centre. With Crimond being such a small community it would have been extremely difficult for us to raise the funds required for a new heating system. We are grateful to ExxonMobil and Energy Action Scotland - without their help and support this would not have been possible.”

During the visit, Stewart Stevenson MSP met representatives of some of the groups that use the community centre such as the playgroup, pensioners club and Girl Guides.

Mr Stevenson said:

“The Crimond Centre provides an essential service for the local community. I’m delighted that through the ExxonMobil and EAS Warmer Communities fund the Centre now has a new, energy efficient heating system, installed by a highly-competent local contractor using local labour.

“I’m sure the users of the Centre will feel the benefit over the coming months. I encourage people to think about what they can do to make their own homes warmer and cheaper to heat.”


The Warmer Communities Initiative is run by charity Energy Action Scotland and funded by ExxonMobil.

Norman Kerr, Director, Energy Action Scotland said:

“Local people will benefit from the changes made to Crimond Community Centre but we also want people to know that they can make their own homes more energy efficient too. Everyone can benefit from using energy more wisely.”

John Arthur, Senior Plant Superintendent, Mobil North Sea, said:

“Mobil North Sea, while a global energy player, is committed to be a good neighbour and in this instance we are delighted to be helping our neighbours at Crimond Community Centre. Supporting this worthwhile local initiative will ensure that they have a warm and friendly environment to carry out their good work. Mobil North Sea is committed to supporting the work of Energy Action Scotland as it continues to raise the awareness of energy efficiency within our communities.”

The work to the heating system at Crimond Community Centre was carried out by local contractor VG Willox Ltd.

'Save Money, Keep Warm' Urges Local MSP

BANFF PENSIONER EXPLAINS ADVANTAGES TO STEVENSON

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has praised Carillion Energy Services in Scotland for helping households in his constituency lower their fuel bills and cut carbon emissions.

Mr Stevenson met with Mark Hampson, Relationship Director for Carillion Energy Services to hear first hand about the work being done in Banffshire & Buchan Coast and in particular the work carried out at the home of constituent, Mr Paterson of Banff, who has just had cavity wall insulation installed.

Insulating a home to the recommended level can save hundreds of pounds a year on domestic energy bills, and cut annual carbon emissions. With having Cavity Wall Insulation installed into his property there will be an average of 560kg of CO2 emissions saved per annum on Mr Paterson house. In many cases the work has been carried out completely free through Government and utility energy related initiatives which help private households tackle energy efficiency improvements across the housing stock in Scotland.

Mr Stevenson said:

Mark Hampson, Carillion Energy Services
Householder Mr Paterson of Banff
Stewart Stevenson MSP
“I was pleased to meet with Mr Paterson and hear first hand about the work undertaken by Carillion Energy Services in his home. Installing energy efficiency measures which make a real difference to householders and demonstrates the way in which householders can manage rising energy costs and also make an impact upon climate change. These measures are the easiest and most sustainable way of making our homes warm and affordable heat – particularly if our winters are going to be as severe as the past two.

“In Scotland we have committed to becoming a leader in the drive for a low carbon economy and this commitment is backed up through the work of companies such as Carillion Energy Services.”


Formerly Eaga, Carillion Energy Services is at the forefront of the low carbon economy and of efforts to tackle climate change.

From its Scotland operation based in Livingston it has around 300 staff and works with a number of councils, local authorities and private customers to provide a range of large scale green energy solutions including insulation, heating and renewable technologies such as solar PV, ground and air source heat pumps.

29 August 2011

Marine energy in the Maldives

A new study report, supported by the Scottish Government, has been delivered to help the Maldives develop the country's potential for marine energy with the ambition of becoming the first carbon neutral State by 2020.

The report follows the signing of a statement of cooperation in 2009 between First Minister Alex Salmond and President Mohamed Nasheed.

It was produced by the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Practice (CUSP) at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, and provides an assessment of the potential for marine energy in the Maldivesm looking at both the technological and socio-economic dimensions of deploying marine renewables in the future energy mix with a focus on assessing the suitability of the conditions and natural resources in the waters around the Maldives for producing marine energy.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Stewart Stevenson, said:

"Scotland is again making a difference for the developing world. The Maldives aims to be carbon neutral within 10 years and this study uses Scottish low carbon expertise to help the country meet the challenges of climate change.

"Scotland is already a leader in the research, development and deployment of marine energy, with a quarter of Europe's wave potential, significant planned investment in the sector and our unique £10 million Saltire Prize. We are seeing huge advances in the skills and expertise required to harness the power of the seas and I am confident there will be further opportunities for international research collaboration.

"We are committed to working with developing nations to share our knowledge and technology in the global effort to meet the challenges of climate change. This report furthers the understanding of the challenges and opportunities for marine energy in the Maldives and its findings will be incorporated into the developing Maldives Renewable Energy Investment Framework. I look forward to further cooperation between Scotland and the Maldives going forward."


Alan Owen, Director of CUSP at Robert Gordon University, said:

"It has been an exciting experience to share our many years of experience with marine energy in the Maldives and elsewhere to provide both the Scottish and the Maldivian Government with a thorough insight into the potential of marine renewables.

"A two-week site visit measuring the currents and computational fluid mechanics modelling afterwards in our Research Centre enabled us to provide a first indication of the marine potential for the Maldives. We are looking forward to further close co-operation between Scotland and the Maldives to tackle climate change, in particular where the effects will be felt first."


Chris Bronsdon, Chief Executive of the Scottish European Green Energy Centre, said:

"From targeted support leveraged by the Scottish European Green Energy Centre (SEGEC), the work by RGU has confirmed that potential exists for marine energy to contribute to the future energy mix in the Maldives and could help the Maldives Government achieve their 2020 goal of a carbon neutral economy. With a free resource available to exploit there is a clear logic in delivering innovative low carbon marine energy projects within the Maldives to offset the use of fossil fuelled generation. We hope that SEGEC can continue to add value to progress the project from concept to delivery."

26 August 2011

MSP Completes Mobile Surgery Tour

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has completed his mobile surgery tour of local communities for 2011.

This year has been the eleventh such tour that Mr Stevenson has undertaken, covering 37 communities from Rothiemay in the far west to Boddam at the south-eastern end of the constituency and inland to Aberchirder, New Byth and Memsie.

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 visit during the course of a year."


This tour was also Mr Stevenson's first tour of some communities owing to boundary changes in the Scottish Parliament constituencies which took effect from May 2011, which created the new Banffshire & Buchan Coast Scottish Parliament constituency.

Mr Stevenson continued:

"I enjoyed taking my Mobile Office into places like Cullen, Portknockie, Findochty, Rathven, Rothiemay, Deskford and points in between and getting to know some of the issues there and meeting local residents."

24 August 2011

Animal poisonings report published

Latest figures highlight birds of prey and other wildlife remain victims

Birds of prey, wild mammals, livestock and pet dogs and cats were all found to be victims of accidental or deliberate poisonings as reflected in figures unveiled by Scotland’s Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) today.

A report by the Government’s Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) scientists outlines an increase in the number of cases investigated in 2010, some involving the incorrect storage and usage of approved pesticides, including:
  • A piglet which escaped from its enclosure and died after eating rodent baits left by the previous occupant of the farm
  • 22 abuse incidents involved birds of prey including 13 buzzards, seven red kites and four golden eagles
  • Illness of a working dog following exposure to sheep-dip chemicals
  • An unlabelled glass jar found on a farm containing cyanide, an illegal and potentially lethal substance
The illegal use of carbofuran (insecticide) accounted for more than half of all 32 abuse incidents with nine different pesticides detected in the remaining incidents. Incidents of bird of prey poisonings remained high at 69 per cent of all abuse cases, as reflected in previous years’ figures.

Commenting on the report, Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

“This report highlights the devastating impact that the irresponsible abuse of pesticides can have on our wildlife. Scotland’s natural environment is one of our most valuable assets and it is essential that we protect it and ensure that pesticide use is regulated appropriately. SASA plays a vital role in monitoring these incidents and helping make our countryside a safer place for us all, whilst providing crucial evidence in the fight against wildlife crime.

“A variety of domestic animals have also fallen victim to both deliberate and accidental poisonings, including livestock and family pets such as dogs and cats. The number of birds of prey which continue to be victims of deliberate poisoning does remain a concern and we will continue to use the range of measures available to combat this.

“Whilst I welcome a slight reduction in the overall number of abuse incidents from 2009 into 2010, there is unfortunately no change in respect of abuse cases involving raptors. However, early indications would seem to suggest that there is a reduction this year. I am delighted to see law enforcement, land management organisations and conservation bodies now working together to tackle the wide issues surrounding raptor persecution. We will continue to work with the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland to put a stop to these illegal activities which are a blight on our countryside.”


Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management at RSPB Scotland said:

"SASA's toxicology analysis is a vital part of the work in combating wildlife crime in Scotland. The 2010 report highlights the high proportion of pesticide abuse cases still involving our iconic bird of prey species. The impact of illegal poisoning on these and other bird of prey species remains a serious concern, undermining the recovery of their populations. We welcome the increased reporting by the public of potential illegal poisoning cases, and the steps being taken by Scottish landowning interests, who we are working alongside, to bear down on those who continue use poisons illegally and indiscriminately in our countryside."

Superintendent Alan Smailes, Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group said:

“I welcome the release of the statistics and the detail the report provides. Whilst there will always be different interpretations of statistics it is clear that the efforts PAW partners are making to eradicate this problem are having an effect and are the only way to make further progress. An interesting aspect of the report is that the data confirms existing suspicions that poisonings are becoming more geographically polarised. As for those areas where poisoning is continuing to occur, it is becoming ever more apparent who and where you are and we will not hesitate to use all means at our disposal to stop you.”

Luke Borwick, Chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, which represents 2,500 landowners, said:

“Landowners are working hard in partnership with police and other organisations to help eradicate poisoning. This requires a sustained approach over time and there is evidence these joint efforts are beginning to pay off. Early indications for the first half of 2011 show there has been a significant decrease in illegal poisoning incidents at a time when some species are increasing rapidly and now number tens of thousands, the highest overall for nearly a hundred years. This decrease is welcome, reflects serious partnership working in this area and needs to be sustained.”

Background

The full WIIS report for 2010 can be found at:
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/08/23113221/0

In 2010, 233 incidents were referred to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) Scotland, representing a 40 per cent increase in the number of submissions compared to 2009. Five incidents were excluded, leaving 228 incidents accepted for further investigation. The cause of death or illness was determined in 123 incidents and unknown in 105 incidents. 106 incidents (46 per cent of all incidents accepted into the WIIS Scotland) tested positive for pesticide residues.

Thirty two incidents were categorised as abuse, 11 incidents were attributed to unspecified use, 2 incidents followed approved use, two incidents were a result of misuse and three incidents were attributed to veterinary use.

Twenty five different pesticides were identified. The insecticide, carbofuran was detected in 19 out of 32 (59 per cent) incidents categorised as abuse, even though UK approval for use of products containing this chemical expired in 2001.

Previous reports can be found at http://www.sasa.gov.uk/animal-poisoning-reports

19 August 2011

Special conservation areas

The East Mingulay proposal, which is approximately 13 kilometres east of the island of Mingulay in the Outer Hebrides and features the rare and fragile coral reef lophelia pertusa, has been approved by Scottish Ministers as a Special Area of Conservation.

The proposal will now be submitted to the European Commission for inclusion in the European Union-wide 'Natura' network of protected areas.

The scientific case for the Sound of Barra proposal has also been approved by Scottish Ministers, and Scottish Natural Heritage have been requested to conduct a public consultation on this proposal in the near future.

Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, said:

"The East Mingulay proposal makes a significant contribution to maintaining Scotland's unique natural environment. Stakeholders have made a welcome contribution to refining the boundary for the East Mingulay proposal, and their input is greatly appreciated.

"Making fisheries management advice available at this stage provides more certainty to the local fishing industry regarding both proposals, while also making clear that creel fishing can continue in the Sound of Barra to help ensure that the local communities continue to derive economic value from the area."



Natura 2000 is an European Union wide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive and the Wild Birds Directive which aims to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats.

Following consultation with stakeholders, the site boundary for East Mingulay was revised to reduce the area by eight per cent. This revised boundary does not affect the integrity of the conservation area's features.

Advice on fisheries management has been provided which states that only demersal trawling and dredging effort needs to be controlled to maintain the East Mingulay site in favourable condition.

The Sound of Barra proposal aims to safeguard sandbanks, reefs, and common seals.

16 August 2011

Scottish salmon exports on the rise

Scottish farmed salmon continues to show record export growth, according to the latest figures released as the Environment Minister attends the key event in the international trade calendar.

Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson will be joined at Aqua Nor in Norway by representatives of Scottish Development International (SDI), the Scottish Government, Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation (SSPO).

Exports of fresh Scottish salmon have continued to rise and are up 37 per cent, comparing the start of 2011 (January to May) with the same period last year. The Scottish delegation at Aqua Nor aims to encourage investment in Scotland's industry and support sustainable growth.During his three-day visit, Mr Stevenson will meet with senior executives from some of the major salmon farming companies, as well as Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, Norwegian Fisheries Minister, and Pablo Galilea, Chilean Vice Minister for Fisheries. Norway, Chile and Scotland are the world's top three producers of farmed salmon.

Mr Stevenson said:

"Scottish salmon is a high quality, delicious product that is becoming increasingly popular around the world - as illustrated by the latest booming export figures. Last year salmon accounted for 36 per cent of the value of Scottish food exports, while the industry also provides much needed employment opportunities in our fragile rural communities.

"It's important that we continue to promote this key product and encourage further investment in the industry, as well as working with others internationally on ways to continue improving the environmental sustainability of aquaculture. These are areas I will be discussing with my Norwegian and Chilean counterparts, while also sharing successes Scotland has had in the development of our industry."

SDI chief executive Anne MacColl said:

"The quality of Scottish salmon is globally renowned and earlier this year it was voted the best farmed salmon in the world in an independent poll of international seafood buyers. The fact that farmed salmon is now Scotland's largest food export underlines the contribution it makes to our economy, so we are looking to support this industry in any way we can.

"We are working with our industry and government colleagues to increase investment for the benefit of our economy, and are looking forward to a series of successful meetings in Trondheim."

Scott Landsburgh, Chief Executive of SSPO, said:

"We welcome this joined-up approach to attracting further investment as the sector is enjoying an upward trend, confidence is high and demand continues to increase.

"The salmon farming sector has made around £150 million in capital investment during the last five years - the vast majority of this has been in the Highlands and Islands. Salmon farming is capital intensive and this initiative will help to inform future investment strategies in remote, rural economies in Scotland."

Iain Sutherland, senior manager for aquaculture at HIE, said:

"Scottish salmon, exported from some of our most remote and rural locations in the Highlands and Islands, is celebrated across the world. As our largest food export its success can be attributed to the quality, taste and the hard work and experience of the generations of men and women in the businesses.

"From Shetland in the north to Bute in the west, HIE is working with ambitious businesses every day to support growth in the international arena."

While meeting the Norwegian Fisheries Minister (on Monday evening), Mr Stevenson expressed his condolences to the Norwegian people, for the atrocities committed in Norway last month. Mr Stevenson is the first Scottish Minister to visit Norway since this took place.

Mr Stevenson will hold one-to-one meetings with salmon companies operating in Scotland, as well as touring the Aqua Nor exhibition to meet Scotland-based exhibitors. Aqua Nor, held in Trondheim, is an important international event for the aquaculture industry, showcasing the latest products, services, and research and development projects.

Key facts about Scottish salmon farming:
  • Exports of fresh Scottish farmed salmon have risen to 34,840 tonnes (Jan - May 2011), an increase of 37 per cent when compared with the same period for the previous year
  • Scotland is the largest producer of farmed Atlantic salmon in the EU and the third largest globally, behind Norway and Chile.
  • It is expected to be confirmed soon that Scottish salmon production increased to over 150,000 tonnes in 2010, which would be a third successive annual increase
  • In 2010 salmon farming provided 1,813 direct jobs in Scotland, an increase of around 15 per cent on the previous year (while many more jobs are supported indirectly)

11 August 2011

Luce Bay Scallop Dredging Consultation

Photo by Jim Howard
New control measures for mobile gear fishing - dredging and trawling - in Luce Bay in the South West of Scotland are being consulted on by the Scottish Government.

Luce Bay is a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC), in order to protect the unique reefs, mudflats and sandbanks. Current fishing restrictions mean that Luce Bay is closed to scallop vessels from March until October each year, while a limit on the number of dredges that can be used is already in place.

The consultation will establish the new measures that are needed to provide greater protection for the features, as well as the extent of commercial fishing taking place within Luce Bay.

Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Environment, said:

"The Scottish Government is fully committed to striking the right balance between conservation of our precious marine ecosystems and supporting Scotland's coastal fishing communities. That's why, with the help of the Solway Firth Partnership, we are examining the effects of permitted dredging and trawling activity in Luce Bay.

"Luce Bay is home to a rich array of marine biodiversity, which is why it is a protected site of European importance. In light of advice from Scottish Natural Heritage, we are consulting on the additional fisheries management measures in Luce Bay that are necessary to address the impact of mobile gear fishing on the seabed.

"I encourage all fishermen in Luce Bay to respond to this consultation and provide information on the sites they fish, which will prove key to developing effective new measures that protect Luce Bay while allowing a viable fishing industry to continue."


Access the consultation document at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/08/12083719

Luce Bay and Sands in Dumfries and Galloway was designated as a SAC under the EU Habitats Directive in 2005. The area encompasses a large shallow inlet and also includes one of Scotland's most important sand dune systems.

Luce Bay is currently closed to scallop dredging between March 1 and October 31 each year. In addition, scallop vessels are restricted to fishing with a maximum of 8 dredges per side and a minimum landing size for scallops of 110 mm applies. Luce Bay includes significant fisheries - including scallops, lobsters and whelks - as well as recreational fishing.

SNH undertook a broad scale survey of the intertidal and subtidal biotopes in 2007/2008. In response to a request from the Scottish Government for advice on the management of Luce Bay, SNH has confirmed that further management is required.

The consultation on mobile gear fishing (scallop dredging) in Luce Bay begins on August 10 and ends on September 14. In addition to a consultation paper, there will be local meetings with stakeholders. The intention is that additional fisheries management for Luce Bay will be underpinned by fisheries legislation made in the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Government is also asking fishermen to provide information on where they fish in Luce Bay. The Solway Firth Partnership will assist the consultation by collecting fishing information from individual fishermen, including holding local meetings.

Stevenson Welcomes AWPR Decision As Good News For Banffshire & Buchan Coast

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement that the legal protests holding up the construction of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route have been rejected by the Court of Session.
 
Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:
 
"The AWPR is an essential project not just for people in Aberdeen, but for everyone across the North East. Businesses and individuals currently face long delays when travelling south from Banffshire & Buchan Coast as a result of having to pass through the centre of Aberdeen.
 
"When the AWPR is complete, this will be a thing of the past and journey times will improve markedly. It will have real economic benefits for Banffshire & Buchan Coast and I am delighted to hear that the legal protests have failed.
 
"The AWPR was an important part of our manifesto and today's decision means we can continue to make progress towards it. This is fantastic news for people across the North East."

Minister Marvels at Ancient Woodland

Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, took time out of his busy schedule to meet with Woodland Trust Scotland Director, Carol Evans for a guided tour of the Trust’s site at Aldouran Glen, Leswalt.

Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister (centre)
Carol Evans, Woodland Trust Scotland Director (right)
Simon Hodge, CEO of Forest Enterprise Scotland (left)
History abounds at Aldouran Glen, on the Rhins of Galloway, where an iron-age fort overlooks the glen from its lofty promontory and the majestic trees make the site old enough to be included on the Ancient Woodland Inventory.

Its isolated location makes the site a peaceful retreat where visitors can go and appreciate the natural environment and discover unusual plant species.

In a brief but informative session, the Woodland Trust Scotland, were able to explain the importance of woodland, in terms of creating places for wildlife to live, discovering our shared history, and in locking up carbon. The popular site also illustrates why woods are great place to visit, relax and escape the stresses of modern life.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Woodland is vitally important for supporting biodiversity and wildlife, providing green areas and also in meeting our ambitious climate change targets. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Aldouran Glen, which provided a fascinating insight into one of the lesser known historic sites of Scottish forest.”

Carol Evans,

“We are delighted that Stewart Stevenson, visited Aldouran Glen. His visit provided us with an opportunity to show off a site which is a hidden gem.”

10 August 2011

Spotlight on climate change as Minister goes on-farm

Steps Scottish farmers can take to improve efficiency and reduce agriculture’s impact on climate change were under the spotlight when Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Environment and Climate Change visited Torr Farm near Dumfries.

Torr is a 389 ha organic dairy farm run by brother and sister team Ross and Lee Paton. It is one of four Scottish ’Climate Change Focus Farms’ working with SAC as part of the Scottish Government-funded ’Farming for a Better Climate’ initiative (FFBC). The Focus Farms consider and test ways of improving their efficiency and reducing emissions of harmful greenhouse gases. They share these ideas, and take suggestion on board, during regular meetings with SAC and others in their local farming communities.

The Minister toured Torr with the Patons, their SAC FFBC project facilitator Gillian Reid and SAC Climate Change Manager Rebecca Audsley. He saw and heard how the Patons have introduced a number of measures which, while helping to reduce the farm’s emissions, have also saved the business money.

For example, steps have been taken to make better use of organic manure and improve livestock management efficiency. Energy use has been reviewed and is now monitored. As an organic farm, Torr’s increased use of clover to fix nitrogen in the soil has also been an advantage but this, like the other practices Torr has introduced, can also reap significant benefits on conventional farms.

Stewart Stevenson, Ross Paton
and Dr Bob Rees
During the Minister’s visit, nitrous oxide monitoring chambers were being installed at Torr by Dr Bob Rees, Head of SAC’s Carbon Management Centre. These will enable the farm to measure how much nitrous oxide is being released from soils on different parts of the farm.

Stewart Stevenson said:

"Torr Farm clearly demonstrates that farmers are part of the solution to tackling climate change. Emissions from agriculture and related land use are estimated at 20% of Scotland’s total. The agriculture sector recognises it has an important role to play to tackle emissions, and that is why we are working in collaboration with the industry through the voluntary Farming for a Better Climate initiative.

"The Scottish Government has also recently announced plans for an Agri-Renewables Strategy to help farmers and land managers grasp the benefit of the renewables revolution sweeping Scotland.

"Farming for a Better Climate has had a great response from those involved, and results will inform future policy decisions. Practical steps can be taken, such as making efficiency savings when using energy and fuels, which not only helps the environment, but makes financial sense too.

"I was particularly impressed to see the simple ’ but very effective ’ approach to better energy use on Torr Farm. After a farm energy audit identified large energy consumption in the milking parlour, some straight forward measures, such as extra insulation, were taken. A smart meter which monitors energy use every half-hour is now in place, so Torr Farm can see exactly where further efficiencies can be made."


SAC’s Gillian Reid said:

"The Scottish Government has set an ambitious target to reduce Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. Agriculture and related activity accounts for around 20% of Scotland’s overall emissions so farmers have an important role to play. As a Climate Change Focus Farm, Torr is at the centre of this effort and we were delighted to show the Minister what has been achieved over the past year. Ross and Lee have been very enthusiastic about the project and have been keen to implement new ideas."

Ross Paton said:

"We were very pleased to welcome the Minister onto Torr and to have discussed the various measures we have put into practice. We have learned many things from our first year and are looking forwards to exploring further measures that will improve our efficiency and reduce emissions."

For more information about FFBC please visit SAC's Farming For a Better Climate webpages.

8 August 2011

Stevenson Announces Annual Surgery Tour

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has announced details of his forthcoming surgery tour of local communities which commences on Wednesday 24 August.

This year will be the eleventh such tour that Mr Stevenson has undertaken, covering 37 communities from Rothiemay in the far west to Boddam at the south-eastern end of the constituency and inland to Aberchirder, New Byth and Memsie.

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 first tour of some communities owing to boundary changes in the Scottish Parliament constituencies which took effect from May 2011, which created the new Banffshire & Buchan Coast Scottish Parliament constituency.

Mr Stevenson continued:

"I'm looking forward to taking my Mobile Office into places like Cullen, Portknockie, Findochty, Rathven, Rothiemay, Deskford and points in between and getting to know some of the issues there and meeting local residents."

Details of the tour are as follows:


  • Summer Tour -

    Wednesday 24 August

    Gardenstown 9.45am – 10.00am adj. petrol station
    New Aberdour 10.15am – 10.30am car park
    Rosehearty 10.45am – 11.10am The Square
    Sandhaven 11.20am – 11.35am St Magnus Road opp. park
    Tyrie 11.50am – 12.00pm adj. old Post Office
    Memsie 1.30pm – 1.40pm by BT exchange
    Rathen 1.50pm - 2.00pm by Public Hall
    Inverallochy 2.10pm – 2.30pm adj. Post Office
    St Combs 2.40pm – 3.00pm Hall car park
    Lonmay 3.10pm – 3.20pm adj. Ban Car Hotel
    Crimond 3.30pm – 3.45pm Kirk car Park
    St Fergus 3.55pm – 4.10pm opp. Shop
    Rora 4.20pm – 4.30pm Hall car park
    Boddam 4.50pm – 5.10pm Russell Street

    Thursday 25 August

    New Byth 9.25am – 9.40am The Square
    Crudie 9.45am – 9.55 am lay-by
    Fisherie 10.05am – 10.15am Craigwall Cottages
    King Edward 10.25am – 10.35am lay-by at Kirk
    Macduff 10.50am – 11.15am Knowes Hotel car park
    Whitehills 11.30am – 11.50am Seafield Street
    Boyndie 12.00pm – 12.10pm opp. Boyndie Centre
    Portsoy 12.20pm – 12.45pm Church Street
    Sandend 2.05pm – 2.20pm adj. phone box
    Cullen 2.30pm – 2.55pm The Square
    Portknockie 3.10pm – 3.30pm Hill Street
    Findochty 3.40pm – 4.00pm Station Road near Post Office
    Rathven 4.10pm – 4.25pm Main Road near Kirk

    Friday 26 August

    Alvah 10.15am – 10.25am adj. Linhead Hall
    Forglen 10.35am – 10.50am Bogton Row
    Aberchirder 11.05am – 11.30am The Square
    Rothiemay 11.50am – 12.10pm near shop
    Knock 1.30pm – 1.45pm adj. Post Box
    Cornhill 2.00pm – 2.15pm car park adj. public toilets
    Fordyce 2.30pm – 2.45pm adj. Castle
    Lintmill 2.55pm – 3.10pm Burnside
    Deskford 3.25pm – 3.45pm Comm. Centre car park
    Grange 4.00pm – 4.15pm adj. Crossroads School

    No appointment is necessary, although constituents with ongoing cases should advise their attendance on: 01779 470444. This enables us to check the status of constituent's cases and/or undertake preliminary research before meeting constituents.
  • 5 August 2011

    Fish Farming in the Western Isles

    Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson has been impressed by aquaculture businesses based in the Hebrides, during a series of engagements undertaken this week. Mr Stevenson has spent time with aquaculture businesses while he also met with representatives of the Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust.

    Stewart Stevenson (centre) with Brian Floyd and
    Stewart McLelland from the Scottish Salmon Company
    The Minister visited the Scottish Salmon Company, including their newly refurbished processing plant in Stornoway, the Geocrab freshwater Hatchery in South Harris, and the company’s farm at Loch Roag. The Minister also toured the facilities of Hebridean Mussels in Uig – one of Scotland’s leading mussel producers – and visited Marine Harvest’s facilities at Loch Erisort.

    Mr Stevenson said:

    “Across Scotland the aquaculture industry is growing and, particularly in remote rural communities, it is making an important local contribution, both economic and social. That’s certainly the case in the Hebrides where it has a key role to play, as I have discovered over the past few days.

    “Scotland has a well-deserved reputation for producing high quality farmed salmon and last year the industry accounted for some 40 per cent of all our food exports – worth over £400 million. Other markets, such as mussels, have great potential and the clean waters off the West Coast of Scotland are perfect for this fast-growing industry.

    “My visits in Lewis and Harris to The Scottish Salmon Company, Hebridean Mussels and Marine Harvest have been highly rewarding and informative, while I also held a productive meeting with the Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust. These visits have emphasised the importance of balancing growth of the aquaculture industry with the need to safeguard the wider marine environment.”


    Stewart McLelland, The Scottish Salmon Company’s Chief Operating Officer, said:

    “We were delighted the Minister used his summer tour to visit the Hebrides and learn more about this dynamic and growing sector and the role it plays in rural communities. He had the opportunity to see at first-hand key facilities in The Scottish Salmon Company’s sustainable, integrated supply chain in the Hebrides and gain insights into the vital role that salmon farming plays in the Islands’ economies.

    “Overall the trip was a fantastic chance for Mr Stevenson to see first-hand some of the opportunities and challenges facing the salmon farming industry in the west of Scotland and I am confident that Mr Stevenson took a lot away from it.”
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