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18 October 2017

Stevenson Welcomes Scot Gov Announcement on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement from the Scottish Government that it will look sympathetically at cases where poor weather has stopped many farmers from spreading their slurry in time to comply with Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) regulations.

Most of the Banffshire & Buchan Coast Constituency is included in the NVZ area.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I’m aware that the weather experienced in recent weeks and months has proved problematic for farmers which has meant that slurry tanks may not have been emptied in time to comply with the closed period owing to a range of pressures.

“As we enter the period where no slurry spreading is permitted in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, I am pleased that the Minister has listened to industry concerns and has instructed officials to respond to genuine cases of difficulty with as much flexibility as possible.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said:

“While a blanket derogation from the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (Scotland) provisions cannot be applied due to EC regulatory requirements, relevant RPID area offices will liaise with affected farmers on a case by case basis to help them explore all practical options, which might be available to address current difficulties.

“RPID will look sympathetically, with as much flexibility as the regulations allow, at the scope for any mitigation of the risk of penalties being applied. Affected farmers are strongly encouraged to make urgent contact with their area office to discuss the best way to proceed that helps address their difficulties, minimises the impact on the environment and the risk of penalties applying.”

Part-Time Tory Skipping Welfare Debate to Referee in Barcelona

Champions League Refereeing Again Priority for Douglas Ross

Part-time Tory MP Douglas Ross is once again skipping his parliamentary duties in order to run the line in a glamour Champions League match – leaving his constituents without a voice during a key debate on social security.

Douglas Ross is a consistent absentee from his MP day job – skipping important debates and committee meetings at Holyrood last year in order to take on lucrative refereeing work in the Champions League. His move from Holyrood to Westminster has not changed his attitude, with his work as an MP playing second fiddle to his assistant refereeing job.

Wednesday sees Westminster host a key debate on the roll-out of Universal Credit – yet Douglas Ross won’t be there to vote on this vital issue. The Moray foodbank has criticised Mr Ross for missing the debate, saying they recently briefed the MP on the impact of Universal Credit on his constituents. Mr Ross recently hit the headlines for launching an attack on the vulnerable Gypsy/Traveller community in Moray.

Stewart Stevenson MSP
said:

"Part-time Tory MP Douglas Ross just never learns his lesson.

“He is yet again leaving his constituents without a voice in Parliament because he'd rather rub shoulders with famous footballers.

"This isn't the first time that he's failed to turn up for important meetings, and his constituents will be wondering why he shows no interest in discussing Universal Credit - which is driving up rent arrears and leaving families penniless.

"It's time for two-job Ross to call time on his highly lucrative refereeing career."

13 October 2017

MSP Writes Again to Chancellor Calling for Axe to Police and Fire VAT

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling for him to scrap the tax on Scotland’s emergency services.

It comes after Mr Stevenson wrote a letter earlier this year to Philip Hammond regarding the issue.

And in response to the correspondence received from the Chancellor, he said he had been “extremely disappointed” by the letter and called for “serious consideration” to be given to put an end to the annual VAT bill.

According to recent reports, Scotland is facing a £21.2million black hole in its £1.1million budget, which has raised concern over potential cuts to vehicles, equipment and buildings.

Both the fire and police services became liable for the tax after they were merged from multiple regional into single organisations a few years ago.

It is expected any potential changes could be announced by the Chancellor at the Budget on November 22nd.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“All governments across the UK are currently looking to make savings which will provide extra cash and help protect vital public services. The reform of police and fire services delivered more than three years ago was done to prevent duplication of certain functions.

“For the UK Government to impose VAT charges of around £33million and £10million respectively serves to disadvantage these services.

“The Chancellor must put an end to it when he announces the budget next month.”

12 October 2017

MSP Encourages North-East Communities to Apply to £6m Rural Tourism Fund

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is calling on local groups in the North-East to apply to the Scottish Government’s new Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

The Scottish Government announced the new £6m fund in response to the tourism boom across rural Scotland, and the money will be invested over the course of two years (2018/19 and 2019/20) to help ensure the services and facilities tourists and communities need are provided.

The new fund will support a wide range of improvement projects – such as parking, camping facilities, recycling points and footpath access, in areas such as the North Coast 500 route as well as at Historic Environment Scotland sites.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“The tourist industry is vital to the Banffshire and Buchan Coast economy, which attracts visitors from all over the world each year.

“The new £6m Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund will help cater to the very welcome increasing tourist numbers in the North-East and help alleviate pressure on transport, services and facilities.

“This support for infrastructure will enable even more people to enjoy this most beautiful country in the world and is an example of the SNP Scottish Government listening to and responding to the needs of rural Scotland.

“Local groups in Banffshire and Buchan that would like to bid for this funding can get in touch with me if they need any advice.”

3 October 2017

MSP Warns of Missed Opportunity on CCS

An MSP has claimed the UK Government has missed out on a huge opportunity to take a lead on Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) after oil major Shell struck a deal in Norway.

In 2015, more than £1billion of investment was pulled which could have been used to fund a CCS project at Peterhead Power Station.

Shell has already completed an initial feasibility study when the money was axed.
Copyright © 2017 Statoil ASA
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said the announcement of a deal between Statoil, Shell and Total E&P Norge meant the Norwegian Continental Shelf would be able to benefit from the technology sooner.

A partnership agreement to mature the development is part of the Norwegian authorities’ efforts to develop full-scale carbon capture and storage in the region.

The move comes after Gassnova awarded Statoil the contract for the first phase of the project in June.

Norske Shell and Total E&P Norge are now entering as equal partners while Statoil will lead the project.

All the partners will contribute staff, experience, and financial support.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome Norway’s plans to move to a low-carbon economy, but this is also a clear indication of what the UK Government missed out on.

“Two years on from funding being axed we are no clearer as to what the future holds for Peterhead Power Station.

“Hundreds of jobs and financial investment remain untapped. Recent efforts by the Scottish Government are very welcome to investigate the feasibility of CCS at St Fergus.

“But it appears that once again, a huge opportunity for our energy sector remains untapped.”

MSP Welcomes Plans for Medical Practice

A medical practice which serves two North-East communities could be handed to new management.

The move would affect the An Caorann Medical Practice which has more than 5,000 patients between Aberchirder and Portsoy.

NHS Grampian is looking for an independent practice to take over the health care facilities.

Commenting on the plans, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson, said:

“After a long period of uncertainty for patients, this proposal could provide them with regular GP provision once again.

“We must ensure this is done in a timely manner so that the service, which has been struggling recently due to staffing issues, can return to its full capacity once more.

“I know the staff at the practice have really appreciated the support shown by patients during what has been a challenging time.”
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