15 July 2019

Stevenson Welcomes Scottish Wind Power Figures

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed figures which show wind power hit a record high during the first six month of 2019.

According to figures from Weather Energy it has been calculated that the energy produced by turbines could power every home in Scotland and part of the North of England.

Mr Stevenson, a member of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, has welcomed the latest figures which have been described by WWF Scotland as a “wind energy revolution”.

The period to June, is understood to have seen the equivalent of 4.47 million homes’ consumption supplied by wind power.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“These figures show the potential, once again, for wind energy as a source of power in the North-East and across the whole of Scotland.

“Onshore wind provides the opportunity for clean, green electricity and this demonstrates clearly that it is now a major player in the UK energy market.”

11 July 2019

Stevenson Welcomes £32.5 million Scottish Government Investment in Moray Growth Deal

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed today’s announcement of the Moray Growth Deal, which sees the Westminster Government matching the £32.5 million invested by the Scottish Government.
Stewart at Findochty
The Moray Growth Deal will see £65 million invested in creating high-value jobs, strengthening local communities and safeguarding the future of the local economy.

The Scottish Government will invest up to £32.5 million in Moray over 10 to 15 years to drive inclusive economic growth across the region, with the UK Government matching the funding over a 15 year period.

The investment will fund targeted economic development activity across a range of themes, including infrastructure, transport, tourism, energy and skills.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson, whose constituency includes the eastern part of the Moray Council area, said:

“The Moray Growth Deal has the potential to be transformational for the region and is a major investment in the area by the Scottish Government, with matching funds from Westminster.

“I’d like to thank all those involved for getting the Moray Growth Deal across the line, particularly those at Moray Council and their partner agencies.

“Separately from the Moray Growth Deal, we also have of course huge investment from the Scottish Government in the Inverness to Aberdeen rail link and also the A96 dualling project, both of which will make Moray and Banffshire more accessible and attractive. It’s clear that the North-east is going places under the SNP Government.”

Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead, who made the announcement on behalf of the Scottish Government, said:

“The Moray Growth Deal will make a real lasting difference to the future of the region and inject confidence into the economy, improving the quality of life for local people.

“Successful delivery of this deal will create new high-value jobs, help safeguard the local economy and strengthen Moray’s communities. I am grateful to Moray Council and all their partners for their hard work in getting to this stage, and I recognise the important involvement of the community in developing the deal proposals.

“We will continue our dialogue with our Moray partners on projects that will have a transformative effect on the Moray economy. We will announce a Heads of Terms agreement as soon as possible, which will specify which projects will be supported by this significant joint investment.

“The Scottish Government has so far committed more than £1.7 billion over the next 10 to 20 years to City Region and Growth Deals and related investments across Scotland.”

The specific projects and activities to be supported will be announced over the coming months, as part of a Heads of Terms agreement, following detailed discussions with the UK Government on their investment in the deal.

Stevenson Comments On HMP Grampian Inspection Report

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has praised staff and management at HMP Grampian following publication of a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland.

The report found that in the nine standard assessments, eight were rated as either Good, Satisfactory or Generally Acceptable. Preparation of prisoners for a successful return to their communities received the best rating within the report.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“The staff at HMP Grampian are to be commended on this report. For me, the measure of the success of a prison is whether those who are released from it are prepared for a return to day-to-day life as someone who contributes to society, and not someone who goes on to re-offend and end up costing the taxpayer more money as they go through the justice system.

“It’s clear from this report that, despite some challenges, the staff at HMP Grampian are carrying on the ethos of the old HMP Peterhead. Back then, the officers charged with custody of what was then a sex-offender population were a team who were highly motivated in their jobs by doing their utmost to protect the public by ensuring their inmates got every support to make them not re-offend. Prevention of re-offending remains a top priority for the staff.

“Bringing together two prisons with very different cultures in HMP Peterhead and HMP Craiginches was always going to present some challenges, but the report states the

“inspection team found an establishment that had matured, and despite a small number of significant incidents in 2018, was largely calm and purposeful with emerging signs of stability and progress”.

“There are issues highlighted in the report which require to be addressed, and I will be raising some of those with the authorities, but overall this is a very positive report.”

10 July 2019

Over 27,000 People In North-East To Lose Free TV Licence

UK Government Under Pressure To Act As Tories Hammer Older People

Thousands of people in North-east Scotland will be hit by the Tory government’s decision to scrap the free TV licence for over-75s, new figures have revealed.

It is estimated that over 27,000 of over-75s people in Moray, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City will be forced to pay an extra £154.50 in household bills when the free TV licence policy for over-75s is axed.

The SNP has renewed calls on the UK Government to ensure the free TV licence is fully-funded, and can continue to benefit households and elderly people across Scotland and the UK.

Commenting, local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“A decade of damaging Tory government cuts has left older people in Scotland worse off – and it’s concerning to see that the decision to axe the free TV licence will hit over 27,000 over-75s in Moray, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City.

"This is yet another broken Tory manifesto commitment which will take money out of the pockets of older people.

"It is time this Tory government finally made the welfare of our older population a priority – instead of making things even worse by taking away key benefits.

"The Tories should urgently stop this swindle and ensure that the TV license for over-75s is be properly funded and protected.”

MSP's Delight As Peterhead To Get Third Post Office

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has reacted with delight after receiving confirmation from Post Office management that a new Post Office Branch will open in Peterhead next month.

Located at the Londis Store in Blackhouse Terrace, the new branch will mean Peterhead once again has three Post Offices after the closure of Buchanhaven Post Office several years ago.

Welcoming the news, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“This is excellent news for Peterhead and I’m delighted at this expansion in Post Office services locally. It’s particularly pleasing as the shop where the new Post Office will be located was itself closed until the new owner refurbished it and brought it back into use last year.

“When Buchanhaven Post Office closed several years ago I made representations at the time saying that it was a valued local service and changes in the way people access banking services and online shopping meant Post Offices would become more and more important. It’s taken a while for the UK Government to realise this but with a further reduction in banking services and the growth of internet shopping, the Post Office really is more important than ever now and I’m sure the new branch will be an asset to the community.”

Peterhead North & Rattray SNP councillor Anne Allan added:

“I very much welcome today’s announcement by the Post Office. It was a fairly short-sighted action to close Buchanhaven Post Office but the new Blackhouse Post Office will more than fill that gap and I wish the new Sub-postmaster every success going forward.”

5 July 2019

Busy MSP Completes Successful Surgery Tour

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson completed his annual surgery tour last week, clocking-up nearly 40 surgeries in communities across the constituency.
Mr Stevenson’s record of holding surgeries is second to none and makes him one of the most accessible MSPs in the country, having held over 1170 surgeries since he was elected.

Commenting, Stewart said:

“Most of the casework I receive from constituents these days comes in via e-mail, post or by phone, but I think it’s still very important to be available for face-to-face discussions in people’s own communities and the Surgery Tour serves that purpose very well.

“People brought a range of issues to me, which I am progressing with the relevant authorities.

“Over the years, many thousands of people have been in touch through one of my surgeries. It’s not always possible to achieve the outcome that people are seeking with a particular issue or problem, but on many occasions, simply the act of writing a letter on Parliamentary-headed paper on someone’s behalf is enough to make the powers that be or private companies sit up and pay attention to someone’s problem. Being able to help people in this way is both a pleasure and a privilege and I’m pleased to be able to do so.

“I’ll be holding more surgeries of the conventional type across the larger towns in the coming months but in the meantime, any constituent wishing to contact me can do so in a range of ways; by phone, e-mail, post, calling in at my Constituency Office or online via my website,, which also has full details of how to get in touch.”

Arrangements are already being made for Stewart’s next round of surgeries, which will take place next month.
Stewart at Findochty

Banffshire MSP Expresses Concern Over Whisky Tariff Threats

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has expressed his concerns over the threats of tariffs for Scotch whisky as part of an ongoing trade war between the EU and the US.

Commenting Stewart Stevenson said:

“There is a danger that Scotch whisky will be caught-up in this long-running trade dispute between the United States and the EU and I’m very concerned about that.

“Our exports of Scotch whisky to the United States were worth over £1billion last year with global sales absolutely vital to the Banffshire economy. Our local distilleries have benefited from duty-free access to the US and EU markets for decades, and any proposal to introduce tariffs would cause serious damage to the industry.

“With the huge uncertainty facing the industry over Brexit, this is the last thing it needs. We can’t afford for Scotch whisky to be caught in the cross-fire – we need the UK Government to make urgent representations to the EU to ensure that Scotch whisky is not collateral damage to this long-term dispute.”

3 July 2019

Positive Figures Show Rise in Operations Across NHS Grampian

Figures have revealed more than 2,500 operations were undertaken by NHS Grampian compared with the previous year.

The findings have been welcomed by Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson.

The latest elective surgery statistics were released by ISD Scotland and show the health board has performed 2,543 operations more than in the same time period last year and 2,210 more than in 2017.

ISD figures also highlighted how the lowest proportion of operations cancelled in almost four years.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP and Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“These results from ISD Scotland are extremely positive.

“We recognise there has been a number of innovative projects which have helped to create extra capacity as well as improving the experience of patients.

“This includes the ERAS (Enhanced Recovery After Surgery) Scheme which has helped to create extra free beds at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen.

“We would like to thank all the staff at NHS Grampian for their determination and diligence in the past year which has led to an increase.”

The health board undertook more than 3,120 elective procedures in May with 7.6% (257) of those scheduled in the region not taking place, including almost 100 cancelled by patients and 88 for clinical reasons.

NHS Grampian also performed ahead of the Scottish average of 1.7%, with 1.6% of scheduled elective procedures postponed for non-clinical reasons – the lowest figure for this measure for the region in three years.

Stevenson Welcomes North-East Funding Boost

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed funding for a trio of groups in the North-East.

It comes after the latest round of funding from the National Lottery Awards for all Scotland were announced.

The Three Kings Cullen Association received a £6,500 cash-boost which will be used to install a second toilet in their community centre to provide separate facilities for the groups hiring rooms and residential guests.

And Peterhead & District Men’s Shed received a £10,000 award to erect a third wheelchair accessible workshop for multiple activities including space for crafts and building projects, a teaching space and a free community space for groups to meet.

Gardenstown Community Hub was also awarded £6,000 of funding which will be used for a ramp and accessible toilet in their newly-acquired community hub.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

"I am delighted than more than £20,000 of funding has been secured in total across these organisations

“They all do such vital work to support their community and this added cash-boost will help them to offer better facilities.

“National Lottery funding is one of the crucial ways community groups can secure extra cash to improve the services they offer.

“I know all three groups will be delighted with this cash boost and I look forward to visiting the improvements when they are complete.”

2 July 2019

Stevenson Welcomes £3.9 Million Scottish Government Investment in New Housing in Portsoy

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has hailed Scottish Government investment of £3.9 million in social housing in Banffshire.

The construction will be completed by housing developer Sanctuary Homes for 44 properties in Portsoy.
The £3.9 million grant from the Scottish Government will help fund the project on the former Campbell Hospital site in the town.

Since 2016, a target has been set to build at least 50,000 new affordable homes, of which 35,000 will be for social rent, with investment of more than £1.75 billion.

In comparison, the number of social homes being built by the UK Government under the Tories has fallen by almost 90 percent since the Tories came into power in 2010.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Scottish Government is doing all it can to support decent, affordable housing in the North-east.

“Not only will it help to provide homes for people, it shows the Scottish Government’s commitment to improving infrastructure in the region, creating jobs and investment.

“While the SNP have delivered more affordable homes, the level of social housing available in England has continued to plummet under the Tories.

“The Scottish Government remains committed to helping people feel settled and giving them fair access to property at an affordable level.

“In this Parliamentary term, we have set a target to build at least 50,000 new affordable homes, of which 35,000 will be for social rent, with investment of more than £1.75 billion.”

25 June 2019

Stevenson Welcomes Progress on Peterhead Lifeboat Services

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed progress to resume a lifeboat service following its suspension.

It comes after volunteers from the Peterhead RNLI crew were stood down earlier this month after alleged disputes among crew members.

Due to the decision, a staffing shortage was caused which forced the charity to halt the service.

An intense training programme is now progressing with the expectation services can be brought back as part of a phased return in the coming weeks.

This includes for during Peterhead Scottish Week which starts on July 20th.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I know the decision to suspend the service at Peterhead was not one taken easily.

“I am pleased to hear that important steps are being taken to bring the service back gradually for use on a full-time basis.

“The volunteers who give their all are dedicated and committed individuals and I would like to thank them and everyone at the RNLI for all they do.

“I would encourage everyone to come out in force and show their support during Peterhead’s Scottish Week.”

19 June 2019

Stevenson Congratulates North-East School Crowned Winners of National Competition

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has congratulated a North-East school after they were crowned winners of a national competition.

Fraserburgh South Park Primary School were announced as the winners in the J Rock Scottish final which was held in Dundee.

The school were crowned winners for their Halloween-themed performance, ‘Trick or Treat Up Witches Street!’.

More than 1,500 pupils from 19 schools across Scotland participated and, in the events,, which also included the secondary school competition.

Fraserburgh South Park Primary was also awarded the Aberdeenshire Council Award of Excellence for Choreography and the Aberdeenshire Community Safety Partnership Award of Excellence for Performance Skill.

As well as this it received the NHS Grampian Endowment Fund Award of Excellence for Stage Use, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Award of Excellence for Drama and the Police Scotland Award of Excellence for Soundtrack.

Mr Stevenson is a strong supporter of the Global Rock Challenge and even picked up his own – unexpected – award at the 2003 event for his help in securing funding to allow the event to continue.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am delighted for Fraserburgh South Park Primary School in their success earlier this month at the J Rock Scottish final.

“I have always been a strong supporter of this competition which is a great event for many local schools.

“It is clear those who take part get so much enjoyment out of taking part because it engages the communities, the whole school and the skills and talent which are clear to see on stage during the performances.

“Well done to everybody who has been involved and of course to Fraserburgh South Park in particular."

The Global Rock Challenge and J Rock are exciting opportunities for schools to participate in a dance, drama and design spectacular where the young people are the stars. Teams are asked to create an eight minute performance exploring a theme of their choice.

The Rock Challenge® communicates health and social education messages in a positive and supportive environment.

Stevenson Welcomes Data Which Shows Alcohol Unit Pricing Impact

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed data which reveals alcohol sales have fallen to the lowest level since 1994 in Scotland.

The first tranche of analysis shows, just over a year since Scotland became the first country in the world to introduce minimum unit pricing, there has been a 3% fall in alcohol sales per adult from the previous year.

The volume of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland, compared to England and Wales, represented the smallest gap since 2002.

It comes after the Scottish Government brought into force legislation in May last year which set a minimum 50 pence per unit price to tackle the harm caused by cheap, high strength alcohol.

The results of the NHS Health Scotland Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) programme found that the volume of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland was 9% higher than in England and Wales, where 9.1 litres was sold per adult.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome this promising start following the Scottish Government’s world-leading action to introduce minimum unit pricing.

“This initial fall of 3% shows we are moving in the right direction. Statistics show there are 22 alcohol-specific deaths every week in Scotland.

“There are also more than 680 hospital admissions which impact the person, family, partner and community affected by alcohol harm.

“Minimum unit pricing is an effective way of tackling cheap, high strength alcohol which causes real harm to many.”

17 June 2019

NE MSP Pours Derision on Seafood Export Assurances

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has poured derision on assurances given by David Duguid MP to North-east seafood exporters, that there will be ‘no disruption’ to seafood exports in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Commenting, Mr. Stevenson said:

“Banff and Buchan Tory MP, David Duguid MP assured the press that he had ‘consistently received assurances from ministers that trade would continue unimpeded if the UK leaves the EU without agreement’. I thought that highly unlikely on the evidence that I had seen, and decided to seek more detailed assurances from the ministers in question”.

Mr Stevenson wrote to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs in May to question what arrangements have been put in place, and received a response from Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Michael Gove has made a number of whistle-stop photo opportunities in the North east, during which he has promised the earth to our farmers and the seas to our fishermen. However, as the prospect of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit looms ever closer, he is clearly not in a position to deliver on those assurances.

“The response which I have received from the Minister does not reassure me at all, and I am surprised that it has given succour to David Duguid. It opens by stating that 

'there will be a number of changes that UK businesses will need to make, in order to continue exporting wild-caught marine fish or fisheries products to the EU. These include providing catch certificates and export health certificates (EHCs), and in some cases they may also need a prior-notification form, pre-landing declaration, storage document or processing statement’.

Indeed, the letter lists at least six different documents which will require processing in addition to the fish, which might come as surprise to an industry which has repeatedly been told that leaving the EU would bring an end to its burden of bureaucracy”.

“I subsequently made enquiries to the Chief Executive of Aberdeenshire Council, who confirmed my understanding that, as with a number of other local authorities, 

‘the Environmental Health Service [which issues EHCs] would face a significant increase in the numbers of requests from exporters should there be a No Deal Brexit’

 He goes on to say that 

‘A No Deal Brexit would pose challenges to a number of agencies, in addition to local authorities’ 

and concludes 

‘Therefore, at this stage it is not possible to quantify the impact of a No Deal on the Environmental Health Service’.

“It would therefore appear that the ‘assurances’ which have been given by the Westminster Government are based on passing the buck to the fishing and seafood industries and local authorities. The only difference between Michael Gove and his hapless colleague, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, is that the fishing industry does at least have its own vessels!”

14 June 2019

MSPs Back Affordable Homes Figures for North-East

Figures have revealed more than 2,000 affordable homes have been delivered in Aberdeenshire since 2007.
It comes after statistics were published which show there were more than 9,500 affordable homes delivered in 2018-19 – an increase of 12% on the previous year.

The figures have been welcomed by Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson.

A total of 2,383 affordable homes were delivered in Aberdeenshire, which included 1,578 for social rent since 2007.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP and Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“These figures show the Scottish Government’s commitment to building affordable and social housing.

“Providing affordable homes is a crucial part of the SNP’s aim to create a fairer Scotland, and improve communities through inclusive growth.

“We know that these developments make a real difference to people’s lives. For many, a home is more than bricks and mortar, but a sense of identity and belonging.”

Local MSP Visits Dales Park School

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson visited Dales Park Primary School last week following an invitation to be questioned by pupils in connection with a school project on the workings of the Scottish Parliament.
Teacher Lynsey Telford
Pupils from Dales Park Primary School
Stewart Stevenson MSP
In an hour-long session, the MSP fielded questions on a range of issues, from what duties an MSP has, to queries about parliamentary procedure. A lively discussion was initiated Mr Stevenson invited the pupils to suggest what legislation they would want to introduce if they were members of the Scottish Parliament.

Commenting on his visit, Mr Stevenson remarked:

“I was delighted by the level of interest being shown by these young children, and the questions which they posed.

“As always, when I visit schools in my constituency, I leave feeling confident that the future of Scotland will be in good hands. As an MSP, it is my duty to ensure that we hand it over to them in the best possible state, and that belief is one which motivates me on a daily basis”

12 June 2019

MSP Says New Bill Will "Make a Real Difference" in North-East

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has given his backing to the Scottish Government’s Fuel Poverty Bill.

It comes after it was passed unanimously by MSPs this week.

Under the plans no more than 5% of households in Scotland will be in fuel poverty by 2040.

It will ensure families who struggle to heat their homes are given the right support.

By the end of 2021, the SNP Government will have invested more than £1billion to tackle fuel poverty and improve the energy efficiency of Scottish houses.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The SNP is fully committed to tackling fuel poverty across Scotland – this world-leading legislation will go a long way in helping to support low income households here in the North-East.

“This bill is designed to work for everyone regardless of where in Scotland they live. Scotland is now among only a handful of European nations to have legally defined fuel poverty – linking the definition to household incomes and the higher cost of living in rural and island areas.

“The Fuel Poverty Bill is a massive step in tackling fuel poverty and will help make a real difference to the lives of thousands of people in Aberdeenshire.”

Climate Crisis: UK Gov Must Now Reverse Carbon Capture Betrayal

The UK government must reverse their betrayal of North East Scotland and urgently fund the development of Carbon Capture technology, the SNP has said.

Theresa May has finally accepted the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to pursue a net zero target for emissions by 2050 – which is less ambitious than the target set by the SNP Government in Scotland.

The Tories promised £1 billion investment into Carbon Capture and Storage technology, which was expected to create 600 jobs in Peterhead, in a deal signed by David Cameron in the months leading up to the 2014 independence referendum – before shamefully reneging on this commitment.

The CCC report said that Carbon Capture and Storage technology is “crucial to the delivery of zero GHG emissions and strategically important to the UK economy [but] is yet to get started.”

The Scottish Government immediately accepted the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations to target ‘net zero’ emissions by 2045, 5 years ahead of the UK.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Tackling climate change is the single biggest challenge faced by humanity. We need to take action.

“The scientific advice is clear – Carbon Capture technology is crucial to reaching net-zero, and has the benefit of creating hundreds of jobs.

“By accepting the need to reach net-zero, the UK government are surely also accepting that they got it wrong by ditching their promise to Peterhead.

“The Tories promised us £1 billion for Carbon Capture – it’s time to pay up.”

6 June 2019

Stevenson Welcomes Banff Academy Pupils to Holyrood

Pupils from Banff Academy have met with the Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson to discuss political issues including Brexit, local transport and education.
The group of around 30 students visited the Scottish Parliament to watch First Minister’s Questions and meet with the MSPs.

Questions from the panel of pupils included how Brexit was likely to impact Scotland’s future as well as increasing the frequency of public transport in the North-East.

The pupils ranged from S1 – S3.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It is always great to meet with young people who ask such inquisitive questions about current affairs and politics.

“The Scottish Parliament is very accessible to visitors and it’s great when constituents can come along to watch the heated debate during FMQs.

“I was pleased to answer questions alongside the Deputy First Minister which illustrated how engaged young people are in the world around them.

“It is always good to be challenged especially by the next generation of voters.”

5 June 2019

MSP in Positive Meeting over Chalmers Hospital Minor Injuries Unit

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a commitment given at a meeting with health officials in Banff that the Minor Injury Unit at Chalmers Hospital will remain open meantime 24/7 while a further period of data gathering is initiated.

Peter Johnston (Friends of Chalmers Hospital)
Dr Janet Anderson (Friends of Chalmers Hospital)
Angie Wood, (Partnership Manager,
Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership)
Stewart Stevenson MSP.
Mr Stevenson attended a productive meeting between representatives of the Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership, the Staff of the MIU at Chalmers and The Friends of Chalmers Hospital where it was agreed that the recommendations for the future operating model of the MIU at Chalmers Hospital will be delayed to allow for a further period of data gathering. During this period of data gathering the Unit will remain open 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.

Peter Johnston, Honorary Treasurer for the Friends of Chalmers Hospital said:

“The Friends of Chalmers Hospital welcomes the fact that further consideration is being given to the unit’s activities and we look forward to seeing the outcome.“

Angie Wood for Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership said:

“As with the other areas that have been part of this review process, it is vitally important that we have the confidence of the all of the stakeholders in the recommendations we put forward to the Integration Joint Board.

“In Friday’s meeting we had an open and honest discussion about the recommendations we were due to put to the IJB and we agreed that it would be best to delay these until we can complete a further, intensive piece of data collection. Over the next month we will take an in depth look at activity in the out of hours period at the unit, including patient outcomes.

“Agreeing to hold off making any recommendations and really studying the new data, will allow us to work with the staff to shape the future operating model of the unit and hopefully will give the wider community confidence in the process.

“As I said at the meeting the recommendations following this additional piece of work might be the same, but with greater involvement from the staff at Chalmers and from the local community, I hope we will have more confidence in any recommendations we put forward in the future.”

Banffshire & Buchan Coast Constituency SNP MSP, Stewart Stevenson, who attended the meeting, commented:

"I was pleased to participate in what proved to be a very constructive and inclusive discussion regarding the consultation process for the future of the Minor Injuries Unit at Chalmers Hospital.

“I am very happy that the original options have meantime been taken off the table, and I feel reassured that the that Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership will now be liaising with the Friends of Chalmers Hospital and the local community in deciding the future of the MIU."

3 June 2019

Stevenson: US Trade Deal Threat to Local Food and Drink

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has warned that farmers and food producers in the North-East could be hit by a post-Brexit trade deal with President Donald Trump.

It comes after the US Ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, reiterated demands for major concessions from Great Britain.

According to reports, the Trump administration wants the UK to accept lower food safety standards than exist within the European Union, allowing US products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef to be sold in the UK.

The move would undercut our own food producers.

The US ambassador this week confirmed that a future trade deal would require access to “the entire economy”, potentially impacting other sectors such as the NHS.

There are also concerns that Scottish products, such as Scotch beef and Scotch Whisky, could lose their protected status after Brexit – allowing cheap-knock offs to be sold.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Scotland has top-quality food safety standards, in line with the rest of the EU, protecting consumers and our world-renowned Scottish produce.

“But that’s now under threat, with the Tories planning to sell out Scottish food producers as part of a damaging back-room trade deal with Donald Trump.

“As a member of the EU, local products like Whisky have been protected from cheap market knock offs - we can’t allow the Tories to take a take a wrecking ball to our booming food and drink sector here in Aberdeenshire.

“The UK government’s shambolic approach to Brexit leaves them in an exceptionally weak bargaining position – with Tory leadership contenders competing to be the most reckless with our economic future.

“There’s a real danger that, if Brexit happens, the next Prime Minister will be absolutely desperate to sign whatever damaging trade-deal Trump demands.

“Scotland voted overwhelmingly against Brexit – and the threat of selling out Aberdeenshire’s food producers shows exactly why we need to stop it.”

Stevenson: Hundreds of Disabled People in Aberdeenshire Denied Benefits by UK Government

Hundreds of disabled people in the North-East have successfully appealed against a decision to deny them benefits.

Newly released figures have prompted calls for a fresh review of the DWP assessment and appeals process.

It comes after figures obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws show 460 cases in Aberdeenshire were overturned between April 2013 and December 2018.

There were a total of 680 appeals during this period – meaning the success rate for appeals was a shocking 68% percent.

PIP is being rolled-out across the UK to replace Living Allowance (DLA) as the main benefit for disabled or ill people.

To receive this benefit, claimants have to endure controversial assessments, conducted by private companies on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“Disabled people in Aberdeenshire rely on these financial lifelines to live independently and be part of their community.

“For the DWP to get these cases so consistently wrong suggests a systematic hostility towards people in need.

“The Tory government’s punitive approach to the system simply isn’t working. It’s failing vulnerable people, withdrawing support from those who need it most, and leaving people out of pocket and unable to afford the basic essentials.

“The UK government’s disastrous record on welfare shows why Scotland should have the power to take our own approach – rather than leaving these powers at Westminster.

“In the meantime, it’s vital that these fundamental flaws in the current assessment appeals process are urgently addressed.”

Stevenson Welcomes School Benefit for Low Income Families

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a new benefit for low income families.

The £250 School Age Payment is available for families with a child old enough to start primary school this August.

The payment is part of the Best Start Best Grant, a package of three payments for families in receipt of eligible benefits – including Universal Credit, Income Support, Housing Benefit and tax credits – to help at key stages in a child’s life.

The Best Start Grant package also includes the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, which has been open for applications since December 2018 and the Early Learning Payment, which launched in April.

Applications for the School Age Payment opened today (June 3rd) and will remain open until February 29th 2020.

Eligible families can apply for a payment if their child was born between March 1st 2014 and February 28th 2015.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“Children starting school can be an added cost for families and this new payment will help towards easing some of the financial burden

“It will help ensure we bring equality to children by giving them help towards a fairer start

“I would encourage families in my Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency to apply for this payment if they are eligible to help support them as their children start school.”

2 June 2019

Stevenson Congratulates NE School on Nationwide Award

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has congratulated a North-East school for winning a nationwide award.

Clerkhill Primary School in Peterhead has been named as the ‘Primary Club of the Year’ in this year’s SCDI’s Young Engineers and Science Clubs (YESC) programme.

The YESC programme is a Scotland wide primary and secondary school education programme run by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.

The projects are designed to grow interest and spark enthusiasm in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.

Pupils work alongside their teachers, real engineers and scientists putting their problem-solving skills to the test on themed investigations.

The winners were announced at the SCDI’s YESC programme National Celebration of Stem, held in Glasgow, on May 31st.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

"I would like to congratulate all the pupils from Clerkhill Primary School who have been involved with this programme. They are a credit to their school.

“Learning about these four different subjects are a very important part of education for everyone and can inspire children to go on and pursue diverse and interesting careers.

“I am certain this award will help to encourage more young people in the North-East to build on this success and become involved in learning about STEM subjects.”

31 May 2019

Local MSP & Councillor Pay Tribute to Roger Goodyear

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Banff & District councillor Glen Reynolds have paid tribute to Vice Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire and community stalwart Roger Goodyear, who sadly died after a short illness.
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Roger Goodyear was a stalwart of the community, who was passionate about the local area and showing off all that was great in Banffshire and beyond.

“I was terribly sorry to hear of his passing and I would like to express my deepest condolences to his wife, June, family and friends. I recently nominated Roger to succeed Claire Russell when she retired as Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire. It was a testament to how capable Roger was.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Roger, who was never afraid to keep me in check. His passing will be a great loss to the community.”

Banff & District councillor Glen Reynolds added:

"Roger leaves behind him a legacy rich in community initiatives and support.

“The boat festival is of course, an enduring testament to his connection with Portsoy and its people. Community participation was core to what made Roger tick and little happened without his input, lovingly offered and greatly appreciated. To state that he and his voluntary work will be missed fails to do justice to the enormity of all he poured himself into for the benefit of others."

29 May 2019

Local MSP "Tries Sailing in May" at Peterhead Sailing Club

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson accepted the challenge from the Royal Yachting Association Scotland (RYA Scotland) to ‘Try Sailing in May’.
The invitation to the SNP MSP was part of the Push The Boat Out initiative, which is all about getting people out on the water locally and giving them the chance to find out how easy it is to get involved in sailing and windsurfing. This popular national event sees hundreds of sailing clubs and training centres up and down the country offering free or low cost ‘have a go’ sailing taster sessions and open days.

Organised by RYA Scotland, the National Governing Body for all forms of recreational, competitive and professional boating, Push The Boat Out 2019 raised the profile of the sport and fostered enthusiasm, ultimately increasing both participation and frequency of boating. The 2019 event runs until 31 May with some 44 Scottish clubs and centres taking part, each hosting fantastic taster sessions and open days.

Commenting after his visit, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Sailing is something I used to take part in back in my younger days so this was an initiative I was very pleased to be able to support.

“I’m very pleased that RYA Scotland have arranged these taster sessions all across the country as it’s a fantastic way to get involved if it’s something you’ve always fancied but never quite known how to get involved.

“It was a pleasure to meet with the members of Peterhead Sailing Club, who are clearly enthusiastic about opening up sailing to wider participation and I hope that initiatives like this lead to more people getting involved.”

Parliamentary Recognition for Banffshire Hotel's Award

Macduff’s Knowes Hotel, winner of the North Region Hotel of the Year, has had its achievement recognised in Parliament.

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson tabled a Motion congratulating owner Wayne Stewart and his team on their success and also their efforts to showcase prime local produce and provide excellent service.
Wayne Stewart and Stewart Stevenson MSP at the Knowes Hotel.
The hotel won the award at the recent Scottish Hospitality Awards and has also gained a ‘Taste Our Best’ badge from VisitScotland.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I visited Wayne and Linda at the Knowes Hotel last August whilst meeting with several local businesses in Banff and Macduff which were either new starts or takeovers of existing businesses, and they briefed me on their recent extensive refurbishment and extension.

“It’s therefore great to see this investment and hard work being recognised at a national level and I’m pleased to assist with a little bit more recognition for the Knowes in Parliament. This is a tremendous achievement by Wayne, Linda and the team there and I wish them every future success going forward.”

Stevenson Backs Payment for "Valued" Carers from Scot Gov

Carers in the North-East have received a six-figure sum in payments from devolved welfare powers introduced by the Scottish Government.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said financial support for carers helped to show they are “valued and properly supported” in their roles.

The new figures show that in Aberdeenshire, £888,000 was awarded to 2,175 eligible carers last year.

In Aberdeen City, the figures were £674,000 to 1,660 eligible carers.

The Carer’s Allowance Supplement is an extra payment made to carers in Scotland twice a year, in recognition of the important contribution they make.

Carers will now get two supplementary payments totalling £442 per year, equivalent to an extra £8.50 per week, which is a 13% increase on the Carer’s Allowance from the UK Government.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“Carers make an absolutely vital contribution to our society, and it’s only appropriate that they’re duly valued and properly supported.

“These figures show that more than 2,000 people have been supported with the allowance in the last year.

“The SNP Scottish Government is determined to use the powers available to help support the lives of people across Scotland.

“This supplementary payment allows the Scottish Government to get more money into the pockets of carers, as quickly as possible.

“I am delighted that carers in the North-East are being recognised for the important contribution carers make, and the hard work they do in what can often be difficult circumstances.”

24 May 2019

Stevenson Warns PM Resignation Will Cause More "Uncertainty" for NE Businesses

The resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May will do nothing to resolve uncertainty for North-East businesses and exporters.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson warned the change in Tory Prime Minister – the third in three years – will only further hinder the Brexit process.

It comes after the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, warned the UK last month to “not waste this time” given by other European member states for an extension.

Prime Minister Theresa May earlier announced she would resign on June 7th as the leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party to make way for her replacement.

The SNP has renewed calls for a fresh referendum to put the decision back to the people on Brexit.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“Prime Minister Theresa May’s calamitous time in charge of the UK Government has finally come to an end after failing to do anything to resolve the Brexit crisis.

“For businesses in the North-East and in my constituency, this will only extend what has been an increasingly uncertain time over the past three years.

“Businesses and exporters in sectors including farming and fishing want to have assurances and certainty about what is happening not to be bystanders to yet another self-indulgent Tory leadership bid.

“It does nothing to reduce the damage to sectors across the North-East and indeed Scotland who have been completely ignored throughout the Brexit process.”

Stevenson Welcomes Funding for North-East Arts Group

An arts group in the North-East has been awarded a five-figure cash boost by the Big Lottery Fund to work with young people in the community.

The North East Arts Touring Limited has been given £61,000 after applying to Young Start for funding.

The group will work with young people aged between 13-24 to promote a professional theatre and dance performance within their local community.

It also aims to teach transferable skills in events and art management.

During the two-year project, 360 young people will take part, supported by 324 volunteers.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“This funding will help support a new, two-year project aimed at showing young people the benefits of theatre.

“I am pleased the group has been successful in its funding and I look forward to seeing how the project develops over the next two years.

“Funding like this can be a lifeline for community groups and I would urge others to apply for the funding available.”

MSPs Back AWPR Active Travel Donation

North-East MSPs have welcomed funding by the Transport Secretary Michael Matheson for Active Travel in the region.

The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson has handed over a wealth of nearly new cycling equipment used during the AWPR GoNorthEast Roads Festival last year.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have backed the donation to local organisations, Adventure Aberdeen and Live Life Aberdeenshire.

The equipment includes 13 bikes, 32 children’s-sized helmets and more than 1,000 high-vis jackets.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP and Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“The completion of the AWPR has already begun to show positive results in terms of travel times and benefit to local businesses.

“The donation of equipment which can be used to support Active Travel in the North-East is extremely welcome.

“Active Travel is incredibly important, and this will help to encourage more people to do. It is also a great way to say thank you to the community who have been so patient during the construction works for the AWPR.”

Rab Dickson, Acting Director, of Nestrans, the regional transport partnership for Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire said:

“We have been working with Transport Scotland to help identify a suitable destination for the stock of bikes and equipment they had left over from the Roads Festival.

“We wanted to ensure that as many local people benefit from this equipment and we realised the best way of doing that was to work with the project’s funding partners, Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council via their own arms-length bodies, Adventure Aberdeen and Live Life Aberdeenshire.

“Both carry out sterling work on a daily basis across the North East and I know will put all the bikes and equipment to good use, helping promote the importance of a safe, active lifestyle.”

22 May 2019

Stevenson Calls for Immigration Powers to Come to Holyrood

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has called on the Scottish Government to be given more powers over immigration.

It comes after Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development Ben Macpherson warned the proposed changes by the UK Government in their white paper on immigration would be “catastrophic” for Scotland.

Mr Stevenson has urged for changes to attract people to come and live and work in the North-East and for the Scottish Government to be given further powers.

The Confederation of British Industry recently warned of the detrimental impact exiting the European Union will have on employment in key industries.

Mr Stevenson echoed these sentiments and warned of the cost current proposals would have to sectors in his constituency including fishing, farming, hospitality and social care.

The Minister said:

“They would send our working-age population into decline and would have a significantly negative impact on many sectors, including those that have been mentioned by Stewart Stevenson, as well as local care, tourism, construction, financial services and several others.

“In opposing many of the proposals in the UK Government’s white paper on immigration, and considering Scotland’s distinct demographic challenges, we recognise that there is growing support for the Scottish Parliament to obtain additional powers

as part of a UK framework, in order to tailor migration policy to meet Scotland’s needs, so that Scotland remains attractive to migrants and so that we can deliver new solutions.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“The UK Government has shown complete disregard for the different needs from immigration in Scotland.

“We rely on migrants to help support the work in a number of industries and the changes proposed in the white paper will, as the Minister said, have a 'catastrophic' impact on industries across Scotland and in the North-East.

“I would urge the UK Government to think again and let the Scottish Government have the right to additional powers so that we can maintain our current workforce.”

21 May 2019

Stevenson Joins FM in North-East as Journey Times Cut after AWPR Opening

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has joined First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and business chiefs in the North-East to celebrate the initial success of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR).

It comes after the £745 million infrastructure project was completed earlier this year after investment by Transport Scotland.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave a keynote speech at the event which marked the work of the GoNorthEast campaign which promoted the AWPR’s benefit to both communities and businesses.

Ms Sturgeon was also joined by Oil & Gas UK Chief Executive Deirdre Michie as well as other business leaders.

Data revealed by Transport Scotland has shown that travelling between Stonehaven and Dyce previously took around 47 minutes in the morning, and 42 minutes in the evening on the old A90 route. This has now been cut to approximately 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, Charleston to Dyce previously took around 33 minutes in the morning and 32 at night, however has also now shortened to only 16 minutes.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“The AWPR has been transformative for commuters in the North-East who have really benefited from the infrastructure improvements.

“Journey times and congestion have seen a marked change, and this will have huge benefits to both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and make it clear we are open for business.

“The AWPR is expected to generate an extra £6billion in economic benefits and create around 14,000 jobs over the next 30 years.

“I am pleased the First Minister was able to come to the North-East and recognise the early successes of the AWPR of which there will be many more to come."

17 May 2019

Stevenson Hails Infrastructure Investment in North-East

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has hailed figures which show billions of pounds of investment has been awarded to the North-East for transport infrastructure.

It comes after the Scottish Government was asked how much it had invested in transport infrastructure in the region over the last decade.

The figures reveal, in addition to the £745million spent on the AWPR and investment for the Balmedie project and the Inveramsay Bridge improvement, £3billion will be spent on the planned dualling of the A96.

Mr Stevenson welcomed the figures as well as the potential already being realised by the completion of the AWPR.

He cited recent evidence from Aberdein Considine which had shown a substantial increase in the number of views by potential customers of houses to the south of Aberdeen and in Stonehaven to the north.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said feedback on the AWPR had been “overwhelmingly positive” and an example of the economic benefits already being recognised since its completion.

Mr Matheson said:

“The AWPR is a demonstration of the Scottish Government’s determination to ensure that Scotland has a strong and robust economy, including in the north-east.

“We will continue to invest in major infrastructure projects, not just in the north-east but across the country, to support our communities and the Scottish economy.”

Additional figures show £7.8million has been awarded to local authorities in the North-East for cycling, walking and safer streets.

A total of £330million has also been awarded for improvement projects between Aberdeen and Inverness and the central belt, including a new station at Laurencekirk.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Scottish Government continues to invest millions of pounds across the North-East in a range of infrastructure projects.

“The completion of the AWPR has already begun to create economic benefits as well as improving journey times for commuters.

“But the Scottish Government is not stopping there and continues to look at how to build on this colossal investment.

“From £745million to build the AWPR to work on the A96 dualling there is a commitment to make North-East residents more connected than ever.”

15 May 2019

Gove Should Rule Out Power Grab at Holyrood Committee

Appearance Gives Opportunity to Withdraw Devolution Threat

Michael Gove should emphatically rule out any attempt by the Tory government to seize control of devolved powers when he appears before Holyrood’s environment committee today [Wednesday],the SNP have said.

The Secretary of State recently threatened interference with the devolution settlement, suggesting that the UK government should be able to legislate and spend in areas such as health and education – which are fully controlled by Holyrood. That comes despite his pledge before the EU referendum that Brexit would see Holyrood given substantially increased powers.

Members of key Scottish Parliament committees wrote to Mr Gove on Saturday, demanding that he keep his hands off Scotland’s powers. Mr Gove failed to respond to requests for comment at the weekend.

The First Minister addressed the Tories’ “grubby” power grab last week – making clear that the people of Scotland and their parliament should make all decisions, and that Brexit must not be a cover for Westminster centralisation.

Environment committee member Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Michael Gove has the perfect opportunity today [Wednesday] to emphatically rule out his threats of a power grab.

“The Tories never wanted a Scottish Parliament in the first place, and now they’re seeking to reverse the hard-fought gains of twenty years of devolution.

“Mr Gove’s comments were deeply troubling. Key powers over health, education and the environment should lie with Holyrood – not with a Westminster government working against Scotland’s interests.

“And his remarks also expose his 2016 claims about Scotland gaining power over immigration after Brexit as the empty rhetoric it always was.

“Scotland’s future should lie in Scotland’s hands– building on the success of devolution, and winning the powers that our parliament still needs so we can thrive as an independent country.

“The Tories can’t be trusted, and we cannot allow them to drag Scotland backwards.”

8 May 2019

Stevenson Backs Reform of Farming to Help Climate Change Challenge

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has backed a new farmer-led initiative to drive low-carbon, environmentally sustainable farming practices in Scotland.

The move has been launched under reforms to the Farming for a Better Climate (FFBC) programme.

The new group has been established to develop ideas on farms which could provide practical, innovative solutions to help climate change mitigation.

Mr Stevenson, a member of both the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee and the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, as welcomed the decision.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The launch of this group will allow the next generation of farmers and crofters to ensure they have adapted to the changing needs brought on by climate change.

“It will help to ensure a longevity and secure business viability. It is important we have feedback from all farmers to understand how we can help them make these adjustments.

“I look forward to seeing how farms in the North-East can put forward their contributions for how we target the challenges of climate change.”

7 May 2019

Stevenson Urges Community Groups to Apply for £11.5 Million Funding

Community groups in the North-East have been urged to apply for a new £11.5million fund which aims to tackle disadvantage, poverty and inequality.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is encouraging groups to apply for the funding announced by the Scottish Government.

It encourages community-led development, design and delivery of sustainable solutions addressing local issues, circumstances and aspirations.

This includes supporting out-of-school provision, providing activities and workshops, creating a community and improving job opportunities.

Grants of up to £250,000 are available over three years providing stability and recognising the need for longer term planning in some projects.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It’s the people that make my Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency such a great place to live and work.

“This funding would be allocated by listening to the views of residents who know best how to invest in our community where it’s needed most.

“I welcome the Scottish Government’s announcement and commitment to supporting groups and projects which could really benefit from funding and would urge applications.”

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said:

“We know that the best people to decide how to tackle local challenges are the people who live and work in the area.

“The introduction of this flexible, multi-year fund is the result of listening to the views of people in many different communities. It will enable community groups to make sustainable and impactful changes by providing them with the resources they need, when they need them.

“It will empower communities to have more control over of their own affairs and take forward more of the activities they have identified as being vital to their local area.”

2 May 2019

Stevenson: Report Warns CCS is 'Necessity, not an option' in Climate Change Battle

The need for Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) technology in the fight against climate change is a “necessity, not an option”, a new report has warned.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) have released their latest findings which claimed the UK’s contribution to global warming can be ended within three decades by setting ambitious new targets.

And it has urged the UK Government to act soon on ensuring key measures are in place to protect against the impact of climate change.

Now, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged the findings of the report to be listened to and for plans for CCS to the North-East of Scotland to be resumed.

It comes after then Tory Chancellor George Osborne axed £1billion investment plans for the technology in 2015.

Peterhead Power Station had been earmarked as a potential site for the technology and oil major Shell and Scottish Power completing a feasibility study.

Since the plans were put on hold, several reports have called for CCS plans to be resumed.

Last year, St Fergus near Peterhead was highlighted by a Westminster taskforce as a key site to deploy CCS at scale.

In the detailed report from the CCC it said: “Carbon capture and storage (CCS) in industry, with bioenergy (for GHG removal from the atmosphere), and very likely for hydrogen and electricity production. CCS is a necessity not an option.

“The scenarios involve aggregate annual capture and storage of 75-175 MtCO₂ in 2050, which would require a major CO₂ transport and storage infrastructure servicing at least five clusters and with some CO₂ transported by ships or heavy goods vehicles.”

Mr Stevenson said the necessary infrastructure was already in place between Peterhead Power Station and nearby St Fergus.

In November last year the UK Government published a clean action plan after announcing plans for clean energy technology to be rolled out more widely in the 2030s.

But none of the nine points in the strategy which were meant to be completed in 2019 have been achieved yet, leading to fresh concerns over the region being “sold short”.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“Once again we have a report which emphasises the need for CCS technology to be implemented to meet climate change reduction targets.

“These latest findings, which emphasis that CCS is a “necessity and not an option” show the Tories cannot keep dragging their feet on this issue.

“What we need to implement CCS is an already existing infrastructure which can be adapted and what we have known for quite some time is Peterhead Power Station and the surrounding infrastructure connected to St Fergus is capable of doing just that both by land and sea.

“Peterhead was promised £1billion investment and 600 jobs before the plug was pulled in a cynical betrayal.

“Scotland already leads the world on engineering expertise in the energy sector.

“We have huge potential to use those skills and infrastructure to lead the world in carbon capture and storage which could create thousands of jobs, while developing new technology to help meet our climate change obligations as this ground-breaking report from the CCC demonstrates.”

CCS is a process which captures large quantities of carbon emissions and stores them underground, stopping them from being released into the atmosphere.

Oil and gas pipelines could be used to store CO2 in rock formations under the North Sea.

It is estimated region could store 75% of the UK’s CO2 emissions when coupled with carbon capture infrastructure.

Last year, Acorn at St Fergus was awarded the Oil and Gas Authority’s first licence for storing CO2 under the North Sea.

1 May 2019

North-East MSPs Urge Voters to Register for EU Elections

North-East MSPs are urging constituents to register to vote by May 7th for the upcoming European Parliament elections.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin have warned voting is the only way to ensure Scotland’s voice is heard in Europe.

Research published has revealed that an estimated 600,000 Scots who are eligible to vote in this month’s elections have not yet registered.

And unlike the Brexit referendum, EU citizens living in the UK can vote in European parliamentary elections.

To be able to vote in the European Parliament elections, people must be registered to vote by midnight on May 7th.

The elections will take place on May 23rd.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP and Gillian Martin MSP, said:

“People in Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain in the European Union - but even many of those who voted to leave have real concerns about the extreme Brexit now being pursued.

“We know that Brexit will harm our economy, cost jobs and hit people's pockets, which is why it’s vital that anyone who has not registered to vote does so as soon as possible.

“Never before have European elections been so important. We need strong SNP voices in Europe to send a clear message that we will not accept a Brexit process which fails to represent Scotland's interests.”

30 April 2019

Stevenson Warns Older People Could Lose Out in Pension Credit Changes

Changes to Pension Credit by the UK Government could see couples missing out on the entitlement amid changes to eligibility.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged constituents whom it might impact to submit their claim before a deadline in two weeks’ time.

Pension Credit is an entitlement for people in the lowest levels of the State Pension.

It means their State Pension is “topped up” to a minimum of £167.25 for a single person and £255.25 for a couple living together.

But if a person is in a partnership where one person is of pensionable age and the other is younger than their State Pension age, the changes mean they will no longer be able to claim Pension Credit unless they have already submitted a claim before these changes come into effect.

It could mean thousands of older couples living in Scotland could be worse off to the tune of £140.40 per week, or around £7,000 a year.

Age Scotland said the changes could have a “devastating impact on the lives of some of the poorest pensioners” and mean couples were better living apart.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“Age Scotland are right to express concern about the changes to Pension Credit.

“As Pension Credit is a “passporting benefit” those affected could miss out on thousands of pounds worth of extra financial assistance such as Cold Weather Payments, maximum help with Housing Benefit, maximum help with Council Tax Reduction and assistance for those affected by the Bedroom Tax.

“Without Pension Credit, people will not have access to claim Social Fund Funeral Payments and they may not be entitled to the warm home discount.

“This decision by the UK Government is deeply unjust and I would urge the decision to be reversed.

“In the meantime, every older person who is eligible to claim Pension Credit should do so before the May 15th deadline.”

Stevenson Backs Charity's Appeal for Volunteers

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is backing a charity’s call for people in the North-East to volunteer for a service supporting older veterans whose lives have been distressed by hearing loss or tinnitus.

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s Hearing Forces service is part of the Unforgotten Forces consortium led by Poppyscotland.

Now, the charity is looking for volunteers to give a few hours each month to provide local veterans aged 65 or over, their families and carers with vital information and support to help them to cope with hearing loss or tinnitus.

Volunteers will be trained to clean, re-tube and adjust NHS hearing aids and provide vital information about ways to reduce the impacts of tinnitus.

They will also be trained to give advice about assistive equipment, such as amplified telephones or personal listeners, which can make everyday life easier.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“I’m delighted to discover that Action on Hearing Loss Scotland is working with 15 partners in the Unforgotten Forces consortium to provide holistic support for older veterans.

“I encourage people in Banffshire and Buchan Coast to come forward to volunteer for the Hearing Forces service which will provide life-enhancing one-to-one support for many of those who are affected by hearing loss.”

Alan Dalziel from Action on Hearing Loss Scotland said:

“We appreciate Stewart Stevenson MSP backing our Hearing Forces service’s volunteers appeal.

“We’d welcome the opportunity to speak with people from throughout Banffshire and Buchan who are interested in helping older veterans to hear more clearly and participate in conversations with family, friends or neighbours and remain active in their community.”

Stevenson Supports MS Society in Bid to Improve Treatment

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged constituents to support the work of MS Society Scotland to highlight the condition.

It comes after the organisation visited the Scottish Parliament as part of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week to discuss the important role of research in the lives of people affected by MS.

MS affects more than 11,000 people living in Scotland and can cause problems with how we walk, move, see, think and feel.

Now the MS Society is driving research into more treatments.

The charity currently funds 10 research projects in Scotland with the studies receiving over £3.56million over their lifetimes.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“The work of MS Society Scotland is vital in supporting those who live with this condition.

“By encouraging new research, we can develop understanding and know-how of other treatments and how they could help improve the lives of the more than 11,000 people who suffer from MS.

“I was pleased to meet with the MS Society Scotland when they visited the Scottish Parliament to find out about the incredible work they do.”

Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland said:

“This MS Awareness Week we are highlighting the importance of MS research.

“For more than 11,000 people in Scotland, living with MS is a daily reality. This is why the MS Society is driving cutting-edge research into more – and better treatments to ultimately stop MS.

“By contributing and joining a global group of fundraisers people can help us find new treatments for people living with the often painful and exhausting condition.”

MS is an unpredictable condition that is different for everyone. It affects how a person thinks, feels and moves. For support and information, please contact the helpline on 0808 800 8000.

29 April 2019

Stevenson Urges Families to Apply for Early Start Payment

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged families who may be eligible for a new Early Learning Payment to put their applications in.

The new £250 social security benefit will be available for low income families.

Families with children aged between two to three and a half can use the three-figure sum for anything from children’s clothes and shoes to toys, books or days out.

This payment is part of the Scottish Government’s new Best Start Grant package. This financial support includes the Pregnancy and Baby Payment, which has been open for applications since December and the Best Start Grant School Age payment which will open in June.

When the School Age Payments begin in June, the Best Start Grant package, along with Carer’s Allowance Supplement, will bring the total number of Scottish Government benefits being administered by Social Security Scotland to four.

Best Start Grant is for families in receipt of eligible benefits – including Universal Credit, Income Support, Housing Benefit – and tax credits to help at key stages in a child’s life.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“The Best Start Grant package will be available to families across the North-East and could help between 30,000 to 40,000 families across Scotland this year.

“The investment, totalling £12million, is £10million more than previously provided by UK Government support.

“The new £250 payment will help low income families around the time a child normally starts nursery demonstrating this Government’s ambition to put more money into the pockets of families who need it most.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Since December, low income families have been eligible for a payment of £600 on the birth of a first child, and £300 on the birth of any siblings.

“In just the first two months of the Best Start Grant, the Scottish Government got more money into people’s pockets than the DWP had managed under the old system in an entire year.

“Now, we will go further.

“I can announce that low income families will get a further £250 when their child starts nursery. Applications open tomorrow. And from June they will get the same again when their child starts school.”

25 April 2019

Tory Welfare Cuts Drive Record Foodbank Use

Universal Credit 'Key Driver' of Increasing Need for Food Parcels

Thousands of food parcels have been handed out to families across the North-East hit by the introduction of Universal Credit by the UK Tory Government.

Figures released from the Trussell Trust said its food banks provided more than 210,000 packages to people in crisis in 2018-19 – up from 23% from the previous year.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson slammed the figures caused by the “botched roll-out” of Universal Credit.

In Aberdeenshire, 4,800 of three-day emergency food supplies were provided to people in crisis by food banks.

The food bank provider said that issues with the Tories flagship welfare reform Universal Credit were a “key driver” of increasing food poverty.

In Scotland, 42% of food bank referrals made due to a delay in benefits, were linked to Universal Credit.

In November last year, Mr Stevenson visited the Peterhead Foodbank facility to meet with staff.
DWP ministers recently admitted the direct link between Universal Credit and soaring foodbank use – something which Tory MSPs have consistently denied.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“The botched roll-out of Universal Credit has been a disaster – driving people into poverty and forcing families to rely on food banks.

“In a country as wealthy as ours it’s unacceptable that emergency parcels and food banks have become so commonplace – and we know, beyond any doubt, that Tory policies are to blame.

“The fact that foodbank use is growing across Scotland is a clearly damning indictment of UK Government cuts to welfare, it truly is a case of ‘poverty amongst plenty’.

“When I visited the volunteers at Peterhead it was clear they provide a valuable service for the most vulnerable sectors of our society at their greatest time of need.”

24 April 2019

Former Banff & Portsoy Councillor Dr Norman Allan Dies Aged 96

Dr Norman Allan, who served as a councillor for the Banff & Portsoy Division on Grampian Regional Council has died aged 96.

A stalwart SNP member, Dr Allan gained the Banff & Portsoy seat from the Conservatives at the 1986 regional elections and held it until Grampian Regional Council was abolished in 1996. The result at the time was seen as part of the spectacular local SNP breakthrough at those elections, heralding the loss of the Westminster seat by the Conservatives to the SNP the following year.

Banff & Macduff Branch of the SNP honoured Dr Allan in 2017 with lifetime membership. Speaking on that occasion, he said:

“I’ve been a member of the SNP since 1961, when I joined just before leaving for Canada – where I worked as a doctor at the University of Ottawa.

“There was an SNP branch over there that I was the secretary of, so when I came back to Banff, I was naturally involved with the party.”

Paying tribute, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Norman was a stalwart of the local SNP and will be sadly missed by all who knew him. As a regional councillor, he served the communities of Banff and Portsoy for a decade and continued to be a prominent figure in the local community.

“Norman was a regular attender until quite recently at SNP branch and constituency meetings and could be relied upon to offer sage advice on the prevailing political situation.”

SNP councillor for Banff & District Glen Reynolds said:

"Norman was a local treasure, inspiring and enthusiastic for all that life and the area could offer, not least through the companionship he so lovingly gave and received.

“Maybe that was the key to the boundless energy he retained until the end. He never stopped enjoying the company of people and the local community that meant so much to him. In Norman's passing, Banff has lost a faithful servant.”

Former Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford added:

“Norman was always a source of great encouragement to me and was firmly of the view that it was the younger generation who would deliver independence for Scotland. Our thoughts are with Alison and the rest of his family.”

17 April 2019

Stevenson Pays Tribute to MEP Hudghton's Record of Service

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has paid tribute to Euro-MP Ian Hudghton’s record of service to the North-east.
Ian Hudghton MEP on a visit to
Banff with one of his ‘Euro-surgeries'
The long-serving MEP has announced he does not intend to seek re-election to the European Parliament at next month’s elections, should they take place. Mr Hudghton was elected to represent the former North-east Scotland Euro Constituency in November 1998 at a by-election caused by the death of SNP MEP Dr Allan Macartney. In 1999, following changes to the voting system, Mr Hudghton became one of eight MEPs representing the whole of Scotland.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Ian has been a strong voice for Scotland in Europe and has a proud record of serving the North-east.

“Changes to the voting system broke the link between MEPs and constituencies in 1999, when each MEP then represented the whole of Scotland, but Ian always ensured the North-east was never overlooked and was assiduous in attending to local matters.

“In particular, his surgery tours of the North-east were unique among Euro-MPs and ensured that Europe was never remote from the people here, who could always call on their MEP to represent them.

"I wish Ian a long and happy retirement, but suspect he will not be idle given his commitment to Scotland and the cause of independence."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commented:

“Ian Hudghton has championed Scotland's cause in the European Parliament for over 20 years, I am sorry to see him go. Ian has been a passionate advocate for what the EU is and does for Scotland, and proved himself a first-class parliamentarian. I wish him every success in the future.”

MSP Urges Local People to Have Their Say on Minor Injuries Unit

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson is urging local people to have their say at a public consultation event on Wednesday 1 May.

The review of Minor Injury Units (MIUs) in the North-east, is moving into the final phase with a series of public consultation events.

At the June 2018 meeting of the Integration Joint Board (IJB), members agreed the findings of the MIU Review and instructed officers to form local implementation groups to continue the work of the review.

The local implementation groups have looked at the feedback received from the public at the first round of events, as well as the data on how many people use the services and at what times and are now ready to share their findings.

Each area that currently has a Minor Injury Unit will host an event, open to all, to share and discuss a range of future operating models. Following these, events a paper setting out the findings of the review and recommendations on the future operating models for 5 of the units will be presented to the IJB for final consideration.

Each event will be an opportunity for local area residents to see and discuss a range of fully costed options for their unit as well as analysis of attendances to the units. Members of staff will be on hand to discuss any of the recommendations or findings.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Integration Joint Board carries out important work in bringing together elements of the health service and social work which previously operated as two separate entities, which didn’t always lead to a joined-up approach for patients.

“This is an important piece of work on the local Minor Injury Unit in Banff. I know how important local service provision is in a large rural constituency like Banffshire & Buchan Coast so I would urge people to go along to the drop-in session and get the information gathered so far and give their view on how they want to see this local service develop going forward.”

Stewart Stevenson
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