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.”

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