News - Naidheachdan

21 March 2017

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has written to SSE to highlight the “unsustainable” charges some islanders are facing to connect their new build homes to the grid.


SSE’s own website gives as estimated cost of £1,600 to connect a new build house in a “rural/ country” area. However, the local MSP was recently contacted by a constituent from a remote area of Lewis who has been asked to pay £21,000. The new build was around 400 yards away from the existing infrastructure.
 
Alasdair Allan MSP commented:
 
“There has rightly been much talk about the current populations projections for the Western Isles and what we can do to stop the projected depopulation from becoming a reality.
 
“We need to be encouraging more people to move here, more people to bring up their families here and, critically, more people to build houses here.
 
“The example of a constituent of mine being asked to pay £21,000 simply to connect their new build to the grid shows how badly we are being letting down by OFGEM and the UK Government. This is far from an isolated case and I have heard of people being asked to pay as much as £40,000 to connect a single home.
 
“It is simply not sustainable to have the situation we have in the islands of connecting a home costing more than median annual pay. I have written to SSE to highlight this blatant unfairness and will also be raising the issue with OFGEM.”

21 March 2017

Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, spoke last weekend at Glasgow’s George Square at the March against Racism Rally, which received public support from the trade union movement, the Scottish Refugee Council, churches and other organisations.

Alasdair Allan represented the Scottish Government in his capacity as Minister for International Development and Europe, and used this event to promote diversity and to show support for refugees, migrants and other ethnic minorities.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan said: 

“I was delighted to represent the Scottish Government at this important event, which was a chance to showcase Scotland as a welcoming nation, which stands up against racism and intolerance.  It was an opportunity to show solidarity with our friends, neighbours and colleagues from other countries – to show that we recognise their contribution to our society and that we are glad they are here.

“In the aftermath of the EU referendum, it is vital that we send a message that Scotland remains a welcoming place for all those who have chosen to make this country their home.  We all have a duty to challenge prejudice and discrimination.  Now, more so than ever, we must stand together and continue on our path towards a vibrant, diverse multi-cultural society based on mutual trust, respect and understanding.

“It was a moment of great pride when the people of the Western Isles opened their hearts to the crisis in Syria, and welcomed refugee families to our islands, and invited them to call the Isles and Scotland their home. Scotland is a welcoming country, and we stand with those internationally who believe that there should be no place for racism or discrimination of any kind.”

13 March 2017

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has said Scotland must now be allowed to choose what kind of country it wants to be. This follows the First Minister’s announcement today that she will ask the Scottish Parliament to back the idea of a second independence referendum.

Alasdair Allan said that, despite lengthy attempts by the Scottish Government to find compromise, it was now increasingly obvious that the choice was between a Tory hard Brexit and becoming an independent country.

The move comes as the UK Government prepares to trigger “Article 50” and begins the process of leaving the EU.

Alasdair Allan, who is Scotland’s Europe Minister, has said that it has become clear that the UK Government has no intention of respecting Scotland’s 62% vote to remain in the EU. 55% of people in the Western Isles voted to remain in Europe.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:
 
“Throughout the entire Brexit process to date, the Scottish Government has been consistent in its pursuit of a compromise with the UK government, putting forward substantial proposals for Scotland to remain in the single market – yet the UK government has rejected these and is pursuing an ever harder line.
 
“It is within this context, with the UK government intent on pursuing a damaging hard Brexit, and set to trigger Article 50 without communicating with the devolved governments, that it has become ever clearer that the people of Scotland must be offered a choice over our future.

“The Scottish Government will always stand up for Scotland’s interests and we are intent on protecting Scotland’s place in the single market. The people of Scotland deserve to choose, once the terms of Brexit are clear and before it is too late to decide our own path, honouring the manifesto pledge that we were elected on last year.

“Scotland now stands at a crossroads, and we cannot drift along for two years hoping for the best. We face the real prospect of right-wing Tory governments until at least 2030, and being dragged out of the EU and Single Market, with all the damage to our economy and society that will cause.”

09 March 2017

Scotland-based organisations are invited to develop projects to contribute to the global fight against poverty and inequality, International Development Minister Alasdair Allan said today.

In keeping with the priorities detailed in the refreshed International Development Strategy, a new four and a half-year funding round will target support for communities in Zambia and Rwanda.

Since 2005, the Scottish Government has supported hundreds of projects in sub-Saharan Africa contributing to the Millennium Development Goals and their successor, the new UN Global Goals.

Dr Allan said:

“Scotland is an outward looking and compassionate nation and we are committed to doing all we can to help some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

“Our international development strategy maps out how we will help individuals, families and communities in Zambia, and Rwanda. We are inviting applications with this new funding round, which underlines the importance we place on Scotland playing its part to tackle global challenges.”

In Rwanda, previous Scottish Government support, delivered by Tearfund, has helped communities set up businesses. Dushimimana Alphonse, who was helped to train as a carpenter, said:

“When this project came to my village, I joined a self-help group so that I could get my carpentry business off the ground. My house has now become a showroom for all the furniture I make – all thanks to the support of this project.”

Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund Director Alistair Dutton said:

“Nearly three-quarters of people in Zambia survive on less than £1 a day, and one-in-three don’t have access to clean water. Money from the Scottish Government is helping some of the poorest people in the country with training, seeds, tools and livestock so they can grow the food they need, earn a living, and provide for themselves in the future.”

Jane Salmonson, Chief Executive of NIDOS, the networking body for international development organisations in Scotland said:

“It is exciting to see this new grants round for Rwanda and Zambia opening up. I look forward very much to seeing what can be achieved by Scottish international development organisations for people and communities in those two countries.”

09 March 2017

The issue of an interconnector for the Western Isles was raised in the Scottish Parliament at First Minister’s Questions earlier today.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP, standing in for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, outlined the importance of the project to the Scottish Government’s agenda on renewable energy.

He said that the frustration felt by people in the Western Isles over the UK Government’s stalling on this issue had been discussed at Cabinet earlier in the week. He also confirmed that the Scottish Government remained committed to making the case to the UK Government for a project that will bring real opportunities to attack fuel poverty and bring about economic benefits.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“This is an issue of huge importance to the Western Isles and it is good that this issue continues to be raised publicly by Scottish Ministers while we await a decision from the UK Government.

“As I recently argued in my submission to the UK Government’s consultation on the treatment of island wind projects, island renewable projects have the potential to produce some of the cheapest and greenest electricity in the country. There are hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment from shovel-ready projects across the Western Isles that simply need the necessary infrastructure in place before work can begin.

“If we are to realise the renewables potential of these islands, the UK Government needs heed the calls being made by the Scottish Government and others.”

 

 

23 February 2017

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed today’s publication of Professor Lorne Crerar’s report on the Enterprise and Skills review.

A key recommendation in the report is that Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) retains a board of its own.

Professor Crerar is the current chairman of HIE. He was tasked last month with producing an independent report on the principles and potential outline structure of the overarching Strategic Board.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“I very much welcome today’s publication of Prof Crerar’s review.

“The review recommends that a Highlands and Islands advisory board is retained. The minister responsible for the enterprise and skills review, Keith Brown MSP, has indicated he welcomes the report and will be returning to update Parliament once the Scottish Government has had time to consider it.

“I have made representations to the Government about local views on this issue, and the importance of the work HIE does in the Western Isles. The Scottish Government has always been clear that it is completely committed to a locally based HIE, and that the introduction of a national statutory board would in no way diminish the work that it does.” 

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