News - Naidheachdan

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed improvements to Barra’s air service which will result in more summer capacity.

These changes were announced by Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf earlier today. They include 22 additional return flights from Glasgow to Barra in May and early June, and up to 40 additional return flights from Glasgow to Barra from late June to October through a redeployment of capacity from Winter 2018-19 to Summer 2018, subject to on-going discussions with the Barra community.

The Scottish Government supports flights between Barra and Glasgow via a Public Service Obligation (PSO) contract awarded to Loganair.

Alasdair Allan said:

“I am pleased to see the Scottish Government working constructively with the community in Barra to increase flight capacity during the busy summer months.

“Barra is easily one of the most attractive places in Scotland for tourists to visit. These changes should help benefit the local economy while making it easier for residents to get to and from the mainland.

Cllr Donald Manford said:

"A decision to support a continued increase in flights between Barra and Glasgow particularly in this economic climate is quite phenomenal. The confidence the Scottish Government has in our resolve to grow our economy and our community is inspiring.

“The freedom to increase summer flights even further by redeploying some winter flights will be given very careful consideration. On winter days where it's clear that two flights cannot be achieved, the freedom to redeploy them is a significant development. On other flights we must be extremely alert not to curtail the enormous economic opportunity to continually expand our travel season."

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, last week met with Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, to discuss the damaging impact of greylag geese in the Uists.

The adaptive goose management pilots for Orkney, Tiree, Lewis & Harris and the Uists ended last year as local Goose Management Groups transitioned to a self-help approach, with a Challenge Fund being put in place to help these groups.

The local MSP was joined at the meeting by David Muir, a Scottish Crofting Federation representative from Uist.

Alasdair Allan commented:

“While I think the adaptive management pilot demonstrated how local groups could manage geese numbers in the future, there was concern that Uist was not yet in a position to transition to this self-help approach.

“At the meeting, the Cabinet Secretary heard first-hand about the damaging impact of greylag geese. It was positive that she listened carefully to these concerns and recognised the challenge that crofters in Uist face.

“SNH has increased the funding available for the Uists and other adaptive management pilot areas to move towards a self-help solution. In order to help the transition to self-help and prevent any increase in goose numbers while the self-help approach is being developed, the Scottish Government is prepared to make available a further payment of £10k to help control greylag goose numbers in Uist during 2018/19.
“I was also pleased to hear that the Scottish Government will work with SNH to explore potential for further generation of income through goose carcass sales.

“Clearly there is a lot still to do before we can say that the numbers of greylag geese are down to anything like manageable numbers, and I will continue to raise this issue.”

David Muir added:

"The SCF welcomes the additional funding which will help keep increasing numbers of greylag geese in Uist in check, however, ways must quickly be found to reduce the goose population of almost 6,000 to recently revised target figures of between 1,800 and 2,200. Barnacle geese pose a different problem. Unlike greylags they are resident in North Uist from autumn until spring with population sizes ranging from 4,000 to over 8,000 and they cause extensive damage to grassland. They are heavily protected and, although we realise numbers can only be reduced through international co-operation, urgent action is required.

"The meeting with the Cabinet Secretary provided an opportunity for the plight of Uist crofters to be explained directly in terms of geese causing not just destruction of grazing land, but also for the potential loss of already limited supplies of the unique local corn seed mix which is vital for cattle fodder as well as for the environmental health of the machair."

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has condemned the UK Government's “sell out of Scotland's fishing industry”.

The draft terms of the Brexit transition deal show the UK government has agreed to abide by Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) rules for the whole of the transition period, which ends in December 2020.

Alasdair Allan said:

“The Scottish Conservatives’ leader had claimed that ‘Britain will leave the CFP as of March 2019.’ We know now that this was simply conjecture, and today’s events give the lie to her claim that her MPs 'have the ear of government.'

“Now we know not only will the UK have to abide by CFP rules during the transition period, it will lose the voting rights it has now.

"It is certain that leaving the European Union will bring about considerable disadvantages, and it is absolutely critical for our islands produce and trade that we remain in the single-market. However, the one possible claimed advantage of Brexit was that our islander fishermen would no longer be restricted by the CFP. The SNP have long held the position that while we believe that Scotland's future is best served within the European Union; the CFP is something which needs fundamentally reformed, or scrapped altogether.

“This transition deal however delivers nothing for our island fishermen. It is shameful that at this stage of negotiations, the Tories have sold out the fishing communities here in the islands, and right across Scotland once again.”


SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan has backed a cross-party approach to have the Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Project awarded to BiFab.

Commenting, Allan said:

“I have continually highlighted the importance of Arnish to our island economy. I am pleased that the Scottish Government remains committed to investigating long-term solutions for the yard and is working with BiFab to identify future investors. I will continue to maintain regular communications with the Government, stakeholders and Bifab workers at Arnish to ensure that the yard’s long-term future remains firmly on the agenda.

“I have also backed a cross-party approach to the Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Project to award the fabrication project to BiFab. Awarding this contract to BiFab would not only provide some short-term certainty to the yards but it would also demonstrate a commitment to the Scottish economy, and it would be a ringing endorsement of the talent, hard-work, dedication and commitment of the Arnish workforce.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed a funding boost delivered by the Scottish Government for NHS Western Isles to support frontline health care and help meet new demands across the Western Isles.

NHS Western Isles is set to receive an extra £2.3 million compared to last year – taking the total investment from the SNP Scottish Government for the year ahead to £73 million.

The commitment is part of a funding increase of over £400 million across Scotland – and NHS staff are also set to benefit from the ending of the public sector pay cap, boosting wages for hard working nurses, doctors, cleaners and clerical staff throughout the NHS.

Alasdair Allan commented:

“The SNP in Government continues to deliver for our NHS in the islands.

“These extra resources will ensure that Scotland continues to have the best performing NHS across the UK – with lower waiting times and higher patient satisfaction.

“Investing an extra £2.3 million in the coming year into NHS Western Isles will be will be a welcome boost for our communities – supporting frontline health care in the islands and helping us meet new demands and pressures across primary, community and social care, as well as in mental health.

“And this SNP Scottish Government budget also delivers a pay-rise for workers in our NHS – the only part of the UK to make such a commitment. When it comes to supporting workers in our NHS, only the SNP can be trusted.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has outlined concerns on proposals from Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd (HIAL) to discuss their plans to move to a system of Remote Air Traffic Control Towers.

In a recent letter to HIAL’s Managing Director, Alasdair Allan has questioned HIAL over the justifications for this proposal, and raised concerns about the economic impact this could have in Benbecula and Stornoway.

Alasdair Allan commented:

“When I met with HIAL’s Managing Director and Chair about this proposal earlier this month, I was keen to stress that there are concerns about the potential for the islands to lose high-quality well-paid jobs. My Westminster colleague Angus MacNeil MP and I have met with members of the workforces who are concerned not only about future employment, but also about how feasible or desirable such a system would be in the long run. HIAL have cited recruitment challenges as one of the motivations for this proposal, but this is an issue the industry as a whole faces and it is hard to accept this is something unique to the islands.

“It is also troubling that Benbecula is earmarked as the first airport to transition to remote operation. It would appear to be one of the airports with the best level of staff retention, minimal maintenance costs and it has the additional complication of significant military activity at both the airport and in the surrounding area.

“While I welcome the fact HIAL have agreed to undertake a social impact assessment, there are still a great number of question marks around this proposal, and I hope that they will engage further with key stakeholders and the affected communities on these points.”

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