Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, has reacted to today’s announcement from OFGEM that it is minded to reject SSEN’s proposals for a 600MW link, instead proposing a smaller 450MW connection.
Alasdair Allan MSP said:
“I am extremely disappointed by this decision.
“The difference in cost between the 600MW and 450MW transmission link is less than 5% of the total project cost, but it would deliver an additional 30% of socio-economic benefit to the Western Isles and allow the plethora of community groups with ambitions for their own renewables projects to connect to the grid.
“This is a completely short-sighted decision which calls into question OFGEM’s decision making and the level of attention they have given to the Western Isles. Renewables projects from the Western Isles have the potential to produce some of the cheapest and greenest electricity in the country while providing up to £2 billion in local and national socio-economic benefit. However, obstacles such as today’s announcement continue to be placed in our way.
“The Western Isles has been waiting a long time for a transmission connection to mainland GB. We should not have to wait any longer. I urge OFGEM to reconsider this decision.”
SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has called upon the UK Government to provide certainty for people with epilepsy that their supply of medication will not be disrupted in the wake of Brexit.
Prof John Paul Leach, an expert on epilepsy, has already raised concerns along with Epilepsy Scotland about the provisions in place in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, and what affects that could have on medication supplies.
Despite the health sector being devolved, the supply of medicines remains a reserved matter for the UK Government. The islands MSP has written to the Scottish Government to ascertain what assurances the UK Government have been able to give, and whether London has offered any insight into their contingency plans.
Alasdair Allan, who has epilepsy himself and serves on Holyrood’s Cross Party Group on Epilepsy, commented:
“In 16 days the UK is scheduled to leave the EU. The risk of a ‘No Deal’ looms in people’s minds, and there are real concerns amongst those who live with epilepsy that access to vital medication could be uncertain if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.
“It is frankly unacceptable that the UK Government has not made an effort to assure those who require access to vital medication that their prescriptions will remain uninterrupted. Epilepsy medication is there to prevent potentially dangerous seizures, and allow those living with the condition to have any adverse effects partly, if not entirely mitigated. Not having appropriate access to this medication has several knock on effects as well – there are cases where individuals are required by the DVLA to use the drug, otherwise their driving licence is deemed invalid. Switching to similar but unfamiliar medication in the event of shortages of a drug that has eventually been found to work for an individual is not an acceptable option.
“I hope the UK Government can provide certainty sooner rather than later on this - if on no other - aspect of Brexit.”
SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Alasdair Allan is encouraging constituents in in the Western Isles to take part in the public consultation on proposals to tackle incidents of dogs attacking livestock.
The consultation, which ends on 15th May, was launched last month by SNP MSP Emma Harper, who has the support of a number of organisations, including NFU Scotland, the Scottish SPCA, and Police Scotland, and others, to strengthen livestock attack laws.
The public can take part in the consultation on the following link: https://www.parliament.scot/gettinginvolved/111027.aspx
Alasdair Allan MSP said:
“Over the last decade there have been 77 reported offices of attacks on livestock by dogs in the Western Isles. Given the large amount of crofting activity we have here it is a topic of particular concern to the islands.
"At this time of year sheep will be pregnant and even the chasing of a sheep by a dog - without any physical contact taking place - can be so stressful for the ewe that it can abort the lambs it is carrying. It is important that people ensure that when walking dogs near livestock they keep their dog on a lead to prevent further attacks.
“I would ask my constituents to take part in this public consultation and make their views known.”
Clare Slipper, Political Affairs Manager of NFU Scotland, added:
“Despite a vast amount of awareness raising, livestock worrying continues to blight Scottish farmers and crofters. Dogs themselves are not to blame, it’s their irresponsible owners who need to wake up and understand the devastation this is causing.
“We are delighted to work with Emma Harper MSP on the launch of the consultation for the Members Bill and feel this is a real opportunity to clamp down on the issue once and for all – hopefully saving our members immeasurable heartache and considerable financial losses.
“We urge as many people as possible to fill out the consultation and give their views on an issue that continues to blight Scottish agriculture.”
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said:
“We fully support Emma Harper MSP and the public consultation with regards to dogs attacking livestock.
“This is an issue that we are constantly campaigning to raise awareness of and we are pleased this is now at a stage where it is being looked at in Parliament.
“Our animal helpline, rescue officers and inspectors are regularly contacted regarding livestock attacks and we welcome the opportunity this consultation creates to reduce these potentially devastating incidents.
“We encourage everyone to take part in this consultation. It’s up to everyone who enjoys the countryside to be a responsible citizen and to be fully aware of their impact on the surrounding environment.”
TWO ISLAND PROJECTS BENEFIT FROM REGENERATION CAPITAL GRANT FUND
SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Alasdair Allan has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that £2,100,000 worth of funding for two projects in the Western Isles has been awarded as part of the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.
£1,800,000 has been awarded to the Cnoc Soilleir project for the establishment of a new state-of-the art modern building for Gaelic and cultural heritage in South Uist, including Gaidhlig language, music, dance and education. The building has been designed to become a local focal point for the community and visitors. It is an innovative joint venture between Ceòlas and Lews Castle College UHI.
£368,338 has also been awarded to the Grinneabhat Project to redevelop the former school in Bragar, which closed in 2013. The project has been developed by the community through extensive consultation and will involve the building undergoing a full refurbishment to include an exhibition space to showcase historical and cultural displays and local artists’ work.
Alasdair Allan MSP said:
“I am really pleased that both of these projects have been able to secure this funding from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.
“Ceòlas and Lews Castle College have developed impressive and ambitious plans for a centre for Gaelic music, dance and culture at Cnoc Soilleir. The project will have a significant role in helping with the revitalisation of the Gaelic language in Scotland, while creating jobs and increasing cultural and educational activity in Uist.
“There has also been a strong desire within the community in Bragar to see the school continue as a community asset. This project has the potential to bring great economic benefits to that part of Lewis and I have been supportive of it in my capacity as local MSP.”
Low-income pensioners hit by Tory cuts to Pension Credit could also lose access to other benefits, such as cold-weather payments, MSPs have been warned.
From 15 May, mixed-age couples – where one person is of state pension age and the other is younger – will no longer be able to claim Pension Credit, costing couples up to £140 per week, or £7,000 per year.
Age Scotland has told a Holyrood committee that Pension Credit is a “passporting benefit,” meaning that some couples who face losing out may not be able to claim other forms of assistance such as cold-weather payments, housing benefit, and Council Tax Reduction.
This stark warning comes after it revealed that a majority (56%) of Pension Credit claimants are disabled.
Age Scotland also warned that those who have been hit by changes to the state pension age (WASPI) will also be negatively affected by these changes to Pension Credit, which are “likely to have a greater impact on women.”
Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:
“The impact of this Tory cut – which was conveniently sneaked out the back door on the evening of an important Brexit vote – is truly shocking.
“This cut is going to hit pensioners in need, a majority of whom are disabled – and it is staggering the knock-on impact could also see them lose access to cold-weather payments and other benefits.
“Evidence of Westminster’s failure on welfare grows every day. The Tories can’t keep sweeping the harmful effects of their welfare cuts under the rug.
“The UK Government must urgently reverse this attack on low-income pensioners.”
ISLANDS MSP WELCOMES JOBS FOR ISLAND YARD
Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, has welcomed today’s official announcement that work has returned to the Arnish fabrication yard in the Isle of Lewis.
82 jobs have been created after the yard’s operator BiFab was awarded a contract to produce piles worth up to £26.5 million as part of the Moray East Offshore Windfarm development.
Alasdair Allan MSP said:
“Arnish is an important economic asset for the island and I am delighted to see it officially re-open after a period when it had no work.
“82 jobs will have a big impact on an economy the size of Lewis. It is vitally important that we get a sustainable programme of work for Arnish that keeps people in secure employment for years to come. I know that the company is very attentive to this point and is working hard to source new contracts for the BiFab yards.
“DF Barnes have shown real commitment to Arnish since their involvement. I would also like to thank the Scottish Government for the collaborative work is has undertaken since BiFab was first threatened with administration to get us to where we are today.”