TAG | Environment
I am deeply concerned that a divide is forming between Aberdeenshire Council and Bervie Braes residents, and I have called on all those involved to work together for a resolution. I sought to remind all concerned that they are working towards the same goal, to secure the Braes and ensure there are no further landslips.
Everyone involved, the residents, the Community Council, Aberdeenshire Council and local Councillors all want the work to secure the Braes to go ahead as quickly as possible.
Having visited Bervie Braes with David Fleming, chair of the Community Council and discussed the issue at length with Aberdeenshire Councillors, particularly Stonehaven Cllr Peter Bellarby, it is striking that they have far more in common, than they have differences of opinion.
Residents, having narrowly escaped earlier this year, and having been promised a resolution by the Council, will be worried about going through the winter without the Braes being secured. Clearly, residents want to ensure that their future insurance coverage is not affected by the waivers which they have been asked to sign. Their concerns are understandable and the council should take note.
It is therefore heartening to learn that the Council, having tried several times to visit all the residents to discuss the waivers face-to-face, is open to changing the wording in response to their worries. When I have discussed the issue with Peter Bellarby and other Aberdeenshire Councillors, it was clear that they felt very, very strongly that the Council should undertake the effort, even though it has no responsibility to do so.
Aberdeenshire Council have had a major success in securing £2m from the Scottish Government towards the cost of the scheme and should be commended for their effort. Understandably, the council has a responsibility to all other Aberdeenshire residents to ensure they do not incur a future liability, beyond the proposed scheme. The contractors insurance will cover the work that they do, so this should be straightforward.
I would urge all those involved to put themselves in each others’ shoes. They would then understand that it is in everyone’s interest to work together towards a mutually satisfactory outcome.
Following the recent bad weather, Angus Liberal Democrats have renewed their calls for the Scottish Government to do more to help protect Montrose from coastal erosion. There has been further erosion at Montrose Golf Course, which is the 5th oldest in the world and will celebrate its 450th year in just two years time.
Reacting to news of further erosion at the Golf Course and along the coast, Sanjay Samani, Lib Dem campaigner for Angus and Mearns said:
“I was shocked to hear from Montrose Cllr David May this morning that there has been further erosion at Montrose Golf Course. I visited the course with Alison McInnes, Lib Dem MSP for the North East, just three weeks ago to inspect the damage.”
“The SNP have scrapped a special flood funding scheme introduced by the previous Lib Dem / Labour administration. They have largely left Councils to fund such schemes from their own budgets.”
“With both coastal erosion and flooding, the SNP Government have focussed on funding warning systems. While the new warning systems are worthwhile, they do not replace the need for investment to protect our coastline”
“The SNP have not allocated enough money to properly tackle coastal erosion and so risk losing an important part of Scotland’s sporting heritage. The golf course is all that stands between Montrose and the risk of damage to the town.”
Montrose Cllr David May commented, “This morning, I inspected the impact of the recent bad weather on the coastline at Montrose Golf Course. There has been further erosion, especially at some of the more vulnerable holes.”
“I call on the Scottish SNP Government for help, so that hard cash is allocated to help deal with coastal erosion. And furthermore, the SNP needs to change policy on the way it allocates funding.”
“With more bad weather forecast for the coming weekend, there are obviously concerns about the impact on the course if there is further erosion.”
I am joining Angus councillors David May and Alison Andrews in backing the call by Liberal Democrat Energy spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP for the Scottish SNP Government to join in the Green Homes Revolution.
UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne has announced that by 2015 100,000 Green Deal workers could be employed in the effort to make Britain’s homes warmer and cheaper to run. The UK Government is in negotiations with Scottish Government officials to extend the Green Deal across the UK.
Backing comments by Liam McArthur MSP, Montrose Cllr David May said,
“The Angus and Mearns area has been devastated by flooding over the last year. If we do not tackle climate change there are real risks that floods will be more likely in the region. The Green deal will help us all to tackle climate change and protect our homes and businesses.”
The Green Deal would be great for Angus and Mearns. It will save residents and businesses money on their energy bills, it will create jobs for builders and help tack climate change.
The UK Government predicts that the deal will create 100,000 jobs across the UK, which means a potential 10,000 for Scotland. These will be vital jobs for the construction industry that has been hit hard during the recession.
I understand that the Scottish Government officials are in discussions with their UK counterparts. It is vital that the SNP government extend a similar scheme across the country, so that Scotland isn’t left out of this green revolution.
Following a visit to Montrose Harbour with local MSP Alison McInnes, the Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Climate Change and Angus councillor David May, Angus and Mearns Liberal Democrats have backed calls to protect a fund that could benefit the Port at Montrose.
The £60 million development fund had been allocated by the UK Government to support redevelopment of British ports to service new offshore windfarms. Montrose had hoped to benefit from some of the money, but now faces missing out if the funding is cut in the upcoming spending review.
I visited Montrose harbour area last week with Alison and it is clear that this fund could make a big difference to the port. The off-shore wind farm market is very competitive and there is a need to develop the infrastructure so that Montrose can establish itself on the international market.
There is clearly the potential to create hundreds of green jobs which would be a huge boost to the economy of Angus. I hope the Liberal Democrats in government are able to find a way to salvage this fund from the financial mess left behind by Labour.
Montrose councillor David May, convener of Infrastructure Services, added his support to the call as he has been directly involved in visiting the port on several occasions and is well aware of the potential for jobs. He said:
“It is obvious to me that this funding will make a difference to what Montrose port will be able to do. It has been a huge success in recent years and we are all aware of the possibility of wind-industry work in our port which could lead to hundreds of new jobs in Angus, and this could directly benefit towns such as Brechin, Arbroath and Forfar as well Montrose so the retention of this fund is vital.
Nick Clegg, leader of the Lib Dems, yesterday launched a pledge to invest £400m, identified from savings elsewhere, in renovating shipyards and harbours, specifically for building, maintaining and supplying off shore wind turbines. It is expected that this will create as many as 57,000 new green jobs.
I have campaigned for the Scottish SNP Government to make a similar commitment to invest in Montrose Harbour. This commitment is just what Montrose needs to secure its future and I would call on other parties to match the Lib Dem commitment.
You can read more details about the pledge by clicking here to go to the Liberal Democrat website.