JOHNSTONE: PELAMIS VITAL FOR SCOTLAND’S RENEWABLE FUTURE

Alison Johnstone has urged the Scottish Government to intervene to secure the future of wave technology firm Pelamis, which entered administration last week.

Pelamis

Questioning the Energy Minister at Holyrood, she said there was a real danger that Scotland would lose a global leader in the development of the technology to an overseas buyer, and end up importing wave technology in future years.

Pelamis employs 56 staff, with most based in Leith.

Alison Johnstone, Lothian MSP said:

“Pelamis has been a global pioneer in wave technology and a leading Edinburgh company, which we cannot afford to lose. We hear so much about Scotland’s renewable energy potential but we will not reap the rewards without support to turn research into commercially-ready technology.

“Pelamis is a highly respected company which has built up a huge amount of expertise. I urge the Scottish Government to use every possible means to support this company and its employees at this uncertain time.”

SALMOND’S LETTER TO CAMERON REVEALS TTIP CONCERNS

The Scottish Greens are calling on Nicola Sturgeon to keep up the pressure on the UK Government, after a letter written by Alex Salmond to David Cameron, released to the Greens today, showed that the former First Minister was ‘extremely concerned’ about elements of the TTIP treaty.

In his final week in office, the former First Minister wrote that the treaty must not ‘undermine the democratic decisions of the Scottish people’ on public ownership of the NHS. He described the potential for corporations to challenge governments through Investor State Dispute Mechanisms as ‘unacceptable and.. deeply undemocratic’.

Alison Johnstone MSP wrote to the First Minister in October urging him to speak out against the treaty.

Green MSPs are now urging the new Scottish Government and opposition parties to take a tougher approach during scrutiny of the treaty at Holyrood.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP and a member of the Economy Committee said:

“Alex Salmond fired a parting shot to Westminster on this treaty but the new First Minister needs to follow through. Nicola Sturgeon should align Scotland with those progressive forces that oppose a treaty that will be of most benefit to powerful corporations.”

“If Ineos think they can easily frack the Forth Valley they’ve got another thing coming.”

Responding to news that Switzerland-based chemicals multinational Ineos intends to pursue fracking developments, Patrick Harvie MSP said:

Shale map

“Climate science tells us we already have access to far more fossil fuel than we can safely burn, so the public is quite justified in opposing these risky new techniques for extracting more gas. We should be looking to use our existing hydrocarbon supplies carefully and within limits, rather than chasing after more, as well as investing in clean technology that delivers long-term jobs and a safe environment.

“If Ineos think they can easily frack the Forth Valley they’ve got another thing coming. This is a highly populated area, and we’ve already seen serious opposition mobilised in local communities where coal bed methane drilling has been proposed. Anyone thinking of fracking in Scotland’s central belt will face a similar wave of protest.”

HOSPITAL MEALS REVIEW OPPORTUNITY SAYS JOHNSTONE

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian, is welcoming proposals by Scottish ministers to improve the quality of hospital food.

Cutlery

New guidelines will be published in January.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“It’s good to see the Scottish Government waking up to this important issue. I would encourage every health board to listen carefully to the feedback from patients and relatives to help improve hospital meals.

“I await with interest the new guidelines, and I urge ministers to raise their ambitions for the quality of food served in our hospitals. We should take this opportunity to focus on using more local and fresh ingredients, and we should continually involve patients in a review of the menus.”

JOHNSTONE DISAPPOINTED AS SALMOND BACKS GAS DRILLING

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy and energy committee, is expressing disappointment after outgoing First Minister Alex Salmond spoke of the “potential” for unconventional gas drilling.

Shale map

At Mr Salmond’s final First Minister’s Question time today Ms Johnstone highlighted proposals for underground coal gasification, urging him to back jobs in renewables rather than fossil fuel extraction.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“In the week that communities living around the Firth of Forth learn of plans to drill into coal seams and set them alight, the outgoing First Minister had an ideal opportunity to get his government off the fence on unconventional gas extraction. Instead he maintained the outdated idea that this industry has potential when the scientific consensus is that we simply cannot afford to burn the fossil fuels we already have.

“While his government has wisely supported the development of renewables it has also encouraged other damaging sources of energy we need to phase out. Communities are rightly concerned and I hope they pile pressure on the new first minister to change tack.”

 

JOHNSTONE SECURES AGREEMENT ON ENERGY EFFICIENT HOMES

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy and energy committee, today secured agreement from Finance Secretary John Swinney that energy efficient homes should be a national infrastructure priority.

Energy report

Ms Johnstone questioned the minister in committee, pointing out that retrofitting existing housing stock could create up to 9,000 jobs.

WWF Scotland and Energy Action Scotland have said that the Scottish Government’s proposed budget for 2015-16 does little to reduce fuel poverty.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“I welcome the finance secretary’s agreement that stopping heat leaking from our housing stock should be a national infrastructure priority. He clearly recognised the economic impact, not just in terms of cutting people’s bills but also in terms of creating thousands of high quality jobs and apprenticeships.

“If we’re serious about making up lost ground after three years of missing our climate change targets, and if we’re serious about creating jobs and cutting household costs, we need to see a big shift in funding in this budget. Mr Swinney agrees it should be a priority; let’s see if he will follow through with funding.”

 

Draft Budget 2015-16 submission from WWF Scotland

Submission from Energy Action Scotland

 

LOTHIAN MSP PUSHES FOR PROGRESS AT LEVENHALL LAGOONS

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian, is urging Scottish Power and East Lothian Council to progress plans which could see a barren area of scrub become a haven for birdlife.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Alison recently visited Levenhall lagoons at Musselburgh to hear the RSPB’s view of proposals which would see the area closest to the mouth of the River Esk landscaped, lined and kept wet using pumps to create a habitat attractive to wading birds. Alison met with Mike Fraser, the charity’s Conservation Officer for Lothian & Borders.

The Levenhall lagoons, behind the world’s oldest golf course and Musselburgh’s famous racetrack, have been built up from ash waste generated by Cockenzie coal power station. The area is famed among birdwatchers, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is part of the Firth of Forth Special Protection Area.

Last year Ms Johnstone heard from East Lothian Council that community ambitions to have the Levenhall lagoons and links designated as a Local Nature Reserve remain in limbo due to “protracted dialogue” with Scottish Power.

Alison said:

“It’s now almost two years since the coal power station at Cockenzie was switched off and the ash lagoons have reached the end of their working life. I value the opinion of the RSPB and these proposals from Scottish Power certainly sound like a great step forward. I shall write to the company and the local authority urging progress.

“I’d like to see movement on this issue very soon, and the community’s expectation is that the site will be handed back to them in a fit state. Local Nature Reserve status should still be a goal, and I will continue to support local efforts to achieve this. Fantastic green spaces on our doorstep, even artificial ones like Levenhall, should be protected for the benefit of our communities.”

 

COAL GASIFICATION PLANS MUST BE SHUT DOWN SAYS JOHNSTONE

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy and energy committee, is urging communities around the Forth to oppose plans for underground coal gasification.

Flare

Drilling firm Cluff, one of a number of firms with licences to extract gas from coal seams around the Scottish coast, says it intends to apply for planning permission to develop drilling operations under the Firth of Forth.

Gasification involves drilling into coal seams, igniting them and capturing the resulting gas from a borehole.

Even with as-yet unproven carbon capture and storage technology, coal gasification would still emit more greenhouse gases than renewables.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“Just a week after the IPCC warned that we need to urgently phase out fossil fuels, we have a company preparing to drill for yet more. In recent months I’ve been hearing from local people rightly alarmed at the prospect of unconventional gas drilling in their area, and I’d urge communities to oppose such developments.

“The local authorities and the environmental regulator Sepa must take into account the climate impact from this proposal. It also poses an economic risk by extracting fossil fuel we simply can’t afford to burn, and diverting attention away from the renewables sector that is steadily growing the long-term, well-paid jobs we all want to see.”

 

Last year a poll by the Scottish Greens in West Fife about coal gasification showed widespread concern

Excitement over ‘clean’ underground coal gasification masks technical reality (Carbon Brief)

 

LOTHIAN MSP SAYS CUTS MUST PROMPT COUNCIL TAX REFORM

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian, today (5 Nov) urged ministers to make reform of the council tax an urgent priority.

CoverRenewingLocalDemocracyAndyWightman

Ms Johnstone used Finance Questions at Holyrood to raise growing concerns among communities where council cutbacks have prompted parents to pay for basic school equipment, and where leisure facilities face being axed.

The Scottish Green MSPs published ideas earlier this year for renewing local democracy, including restoring local tax raising powers, something other European towns and districts take for granted.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“When we see local authorities cutting budgets already pared to the bone, putting leisure facilities and frontline services such as education at risk, we have to question the wisdom of seven years of a council tax freeze. This sticking plaster solution proved popular but is now undermining the services our communities rely on.

“Scots are more engaged in politics than ever and I believe they want to see fairer funding of properly empowered local government. Ministers cannot duck this issue any longer and must meet their commitment to consult with others on a way forward.”

Eight sports centres face closure over funding cut (Evening News)

Education ‘no longer free’ as parents buy basics (Scotsman)

Renewing Local Democracy in Scotland (Report by Andy Wightman for the Scottish Green Party)

 

HARVIE: ENERGY EFFICIENT HOMES MUST BECOME PRIORITY

Patrick Harvie, MSP for Glasgow, today (4 Nov) urged ministers to make energy efficient homes a national infrastructure priority.

Radiator

Mr Harvie was responding to the climate change minister’s statement on the third annual missed target on greenhouse gas emissions.

It comes as the IPCC warns that climate change is set to cause severe impacts unless emissions are cut sharply, and as WWF and Energy Action Scotland say the Scottish Government’s proposed budget for 2015-16 does little to reduce housing emissions and fuel poverty.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“Stopping heat leaking from our housing stock should be a national infrastructure priority. If the Scottish Government is serious about making up lost ground after three years of missed targets it should commit to a big shift in funding.

“A third of Scotland’s homes are in fuel poverty, so by investing in insulation we could cut bills for households right now as well as reduce the emissions threatening quality of life for generations to come. We’d also create thousands of high quality construction jobs.

“Ministers should stop talking up their world-leading failed targets and instead make energy efficient homes a fully-funded policy we can all be proud of.”

 

IPCC Summary for Policymakers

Draft Budget 2015-16 submission from WWF Scotland

Submission from Energy Action Scotland