A mothballed fibre broadband network could soon go live in Dumfries after the intervention of SNP MSP Joan McAlpine.


The state-of-the-art system would turn The Crichton Estate into a “gigabit campus” and attract more jobs and investment to the area.


Ms McAlpine called a meeting at the Scottish Parliament between Kate Forbes MSP, Minister for the Digital Economy, The Crichton Trust and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE).  SSE own the lease over the faster fibre network which was installed in 2005 but never lit up.


Ms McAlpine said she was very positive about the progress made at the meeting which she arranged after an approach from Gwilym Gibbons, the new CEO of the Crichton Trust – the charitable organisation which runs the 85-acre, business, leisure and academic campus in Dumfries. 


Ms Forbes told the meeting that switching on the system would be an exciting development for the whole of Scotland as well as Dumfries and Galloway.


Mr Gibbons explained that every building at Crichton was connected to the fibre network and he outlined his belief the Trust taking control over the network would help attract new business tenants who preferred to pay for broadband as part of a single package with their utility bills. 


SSE heads Eddie Duffy and Steve Wood said they wanted to help the area and were willing to enter into talks to get the system up and running.


Ms McAlpine, the South Scotland MSP, said:


“This was an extremely positive meeting. 


“I was impressed with SSE’s candour.  They have commercial interests but they made it apparent that they will help the Trust realise its ambitions. 


“The Trust has big plans for Crichton.  Now, with the help of SSE, it looks as though they will be able to take the next step in developing the campus and making it an even more attractive place to invest.


“It comes at the perfect time, as the Scottish Government is really focussed on the South, with plans for a new dedicated economic development agency.


“I was grateful to the Minister for lending her support.  She was clearly very excited by Gwilym’s vision of a gigabit campus.”


Giving her thoughts on the meeting, the Minister for the Digital Economy said:


“I thank Joan McAlpine for inviting me to the meeting to hear first-hand the ambitious vision she has for Dumfries and Galloway. The Crichton Campus already plays a critical role in the local economy and I support Joan McAlpine’s desire to see it going even further in opening up the digital potential of the south of Scotland.”


As part of the Atlas Project, a broadband infrastructure scheme funded by the EU, faster fibre-optic technology was installed in every building on the Crichton Estate in 2005. 


However, the fibre broadband was never connected.  Atlas Connect Limited, a company that was setup and wholly owned by Scottish Enterprise to carry out the work, was subsequently sold to SSE in 2010. 


SSE currently owns the lease to the Estate’s comms cabinet but the company has not lit up the line because in the past it was not considered commercially viable.  Other business parks that benefitted from Atlas have since prospered.


SSE will review the legal implications of surrendering their lease to the Crichton Trust.  This process should take a matter of weeks.  The ultimate aim is for the Trust to have full control over the fibre broadband connection at the Estate.  Ms McAlpine and Ms Forbes have emphasised that they will give what support they can to help smooth the transition.


ATLAS Project


‘SSE extends fibre network with Atlas acquisition’

(4 other sites mentioned)




The Crichton Trust


Connecting Scotland our broadband future: Making it Happen


Share Button
Tagged with: ,


McAlpine To Meet With SSE Heads Over Crichton Campus

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has set up a parliamentary meeting with senior representatives of Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) in a bid to bring an end to the long running saga of fibre broadband connectivity at The Crichton Estate near Dumfries.
As part of the Atlas Project, a broadband infrastructure scheme funded by the EU, faster fibre-optic technology was installed in every building on the Crichton Estate in 2005. 
However, the fibre broadband was never connected.  Atlas Connect Limited, a company that was setup and wholly owned by Scottish Enterprise to carry out the work was subsequently sold to SSE plc in 2010.  In all that time, the fibre connection was never used by SSE despite the Crichton Trust asking for it to be set up.
Gwilym Gibbons, the CEO of Crichton Trust, has outlined the organisation’s ambition to turn Crichton into a ‘Gigabit campus’ as part of its continued development. The Trust believes that using the Estate’s fibre broadband connection is pivotal to Crichton’s ability to attract new business and investment. 
Ms McAlpine, the South Scotland MSP, said:
“The Crichton Trust have big ambitions for the future of the Estate.  They see fibre broadband as integral to their plans.
“SSE seem to have no interest in operating or maintaining a fibre broadband connection at the site.  It has just sat dead since it was put in. 
“This is a curious situation as it means they are leasing an asset from which they receive no benefit.  Surely, the sensible thing to do would be to surrender the lease to the Crichton Trust and let them connect the Estate for the benefit of everyone. 
“I am appealing to the benevolence of SSE.  Give a little bonus to the community the campus serves.  I hope that they will see that point of view at our meeting.”
The Crichton Estate constitutes an 85-acre parkland area which incorporates food, drink, leisure activities, business and an academic campus.  The land is owned by Dumfries and Galloway council who leases it to the Crichton Trust – a not-for-profit organisation.  
Four other sites around Scotland were connected under the Atlas Project and all of those sites were able to utilise their fibre connection after it was installed.  
SSE currently owns the lease to the Estate’s fibre broadband cabinet but the company has refused to operate and maintain the line.  This means that Crichton has been without fibre-optic connectivity as the network has lain dormant since it was installed back in 2005.   
Ms McAlpine hopes that this meeting will lead to a satisfactory resolution for all parties and that Crichton can finally be ‘lit up’.
  • The meeting will take place on Tuesday 30th October
ATLAS Project
‘SSE extends fibre network with Atlas acquisition’
The Crichton Trust
Connecting Scotland our broadband future: Making it Happen

Share Button
Tagged with: ,


Joan McAlpine MSP has spoken out in Holyrood for the Dumfries and Galloway communities affected by the Duke of Buccleuch’s sale of the so-called Evertown Portfolio.
The South Scotland SNP MSP told parliament that the Duke of Buccleuch is advertising land near Canonbie village for its Coalbed Methane (CBM) deposits.  The Scottish Government has made clear that no licenses will be granted for unconventional oil and gas extraction – including coalbed methane – and the residents of Canonbie have raised repeated objections to any excavation proposals. 
Ms McAlpine highlighted her concern that big landowners are shirking their responsibility to formally engage with local residents impacted by decisions relating to land. 
The MSP has been campaigning on a number of fronts in relation to Buccleuch Estates disposal of Evertown – a 9,000 acre rural estate in South Scotland being marketed for £19.5 million.  As well as fighting CBM proposals at Canonbie, the MSP has objected to the impending removal of farming couple, Alison and David Telfer, who are being cast off their Cleuchfoot farm, after 20 years, to make way for more lucrative forestry plantation.
Responding to questioning, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Land Reform, outlined that landowners were expected to formally engage communities when significant decisions about land use are made.  Ms Cunningham then confirmed that no local authority can grant planning permission for any proposed fracking or Coalbed Methane project
On Buccleuch, Ms McAlpine said:
“I am pleased that the Scottish Government has left us with no doubt.  The Duke has hidden from his obligations.  The expectation is clear; this is undeniably a major change in land use and Buccleuch Estates have ignored the wishes of the community and flouted their responsibilities.
“Savills, the agents marketing the sale, are advertising Canonbie as ripe for profit because of CBM deposits.  Well, Scotland and its government are clear, we don’t want extraction here.  It is a destructive process and environmentally crippling – especially for rural communities like Canonbie. 
“Buccleuch Estates has shown nothing but disdain for the concerns of the communities affected by this sale.  The Telfers have been on their farm for 20 years.  The Duke, on a whim, has decided to uproot their livelihood in pursuit of yet more profit.  It is time to do the reasonable thing and leave the Telfers and the residents of Canonbie in peace.” 
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, and the Scottish Government’s Scottish Government’s Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land, necessitates formal community engagement over decisions which may significantly impact on the social, economic or cultural development of a community, access to a good quality environment, and community viability.
Both the communities around the Telfer’s Cleuchfoot holding and the residents of Canonbie have reacted angrily to the Duke’s proposals. 
An online petition in support of the Telfers, started by activist organisation 38 degrees, has garnered over 11,500 signatures.

Full transcript:  General Questions 25/10/18
JM:  To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on legally obliging landowners to formally engage with communities affected by major changes in land use?
RC:  The Scottish Government’s Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land sets expectations that all landowners across urban and rural Scotland will engage with their local communities about decisions relating to land that will have a significant impact on the local community.  
JM:  Does the Scottish Government share my concern over the Duke of Buccleuch advertising coalbed methane deposits at Canonbie, in his sale of the Evertown Estate, despite the local community’s continued objections to any extraction proposals? 
RC:  The Scottish Government does not support unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland and that does include Coalbed Methane.  No local authority can grant planning permission for any proposed fracking or Coalbed Methane project and Scottish Ministers would defer any decision on any planning application that did come forward, until the full policy making process on our preferred position is completed.  The practical effect of that is that no fracking or other unconventional oil or gas activity can take place in Scotland at this time.  In line with statutory requirements, earlier this week we published for consultation, the Strategic Environmental Assessment environmental report on our preferred policy position.  That consultation is the nezt step; it continues the dialogue with the public on this important issue.  It will run for 8 weeks from the 23rd of October.  It is anticipated that Ministers will inform Parliament of their finalised policy on unconventional oil and gas in Scotland in the first quarter of 2019.  That is the backdrop that people will be operating in regardless of who they are. 
Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 – s 44
Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land
‘Sturgeon rebukes Duke of Buccleuch in tenancy row over forestry plantations’
‘Land Commissioner intervenes in Buccleuch tenant farmer row’
‘Scotland’s Modern Day Clearances Under Way’
Evertown Portfolio
Mouldyhills – Canonbie

Share Button
Tagged with: ,


SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the news that an online petition in support of Alison and David Telfer, a farming couple threatened with removal by the Duke of Buccleuch, has received over 8,000 signatures.


Ms McAlpine has campaigned on behalf of the Telfers who face removal from their Cleuchfoot farm near Langholm by Buccleuch Estates.  Buccleuch, the landowners, stand to benefit from lucrative forestry grants either directly or via an inflated price for the land, which has been put up for sale.


This pursuit of profit comes at the expense of the Telfers, who have lived and worked at Cleuchfoot for 20 years.  The couple understood that they could farm the land until they retired in a few years time but the early sale of the holding will leave them homeless.


The sale of Cleucfoot is part of the larger disposal of the so-called Evertown Portfolio – a 9,000 acre rural estate being marketed by Savills for the Duke of Buccleuch.


The online petition, addressed to the Duke, entitled ‘Let the Telfers keep their home and business’ has received 8,645 signatures at the time of writing.  It has been posted on the website of political activist organisation 38 Degrees.


Last month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, in response to a question from Ms McAlpine, outlined her concern over the case.  Ms Sturgeon pointed out that the Telfer’s human rights had to be considered.  Andrew Thin, chairman of the Scottish Land Commission, has also appealed to the Duke to let the couple stay till they retire.


Ms McAlpine, the South Scotland MSP, said:


“Buccleuch’s treatment of the Telfers has been abhorrent.  The public are angry and this petition shows that.”


“It is lamentable, in 2018, that a Duke is trying to ride roughshod over a hardworking and honest couple. 


“The Scottish Land Commission has made clear that Buccleuch Estates have behaved entirely unreasonably.  It is time they do the right thing and simply allow the Telfers to retire in peace. 


“As the First Minister pointed out, we have to consider the couple’s human rights.  Buccleuch own the land and this sale is not illegal.  But it is immoral and this case does not represent a fair balance of rights. 


“I will continue to campaign on behalf of the Telfers and any other tenant who is treated in such a dismissive and damaging way.”


Ms McAlpine noted that Buccleuch, this week, approached members of the community about the Evertown sale – after the MSP had pointed out that their failure to formally engage local residents affected by the sale was in breach of Scottish Government guidelines.  She said the consultation came too late as the land had already been put on the market.




Share Button
Tagged with: ,


Scotland could be a world leader in film and TV production MSP Joan McAlpine told parliament this week.


However, we need more studio space to capitalise on the opportunities offered by Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services, she told Holyrood.


Ms McAlpine, who is Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee’s (CTEEA), was leading a debate on the Committee’s report:  Making Scotland a Screen Leader.


It was the culmination of a six-month enquiry which heard from over 50 industry stakeholders. 


As well as demanding the delivery of a studio, the report, which was published in June, recommended a standalone screen agency for Scotland and said that the BBC and other public service broadcasters should commission more productions from Scottish companies.


Ms McAlpine told MSPs of her optimism for the future of the industry and pointed to Outlaw King, the £85m movie about Robert the Bruce, backed by Creative Scotland, as an example of what can be achieved.  She welcomed the extra Scottish Government funding for film production which has seen investment grow by 200% over a decade.


But she pointed out that film production spend had grown around the world and witnesses to the Committee believed that Scotland was not doing as well as it could.


In her speech, Ms McAlpine said:


“The worldwide demand for high quality screen content is insatiable.  Netflix alone is making 40 productions in the UK this year out of 700 around the world – an investment of £8 billion. We need to attract more of this type of investment, but time and again our enquiry heard that Scotland had fallen behind other parts of the UK.  So, while we are growing, we are not growing fast enough


“The government, its agencies and important commissioners such as the BBC must recognise the significance of the overwhelming industry support for the Committee’s recommendations.


“The Committee visited Northern Ireland Screen in Belfast. It has been instrumental in supporting the delivery of a film studio and attracting Game of Thrones. It was completely industry focussed and of course, independent.


“Screen Scotland has now launched, albeit later than planned. Its governance seems to have been streamlined and recent appointments have bolstered industry experience at board level.


“There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of the Scottish Screen sector but it’s important that we build real momentum and bring about a sustained and transformative change in the way the sector is supported.”



Since the Committee launched its report at The Edinburgh International Film Festival in June, a new Screen Unit, Screen Scotland, has been launched within Creative Scotland.  Ms McAlpine said that the Committee’s interim report, which called for an industry lead standalone agency, had helped shape Screen Scotland for the better.  She said it was more streamlined than originally planned and welcomed the appointment of industry professionals to the board.


However, the MSP stood by the Committee’s demand that Scottish Enterprise improve its support for screen businesses. The Committee wants to see some of the agency’s creative industry budget transferred into a standalone screen unit that would offer tailored business support to film and TV companies.


CTEEA: Scotland’s Screen Sector


Making Scotland a Screen Leader


Screen Scotland


‘Outlaw King star James Cosmo slams failure to build film studio in Scotland after Braveheart bonanza’


‘Action at last: Plans for a new film studio in Scotland’


Share Button
Tagged with: ,

Dumfries and Galloway to Lose Millions in EU Funding

A new online database had laid the bare the cost to Dumfries and Galloway of the UK’s exit from the European Union.


The online tool shows that the EU has invested upwards of £90 million in the area across a wide range of sectors including education, research, employment and young people.


Perhaps the most damning statistic is that the region is set to miss out on heavy EU investment in agriculture.  In 2017, the bloc spent £82,480,719 to support 2,006 farmers around Dumfries and Galloway.


Local SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:


“Dumfries and Galloway has been well served by our membership of the EU.  The figures do not lie.  This is why Scotland voted so decisively to remain.


“But our wishes have been entirely ignored by the UK Government.  Their reckless agenda will hurt the people and communities that are protected by continued EU investment.


“Dumfries and Galloway is a largely rural economy.  How can the loss of £82 million investment into farming be anything but damaging?  The UK Government has provided no clarity as to how this will be replaced. 


“We are being dragged out of the European Union against our will; Dumfries and Galloway and Scotland will suffer because of it.”


The EU invests around £5billion a year in the UK, and the European single market is around eight times bigger than the UK internal market.


EU Investment Database


Share Button
Tagged with: ,


SNP MSP Joan McAlpine had a resolution – regarding tenant removal on land owned by the Duke of Buccleuch – passed by acclaim at last week’s SNP Annual National Conference.


The emergency resolution highlighted the case of Alison and David Telfer – two tenant farmers who have lived and worked at Cleuchfoot farm, owned by Buccleuch Estates, for 20 years.


The Telfers are facing removal because of the earlier-than-expected sale of their farm in order to make way for trees.  The Duke of Buccleuch aims to profit from the receipt of lucrative forestry grants at the expense of his tenants. 


SNP party member and former MSP Rob Gibson spoke on the resolution, referencing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s concern for the Telfer’s case.


Ms Sturgeon expressed her concern for the Telfers in response to a question posed by Ms McAlpine during First Minister’s Questions.  


Mr Gibson, in his speech to conference, said:


“We welcome our party leader’s commitment to human rights of small tenants such as David and Alison Telfer. But, we want to see the full powers used by the radical Land Reform Act we passed in 2016. The Scottish Land commission was appointed by Parliament to step up the scrutiny of huge private kingdoms like the Duke of Buccleuch’s ¼ million acres


“I’m calling for the Scottish Land Commission and the Tenant Farming Commissioner to press the public interest; to ensure the Duke of Buccleuch’s land managers conduct structured, thorough and open engagement with local communities affected as the Land Reform Act lays down.”


Ms McAlpine, in response to her resolution passing, said:


“The Telfer’s case is in the public interest.  I am heartened that this resolution was passed with unanimity.  Buccleuch Estates should take note – we are keeping a close eye on them.


“We are seeing new lowland clearances in southern Scotland.  We must not give grants that incentivise the removal of tenants.  Buccleuch’s wealth rose by £11 million last year alone.   This sale may be legal but it is not moral.


“The Duke has a responsibility to engage with the people he is affecting.  The Telfers deserve better and the community at large deserves better too.”


The disposal of Cleuchfoot farm is part of a restructuring of the Duke of Buccleuch’s estate.  The sale is part of the larger sell-off of the so-called Evertown Portfolio – a 9,000-acre rural estate in Dumfriesshire. 


The Evertown Portfolio is being marketed by Buccleuch Estates in its entirety for over £19.5 million or in 18 individual lots including the Telfer’s farm.   




Full Resolution


Conference welcomes the FM’s concern for tenants of Buccleuch estates threatened with loss of their homes and farms in a drive for new forestry plantings.
Conference Calls on the Scottish Land Commission to press Buccleuch to conduct structured, thorough and open engagement with the community on their Eskdale plan
Conference believes that public grants should never be given when they incentivise the removal of tenants, even when this removal is legal due to a lease not bring renewed.  
Rob Gibson 
Joan McAlpine MSP 
Annandale and Eskdale Branch 
Cromarty Firth Branch


Rob Gibson’s Speech to Conference, in full:


In response to a question to the First Minister by Joan McAlpine, our FM has expressed her concern in the strongest terms, at FMQs, about threats to small farm tenants on Buccleuch Estates in a 9,000 acre block put up for sale. A sale that threatens the loss of fragile hill farm businesses and their local communities in the area.


Conference, we welcome our party leader’s commitment to human rights of small tenants such as David and Alison Telfer. But, we want to see the full powers used by the radical Land Reform Act we passed in 2016. The Scottish Land commission was appointed by Parliament to step up the scrutiny of huge private kingdoms like the Duke of Buccleuch’s ¼ million acres.


Already the Duke’s agents are selling 9,000 acres in order to increase estate revenues. This could at best spread landownership – But – small farmers can’t afford to buy, and it seeks to create larger blocks of plantation forestry that attract big grants, either for his own land or for large corporate buyers to tap public grants. These grants are aimed to help Scotland reach the admirable target of 25% land use in forestry and woodland in ten years.


NOT at the expense of vulnerable small tenant farmers and the fragile communities they live in.

So, I’m calling for the Scottish Land Commission and the Tenant Farming Commissioner to press the public interest; to ensure the Duke of Buccleuch’s land managers conduct structured, thorough and open engagement with local communities affected as the Land Reform Act lays down.

The Land Commission needs to give urgent and sustained attention to make sure our Ministers get every help to protect tenants.


The Land Commission is making great progress to offer solutions to a long list of land issues – bearing in mind the limited powers of the Scottish Parliament.

But conference. Before we can curb the size of huge estates and their expensive lawyers –

Before we can double the land in community ownership to one million acres,

The spotlight must be shone on huge estates like Buccleuch to the light of public scrutiny.

Conference, the Scottish people are suffering unnecessarily because of the power of huge landed estates.


We’re putting the Duke of Buccleuch on notice!


Evertown Portfolio:

Share Button
Tagged with: ,


SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has raised concerns about proposed Coalbed Methane (CBM) extractiona process similar to fracking, on land being sold by the Duke of Buccleuch.

Mouldyhills Farm in Canonbie, Dumfriesshire is being marketed as a lucrative opportunity because of its CBM potential – despite the Scottish Government refusing to give licenses for fracking.
Selling agents Savills have advertised the vacant farm for £1.8m, boasting:
“With key industry partners, the owners have been working to realise coalbed methane opportunities across Mouldyhills Farm which could, in the future, offer a significant income subject to obtaining the relevant consents.”
Ms McAlpine and local residents previously campaigned against Buccleuch’s plans for CBM extraction at Canonbie, an historic village on the banks of the River Esk.  
Commenting on the sale, Ms McAlpine said:

“CBM frequently results in fracking and has been associated with gas leaks and water poisoning elsewhere in the world. Buccleuch Estates caused outrage in Canonbie several years ago when they tried to do this through the back door via the local planning department.  Fortunately, a brilliant campaign by the residents stopped them.

“It beggars belief that Buccleuch are still pushing CBM to future owners of the site.  It is deeply irresponsible as well as misleading; the Scottish Government has said no planning licenses will be issued.  The Duke should be ashamed of trying to profit from the land by advertising its destruction.”


The sale of Mouldyhills farm is part of the larger disposal of what is known as the Evertown Portfolio.  This 9,000-acre area, made up of several farms, is being sold in a larger restructuring of Buccleuch Estates.  

Local MSP Joan McAlpine has launched a separate campaign against the sale of Cleuchfoot, another lot in the Evertown Portfolio, which is currently occupied by tenant farmers Alison and David Telfer –  who have lived and worked it for 20 years.  The Telfer’s hill ground is being marketed as having “planting potential” for forestry grants.  These prospective grants are more profitable than the Telfer’s tenancy and as such, their sheep are due to be removed this month in preparation for the sale.  Ms McAlpine has been engaging with Buccleuch Estates on this matter but the MSP has also objected to CBM proposals at Mouldyhills.   
Coalbed methane is a natural gas trapped in coal seams underground. Extraction requires drilling into the seam and pumping large amounts of water out to lower the pressure.  Such seams are often later fracked. This involves injecting water, sand, and chemicals at very high pressures underground and can cause minor earth tremors.

CBM extraction elsewhere in the world has been linked to methane migration, contamination of the water supply, air pollution, land subsidence, noise pollution, crop death, increased carbon emissions, depletion of the water table and general industrialisation of rural communities
Widespread public opposition to fracking was indicated by a 2017 Scottish Government consultation.   
Ms McAlpine said the proposal to extract CBM underlined the need for Buccleuch to formally engage the local communities affected by the sale of the Evertown Portfolio.
The MSP said:

“Residents campaigned successfully against the Duke’s CBM plans in the past.  If Buccleuch had carried out proper community engagement on this land sale, then he would have found the same criticism levelled at these proposals for a dirty, environmentally damaging type of gas extraction. Marketing it as an “opportunity” is both sneaky and greedy”

The Scottish Land Commission has already told Buccleuch that under Scottish Government guidance necessitated by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, major changes in land use require formal engagement with the local community.  Formal methods of community engagement include: published consultations, holding local meetings, holding site visits, carrying out workshops and community collaboration to co-design the project.

On Buccleuch
Mouldyhills Farm
The Evertown Portfolio
‘Sturgeon rebukes Duke of Buccleuch in tenancy row over forestry plantations’
‘Nicola Sturgeon voices ‘concern’ over Duke of Buccleuch’s land sell-off’
‘Buccleuch Estates land sale row could lead to breaking of fresh ground’

‘Buccleuch Estate accused of bullying and intimidation by tenants’

Buccleuch Estates:  Energy
  • No mention of CBM extraction.
Coalbed Methane
Coalbed Methane
Scotland Fracking
‘Ineos loses fracking court case against Scottish Government’
Unconventional Oil and Gas Consultation: an analysis of responses
On Canonbie
‘Joan McAlpine: Would the Duke of Buccleuch be so keen on fracking at his stately pile?’
‘Canonbie residents “appalled” at Duke of Buccleuch’s tax haven land’
‘Canonbie – We Weren’t Warned About Huge Coal-Bed-Methane Development on Our Doorstep’

Share Button
Tagged with: ,

McAlpine Welcomes Fund For Rural Road Improvements

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the news that roads in Dumfries and Galloway are set to benefit, to the tune of £455,000, from a new Scottish Government fund. This money will be used for improvements to the B796 into Gatehouse, the A75 into Stranraer, the A709 to Lockerbie and the U300a at Laverhay. 


The 2018 Strategic Timber Transport Fund (STTF), managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, is to improve Scotland’s rural road networks and minimise the impact of timber lorries.


Over £7 million has already been awarded to projects which will improve a number of largely minor rural roads throughout Scotland or take lorries off the road with the timber being transported to market by sea.



Ms. McAlpine said:


“The STTF will bring social and environmental benefits for the Dumfries and Galloway community.


“It is important that we mitigate the impact of timber transportation on our rural roads.  The forestry industry is worth £1 billion to the Scottish economy but this comes with an obligation to ensure that the millions of tonnes of timber that we produce is managed responsibly.


“Infrastructure improvements are a key component of delivering economic growth in the South of Scotland and this new fund will contribute to that aim.”


As well as providing these wider community benefits required under the scheme, the funding also delivers benefits to the timber processing sector.


Amongst the projects awarded £6.3 million of support are road, bridge and junction improvements that allow timber lorries to use those routes more safely.


Just over £1 million of funding has also been awarded to support the TimberLINK shipping service and the creation of landing craft loading areas that give access by sea to timber which is growing at the end of very fragile rural roads.


Roland Stiven of the Confederation of Forest Industries said;


“This funding is greatly needed to improve our rural roads to suit modern land uses such as forestry.  Work on minor roads such as those at Laverhay in Dumfries and Galloway, strengthen the road surface, widen corners and provide passing places so that timber lorries can share the road with local residents and business while the harvesting programme is underway. 


“The Scheme is also supporting work to improve the freight capacity of busy rural A roads such as the A714, vital for shifting sustainably grown timber from Galloway forests to the timber processing and manufacturing facilities in Ayrshire.”


The projects supported not only ensure the continuing steady stream of quality timber to processors across the country but also reduce the number of road miles required to transport timber to market.  

Awards to date this year include:

  • The Highland Council – £1,162,000 for public roads improvements on the C1043 Strathconon, U1096/C1068 Bunachton. U1217/B852 Glenlia-Dalcrag, B873 Altnaharra – Syre.
  • Perth and Kinross Council – £253,400 for road improvement projects on the B847, U29, C450.
  • Aberdeenshire Council – £944,827 towards timber transport route improvements across 8 roads – A97, B976, C17, C56, C43, C60, C62 & A944.
  • Moray Council – £470,316 for the Forest Roads Programme 2018 (on the C3, C5, C9, C11, C12, C13, U13, U77, U89, U105, U136).
  • Scottish Borders Council – £ 601,208 towards works on the B6357, D1/3, B6399.
  • Argyll & Bute Council – £1,466,717 towards works on the A816, A8003, C29, B8000, B840/C38, C30.
  • Ayrshire Council – £731,640 for improvements on the C11, C90, U759 and A714.

•   Dumfries & Galloway Council – £455,000 for improvements on the B796, on the U300a and A709-A75(T).


·         Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government’s Environment and Forestry Directorate.

·         Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590 /


‘Timber Routes Boost’


Share Button
Tagged with: ,

McAlpine Bemoans Tory Immigrations Plans

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has warned of the impact that Brexit could have on charities like Loch Arthur Camphill Community – which rely upon EU migrant volunteers.


Volunteers at Loch Arthur have spoken of their fear for the future as the UK Government’s immigration proposals, post-Brexit, threaten to bring an effective end to Tier 3, or so-called unskilled labour, visas.


Loch Artur is a social enterprise, near Dumfries, which provides an inclusive living and working environment for men and women with learning difficulties. 


Most of the volunteers at Loch Arthur are EU citizens that help the residents, through supported tenancies, to run a farm, shop, café, workshop and creamery.


Relaying the volunteers’ concerns, Ms. McAlpine said:


“Fantastic initiatives like Loch Arthur are facing a threat to their very existence.  How can such organisations, reliant upon the dedication and commitment of EU migrants, be expected to cope after Brexit?


“Theresa May plans to bring an end to free movement.  Well, that position blithely ignores the impact that this will have on the volunteering sector.  It is a combination of the goodwill of these migrants and the freedom afforded by membership of the Single Market that allows social enterprises like Loch Arthur to flourish and really make a difference to people’s lives.


“The UK Government’s proposals fail to recognise that volunteers like the ones at Loch Arthur are highly skilled.  They are teachers.  They are social workers.  They are occupational therapists.  However, after Brexit, they will be prevented from getting a visa because they use their skills voluntarily.  This should be commended and not penalised.”


Currently, no Tier 3 visas are being given out by the Home Office and under the Tories post-Brexit immigration proposals, outlined in Theresa May’s speech at the Conservative party conference, it is difficult to see how charities which depend upon EU migrants will be able to meet their recruitment demands.


The Conservatives want to end freedom of movement for EU migrants but assert that highly skilled workers will be given priority under UK Government proposals.  This will mean that migrants whose salaries are under the current benchmark of £30,000 will effectively be unable to acquire a UK visa.


A spokesman for Loch Arthur, in an interview with ITV, said:


“Everyone who is living and working as part of our community is not an employee.  They are all volunteers and as yet, we’ve had no clear guidance on the status of volunteers going forward.”


Ms. McAlpine has cautioned that this prohibitive salary threshold for visas will result in the end of organisational models like Loch Arthur – branding this as “a tragedy.”


Loch Arthur Camphill Community


Gregory Hoare ITV – feature on Loch Arthur[0]=68.ARDYOvE3FxphHvHUA1Se-41gAjRXkAp2lN8tjUVwid9DqpyteBlTbT7WcLWX_e6KA03dI8iEh0SdOCeOEtt3b8MnHTDXmJNwHICxteP3oQ_DeO7VtbVUwsgSN_kK-s5Tg1n0kvxKxLrBrBR1O8AD0I_E8HBZRYycFpcmYuNOtVsQmpOvpTESLg&__tn__=FC-R


Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report: EEA migration


Theresa May’s Conservative party conference speech – full transcript


‘UK employers condemn ‘ignorant, elitist’ Brexit immigration report’


Share Button
Tagged with: ,