BUCCLEUCH PUT ON NOTICE AT SNP CONFERENCE

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.   

 

Background

 

Full Resolution

 

EMERGENCY RES. 6:  BUCCLEUCH ESTATES
 
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:

https://search.savills.com/ie/en/property-detail/gbedruedr170032#/r/detail/GBEDRUEDR170032

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MCALPINE SLAMS DIRTY GAS PLANS IN DUKE’S LAND SALE

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.
 
On CBM
 
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’
 
 

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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 / paul.munro@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

 

‘Timber Routes Boost’

https://www.dng24.co.uk/timber-routes-boost/

 

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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

https://locharthur.org.uk/

 

Gregory Hoare ITV – feature on Loch Arthur

https://www.facebook.com/GregHoareITV/videos/2213359482282426/?hc_ref=ARTzxw0kmhiPVa_silCgI7yokQEMKq5RsvXuz4mbbMVflBTphnHHSoc9uLe-TYbvoeM&__xts__[0]=68.ARDYOvE3FxphHvHUA1Se-41gAjRXkAp2lN8tjUVwid9DqpyteBlTbT7WcLWX_e6KA03dI8iEh0SdOCeOEtt3b8MnHTDXmJNwHICxteP3oQ_DeO7VtbVUwsgSN_kK-s5Tg1n0kvxKxLrBrBR1O8AD0I_E8HBZRYycFpcmYuNOtVsQmpOvpTESLg&__tn__=FC-R

 

Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report: EEA migration

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/migration-advisory-committee-mac-report-eea-migration

 

Theresa May’s Conservative party conference speech – full transcript

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/10/03/theresa-mays-conservative-party-conference-speech-full-transcript/

 

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

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/18/brexit-eu-citizens-special-access-migration-advisory-committee

 

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McAlpine Lauds Support for New Enterprise Agency

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has hailed the positive responses received to a Scottish Government consultation on the new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland.

 
The consultation was launched in March this year.  Its purpose was to garner views on the establishment of a new South of Scotland Enterprise agency (SOSE) – a public organisation with the aim of stimulating economic growth and increasing the prosperity of the region.  
 
Ms. McAlpine pointed to the funding already made available for projects in her area by the South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership (SOSEP) – an interim agency put in place whilst legislation for SOSE is pending.  Funding was secured for investment in Dumfries and Galloway College and financial support for Annan to mitigate the impact of the Pinneys factory closure.  The support for Pinneys from SOSEP was in addition to support received by Scottish Enterprise.
 
The MSP said:
 
“The positive reception in the consultation report shows that the people of the South of Scotland are right behind the SNP in the creation of this new agency.  The respondents say they agree with the vision put forward by the Scottish Government for SOSE.
 
“They want to see continued investment in enterprise.  They want to see more opportunities for young people.  They want the economy driving forward.
 
“One of the key issues was development of infrastructure, which is something I have long campaigned for.  The agency will lead to greater exposure for business opportunities in the South and this can only strengthen the case for infrastructure improvement.”
 
£7.7 million was awarded to key projects across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders by the interim partnership in July.
 
Investment in innovation, good employment opportunities, the creation of a skilled workforce, and more opportunities for young people, were some of the issues identified by respondents as being key to the future success of the new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland.
 
Many of the 268 respondents to the consultation also suggested that South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) should focus on improving infrastructure and creating a more diverse local economy, whilst ensuring those sectors that are traditionally important to the area, continue to be valued. 
 
Commenting on the consultation report, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
 
“We recognise the need for a new approach in the South of Scotland, which addresses key challenges facing the area, which is why we moved to create a new enterprise agency. That agency will be crucial in transforming the fortunes of this important economic region, by working with local partners to create a clear vision, and putting in place the foundations for sustainable and inclusive growth.
 
South of Scotland Enterprise is expected to be launched in 2020 with legislation set to be produced in April of that year. 
 
Original Consultation for SOSE
 
SOSE Consultation Analysis Report
 
Government’s Programme for Scotland 2017-18
 
SOSEP
 
Visit Scotland Welcomes Consultation Report
 
The pre-legislative public consultation on the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency ran for 12 weeks between 15 March and 7 June.  The consultation sought views to help inform the legislation to establish the Agency, outlining its powers and scope, as well as assisting in shaping the detail of the Agency and the operational work we are taking forward to establish it.  We received 268 responses.
 
The formal written consultation was supplemented by 26 engagement events.  Organised by the Southern Uplands Partnership, a local community organisation, the events took the form of morning and evening public meetings in towns and villages across the South.  The events were well attended by a total of 536 people ranging from business-owners and entrepreneurs, to people from community groups and interested individuals.
 
Of the 268 responses to the consultation, 153 came from individuals (57%) and 115 from organisations (43%). 
 
87% of respondents stated that they agreed with the Scottish Government’s vision. 





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FIRST MINISTER SHARES MCALPINE’S CONCERN OVER DUKE’S TENANTS

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has today welcomed the comments from First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, supporting a farmer couple threatened with removal by the Duke of Buccleuch. 

 

Answering a First Minister’s Question in parliament from Ms. McAlpine, Ms Sturgeon said she shared Ms. McAlpine’s concern about the situation facing Alison and David Telfer of Cleuchfoot farm, near Langholm.  The couple are being forced to give up their hill ground and hefted sheep to make way for tree planting. The First Minister said the Buccleuch Estates should take the couple’s human rights into account in any change of land use.

 

Ms McAlpine said government forestry grants should never be awarded in these circumstances.

 

The First Minister told parliament that the Scottish Land Commission had reminded Buccleuch Estates to follow government guidance which clearly states the need for formal community engagement in significant decisions relating to changes of land use.

 

Scotland’s biggest private landowner is pressing ahead with plans to sell the farm, which it has split in two, as part of a restructuring involving the sale of the 9,000-acre Evertown Portfolio.  The Telfers, who have farmed Cleuchfoot for almost 20 years, are now face with forced early retirement next year coupled with the loss of their home. 

 

Buccleuch Estates put Alison and David Telfer’s farm on the market despite earlier promises that that the estate would reflect on local backlash against the clearing of tenants to secure lucrative forestry grants.

 

Following the First Minister’s comments Ms McAlpine said:

 

“The Telfer’s agreed to give up the hill land in order to secure a stay of execution which allowed them to remain in their home for another year. But they only did that because they feared being evicted – the estate broke earlier verbal promises that they could farm until they retired.

 

“Buccleuch’s behaviour has been exposed at the highest level, and the First Minister has expressed her concern. I hope Scotland’s largest land owner will now show some compassion for this couple – there is no point in the estate taking the sheep away this month if they do not have permission to plant. They should leave David and Alison in peace to farm all of the ground till they retire in three or four years, as was promised.”

 

Ms McAlpine also welcomed the intervention by the Scottish Land Commission who have reminded Buccleuch by letter that government guidance requires them to conduct formal community engagement when a significant decision in relation to a change in land use is proposed.

 

“In July a review by the Land Commission found that Buccleuch had not always followed best practise in its treatment of tenant farmers. Now we discover they have ignored government guidance on when to consult communities. They seem to think they are a law unto themselves. It has to change.”

 

Transcript of question to the FM from Joan McAlpine MSP 4.10.2018

12:16:34 – 12:18:22

https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/first-ministers-questions-october-4-2018

 

“Is the First Minister aware of the situation facing tenant farmers David and Alison Telfer who are being forced off Cleuchfoot farm near Langholm by the Duke of Buccleuch?  This week the duke plans to value their hefted sheep which have grazed the hill for centuries, to be sold to make way for trees. Does the first minister agree that forestry planting grants should never be given in these circumstances, that the Telfer’s human rights are being violated by Buccleuch and that the duke’s sale of the 9000 acre Evertown portfolio, which includes the Telfer’s farm, contravenes regulations enacted by The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 which say land owners should formally engage the community ahead of major changes.”

 

First Minister’s Full Response:

 

“I share Joan McAlpine’s concern.  Guidance for landowners makes very clear that communities should play a part in decisions about how land is used and managed.

 

“I know that the Scottish Land Commission has written to Buccleuch Estates to advise them of how communities should be involved and has offered to provide further advice.  Human rights are also reflected in the guidance, which landowners, including Buccleuch Estates, should take into consideration during this, or any, process relating to land transactions.

 

“Guidance on the Forestry Grant Scheme state that applicants must have control of the land and a legal right to plant trees on the land.  Where control of the land changes, or comes out of farming, there must be no doubt about the applicant’s legal right to plant trees.

 

“We intend to add additional guidance to clarify that where an applicant’s control of the land or legal right to plant trees is subject to a live legal challenge or review, we would not consider the land to eligible for a forestry grant until any legal process had been concluded.”

 

Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2016/18/contents/enacted

 

Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/guidance-engaging-communities-decisions-relating-land/

 

The Evertown Portfolio

https://search.savills.com/ie/en/property-detail/gbedruedr170032#/r/detail/GBEDRUEDR170032

 

‘Scotland’s Modern Day Clearances Under Way’

https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/lesley-riddoch-scotland-s-modern-day-clearances-under-way-1-4807527

 

‘Buccleuch Estates land sale row could lead to breaking of fresh ground’

http://www.thenational.scot/news/16958766.buccleuch-estates-land-sale-row-could-lead-to-breaking-of-fresh-ground/

 

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MCALPINE REBUKES BUCCLEUCH FOR TENANT TREATMENT

Scotland’s biggest landowner is pressing ahead with plans to sell the farm of a tenant who has accused him of clearing the land to make way for trees.

 

The Duke of Buccleuch, this weekend, put Alison and David Telfer’s farm near Langholm on the market.  This is despite earlier promises that he would reflect on local backlash against his estate clearing tenants to secure lucrative forestry planting grants.

 

The couple told their MSP, Joan McAlpine, they believed the estate was trying to sell their hill ground “on the sly” – and they felt that they are being victimised for speaking out against the influential aristocrat.

 

The Telfers now face the anguish of having Buccleuch remove their flock of ‘hefted’ sheep.  Sheep have grazed the hill for centuries and are considered an intrinsic part of the area’s natural heritage and culture.

 

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:

 

“The Duke came to an angry public meeting in Langholm earlier this year and promised to change. But he and his factors are unflinchingly cruel in the case of the Telfers.

 

“The Duke could easily allow them to see out their working lives at the farm until they retire in five years but instead, he has split their farm into two lots for sale. The Telfers believe they are being victimised by a powerful and vindictive administration, and I am inclined to agree with them.”

 

The higher ground of the Telfer’s farm is being taken from them and sold for planting immediately as “Tansy Hill”.  This is separate from their holding Cleuchfoot, which has become synonymous with the campaign against Buccleuch’s “modern clearances”.

 

The Telfers have been allowed to stay on the remainder of the lower farm ground – which is also being sold – until November 2019.  This is several years earlier than the couple expected.  They had received verbal assurances, when they took on the tenancy, that they could farm the land until they retired in five years. That verbal promise has not been honoured.

 

Ms McAlpine continued:

 

“Alison and David told me that, in their opinion, breaking the farm up for sale has been done to disguise the fact that it is their ground which is being cleared and sold for tree planting. Cleuchfoot is synonymous with their fight, Tansy Hill means nothing. This is deliberate and misleading”

 

The Telfers say Buccleuch intends to come to value their hill sheep for sale on 10 October and will remove them soon after. However, it is unclear whether permission has been given by Forestry Commission Scotland for planting to take place on the ground.

 

Government ministers have previously said that forestry grants should not be misused and there has been speculation in recent weeks that Buccleuch may be refused permission for mass planting on tenanted farms because of the public outcry.

 

Ms McAlpine has asked Buccleuch on behalf of the Telfers, if the sheep can be left to graze for the remainder of the tenancy, since there are no immediate plans to plant the hill.

 

The MSP said:

 

“The sale came as a complete surprise to Alison and David and just demonstrates how little power tenants like them have. Potential purchasers need to be made aware of the story here.

 

“The Duke could easily allow Alison and David to retire in five years and then sell the land, as they were promised at the start of their tenancy. It would not hurt His Grace at all. But being forced out is definitely hurting Alison and David.

 

“Scottish history is stained by the legacy of the clearances.  Well, albeit in the southern uplands, the treatment of the Telfers is akin to the lowland clearances for the modern age and it cannot be allowed to stand.”

 

Notes: 

The Evertown Portfolio

https://search.savills.com/property-detail/gbedruedr180091

 

Forestry Commission Scotland

https://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/supporting/grants-and-regulations

 

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McAlpine Supports Gretna Charity Football Festival

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has thrown her support behind the Walking Football Festival – a charity fundraiser being held by Gretna FC 2008.

 
Ms. McAlpine is donating a special football, signed by members of the Gretna FC team from the club’s final 2007/08 season.  The ball will be auctioned with proceeds being donated to Prostate Cancer UK through the festival.
 
Gretna 2008 is a fans initiative football club set up in 2008 after the sad dissolution of Gretna FC. 
 
In 2013, Gretna 2008 was a founding member of the Scottish Football Lowland League and it is there that the team plies its trade. 
Gretna 2008 whilst not a direct continuation of Gretna FC, trading under a different company, maintains strong links with the former club.
Gretna FC was a football club founded in 1946, before enjoying a meteoric rise in the 2000s and achieving promotion to the Scottish Premier League in 2007, as well as making a Scottish Cup Final appearance in 2006.  
 
Now, Gretna 2008 are hosting the football festival in aid of Prostate Cancer UK’s first Walking Football Month.
 
The Anvils, as Gretna are known, are to join more than 45 other walking football clubs across the UK in hosting similar events this September:  all in a bid to raise funds to help tackle prostate cancer; the most common form of cancer amongst men. 
 
Ms. McAlpine commented:
 
“This festival is an admirable initiative in support of a very worthy cause. 
 
“There is a poetic symmetry to the auctioning of this football in aid of Gretna 2008’s festival.  Though the dissolution of Gretna was a big loss for the local community, it is wonderful to see that the spirit of the club has endured.  
 
“I would encourage everyone who is able to participate to do so.  The work the money is going towards could prove invaluable.”
 
The festival is to be held at Raydale Park, 30 Dominion Rd, Gretna DG16 5AP on Sunday the 30th September 2018 at 12 noon.  Participating teams can enter the festival by donating £25.
 
ENDS
 
Notes:
 
‘Walking Football’ 
 
‘Gretna FC 2008’
 





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McAlpine Raises Questions in Parliament On Pet Passports

Joan McAlpine MSP has spoken out in parliament for pet owners faced with separation from their beloved dog or cat because of Brexit.

 

The SNP MSP was reacting to an admission from the UK government that a hard Brexit would end the EU Pet Travel Scheme, which allows owners to travel easily with their pets across Europe.

 

Ms. McAlpine told the Scottish Parliament that a no deal Brexit could mean pet owners had to see a vet by this November for travel in Europe after next March. 

 

She described the move as “callous and disruptive” and said it ought to have been avoided.

 

Under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, now under threat from Brexit, owners of dogs, cats and ferrets can travel with their animals to and from EU countries – provided they hold a valid EU pet passport.

 

Ms McAlpine said; “The uncertainty created by the UK Government’s irresponsible approach to negotiations thus far has allowed matters like this to fall by the wayside.  Now, people will be made to pay simply for owning pets.  That cannot stand.”     

 

Ms. McAlpine raised her concerns in a question session with Mike Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Government, Business and Constitutional Relations in the Scottish Government.

 

Ms McAlpine, in her questioning, said:

 

“Pet owners who wish to take their animals to Europe will face barriers in acquiring a pet passport post Brexit. In the event of a no deal they need to have met with a vet by November this year to guarantee travel after March 2019. Does the minister agree with me that this is callous, disruptive and should have been avoided?”

 

The Cabinet Secretary responded:

 

“Yes, I do.  The UK Government’s technical notices do expose, more starkly than anything else we have seen, how disastrous and ridiculous a no deal Brexit could be.

 

“The UK Government’s own guidance couldn’t be clearer about the chaos and disruption that will ensue.  It can be and it could be avoided.  The Prime Minister should put an end to her brinkmanship and commit to the only feasible option – short of continued EU Membership – to stay in the single market.”

 

Before a pet can travel from the UK to another EU country for the first time, it must be taken to an Official Veterinarian (OV) at least 21 days before travel. The OV will ensure the animal has a microchip and rabies vaccination, before issuing an EU pet passport, which remains valid for travel for the pet’s lifetime.

 

On return to the UK, the pet has its microchip scanned to confirm its identity and its passport checked to ensure it corresponds with the microchip.

 

According to the UK Government, If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no deal, it would become a ‘third country’ for the purposes of the EU Pet Travel Scheme.

 

Pets would continue to be able to travel from the UK to the EU, but the requirements for documents and health checks would differ depending on what category of third country the UK becomes on the day we leave the EU.

 

If you live in an unlisted third country, which the UK would become in the event of a “no deal” crash out from the EU, you must take you pet to the vet for checks four months before you intend to travel.

 

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McAlpine Lambasts UK Government Arrogance

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has condemned the UK Government’s approach to international trade in a speech to Parliament.

 

Speaking in a debate on Scotland’s role in the future of UK trade arrangements, Ms. McAlpine questioned the hitherto lax approach of the Tory Government to post-Brexit trade deals.

 

The MSP branded the UK Government as “arrogant” in its expectation that the current trade deals which the UK is party to, through the EU, would simply roll over after Britain exits the bloc.

 

Ms. McAlpine went on to criticise the UK Government for its dismissal of Scottish interests within UK trade deals. 

 

In a briefing for today’s debate, the Trade Justice Coalition Scotland derided the UK Trade Bill – voted through the House of Commons in July – for containing nothing that would give the Scottish Government or the Scottish Parliament the right to scrutinise or amend UK trade deals. 

 

In other words, Scotland will have no role in the ratification of such agreements.  In spite of the fact that this will have a profound impact on a litany of devolved issues that are within the competence of the Scottish Parliament.

 

Ms. McAlpine emphasised that the interests of Scottish producers, exporters and consumers could only be adequately represented and supported when the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament could scrutinise post-Brexit UK trade arrangements.

 

In her speech, Ms. McAlpine said:

 

“Earlier this month, in response to a freedom of information request, the UK government confirmed that even at this late stage, it has no clear agreement to roll over any deals that third countries currently enjoy with the EU – and, crucially, no set date for asking these countries to do so.

 

“The UK Government insists that the preferential trading agreements which the EU has negotiated on our behalf with 60 other countries will still be in place after Brexit.

 

“That position is either extremely naïve, arrogant or deeply mendacious.

 

“The European Parliament offers some protection against exploitative trade deals. Without the protection of Europe who can we trust? 

 

“That is why it is crucial that this parliament, every single member of it, gets the chance to scrutinise future trade deals.

 

“We are elected to protect our constituents – that includes protecting them against secret international deals which could destroy their livelihoods, their public services and even their health.”

 

As with so much in relation to Brexit, swathes of the British public seem beset by hindsight.  It is only after the fact, that people have begun to realise that our interests were well protected as part of the European Union.

 

If the UK Government showed any deference towards Scotland, then it too would be championing the nation’s interests.  At present, it seems that the Tories are content to gamble the future of a nation for nothing more than a petty party dispute. 

 

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