Isles MP requests SSE release Seagreen plans for offshore wind farm

Angus Brendan MacNeil SNP MP has written to the Managing Director of SSE Renewables to share their plans for an offshore wind farm off the Fife Coast through their subsidiary Seagreen Ltd. 

Commenting Mr MacNeil said:

“It is in the public interest to know what promises were made by Seagreen Ltd to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that Seagreen would achieve as part of a successful bid for taxpayer funded Contracts for Difference (CfD). 

“It is only right that we know which parts of the contract SSE plan to place in Scotland, particularly at this difficult time economically. There are shovel ready projects and yards waiting to build wind farm jackets which would employ people in Arnish on Lewis and in Fife. We can’t have this work going overseas in the United Arab Emirates or China, when it is funded by Scottish taxpayers.

“It is important that SSE fully communicate their intentions on this so that they can be held accountable. They are a green energy company but is this only a veneer if they are acting unethically and ignoring the communities around them.” 

ENDS

Isles MP calls on UK Energy Minister to release offshore wind farm documents

Islands MP to ask UK Energy Minister to release the Seagreen Offshore Wind Farm Supply Chain Plan document from Seagreen Ltd, a subsidiary of Scottish and Southern Energy for their offshore wind farm off the Fife coast.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has been alerted to the fact that Scottish and Southern Energy through their subsidiary Seagreen may not be living up to promises made to get Contracts for Difference (CfD) when seeking UK government assistance for their offshore wind farm off the Fife coast. As a result Mr MacNeil is urgently writing to the Energy Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, to ask if he will release the supply chain documents forthwith.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said:

“I am hoping to help the Energy Minister ensure promises are kept. It’s vitally important, time is of the essence, this report should be in the public domain to see what promises were made by Scottish and Southern Energy, when they were in the competition for the contracts for difference, to the UK government.

“Particularly prescient at this time, that there are shovel ready projects and yards waiting to build wind farm jackets which would employ people in Arnish on Lewis and in Fife. We can’t have this work going to yards in the United Arab Emirates with questionable work practices or indeed Chinese yards which are massively state subsidised, when all this is based on promises made by companies in Scotland to get tax payers money.

“It is therefore vitally important that the supply chain documents are provided so we can see what promises were made and so we can hold companies accountable to those promises. There is little kudos in producing green energy in a highly unethical manner and ignoring the communities on the door steps as you do this in the pursuit of a very naked profit while giving yourself the veneer of being green.”

ENDS

Background: In Seagreen’s 2018 Optimised Application they estimated a £79m GVA economic impact in Scotland for work on the foundations in the CAPEX phase, chapter 15 https://www.seagreenwindenergy.com/optimised-application-2018-document

Isles MP & MSP remember 51st Highland Division at St Valery 80 years on

The Gaelic inscription on the 51st Memorial, "La a 'Blair s'math n Cairdean (Friends are good on the day of battle)."
Gaelic inscription on the 51st Highland Division.
P. Ferguson Image: http://thepipesofwar.com/production-blog/?p=3827

Angus MacNeil MP and Alasdair Allan MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar have both laid motions, respectively, to the House of Commons and Scottish Parliament this week to remember the 80th anniversary on June 12th 1940 of the capture of 10,000 men of the 51st Highland Division taken prisoner near St Valery en Caux, 6 days after the Dunkirk evacuations. The 51st Highland Division were attached to French defence forces, facing the onslaught of the invading Germans.

Commenting Angus MacNeil said: 

“It is important that we remember those who tragically lost their lives when they were forced to surrender, after they had been left behind following Dunkirk, as they were fighting with the French at the time in defending the retreat from the Somme. Later, in 1941, 134 of the 219 returned escapees to Britain were from the 51st Highland Division, of this three men were Ballachullish who used Gaelic to confuse the Germans to convince them that they were from a part of the Soviet Union.

“The bravery and heroism of the soldiers is most notably captured in the memorial in St Valery en Caux “La a bhlair is math na cairdean” – “On the day of battle it is good to have friends/relations”. 

“A gripping account of events at St Valery, capture and captivity is given in the book by Donald John MacDonald of South Uist “Fo Sgail a Swastika” (Under the Shadow of the Swastika) and I would recommend it for anyone interested in further reading about the 51st Highland Division.”

Commenting Alasdair Allan said:

“While the anniversary of the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk draws significant national attention, what happened to members of the British Expeditionary Force who were left behind in France is less well known. 

“The soldiers of the 51st Highland Division, made up of men from the Western Isles, North and West Coast of Scotland, were charged with the task of recapturing a strategic position on the Somme after the rest of the Allied Forces had been evacuated. Under heavy bombardment, outflanked and greatly outnumbered by Rommel’s 7th Panzers, the 51st fought a retreat to the coastal town of St Valery where, when all hopes of evacuation faded, they were forced to surrender.

“Their story deserves much greater prominence. On the 80th anniversary of their capture, it is important that we remember the courage of 51st Highland Division, the sacrifice of the fallen, and the suffering endured by captured soldiers who would spend the next five years as prisoners of war.”

ENDS 

The full text of the motion in the House of Commons can be found here: https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/57083/80th-anniversary-of-51st-highland-division-at-st-valery 

The full text of the motion in the Scottish Parliament can be found here: https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx?SearchType=Advance&ReferenceNumbers=S5M-22025&ResultsPerPage=10

MacNeil calls for testing for returning seafarers and oil workers

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus Brendan MacNeil calls on NHS Western Isles to offer testing for Covid-19 to all returning seafarers and oil workers when they return from their period at sea.

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“I have emailed the Chief Executive of NHS Western Isles, Gordon Jamieson and Chairman Ian Burgess to ask them to use their available capacity to offer tests to oil workers and seafarers as standard on their return to the islands. 

“It would seem a sensible and responsible approach to make sure that no asymptomatic carriers are coming in. From soundings with oil workers and seafarers, as well as their families, there is great support for this. It would provide, not least, peace of mind but to ensure Covid-19 is kept at bay in our communities. We can clearly see what has happened in other countries nearby, to our north west with Faroes and Iceland where they have greater testing and greater success against Covid-19. 

“At the moment we have an opportunity to do likewise and to keep on top of this to be well prepared in case any second wave returns. I hope NHS Western Isles takes the opportunity to offer this, I am sure it would be welcomed by many of those returning home after working away for a period of weeks.”

ENDS

Isles MP issues reminder of Trace and Protect telephone number in Western Isles

Angus MacNeil MP is today reminding constituents of the new Test and Protect system which went live in the Western Isles last week. Anyone over the age of five who displays symptoms of coronavirus can now get tested by contacting a local telephone number and attending an appointment in Stornoway, Balivanich or Castlebay.

Mr MacNeil said

‘It is important in this phase of the pandemic, as lockdown is gradually eased, that anyone who thinks they may have symptoms of coronavirus comes forward for testing.

Anyone in the Western Isles with a new persistent cough, high temperature or loss or change in sense of smell or taste should phone 01851 601 151 to arrange a test. An online booking form is also available at: https://www.coronavirus.wi.nhs.scot/?page_id=2195)

‘This is particularly important for those who have recently travelled from their work as seamen, in the oil and gas industry or have been off the island for any other essential reason. Do not ignore symptoms which could put yourself, your family and other islanders at risk, also as many people are asymptomatic it could be argued that getting tested for even the slightest symptoms is a social good to family and community especially as there is testing capacity available.

‘Maintaining social distancing, washing hands and staying at home as much as possible are all important ways to prevent the spread of the virus.  If you have symptoms immediately self-isolating with your household and arranging a test is the best way of protecting everyone at this time.

ENDS

ISLES MP URGES BUSINESSES TO REGISTER EMPLOYEES AHEAD OF JUNE 10th FURLOUGH DEADLINE

Angus MacNeil MP is encouraging businesses to register their employees for furlough before the scheme closes for employee registration on Wednesday.

The furlough scheme was introduced in March to protect 80% of staff wages, while the scheme was originally due to end on June 30th, it has now been extended to October 31st, however the deadline for registering employees remains June 10th.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said:

“It is important that businesses must act before Wednesday 10th June to ensure that their employees are registered for furlough or they will lose out on the scheme.

“As businesses need flexibility it would make sense for the UK Government to extend the deadline for registering employees as they have extended the scheme itself, however, as things stand June 10th is the deadline businesses should work towards to ensure they are registered.

“In May I wrote to the Chancellor asking him to ensure that the scheme would be extended in each devolved nation depending on health grounds alone without his financial penalties. As it is important that due to different roadmaps on easing lockdown, Scotland may require the scheme to run longer.”

ENDS

New Phoneline for Covid-19 testing in Western Isles

Test and Protect phone line launched by NHS Western Isles

Isles MP “No Hesitation” in use of Test and Protect in Western Isles

A new telephone number for Covid 19 testing is available in Western Isles and Angus Brendan MacNeil MP has encouraged constituents with any symptoms to use the new telephone number launched today by NHS Western Isles as part of Test and Protect which is being rolled out across Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s Test and Protect scheme was launched last week and is based on testing for anyone over five years of age who has symptoms of COVID-19.

Angus MacNeil MP said, ” Any Western Isles resident with symptoms can now book a test via the local phoneline: 01851 601 151. The phoneline will be staffed from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday with an answering machine available outwith those hours. And if they have symptoms they should not hesitate to do so.

I am pleased to see that facilities will be available locally in Stornoway, Balivanich and Castlebay to enable Island residents to be tested for Coronavirus and I would urge anyone with symptoms to call this new phone line.

“We are fortunate in the Islands to have had only a small number of confirmed cases and none for a number of weeks but that does not mean that the virus is not present in our area.

“Anyone who has symptoms- a high temperature, a new persistent cough or loss or change in sense of smell or taste – should contact this number as soon as possible to get a test and follow the advice to self- isolate with their household until the result is known. This will help to maintain the safety of our families, friends and neighbours from this illness.

“The message is simple don’t hesitate if any symptoms present themselves.”

Ending of the virtual parliament is reckless says, Isles MP

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus B MacNeil will not risk catching and spreading coronavirus and has therefore taken the decision not to travel to Westminster when Parliament returns on 2nd June.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“The removal of the virtual parliament discriminates against Scottish MPs who are now being forced to choose between breaking the lockdown or attending Westminster.

“The Leader of the House of Commons has stated that Parliament would be Covid-19 secure by 2nd June.  We do not have the evidence of this, but evidence to the contrary;  Public Health England has deemed the voting lobbies unsafe for voting and the Speaker of the House of Commons has issued a letter to all MPs, in which he says that based on the latest professional advice from Public Health England, the House simply cannot conduct votes safely via the lobbies.

“The hybrid system that was in place was working well for remote participation and voting, committees will continue to operate with this virtual system so why can’t the chamber?  “It is crazy to expect MPs to travel from all over Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland into London.

“This decision is purely to line up Boris Johnson’s baying MPs behind him in an effort to cover up his shortcomings at the Despatch Box and I will not dance to Johnson’s tune and put my constituents at risk.”

ENDS

Isles MP welcomes “route map” to easing lockdown restrictions

Isles MP Angus MacNeil has welcomed the Scottish Government’s route map to easing lockdown which aims to move into Phase 1 on 28th May.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“This route map to easing the lockdown is good news and I am sure will be welcomed by many. 

“The unpredictable nature of coronavirus makes it difficult to set exact timescales and we must take gradual steps to ensure the virus is kept under control.

“It is important to remember that we remain in lockdown and restrictions will not change before the 28th May.”

“Meanwhile together with Orkney Council Leader James Stockan we have been having exploratory discussions to develop testing with companies who might be able to offer cheaper and quicker testing.  This would ensure Covid-19 is not in our communities and that it is kept at bay, which would give further confidence after lockdown is eased.”

ENDS

https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/strategy-plan/2020/05/coronavirus-covid-19-framework-decision-making-scotlands-route-map-through-out-crisis/documents/covid-19-framework-decision-making-scotlands-route-map-through-out-crisis/covid-19-framework-decision-making-scotlands-route-map-through-out-crisis/govscot%3Adocument/covid-19-framework-decision-making-scotlands-route-map-through-out-crisis.pdf

Isles MP calls for greater use of testing capacity

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus B MacNeil is calling for the testing capacity available in the islands to be used to patrol for the Covid-19 virus in the community.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Yesterday, together with a cross-party group of MPs and Lords, I led an online forum with politicians from the Faroes and Iceland to discuss their different approach to tackling Coronavirus.

“It turns out that the Faroese who have banished Covid-19 from the Faroe Islands are still testing and using their tests to firstly to check anyone who might have symptoms, secondly to do random testing to 3% of their population and thirdly some companies such as the large salmon company, Bakkafrost are testing all employees periodically. 

“It would seem logical and sensible to me that the unused capacity that we have in the Hebrides should be doing the same, to both patrol for the virus and to see if any asymptomatic carriers are discovered. This assumes that our extra testing capacity is capable of doing so, if it is not capable, we have offers from Nordic friends to help out.  It would seem odd when we are ahead of the virus in the islands, to wait for the virus to come and swamp us, now is the time for action. If we get a high number of cases, it would then be too late.

ENDS