Politics: Getting boosted is an essential this winter
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Have a look at our digital subscription packages!
For many across Banff and Buchan, December started with no electricity in the aftermath of Storm Arwen.
With engineers working day and night, eventually all power was restored – just in time for Storm Barra.
Thankfully, Storm Barra did not hit us as hard, but it was inspiring to see that the community which had sprung into action to help neighbours, friends and strangers after Arwen, were ready to do it all again.
This same community spirit is something I have gratefully observed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sadly, the pandemic looks to be with us for a while yet as we learn more about the new Omicron variant of the virus.
On Sunday, the UK Health and Security Agency raised the Covid threat level from level 3 to level 4 across the United Kingdom.
This change in level means the risk has moved from the virus being in ‘general circulation’, to transmission being high and, ‘pressure on healthcare services is widespread and substantial or rising’
This confirms what was suspected about the Omicron variant of the virus – that it is more transmissible than even the Delta variant, with infection rates doubling every two to three days.
Early data also suggests that the vaccines remain effective – particularly with a third ‘booster’ jab.
So, I urge everyone who is eligible to get their booster jabs.
Later on Sunday, the Prime Minister announced a new target for all eligible adults over 18 in England to be offered a booster by the end of the year, starting on Monday.
This was soon followed by Nicola Sturgeon, confirming that moves were being made to make boosters available to those aged over 18 as soon as possible – with those in their 30s being eligible in Scotland from Monday.
The vaccines are working.
If enough of us get our jabs, if enough of us are protected, then we have a better chance of avoiding more restrictions on our daily lives and further harming the economy.
In other news, it was disappointing to hear that Shell UK had chosen not to invest in the Cambo oilfield West of Shetland.
This news was followed by the main shareholders and operators of the field, Siccar Point Energy, pausing the development until a new investor was found.
Apart from the obvious impact on jobs that this decision could represent, I really do worry that there is a perception that these decisions are somehow ‘good for the planet!’
The truth is that the net zero objectives of Scotland and the rest of the UK is highly dependent on the oil and gas industry to push through the energy transition required.
The independent Committee on Climate Change predict that oil and gas will be required to support our energy, heating and transport demands for many years to come – and that fields such as Cambo will be required to continue meeting that demand.
It clearly makes more sense to source oil and gas as locally as possible while that demand – while that demand reduces as we increase capacity for renewable and low-carbon sources.
Otherwise, we become even more dependent on foreign imports than we already are.
It must be recognised that voices calling to ‘end fossil fuels now!’ – are just as extreme as those on the opposite end of the debate who would deny climate change is even happening at all.