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Politics: Last week was a busy one in Westminster

By David Porter

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On the floor of the House of Commons, Energy Minster Greg Hands MP – who visited here in the aftermath of Storm Arwen – joined me in welcoming last week’s High Court ruling against the extreme environmentalists who challenged the UK Government’s support for the oil and gas industry.

Presiding over the case brought by the environmentalist pressure group, ‘Paid to Pollute’, Mrs Justice Cockerill, describe the claims as, ‘strained and nonsensical.’

The activist group were of course perpetuating the myth that we can only reach net zero and solve the climate problem by switching off the taps and going ‘green’ overnight.

But our world, our economy and our society cannot be changed so suddenly without real and lethal consequences which would disproportionately affect the poorest in society.

Our domestic oil and gas industry actually plays a vital role in facilitating and leading the transition to net zero.

Through the North Sea Transition Deal – agreed between the industry and the UK Government, the oil and gas industry has committed to offshore production emission reductions aiming for the North Sea being a net zero basin by 2050.

Anne Marie Trevelyan
Anne Marie Trevelyan

I also had the opportunity last week in the House to ask Trade Secretary Anne Marie Trevelyan MP to describe the safeguards that exist for Scottish farmers and food producers as part of UK-Australia Trade Deal.

These include Tariff Rate Quotas for sensitive products and specific safeguards to ensure beef and sheep meat imports do not adversely impact British producers.

The Department for International Trade and other UK Government Departments engages regularly with NFU Scotland and other food industry bodies to fully understand the impacts on the industry and factor these into policy.

Another factor welcomed by British food producers – but dismissed by the SNP – is the vast opportunities trade deals like that with Australia bring to open up global markets.

The deal with Australia is a stepping stone to an agreement with the Trans Pacific Partnernship – a rapidly growing middle-class market, with a demand for precisely the kind of high quality food and drink produced in Scotland.

In response to my question to Health Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, he agreed that, having access to the largest Covid testing programme in Europe is just one of many advantages to the people of Scotland when we adopt a UK-wide approach to shared challenges.

On the subject of health, I have long campaigned against the closure or restriction of local Minor Injury units.

To that end, I was pleased to see Scottish Conservative North East Region MSP Douglas Lumsden asking the Scottish Government Health Secretary about plans to reopen Turriff MIU.

I was also pleased to see Minister Humza Yousaf agree that “MIUs should stay open where possible.”

Finally, I join the disappointment of many readers in seeing the decision by Aberdeenshire Council to keep the recycling centre booking system in place, despite the massive public opposition to the proposal.

Of the 1,678 comments given during the consultation, 1,360 - 81 per cent - called for the booking system to be removed.

As well as the concerns raised with me by constituents, I also worry that household waste not being adequately recycled is either adding to landfill or potentially even contributing to the scourge of fly-tipping we are seeing around Banff and Buchan.

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