Misinformation on SRDP
SIR, - I writing to you in relation to John Lamont MSP’s column that appeared in your paper on January 10, in particular the misinformation printed regarding the Scotland Rural Development Fund (SRDP) and Rural Priorities (RP) funding.
Mr Lamont appears to have misunderstood the numbers so I am happy to rectify any confusion he may have caused, through your letters page.
As Mr Lamont correctly intimates, we are approaching the end of the current round of EU commissioned SRDP funding (which is made up from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and match funding from the Scottish Government), with budgets for the current round almost fully committed following an effort by the Scottish Government to invest in jobs and economic growth during the global downturn of 2009 with the support of organisations such as NFUS. Since 2008 the SNP Government has approved around £570 million in Rural Priorities funding with £52.4 million (9.2%) coming to the Borders, which has just 2% of Scotland’s population. The scheduled end of the current SRDP structure comes as no surprise to anyone working on agri-environment and forestry projects, unlike for Mr Lamont who appears to have suddenly discovered an interest in a funding package that has been in progress since 2008, delivering real benefits to the Borders.
It is suggested by Mr Lamont that funding was cut by the Scottish Government. As Mr Lamont should know, funding is allocated based on applications approved by local case officers. For the record, the success rate for applications from the Borders were 83% in 2009, 72% in 2010, 81% in 2011 and 85% in 2012 and awards were almost 8% higher in the value in 2012 than in 2011. As application numbers may vary from year to year and projects require differing levels of support, it is not as black and white as to assess the funding stream in terms of how much is offered to each applicant. Alongside this, approval of key agri-environment and forestry projects is ongoing throughout 2013 and further Rural Priorities funding for new entrants, a vital sector in agriculture, will be forthcoming in June (applications are being accepted until February 20).
The next tranche of SRDP funding runs from 2014-2020 and its proposals with stakeholders are currently being drawn up and will be consulted on in 201. At that time anyone with an interest as to what should be funded will be encouraged to express their views.
Mr Lamont would do well to remember that it is the SNP Government in Scotland that has invested some £1.5 billion in the SRDP programme while his Tory colleagues in Westminster support slashing CAP budgets at EU level. Can he explain to your readers exactly how slashing direct payments and rural development funding would help Borders farming communities?
PAUL WHEELHOUSE MSP.
Scotland’s litter problem
SIR, - As 2013 gets well underway, I write to ask your readers to help resolve Scotland’s litter problem.
Scotland is beautiful and we all must do what we can to prevent its beauty being blighted by litter and eyesores like flytipping.
By using public recycling and litter bins - or taking your waste home to dispose of - you can make a real difference. There are also some excellent initiatives you can get involved with, like ‘People Against Litter’ (http://www.peopleagainstlitter.org/) and ‘Clean Up Scotland’ (http://www.cleanupscotland.com/), where you can sign a pledge or join a local clean-up event.The Scottish Government is committed to taking measures to prevent littering. A national anti-litter strategy is being developed – the first since devolution – and a summit will be held this year to work with stakeholders to coordinate action. Thanks to almost £1.8 million invested last year alone by our delivery partner Zero Waste Scotland, more recycling bins are now installed in some of Scotland’s busiest public places and local communities have received support to tackle litter and flytipping problems.
As well as protecting wildlife and the environment, there are economic benefits to gain by cracking down on this anti-social behaviour. Items like plastic bottles and cans – those commonly discarded as litter – are valuable materials when recycled.
This year Scotland celebrates the Year of Natural Scotland, and in 2014 we will host the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup as well as cultural events as part of the Year of Homecoming. It’s time to take action now to get Scotland looking its best when the eyes of the world will be watching us.
Together we can really make a difference and show the world how beautiful Scotland is. I offer you my best wishes for a happy and litter-free new year.
RICHARD LOCHHEAD, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment.
Dog fouling concern
SIR, - My sympathies go out to Mrs Spence following her letter in the Berwickshire News of January 17 regarding dog mess in her garden which, quite frankly, is an utter disgrace and those who allowed their dog(s) to do so should hang their heads in shame.
As a responsible dog owner who cleans up after my dog I find the amount of dog mess lying about the streets of Duns absolutely disgusting. You can hardly walk down any street and not find dog excrement lying somewhere and, noticeably fresh excrement can often be found after dark when less people are going about - maybe its time the council wardens did a few back/nightshifts to catch these irresponsible dog owners. There is no excuse for anyone not to clean up after their dog as dog litter bags can be purchased for less than £1 in some shops and I think the council also hand them out for free. It is time these lazy dog owners faced up to their responsibilities and cleaned up after their dog. If I can do it, so can you!
TRACY KNOX, Cheviot Way, Duns.
Boost to tourism
SIR, - Over the last few years it has been interesting to watch water filling up the Lafarge North West Quarry.
It was a vast hole for which the original plan 50 years ago had been to reinstate it as agricultural land. However, where would the infill have come from to fill such a massive space?
It has taken time but as a local councillor and community councillor I have been happy to view as the quarry has changed from a big hole to a habitat.
In the early days of the project I trekked across the land around the then small pond, watching with Lafarge staff and others as foxes, hares and deer as well as a variety of birds moved in to the vicinity. In more recent times it has been good to see waxwings, wading birds and other wildlife in the area.
It was therefore a pleasure to join with a number of community councillors, community environmental activists, Lafarge and RSPB staff at the recent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Lafarge and RSPB for the management of the loch area now known as White Sands Lake amongst birdwatchers. The aim is to create a wetland habitat reserve whereby the public will be able to have safe access and view a wide variety of wildlife from trails and hides.
I wish the parties well with this exciting restoration venture which should bring potential green tourism to the Dunbar area as well as increase biodiversity opportunities and offer a pleasant day out for East Lothian residents.
JACQUIE BELL, Dunbar.
Huge thank you
SIR, - Highway Day Nursery in Eyemouth would like to say a huge “thank you” to everyone who contributed to our amazing new climbing frame, now installed in the garden.
It is wonderfully big and safe, challenging and sturdy, giving lots of scope for exercise and play. We have enjoyed a few cold, muddy days on it but look forward to exploring its full potential in the coming weeks, months and years. Thanks you so much from all the children and staff at Highway to everyone who helped raise the money in the town and beyond.
CHERYL DUGGAN, Nursery Manager.
SIR, - May we all at 1st Duns Brownies express our grateful thanks to those who supported our coffee morning held in the Parish Church Hall, Duns. Despite worries about the weather we managed to raise the fantastic sum of £341.23 which will help our funds greatly. Well done all for this great effort.
1st DUNS BROWNIES AND LEADERS