AYTON based Paul Wheelhouse joined the SNP Government last year after being elected as a South of Scotland MSP and was promoted to Minister for Environment and Climate Change in Alex Salmond’s recent cabinet reshuffle.
Two weeks into his new post Paul said: “I am immensely proud to take on the Ministerial portfolio for Environment and Climate Change.
“This is a portfolio I am passionate about, not least because – as a parent – I understand it is about the kind of world we leave for our children. It is of course also about how we ensure food security today and balance environmental and economic objectives to share this planet, of which we are mere custodians, in a responsible way.
“As a former community councillor, I volunteered for tree weeding at Pease Dean, Cockburnspath, and litter picking and tree and hedge planting at Ayton. I have also campaigned for improved low carbon public transport in rural areas, such a new rail halt for East Berwickshire.
“When I was elected last year, I was honoured to serve as a Parliamentary liaison officer to Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead and my predecessor, Stewart Stevenson. That role allowed me to broaden my knowledge and engage with many stakeholders.
“I have attended local and national meetings with the National Farmers Union Scotland, Scottish Tenant Farmers Association and Scottish Land & Estates.
“I join the Scottish Government at a time when rural Scotland is facing many challenges.
“As someone who lives near Eyemouth, I am well aware that fishermen from ports such as Eyemouth deliver Scotland’s delicious and internationally sought-after seafood produce. However, without the right support from the EU this way of life is at risk, as I have highlighted.
“Responding to the effects of climate change are not only a national and international challenge, but a local one. Recent unpredictable weather and flooding incidents in Borders’ towns brings this home to us. That’s why Scotland has put in place world-leading climate change targets, with our target of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020. As a resident of the Scottish Borders I fully acknowledge this important objective must also be achieved in a way that remains sensitive to concerns regarding cumulative impact, and this issue has been addressed by updated guidance from Scottish National Heritage.
“In the coming months I look forward to travelling throughout Scotland meeting with organisations doing such a great job protecting our wildlife and ensuring they and their habitats continue to thrive.