Westminster notes: Offshore wind farm boost for Eyemouth

It was great to hear a couple of weeks ago that the Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm planned for the Firth of Forth has been awarded a UK government contract to supply electricity.

Ever since the project was announced, I have been working closely with Eyemouth Harbour Trust, the Council and local businesses and fishermen to ensure that the town benefits from the economic opportunities provided by the development. Eyemouth Harbour is one of the closest harbours to the windfarm and with its deep water harbour and skilled local fishing fleet it is ideally placed to provide operations and maintenance support. The Harbour has, in fact has already been servicing early survey vessels working on the site.

The 15-year contract to supply electricity to the National Grid which has been given to the project will provide with secure funding going forward. Following on from this fantastic news, I look forward to the local economy in Eyemouth benefitting greatly from all that the project has to offer in the months and years to come.

In recent months, I have been working closely with the River Tweed Commission who are deeply concerned about Scottish Government plans to reform the management of river fisheries across Scotland. They are worried that the proposals in the Review could centralise and standardise river management and jeopardise the unique cross border arrangements which help maintain the River Tweed as Europe’s most important salmon fishery.

The Tweed is vitally important for our local economy, supporting nearly 500 jobs and bringing economic benefits of £20 million a year to the region. As such, I met with Commission representatives back in December and since then I have been corresponding with Scottish Ministers ahead of the formal consultation which is scheduled for the spring.

With a draft Wild Fisheries Bill due by the end of this Scottish Parliamentary session, it is vital that we continue to make the case against ill-conceived changes on the Tweed as a matter of priority. I am now seeking to meet with Ms McLeod to press the case further.

On Monday, my Bill to enshrine in law the UK’s aid spend at the UN target of 0.7% of our national income received its Third Reading in the House of Lords and so will now become law.

This is fantastic news and means that the UK aid spend is secured for the future and will continue to make a lifesaving difference for people across the world. It will also enable us to now focus on how we can spend the aid effectively and sustainably and it will enable us to better support long term initiatives to end poverty, protect human rights, improve education and save lives.

International Development and foreign affairs are among the top issues which my constituents contact me about, so it has been a real privilege to pilot this Bill through parliament.

In light of my work on the Bill and with the Millennium Development goals coming up for renewal this year, I am holding a meeting in Duns next Thursday evening for my constituents interested in this policy area. If you would like attend, please call my office on 01896 663650.