In the final week of Parliament before recess, the SNP published what I think is one of their worst and most damaging proposals – their Land Reform (Scotland) Bill.
This legislation has some useful measures, but it contains two very worrying parts and if passed would allow Ministers to force landowners to sell their land if it was decided they are not using the land ‘correctly’. Tax relief for sporting estates will also be ended, resulting in a £7m tax bill for estates which employ hundreds of people in the Borders.
I want to see a strong rural economy, more local jobs, better broadband and an improvement in rural services for Berwickshire, but these proposals won’t deliver any of this. Instead, they represent yet another huge increase in SNP interference in people’s lives, all because they think there is something inherently wrong with owning large pieces of land.
It beggars belief that the SNP believe it is acceptable in modern Scotland to allow the Government to force private landowners to sell just because they don’t like what they are doing with their own land.
This Scottish Government needs to see landowners as part of the solution, not part of the problem and must recognise the contribution estates make to rural economies and rural jobs in Berwickshire. This piece of legislation is one to keep an eye on in the coming few months.
Communities across Berwickshire who have felt themselves under siege from inappropriate and ever expanding wind farms will be delighted that the UK Government has announced an end to subsidies for new onshore wind farms. This is a Conservative government standing up for communities that the central belt SNP couldn’t care less about.
The latest figures show that with all the wind projects already constructed, those under construction or given consent we have already met the SNP’s 100% target for renewable electricity. What Scotland now urgently needs is a balanced energy policy with wind as part of the mix.
It is now time for the SNP government to follow the lead of the UK Conservative government and develop an energy policy which will ensure security of supply and affordability whilst helping us meet our climate change targets.
It was a great honour to attend the Parade of Colours and armed forces day event in my home town of Coldstream recently. This was an opportunity for us to not only remember those who have given their lives to defend our country, but to also show our appreciation to those who are currently serving.
In these tense times, the men and women of our armed forces risk their lives to protect us and make the world a safer place, whilst living away from their friends and families and in some of the most hostile environments on earth. It was great to see so many out in Coldstream to show their support.
I was very pleased that Ruth Davidson MSP has joined me in supporting the campaign to save St Abbs lifeboat station. This is a really great campaign, which I’m keen to help with, but one of its great strengths is that it is community led. The petition has already gathered more than 4,000 votes and a new website has been launched.
I would urge you to take a look at the site (stabbslifeboat.org.uk) and if you haven’t already done so, sign the petition.