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25 July 2006

Heat-wave

Heat-wave hits as energy debate hots up

THIS week has seen a real heat-wave hit Scotland – I hope everyone will treat the sun with the respect it deserves by using sun-block – and this can be seen as further evidence that global warming is taking place.

With that in mind, I was pleased when my party produced its own energy review of Scotland.

The review chairman was the widely respected Professor Stephen Salter, and the findings and recommendations that it formed are highly significant and eye-opening for Scotland. For example, Scotland produces six times more energy than we use – and we export more than ten times the oil.

Given the recent glorious weather we have been experiencing, it’s no wonder that research concludes that Scotland has one of the best climates in Europe for using solar heat in buildings.

Energy demand in Scottish buildings could be reduced by at least 30% if we adhere to the suggestions put forward by Professor Salter. While with a combination of techniques we could lead to a reduction in heat and electricity demand in industry in Scotland of at least 25%.

The SNP’s energy review points to an energy-rich Scotland powered by the sea, the sun, the wind, our land, and using fossil fuels cleanly. Renewables and clean fuel technologies can power our homes, cars and buildings. We already know that Scotland has 25% of Europe’s wind power, 10% of Europe’s wave power and 10% of Europe’s tidal power; these are Scotland’s natural resources, and we should be harnessing them to benefit Scotland’s people.

The vision set out in the review will allow Scotland to have a secure energy future, tackle climate change and create thousands of new jobs.

This is in direct opposition to Labour’s new-found love affair with nuclear power. Let’s be quite clear; every pound spent on new nuclear power stations in Scotland is a pound wasted on a dirty and dangerous fuel of the past.

Any new investment in energy in Scotland must be focused 100% on delivering community-based projects, on making the most of our carbon capture potential and maximising the huge generation capacity around our shores.

Even England wants Independence

An ICM poll has revealed the interesting fact that the English people feel that constitutional change is needed. The poll highlighted that some 31% of people in England have shown their support for an independent England, and this strikes me that there is now a real desire for a new relationship of equals between Scotland and England to be made.

We now not only have a situation where a majority in Scotland would vote for Scotland becoming independent, but a new poll showing growing and substantial support for English independence.

Given that in main Westminster and Holyrood political discussions, the 'West Lothian Question’ has raised its head again, Gordon Brown is increasingly trying to shed his Scottish identity and soul. It’s time both countries were self- governing, each having responsibility for their own resources and passing their own laws while working together in a new partnership of equals.

Clearly, this is the future. This growing support shows that the Union is past its sell-by date and independence is increasingly at the top of most people’s agenda.

11 July 2006

250 Not Out

250 and still not out at Holyrood

JUST before my parliamentary colleagues and I bid farewell to the chamber to herald the start of the summer recess, I was able to fulfil a personal milestone: during the last debate of the session I made my 250th speech.

Now, as most people will know, the mathematician in me sometimes gets the better of me, and when it comes to keeping a tally of speeches made by me and other MSPs I do like to keep a record.

As it transpired, since my maiden speech back on June 14, 2001, when I spoke on the Common Fisheries Policy, I realised a few weeks ago that a landmark number of speeches was fast approaching.

I was glad that my first speech concentrated on the real and core interest to our community and nothing more typified this than the debate we had on the Common Fisheries Policy.

However my 250th speech, which was on International development and in particular Scotland’s relationship with Malawi, also highlighted the great strides that the Scottish Parliament has taken into maturing into an outward-looking Parliament.

I am glad to report that the Scottish Parliament is indeed reaching out to new levels of activity and entering the international stage.

The debate ended with all politicians agreeing that Scotland has an international duty to assist those countries that are less fortunate than us.

The debate also gave glimpses of many Scots’ dedication into helping not just people in Malawi, but people from all over the world.

It shows that Scotland is striving for its place so that our voices can be heard. However for our voice and actions to be truly heard in the world stage we need an independent seat at the table so that we can offer our own Scottish flavour of opinion.

This will only happen once we are free from Westminster and can remove their gag from Scotland’s mouth.

Summer recess

WELL it’s summer recess again and, given all the Press, one would think that MSPs now enjoy a relaxing time until Parliament resumes. However this couldn’t be further from the truth as I truly believe that at least 99% of MSPs will be hard at work in their constituencies over this period.

For me, summer recess gives me the opportunity to take time out to meet and talk to constituents at length over the issues of the day without the constant pull of Holyrood calling me back.

It is my belief that it is important for constituents to be able to meet their MSP in their own locality. Many constituents also appreciate the gesture and have indicated this to me in more than one occasion.

I believe this is where the real work takes place; this is where people get the chance to talk at length about the issues and problems that they face, and it also gives me a lot of work to take back to Parliament.

For those of you that are going on holidays may I wish you a safe and happy trip and for those of you that are visiting may I offer my most sincere welcome and I hope your stay is a pleasant one, which I’m sure it will be.


Stewart Stevenson
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