18 October 2006

Party takes heart from power surge

LAST week, once I had finished with my surgeries I headed down to Perth to take part in my party's annual conference, and I must say I was heartened to observe that the national Press was full of articles stating that the SNP were on the brink of Government.

This gave everyone an extra bounce in their step. Conference is more than just a debating shop, it is a remarkable beehive where we are all together working and thinking with the goal of a common purpose, and to build on the positive press coverage of the conference gives my party the chance to stock the cupboard with new and fresh ideas to take into Government.

It also allows people the opportunity to see what alterative ideas and policies are on offer for Scotland's future.

Climate for change

ONE of the main areas of debate is that of our environment and climate change. Indeed, Scotland has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop our exceptional and extensive green energy resources. The political debate in our country must now focus on what is possible for Scotland as we enter a new and pressing period for energy production and use. I have no doubt that the decisions we take now will decide whether we are world-leaders.

As you may be aware, the SNP and I oppose the building of any new nuclear power stations. We believe that Scotland is well placed to be a leader in renewable energy, and as such it is our aim that Scotland by 2020 should produce 50% of its energy by means of renewables.

The fact is, 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.

Investment in these other forms of energy must be a high priority in Scotland's energy programme. As we all know, fossil fuels will not last forever, and nuclear power produces harmful waste that will last for generations to come. Energy is Scotland's opportunity and Scotland's challenge. It's time for Scotland to be energy wise and make decisions that will benefit us today and for the long-term; decisions that our children and their children can be proud of.

One of our new ideas is that nearly half of Scottish homes should be producing some of their own energy needs within 10 years. We set this vision out last week, stating that it is our aim of having wind turbines on roofs and in gardens, with solar panels and bio-fuel burners in more than a million of the 2.5 million homes in the country.

The impact of one million small turbines would be the equivalent of having half of a nuclear power station generating at capacity.

Wrong role models

WE need to tackle the real root cause of drugs in society; namely the supply of the deadly cargo, and the social factors that lead people into the arms of these pedlars of destruction.

We should be going after the Mr Bigs of the drugs world, not those people that are ensnared in their iron grip. For too long, drug dealers have thought of themselves as above the law. We need to change that impression; we need to aim to dismantle the profit from drugs.

It sends out the wrong message to children in estates who often see drug dealers as role models.

Stewart Stevenson
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