GALLOWAY RECOGNISED FOR INTERNATIONALLY IMPORTANT ENVIRONMENT AS SCOTLAND’S FIRST BIOSPHERE IS CREATED

GALLOWAY RECOGNISED FOR INTERNATIONALLY IMPORTANT ENVIRONMENT AS SCOTLAND’S FIRST BIOSPHERE IS CREATED

Local MP Russell Brown has said the environment and landscape in Galloway has been “recognised for its international importance”, as our area has been approved as an UNESCO Biosphere, putting it in the same league as iconic natural landmarks like Ayers Rock and Yellowstone.

The United Nations have announced that a bid to designate an area of natural beauty that takes in 3000 square kilometres in Galloway and South Ayrshire as a Biosphere has been successful. Towns within the zone of the new biosphere include Castle Douglas, Gatehouse of Fleet, Newton Stewart, Wigtown, Sanquhar and Thornhill.

Biosphere reserves are established through the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Programme called ‘Man and the Biosphere’. The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire biosphere is the first in Scotland and means it is classed alongside Ayers Rock, Yellowstone, the Hawaiian Islands and the Danube Delta. Biospheres are places with world class environments that promote conservation, sustainable development and they are created to protect the biological and cultural diversity of a region.

Reacting to the announcement that Galloway and South Ayrshire will form Scotland’s first Biosphere, Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said:

“This United Nations has recognised that the environment in Galloway is of international importance. It is exciting to see our stunning natural landscape and rich wildlife acknowledged as one of the key natural environments in the world.

“The eyes of the world are on our region and being designated a biosphere puts Galloway and South Ayrshire in the same class as iconic natural landmarks like Ayers Rock, Yellowstone and the Hawaiian Islands. Joining Galloway on the list of new biospheres this year includes locations in China, Indonesia and Haiti. Along with the UK’s first Dark Sky Park, becoming Scotland’s first biosphere means that Dumfries and Galloway has another world class accolade to be proud of.

“Galloway is well and truly on the map and being classed as a UNESCO biosphere will not only bring a tourism boost, but also researchers from around the world who will come and study the relationship between people and nature.”

ENDS

CONTACT – ANDREW MACKENZIE 07769206856

NOTES TO EDITORS

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/about-us/single-view/news/20_new_biosphere_reserves_added_to_unescos_man_and_the_biosphere_mab_programme/

COUNCILLOR’S COMMENTS ON ARC CHARGES SHOW HOW OF TOUCH TORY/SNP COUNCIL IS

COUNCILLOR’S COMMENTS ON ARC CHARGES SHOW HOW OF TOUCH TORY/SNP COUNCIL IS

Local MP Russell Brown has said comments by Tory councillor Graham Nicol, in which he defends Dumfries and Galloway Council’s actions over ARC charges, show “how out of touch the Tory/SNP council is”.

In his comments, which feature in last week’s press, Tory councillor for Mid Galloway ward, Councillor Nicol, says that the Council has suspended ARC charges – but fails to point out that this was only because Labour forced the issue to be discussed.

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said:

“By suggesting that the Council’s attempt to introduce ARC charges has been anything less than a disaster, Councillor Nicol is trying to defend the indefensible. He has shown how out of touch the Tory/SNP council is. The only reason ARC charges are suspended now is because Labour forced the council to discuss the issue.

“Tory and SNP councillors united to block an inquiry into the charges and from Councillor Nicol’s comments it is clear they are desperate to avoid answering the serious questions about the way in which these charges were slipped in by the backdoor. That is why I have had no option but to submit a Freedom of Information request to force the council to tell us the truth.

“The ARC charges fiasco is a mess of the council’s own making. It is very telling that rather than apologise to the users and their families, Councillor Nicol would rather criticise those who revealed this shambles was taking place.”

ENDS

CONTACT – ANDREW MACKENZIE 07769206856

NOTES TO EDITORS

See last week’s Galloway Gazette for Councillor Nicol’s comments - http://www.gallowaygazette.co.uk/news/local-headlines/labour-accused-of-scaremongering-over-arc-charges-1-2408629

RB Sandyhills

LOCAL MP WELCOMES IMPROVEMENT IN SANDYHILLS WATER QUALITY

LOCAL MP WELCOMES IMPROVEMENT IN SANDYHILLS WATER QUALITY

Local MP Russell Brown has welcomed the improvement in Sandyhills water quality this year, following a poor track record in recent years.

The bathing water has failed to meet the minimum water quality standards in four out of the last five years. Last year, when Sandyhills was ranked bottom in Scotland for water quality, Russell Brown met with SEPA to call for tough action to deal with the problem.

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said:

“Given the poor track record of Sandyhills over the last few years, this improvement in water quality is very welcome.

“Last year Sandyhills had the worst water quality of Scotland’s 83 bathing beaches and I met with SEPA to call for urgent action to deal with the problem. SEPA assured me they were determined to work with farmers, landowners and Scottish Water to tackle the sources of contamination, such as sewers and drains.

“It is encouraging that, despite the heavy rainfall we have had this summer, Sandyhills has met the requirements and has not failed a test once. However, it is important that no one is complacent, as the causes of pollution are often complex, with chemicals washing off the land into rivers a big factor.”

ENDS

CONTACT – ANDREW MACKENZIE 07769206856

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Link to SEPA water quality data for Sandyhills - http://www.sepa.org.uk/water/bathing_waters/sampling_and_results.aspx?id=114567

2. Attached – photo of Russell Brown at Sandyhills

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT MUST URGENTLY PLUG COMMUNITY PAYBACK LOOPHOLE

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT MUST URGENTLY PLUG COMMUNITY PAYBACK LOOPHOLE

COURT RULING MEANS REPEAT OFFENDERS CAN GET AWAY WITH BREAKING TERMS OF ORDER

Local politicians have called on the SNP Scottish Government to urgently close a loophole in Community Payback Orders which emerged following a ruling by the Court of Appeal last week.

The ruling means that offenders who have been given Community Payback Orders instead of prison terms will no longer be in breach even if they commit a new crime. The court ruled that each breach will be considered a new offence and they will only be sentenced on their latest crime, rather than on the fact they have broken a behavioural clause while serving the Community Payback Order.

Community Payback Orders, which came in to force in Scotland in February 2011 and replaced Community Service Orders, Probation Orders and Supervised Attendance Orders, consist of a number of requirements for the offender. For example, the Order might include a requirement to carry out hours of unpaid work in the community or completion of intensive supervision, alcohol, drug or behavioural programmes.

At the start of July a new unit in for Community Payback Orders was opened in Stranraer.

Following the court’s ruling, Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said:

“The courts have ridden a coach and horses through the law behind Community Payback Orders. We need reassurance that when an order is passed, the court, never-mind the offender will respect that order. This is a major loophole in the legislation that needs to be urgently plugged. As it stands, repeat offenders are now able to get away with breaking the terms of the order. Community Payback Orders need to be tough alternatives to jail and this is sending all the wrong messages.”

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown added:

“People need confidence in the justice system, of which Community Payback Orders are an important part. According to this ruling, committing a further offence while on a Community Payback Order isn’t considered a breach of that order. People have been given these Community Orders instead of a prison sentence so they can give something back to the community. The very idea that committing a further crime doesn’t break the Order risks making a mockery of them.”

ENDS

CONTACT – ANDREW MACKENZIE 07769206856

NOTES

More info - http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/court-ruling-weakens-scottish-government-policy-on-offenders-1-2409633

CHANGES TO ENERGY REGULATION COULD SAVE OVER 15,000 LOCAL PENSIONERS £200 A YEAR

CHANGES TO ENERGY REGULATION COULD SAVE OVER 15,000 LOCAL PENSIONERS £200 A YEAR

Local MP Russell Brown is calling on the UK Government to act to force energy companies to check all pensioners over 75 are on the cheapest electricity and gas tariff.

The best energy deals are usually found online which means that the over 75s are the least able to access them. Many are on the wrong tariff and are paying far more than they need to. If they were moved onto the cheapest tariff they could be up to £200 a year better off.

The MP says that these plans would “make a world of difference” to the 15,200 people over 75 living in Dumfries and Galloway.

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said:

“The over 75s are the most at risk from cold weather, but the least likely have access to the best deals because they are usually found online.

“By getting tough with the energy companies and requiring them to check all pensioners over 75 are on the cheapest tariff, we can save 15,200 people in Dumfries and Galloway as much as £200 a year. At a time when many pensioners in our region are struggling to get by this saving would make a world of difference.

“This wouldn’t cost the Government money, all it needs is for them to show some backbone and force the energy companies to do it. It is time to put an end to the big energy companies taking advantage of older people by leaving them on the wrong tariff and therefore paying hundreds of pounds more than they need to.”

ENDS

CONTACT – ANDREW MACKENZIE 07769206856

NOTES TO EDITORS

There are 15,231 people over 75 years of age living in the local authority area of Dumfries and Galloway, according to the General Register Office for Scotland mid-2011 population estimate.

http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/population/estimates/mid-year/2011/tables.html (table 3)