Friday, 3 July 2009

Events an anchor for community life

WICK HarbourFest brought out the sun and the smiles in a relaxed and welcome celebration to make an important Caithness Homecoming.

While the crowning of the herring queen harked back to the fishing of the past, the brand new marina development looks like it should have been there for years and indicates the ambitions of the harbour authority for the future.

I was delighted to join in the Friday celebrations and meet so many happy folk. My friends Andrew Anderson and family from Keiss made their homecoming like many others.

Among those I met was Gordon Gunn, the famous Wick fiddler, on Saturday evening further down the A9. His suntan was gained during a Saturday on the quays.

I hope that harbour plans will develop the numbers of sailing craft involved at future events as it's such a natural setting and anchor for community life. Well done Liz and David Richard-Jones and the whole team.


TWO decisions last week in Holyrood lead Europe and the world. Firstly, the Climate Change Bill has passed all stages and been amended into the strongest of its kind. We will have action plans on every aspect of its measures to pass as secondary laws.

For example, an action plan will increase the total output of renewable heat to 11 per cent of demand by 2020. It's one per cent this year so that's a tough challenge.

So a successful scheme in Wick would contribute. Remember we have the wood and other biomass in Scotland and it isn't new technology on the continent.

The agreed Scottish target of 42 per cent cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 relies on the Climate Summit in Copenhagen adopting much tougher targets. It will all change the way we live and I will chronicle these in detail in the coming months. That's because, as my colleague Brian Adam said, public engagement is as important as rules made in Holyrood if we are to succeed.

Secondly, on Tuesday this week, the outcome of the year-long Energy Enquiry by the economy, energy and tourism committee was published. It shows that an action plan for Scotland should play to our biggest strengths. These lie in renewables whose potential is of European significance.

On Monday, Scottish and Southern Energy announced that more large hydro power schemes like Glendoe on Loch Ness are now in the planning. This provides the chance to complement offshore wind and tidal power sources as they develop with clean power from the waters of our lochs and rivers. That's an elegant symmetry. For Scotland leads in these developments as France leads in nuclear.

Scotland can supply secure power to England as well as our North Sea neighbours on top of home needs. So there are three cheers for that route to secure, clean power which communities and businesses here can surely profits from.


THE message from a record-breaking Royal

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