LOOKING out on a snowiest of Highlands since 1981, I wish everyone a Guid New Year, Bliadhna Mhath Ur 2010!
Hopefully the taste of prolonged winter weather will not be too much of a burden on families struggling back to work or the Council workers such as carers delivering services through treacherous conditions.
I pay tribute to all the emergency staff who made the call-outs and mended broken bones in this flurry of deep winter. We haven't seen its like for twenty years but we can still help by doing our bit to clear our paths and driveways, to aid the posties and older less sure-footed amongst us. Then the Council workers jobs will be that little bit easier.
BACK in December I missed the worst of the snow that started to fall four days before we were hit in Scotland. I witnessed part of the inconclusive UN Climate Change summit in Copenhagen. My personal view of that fiasco in the Bella Centre is on my blog, whose address is given below.
However the good news is that Scotland joined the Climate Leaders Group of sub-national governments that include California, North Rhine-Westphalia, Sao Paulo, Victoria, Quebec and others who are making the biggest strides in tackling the threat of climate chaos.
We should be proud of Scotland's participation in the Climate Leaders Summit in the Klima Forum at Copenhagen. What a stark contrast to the shambles I witnessed on the endless queues of accredited people from six continents trying to enter the Bella Centre. Note the title Climate Leaders.
That's where Alex Salmond was welcomed. Among his commitments was for our nation to power 50 per cent of Scotland's electricity from clean renewables by 2020. He also made a pact to work with the Maldives, that island nation which clings on to land no more than two metres above sea level. Each of our targets show what we are doing and where we lead the big nations like the USA, China, and Brazil etc at the UN top table will need to follow.
WE in Ross-shire can benefit hugely from the demand for clean energy.
I hope young people are choosing engineering courses, or house insulation courses or considering the skills that will be needed right here. I understand that the interested firms are increasing their staff to cope with the big push. As a Guidance teacher thirty years ago we had hoped that petro-chemical work would develop at Nigg. Today a far surer bet is on Nigg to build and maintain offshore and onshore renewables equipment. Also, as I've often said, Nigg must be fully available, if need be by compulsory purchase orders as soon as possible. We need a faster shorter Far North Rail Line. Callers to reopen Conon Bridge rail station could resolve to back the whole line.
The Scottish Government has laid out its strategy in a European context in a paper called 'Towards a Low Carbon Economy in Scotland'. You can find it on the website www.scotland.org. That can build prosperity hereabouts. Opportunities certainly knock for us in the Highlands in 2010.
OVER the Christmas/New Year recess many of you are obviously picking up this positive message.
In December BBC Scotland identified two-thirds of you in its poll agreed we each have responsibilities to tackle climate change. We can make a difference.
As one lady put it in the Evanton Coop shop last week, "No, I don't need a lift, I'm going to walk.
"We have to remember our carbon (copy) footprint", she said, "We've all got to do our bit!"