Time to halt turbines expansion

I’M SURE many readers share my view that our area has gone ‘above and beyond’ in accommodating windfarms which dominate the skyline in so many parts of the constituency.

Despite this, proposals for further developments keep coming and the proposed turbines appear to be getting larger.

A planning inquiry in Sanquhar last week gave me the opportunity to speak up in support of constituents living in the Wanlockhead and Leadhills area who are deeply concerned about the planned North Lowther windfarm.

Much work has gone in over the years to raise awareness of the unique character and beauty of the Lowther Hills and to encourage tourism.

The 30 huge turbines envisaged would be a blight on this precious landscape and must be protected.

Let’s hope the inquiry persuades Scottish Government Ministers to call a halt to this damaging project.

Whisky plea to President Trump

I have urged the government to highlight the damaging impact of a pending 25-per-cent whisky tariff by the United States on our iconic Scottish industry directly with President Trump himself.

As part of a long-running trade dispute about alleged past state aid to the EU aviation industry, the US is to target single-malt Scotch whisky and a range of other quality European products they import.

I raised an urgent question in the House of Commons recently about the issue and pointed out the Scotch industry’s US exports amount to an incredible £1 billion turnover annually.

When I formally greeted Donald Trump last year as Scottish Secretary, he enthused to me about how much Scotland meant to him personally and I believe the Prime Minister should raise this urgent issue with the President during one of their regular conversations.

In the south of my constituency, I know what a fantastic restoration has been carried out at the successful Annandale Distillery and how valued the development is in the Annan area for employment and as a visitor attraction.

Named person scheme dropped

MANY parents in my constituency were outraged when the SNP introduced the so-called named person scheme.

The legislation, in effect, meant that an independent person would be an official point of contact appointed to help safeguard the welfare of every child in Scotland from birth to the age of 18.

Whilst the aim of adding extra protection for children was commendable and the named persons were professionals such as teachers and health visitors, the concept was widely seen as intrusive and considered by many excellent parents as an invasion of privacy.

I was pleased when the Supreme Court ruled that aspects of the proposals, around information sharing, breached the right to privacy and a family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Now, after six years and ongoing efforts to tweak the legislation, the Scottish Government recently finally decided to withdraw the controversial plans.

I welcome this belated decision but I fully understand why searching questions are being asked about just how much taxpayers’ money and officials time has been wasted in this lengthy and fruitless exercise.