Wednesday, 18 December 2013
A Minister has confirmed that after an independence vote the Scottish Government would consider applications for exploratory oil and gas drilling rights off the south-west coast of Scotland.
As Scottish Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing (pictured above) was replying to a letter written by Elite Ayrshire Business Circle executive chairman Norman Geddes to First Minister Alex Salmond (pictured below).
Norman Geddes is managing partner at Frazer Coogans Commercial Solicitors, based in Ayr, as well as executive chairman of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
In his letter to Alex Salmond, Mr Geddes (pictured above) referred to recent newspaper revelations about how, back in the 1980s, the UK Ministry of Defence blocked oil companies from making further exploration off the coast of south-west Scotland after initial tests had indicated the likely presence in the area of recoverable reserves of oil and gas.
The reason given at the time was the proximity of the Trident base at Faslane, and that further drilling activities might interfere with nuclear submarine exercises.
These facts have come to light as a result of Freedom of Information requests by Chic Brodie MSP, and have been reported by Andrew Picken in three separate articles in the “Sunday Post” newspaper.
In his letter to Norman Geddes, Fergus Ewing wrote: “With independence, Scotland will obtain full control of offshore licensing and leases, which will create new opportunities to deliver community benefits from offshore development while giving due regard to the diverse marine environment. If there are exploration opportunities off Scotland’s shores then it is clear that these should be fully considered and encouraged where appropriate to do so.
“All proposals for exploration will be considered on their individual merits, and I would reiterate that there will be no “no-go” areas for exploration in Scottish waters.”
Norman Geddes commented: “I would like to congratulate Chic Brodie (pictured above) for his tireless work to bring this matter into the public domain, and Andrew Picken for his almost single-handed reporting of our efforts in the “Sunday Post”.
“If oil and gas are discovered off our coastline in recoverable quantities, it would transform the economy of Ayrshire and South-West Scotland, and also provide a significant boost to the prosperity of Scotland as a whole.”
Tuesday, 17 December 2013
[Pictured: Provost Helen Moonie with her official 2013 Christmas card and the painting “Two Children in the Snow” that inspired it (see note at end of message for details.]
It seems hardly any time at all since we all enjoyed the wonderful warm summer in South Ayrshire.
Now, as the year end approaches and we get ready to celebrate the festive season, I hope we can keep the summer warmth alive by taking a moment to keep an eye out for someone else this winter.
For some, Christmas can be a lonely, sad or difficult time and a cheery word or a knock at the door to see how someone is doing can make a world of difference.
I’m constantly amazed by the many people I meet who are true ‘unsung heroes’ – whether caring for a sick spouse or relative, making outstanding contributions to their community or facing adversity, but remaining determined to succeed.
Their great spirit, resolve, courage and determination is an inspiration which underpins my Christmas message for this year.
So, rather than just waiting for Christmas to come around, I hope we can find a renewed sense of purpose in the year ahead, to commit ourselves to do more for others every day, rather than just once a year.
With this in mind, I was delighted to lead a review earlier this year on how we support local deserving causes. It was an opportunity to find better ways of listening to, and helping others who are themselves committed to helping others.
The result is that South Ayrshire Council now supports eight charities: Ayr Housing Aid, Chernobyl Children’s Link, Gardening Leave, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, Riverside Care & Share Project, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (Girvan and Troon), Seascape and South Ayrshire Women’s Aid.
Their work is as far reaching as it is essential – and our support is a direct reflection on how important their public spiritedness is in making a difference for people from all walks of life.
2013 was also a year of bittersweet memories for me.
It was with sadness that we said goodbye to the service personnel at RAF Prestwick – and it delighted me to see so many people lining up to pay their own respects to the unit as they enjoyed their final parade in town.
More recently, we welcomed The Royal Regiment of Scotland, home from their tour of Afghanistan and it was with a sense of pride we granted them the honorary freedom of South Ayrshire.
I was also privileged throughout the year to share in many celebrations, receptions and community events – as well as attending the inauguration of the National Mining Memorial Centre, which has personal resonance for me.
Looking ahead to 2014, we have the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow firmly on the horizon.
This will bring world nations to Scotland, showcasing their talents, putting themselves and their citizens on the map through teams and individuals who have worked together to be at the pinnacle of their chosen game. It’s a superb model of camaraderie and citizenship in action.
When the Queen’s Baton Relay arrives here on 20 June 2014, we have the opportunity to be at the top of our own game, by giving the baton a warm South Ayrshire welcome and cheering on those local people nominated as batonbearers, carrying the Queen’s message through the heart of our communities.
South Ayrshire is a great place to live, work and play – characterised by the great people who reside here. That’s our ‘common wealth’ and we can build on it in 2014, by making it a year in which we come together, working harder than ever, to put this corner of Scotland on the map as a community where all are equal, valued and welcome.
Have a very merry Christmas and a bright and inspirational New Year.
[NOTE: The picture “Two Children in the Snow” which inspired Provost Helen Moonie's official Christmas card 2013 was painted by French artist Pauline Elise Léonide Bourges (1838-1910) and was bequeathed to the former burgh of Girvan by Richard Edmiston. The oil painting is now part of South Ayrshire Council’s art collection and will be on display at Rozelle during the winter.
The Council’s complete collection of oil and acrylic paintings is available to view at: www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings and more information on all South Ayrshire museums and galleries can be found at: www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/galleries]
South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.