PRESS RELEASE: GEOPARK CASH BOOST WELCOMED

Jean Urquhart, the Independent MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has welcomed First Minister Alex Samond’s announcement of £280,000 in new funding for Scotland’s two UNESCO Geoparks in Shetland and the North-West Highlands. The First Minster announced the cash yesterday afternoon during the Cabinet’s visit to Shetland.

Jean met with representatives of the two Geoparks yesterday in Shetland to celebrate the news and discuss plans for the future.

Jean said:

“I’m delighted by this announcement, and I know the hardworking, passionate teams of the two Geoparks are too. This funding means that their international status is secure, and they can build on their fantastic record of developing the educational and tourist potential of our magnificent geology.

“Scotland is the home of modern geology, and our Geoparks recognise two of the world’s most scientifically important and visually stunning landscapes.

“The many faults running through Shetland’s rock mean that you can see geology from all over the North of Scotland side by side. Geologically, Shetland is the Highlands in miniature.

“The North-West Highlands are home to the oldest rocks in Britain. At 3 Billion years old, some are well over half the age of the planet. The Moine Thrust that runs right through the NW Highlands Geopark was instrumental in proving that the continents are moving – a debate that wasn’t settled until the 1960s.

“We Scots are rightly proud of our landscape. We want to experience it, to learn about it, and to show it off to our friends from around the world. That’s what our Geoparks are all about, and it’s great to know that they will go from strength to strength.”

The funding, of £140,000 per year for 2013/14 and 2014/15, is the first the Geoparks have received from the Scottish Government. Without it the international status of the two parks could have been at risk, as UNESCO requires that Geoparks be financially secure in order to remain a member of the European Geoparks Network and Global Geoparks Network.

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Climate Challenge Fund Advice Surgeries

 

The Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) has made 563 awards to the value of over £46.9 million since its launch in 2008. The fund helps community groups who have projects designed to help reduce their carbon footprint, and funded projects in the past have included community growing projects, initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle and energy efficiency advice.

To encourage potential applicants, the Scottish Government will be holding two further advice surgeries in the Highlands and Islands next week to provide information to local community groups and interested parties. These will be held between 9.30am and 12.30pm on Tuesday 23rd July at the Merkinch Community Centre in Inverness and between 9.30am and 2pm on Thursday 25th July at the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Council Building in Stornoway (with videolinks to the Council Offices in Balivanich and Barra).

I would encourage any and all community groups with any ideas to pop along to these events in Inverness and Stornoway to hear more from the CCF. More information can be found at their website.

Photos: Dogs Trust Visit, July 2013

On July 4th, I was lucky enough to visit the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre near Uddingston. The Dogs Trust are a fantastic charity whose dedicated employees and volunteers rehome over 1000 dogs every year. Each rehomed dog is neutered, vaccinated and microchipped, and is matched carefully to its new owners.

I discussed key dog welfare issues with front line staff at the rehoming centre – issues such as microchipping, which is a simple and effective tool that Dogs Trust believes should be made compulsory in Scotland to help trace abandoned pets back to irresponsible owners and reduce the number of healthy dogs unnecessarily put to sleep in the country.

Sadly abandonment is one of the main reasons dogs come in to the centre, and in 2012 they saw 4,524 dogs picked up in Scotland. This equates to 12 dogs being picked up each day by Local Authorities. Dogs Trust strongly believe that these numbers could be reduced by the introduction of compulsory microchipping.

I really enjoyed my visit to Dogs Trust Glasgow, especially meeting all the lovely dogs and dedicated staff who work so hard to care for them. The service that Dogs Trust provides for the dog population in Scotland is invaluable, and I greatly support the work that they do. I’ve been a supporter of compulsory microchipping, and hopefully the Government’s consultation later this year will yield further good news for man (and woman!)’s best friends.

Jean with Ben Hope, one of the centre's puppies
Jean with Ben Hope, one of the centre’s puppies
Jean and the team with Ben Hope.
Jean and the team with Ben Hope.
The Centre has dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages, but there's been a growing number of breeds requiring regular exercise such as huskies, malamutes and collies being brought to the Centre.
The Centre has dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages, but there’s been a growing number of breeds requiring regular exercise such as huskies, malamutes and collies being brought to the Centre.
The dogs in the Rehoming Centre are very well looked after- as well as temperature-controlled rooms, the dogs are well groomed and have at least one long walk a day
The dogs in the Rehoming Centre are very well looked after- as well as temperature-controlled rooms, the dogs are well groomed and have at least one long walk a day
The Centre receives about 3 or 4 dogs every day, and houses 100 or so dogs at any time. Some dogs stay for only a few weeks; others remain at the Centre for years waiting for the perfect owner. So far, 489 dogs have found new homes in 2013.
The Centre receives about 3 or 4 dogs every day, and houses 100 or so dogs at any time. Some dogs stay for only a few weeks; others remain at the Centre for years waiting for the perfect owner. So far, 489 dogs have found new homes in 2013.
Jean with Sandra, the Manager of the Dogs Trust at Uddingston. Sandra was kind enough to show us around the facilities and answer all of our questions.
Jean with Sandra, the Manager of the Dogs Trust at Uddingston. Sandra was kind enough to show us around the facilities and answer all of our questions.

 

Photos: Jean backs Cycle Law Scotland campaign

Jean joined two-wheeled lawyer Brenda Mitchell of Cycle Law Scotland, along with fellow MSPs Alison Johnstone and Tavish Scott, to support their Road Share campaign for a ‘strict liability’ law to protect vulnerable road users including cyclists and pedestrians.

A law like this would require drivers to prove they were not at fault in civil cases. This would make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians hurt in collisions to get compensation, and making the roads safer for everyone.

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You can see more photos from the event on Jean’s Facebook page.