Holyrood Headlines with MSP Alex Salmond

New green energy targets

The welcome that the Scottish Government has unveiled a new ambitious and achievable renewables target to see 50 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand met from green power by 2015.

This comes as after Scotland met 35 per cent of its electricity demand from renewables in 2011 - beating the previous interim target of 31 per cent by the end of 2011.

In many respects, we are uniquely positioned to develop offshore wind, wave and tidal power. Not only is Scotland blessed with abundant natural energy sources, but it has the research and engineering expertise to enable us to fully grasp the opportunities that renewable energy offers.

The renewables sector is bringing thousands of jobs and many millions of pounds of investment to Scotland – and, of course, is helping to reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions.

There are already 11,000 green energy jobs in Scotland and this new target will help build on the current employment opportunities. Indeed, estimates show that offshore wind alone could support up to 28,000 direct jobs by 2020.

The expansion of green power is essential for Scotland’s energy security, economic prosperity, and environmental sustainability. Harnessing the enormous renewable energy potential that exists in Scotland is an essential part of securing economic recovery and the fantastic progress being made is hugely positive.

The SNP has a clear vision of the kind of Scotland we want to build, and our bold target of generating the equivalent of 100% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020 is an important part of that. It is vital that we work with ambition and vision to seize the moment and secure a sustainable future for the next generation

Locos lunch raises £30,000

Hundreds of Aberdeenshire business people descended on the Marcliffe at Pitfodels last Friday (9th November) to show their support for Inverurie Locos FC.

The annual Inverurie Locos Business Lunch was a great opportunity to meet a variety of representatives of the local business community from my constituency, and from across the North East.

I was invited to share a platform with Jacqueline Gold, CEO of Ann Summers and Knickerbox, who gave an inspiring keynote speech about her journey through the company from intern to Chief Executive. Over the course of twenty-five years, Jacqueline has transformed Ann Summers into the multimillion pound global concern it is today.

Though the Locos will undoubtedly be disappointed by the end to their promising Scottish Cup run at the hands of Arbroath on Saturday (10th November), they will doubtless take some solace that close to £30,000 was raised at last Friday’s lunch.

The level of support shown for Inverurie Locos by the local business sector last Friday should be congratulated. With Inverurie Locos’ focus on youth development, I have no doubt that this will be money well spent as the Club invests in its future.

Lighting up Inverurie

With Christmas fast approaching, Inverurie is set to put up its Christmas lights and tree this week, in preparation for the St Andrew’s day parade, fireworks display and the switching on of the Christmas lights on the 25th November.

I am delighted that all 35 lights have now been sponsored by local businesses and organisations and this is testament to the fantastic community spirit in the town. The lights will be switched on by Inverurie’s ‘Citizen of the Year’, who will be revealed by the Community Council later this week, and I am sure it will be an enjoyable spectacle for the whole community.

The tireless work that organisers, Inverurie Events, have carried out in preparation for this year’s festivities has been outstanding and I have no doubt that the feel-good factor of these events will be felt throughout the town during the Christmas period, which will also benefit from local shops remaining open with extended business hours.

The Inverurie Business Association is also to be commended on its support for the event and for helping to light up Inverurie this festive period. Traders are keeping the town centre shops open every Sunday on the run up to Christmas, starting on the Sunday of the parade. This is a fantastic opportunity attract shoppers to the thriving town centre and boost the local economy on the run up to Christmas.

PlayTalkRead touring the North East

I am pleased to learn that the PlayTalkRead campaign bus is touring across the North East over the coming weeks.

The PlayTalkRead campaign is an innovative programme that encourages parents to play, talk and read more regularly with their babies and young children. It focuses on the importance of positive interaction with their children from day one and is part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to assisting children’s development during their formative years.

The team will be on hand to offer free practical support and ideas to create the best foundations for children’s development through low-cost, fun activities.

It has been a hugely successful campaign since its launch three years ago and has benefitted thousands of parents and their children. I would encourage all parents seeking further information on the campaign, as well as the constituency tour dates, to visit the programme’s official site at www.playtalkread.org.