22/07/23 – 28/07/23
UK Power Grab, Boilers must GO, but first…
Saturday, July 22nd, 2023, was the day when Salvo’s Stirling Directive said ‘Enough!’ Enough of begging for a referendum, of deferring to the Supreme Court (possibly illegal according to the Treaty of Union), of accepting that Scotland is NOT ALLOWED to even discuss with itself what sort of future it wants. Even unionists should be worried about that. On Saturday the sovereignty of the PEOPLE of Scotland was asserted, not the sovereignty of an English king, or of Westminster, or even Holyrood.
Now it is the people who matter, ALL of us, and we are SOVEREIGN.
‘Sanctioning’ Scots Ministers
Labour peer George Foulkes (Baron Foulkes of Cumnock, former MP and MSP) is urging the UK government to impose ‘sanctions’ such as fines on Holyrood minsters for ‘spending money on areas beyond its powers’. UK Cabinet Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said the Cabinet Manual is due for revision in relation to the ‘devolution settlements’. A new draft is due this autumn to clarify what are constitutional issues.
The SNP’s fifth prospectus for independence is due out on Thursday, to be followed by papers on Europe and defence, but seems not to have noticed these are discussion papers only for an INDEPENDENT Scotland!! If the civil service is meant to be impartial, and the population is split 50/50 on independence, shouldn’t civil servants be able to work both on union and independence matters?
Dr Nick McKerrell of Glasgow Caledonian University said there are no actual routes to impose sanctions. The Cabinet Manual is not a legal document, and may at best be a collection of constitutional conventions which should happen but cannot be enforced.
The Scottish government may stray over the line if it drew up a draft constitution for an independent Scotland, but there is still no clear mechanism to counter it. Or official regulations being formulated may be met with a judicial review, but Simon Case, the head of the UK Civil Service, said they are looking at issuing guidance rather than sanctions.
Partner or prisoner of the union? If partners, we should be able to discuss in any form anything we want. If not, we are prisoners. Foulkes himself says the union was ‘never meant to be a union of equals’!
Another UK Power Grab
The House of Lords has come up with a cunning plan to give ‘Henry VIII’ powers allowing the UK to unilaterally scrap Scottish environmental rules by amending the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, with minimal accountability. It would mean Scotland would be less favourably treated than Wales or Northern Ireland, both of whom have to consent to the laws whereas Scotland must only be ‘consulted’.
The laws would be created through secondary legislation which is rules enacted under authority of primary legislation, and is typically enacted by ministers, the Crown or public bodies. The most frequent form is Statutory Instrument (SI) (3500 a year). Most have ‘rule’, ‘order’ or ‘regulation’ in the title. The Westminster Parliament can approve or reject an SI but not amend it.
‘Affirmative’ SIs’ (20% of the total) must be approved by parliament before being made law, most by both Houses. Tax or financial matters only need House of Commons approval. ‘Negative SIs’ (the remaining 80% of SIs) do not need active parliamentary approval and automatically become law if not annulled by either the Commons or the Lords. So-called ‘Henry VIII’ powers allow secondary legislation to amend or repeal primary legislation, mostly statutes.
A Scottish government-commissioned community ferry consultation has shown that islanders believe CalMac and CMAL should be merged into one, and that more of those making decisions should be living in the communities affected, and have first-hand knowledge of island life and direct maritime experience.
A further problem has emerged on the Glen Sannox, where the stairways linking decks are too narrow and do not meet legal requirements, to the point where they may not get a safety certificate from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) which they need to set sail.
And residents of Harris and Uist were left disappointed that CalMac have reinstated a decision to limit capacity by 20% by shutting off the mezzanine deck on the MV Hebrides. It appears the earlier reversal of the closure was temporary. Islanders claim communities may lose £33 million altogether if replacement ferries do not appear before 2026.
Scotland now has double the workplace deaths it had before the pandemic, leading to charity Scottish Hazards calling for corporate homicide charges to be laid if negligence cause fatalities. There have been no such prosecutions since the advent of the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act (CMCHA).
Twenty-six people died in the workplace in the last year. Scotland’s death rate due to industrial harm is over twice the rest of Great Britain, and the figures may be higher as they do not include fatal diseases like covid 19, workplace-related suicides, and non-rail transport accidents.
Boilers Out…. OR ELSE!
Patrick Harvie’s latest wheeze is to force ordinary householders to replace their fossil fuel boilers much earlier than had been thought. The aim is to cut 1990 carbon emissions levels by 75% BY 2030 (giving you a mere SEVEN years to get in line), with possible leeway only till 2033.
It will affect two-and-a-half million homes and 100,000 other buildings, and will be enforced through reforming EPC energy ratings which are needed to sell or rent out homes. Even Harvie has admitted it may cost an excruciating and unaffordable £33 BILLION.
From 2025, trigger points like a house sale will require properties to meet EPC Band C energy efficiency, and new fossil fuel boilers are already banned in new buildings from next April. Will people still be able to sell their home but at a lower price? What if rental properties are just taken off the market by landlords, exacerbating an already overheated rental market?
Harvie claims the transition will make us less vulnerable to volatile energy prices, but apparently won’t protect us against Green ministers with staggering and unaffordable plans. Claiming regulation is needed to ‘steer choices’, he promises the usual ‘thousands of skilled, secure jobs’.
While current EPCs consider how expensive heating is, the reforms will include four metrics – energy use intensity, fabric efficiency, type of heating system and heating cost. Fossil fuel boilers will be rated lower than heat pumps or other systems.
He claims households will be helped, but despite lobbying for ‘responsible private finance’ to plug the £20 billion funding gap for their nature plans, they are very vague about finance to help households adapt to green energy. Even the cheapest air source heat pump costs up to £20,000 to purchase and instal, with only £7,500 currently from the Scottish government. Ground source heat pumps cost up to £50,000 to buy and instal.
The recent North Atlantic heatwave
may prove catastrophic for fish stocks according to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), with temperatures as high as 5C above the long-term average. The world’s oceans have absorbed 90% of excess heat produced by greenhouse gas emissions. Changing wind patterns have warmed the North Atlantic, although El Nino has not affected it. Norwegian spring spawning herring numbers have declined 40% since 2009. Warming temperatures and poor management may lead to a disastrous fall in stocks. In a process known as Atlantification, many species are moving from warmer waters to the Arctic and replacing its native species.
March of the Pylons
Already the Wester Balblair electricity sub-station has caused chaos to locals and tourists plagued by the Beauly Buzz which makes life intolerable, with excessive noise and vibration nuisance.
Now, Fanellan crofting community is the subject of further expansion plans by SSEN as the confluence of three major electricity lines connecting the Western Isles, Spittal in Caithness and Peterhead, just 3 miles south of Wester Balblair.
SSEN’s Pathway to 2030 proposals involve huge new 400kW pylon motorways cutting through pristine land, with one site planned for Peterhead estimated at 500 acres, and another 120-acre substation for The Mearns, south of Aberdeen. Residents of Longside and Flushing near Peterhead are in line for a 500-acre superhub built on prime farmland, and the East Coast 400kV will connect Kintore in Aberdeenshire with Tealing in Angus. The 120-acre Fiddes substation plans are at least being reconsidered by SSEN, who are planning nine projects by 2030 to create the extra grid capacity needed to support 12GW of new offshore windfarm generating capacity from the ScotWind licensing round.
But locals are fighting back. Umbrella campaign group Communities B4 Power Companies (CB4PC) is calling for a public inquiry, and the Strathpeffer and Contin Better Cable Route group is pressurising SSEN for a rethink. For some, though, it is too late, and they are selling up.
Islands Cost of Living Help
The Cost Crisis Emergency Fund, set up last year with £1.4 million from the Scottish government to support foodbanks and breakfast clubs, is to receive a further £1 million of funding to mitigate the colder climate, higher fuel costs and reduced consumer choices faced on the islands. As many as 96% of islanders may be in fuel poverty, having to earn £104,000 in order not to be spending over 10% of their salaries on heating.
is under fire for the leakage of millions of litres of water every day, at the same time as it is raising prices for consumers by 5% from April this year, partly to cover ‘significant future investment’. The December figures show a leakage of nearly 559 million litres per day, the highest leakage for over three years.
Scottish Water is blaming a surge of burst pipes and leaks due to sub-zero temperatures followed by a rapid thaw. They had previously reduced leakage to 459 million litres per day and say targeting leakages is a priority.
Tall Ships Race
Lerwick in Shetland is currently hosting the Scottish leg of the 2023 Tall Ships Races, with 37 sailing ships arriving from around the world from Fredrikstad in Norway.
The racing part of the events include several hundred nautical miles and a ‘cruise in company’ between the legs. Half the crew participating in races must be young people. The Shetland leg runs from Wednesday 26th July to Saturday 29th July and it will be finish with the Parade of Sail after which the fleet will leave for the final leg in Arendal in Norway.
This year’s event also took in Den Helder, Hartlepool and Fredrikstad.
Raith Rovers have gained 500 new admirers in the Canary Islands, thanks to their new away strip commemorating the team being shipwrecked there 100 years ago. The new shirt incorporates a map of the Canaries, and is in the blue and yellow of newly promoted UD Las Palmas, based in Gran Canaria. Rovers were the first football team ever to be shipwrecked when the SS Highland Loch hit rocks while on a pre-season tour in 1923. Team members assisted women and children first, before themselves clambering to safety, and no significant injuries were reported.
UD Las Palmas also invited Rovers for a friendly, hopefully less dramatic this time round.