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May 11th – May 17th, 2024

 

May 11th, 2024 – May 17th, 2024

Scotland Going Nuclear? Housing Crisis Declared; but first

Japan and Italy are Quids In

            Despite Scotland hosting the world’s largest floating wind farm, the Scottish government has no stake in any of the companies involved.  Green Volt (GV) off Peterhead will give millions of pounds to foreign interests but nothing to Scotland.  This is Europe’s first commercial scale floating wind farm, a 50/50 joint venture between Flotation Energy and Vargronn.  Flotation Energy is headquartered in Scotland but its parent company is Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, owned by the Japanese government; and Norwegian-based Vargronn is a joint venture between Italian oil firm Eni via its power and renewables offshoot Plenitude, and Norwegian investment firm HitecVision, with Eni 30.33% owned by the Italian government.

            This venture is the first consent in Scotland’s Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) leasing round, but follows hard on the heels of the Scot Wind leasing round of 17 offshore wind projects which reaped a mere £700 million for the Scottish government.

What’s in it for Scotland?

            A state-owned energy company could have sold the new ScotWind electricity to the grid and retained operating profits, but instead Scotland loses between £3.5bn and £5.5bn a year, the latter the equivalent of almost one-tenth of Scotland’s annual operating budget.

            Other countries with stakes in Scotland’s energy revolution include Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and China.  The Scottish government is instead hoping for a jobs bonanza, and rental revenues when the projects become operational, and has promised to set up a Building a New Scotland Fund investing up to £20bn over the first decade of independence.

            Common Weal revealed recently that Scotland’s over-reliance on foreign direct investment leads to profits going back overseas, with £50,000 per Scottish resident having left Scotland over the last 22 years in the form of dividends, saying Scotland is being massively exploited by overseas interests and treated as if it is a developing nation.

No Just Transition

            Scotland’s oil and gas industry has haemorrhaged 50,000 Scottish jobs over a decade, nearly 40% of its jobs, replacing them with just 2,500 low-carbon jobs.  So say trade association Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), but this is disputed by a Fraser of Allander Institute report which says Scotland’s renewable energy industry and its supply chain supported over 42,000 jobs.  It was once claimed that by 2020 Scotland would have 28,000 jobs in offshore wind, and the Scottish government still maintains that green jobs will rise to 77,000 by 2050.

            Unite the union says Scotland is on the verge of pushing tens of thousands into unemployment and that the government has ‘no coherent energy plan’.  The OEUK figures are estimates based on government data and industry modelling, but Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, says both the UK and Scottish governments must enable the Office for National Statistics to provide better data for the sector.  The ONS has not received any complaint about the accuracy of its data, although it is variable and based on samples.

            So who is right?

Scotland Declares A Housing Emergency

            The Scottish government has declared a national housing emergency, a largely symbolic move stating that the system is not working and there must be an intervention.  It is calling for the 9% cuts in its Capital Budget to be reversed.  The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) lamented the cut of £300 million to the affordable homes budget over the last 2 years.

1300 Eviction orders

            were issued while an eviction ban was in place between October 2022 and March 2024, and many tenants racked up thousands of pounds in debt before being offered social housing or were wrongly told by councils they would not get social housing until they got an eviction order.  Landlords could still apply to evict tenants to take effect once the ban was lifted, and 80% of orders applied for were granted.

UK Plans a Nuclear Site in Scotland

            Scottish Secretary Alister Jack told a House of Lords committee he had asked the UK Energy Minister to plan for a site in Scotland despite Holyrood opposing it.  The UK is planning several large-scale nuclear plants in England, and a number of smaller modular reactors. He wants one of the smaller reactors for Scotland.  At the moment Scotland can stop nuclear and other projects because planning law is devolved, but Andrew Bowie is keen on seeing the planning block lifted.

           Alister Jack also wants a House of Lords committee to scrutinise Holyrood legislation, as the Scottish parliament’s committee system is ‘not right’.

          Hard to disagree that the SNP has brought this on itself.  Committees can be packed with supporters of proposed legislation, and there is no requirement to listen to opposing viewpoints, as was seen with gender reform, when those in charge of Scotland could not say if a rapist was male.      

Police U-turn on HBs

            Police Scotland Chief Constable Jo Farrell has reversed her previous decision to not have police investigate ‘minor’ crimes like housebreakings where there is no obvious suspect.

            Now declaring that it is in fact a ‘high-harm’ offence which could have a severe impact on victims, she said tackling HBs is a priority.  This follows a sudden 9% upsurge in HBs following her earlier decision.   The Scottish Police Federation welcomed the move, saying it was pretty obvious that police had to be out there ‘in the community’ so that people feel engaged with them.  Who’d have thought?

            However, Farrell still thinks people may be committing HBs just due to the ‘cost of living crisis’ to sell things on the internet.  So not because the cops have exited stage left, then.

Police Pay £200K for diversity training

            As well as spending £2.4 million on equality and diversity roles, Police Scotland has paid more than £200,000 to external organisations over the last 5 years for diversity training, the latest being training to attain the LGBT Charter status, delivered through training materials from LGBTY Scotland.

Council Job Cuts or Gender Funding?

            Glasgow parents protested recently against the threat of 450 teaching posts being axed over the next 3 years due to funding cuts. Meanwhile, cash-strapped councils are still funding organisations like LGBTY Scotland who promote trans ideology.  Glasgow City Council (gift to LGBTY £62,000) must cut £100 million from its budget over the next 3 years; Edinburgh (gift to LGBTY £90,000) faces a shortfall of altogether £60 million in its health and social care budget; Borders Council paid that organisation £16,000; Falkirk £30,000; Dumfries & Galloway £25,682; Dundee £14,061; and NHS Scotland £160,000.

            Much of the money is spent on staff training so that organisations can get the LGBTY Charter Award.  Should these payments be cut at least while actual jobs and services are under such financial stress?

Vulnerable children and trans ideology

            Kaimes School in Edinburgh has been promoting transgender ideology to autistic children but critics point out that, due to their condition, if you tell autistic children they can literally change sex, they will literally believe it.  The school recently overhauled its curriculum to become an LGBTY Charter institution, which must make for interesting languages lessons where a masculine or feminine descriptor and word ending are needed!

Funding Drop for Special Needs

             Meanwhile, funding for children with Additional Support Needs in Scotland has fallen by nearly 34% since 2012-13, according to the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), at the same time as the number of children with ASN have doubled to one third of the school population.  Some children are waiting up to 4 years for a diagnosis of autism. There are also 546 fewer ASN teachers.

            Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth still favours ‘mainstreaming’ ASN pupils, even though this may not be best for them, but acknowledges that improvements must be made. The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said cuts at the City of Glasgow College will be devastating, particularly affecting pupils who have struggled at school or have additional needs.

School Violence

            Often forgotten in reports about school violence are support staff, who assist with ASN pupils, some of whom may have quite extreme behavioural issues.  School violence against teachers and support staff has gone up by 53% in Scotland, at least in those council areas which responded.  As Glasgow is one of the authorities which did not provide figures, that assessment may be a huge underestimate. Jenny Gilruth favours ‘restorative’ justice over exclusion, but the risks posed to staff are unacceptable.

The University of the Highlands and Islands Perth

            In order to cut £4 million by July 2025 UHIP has unveiled swingeing cuts and redundancies which will leave the campus with no library or nursery.  Staff cuts will ‘save’ £3 million, courses will be cut, as will the role of personal academic tutor, cuts to the Schools College Partnership programme, and the library will remain open only one evening per week, with the library assistant made redundance and the campus nursery closed and all its staff sacked.

            Creative Arts will be gone in 3 years’ time.  The closure of the nursery will particularly devastate the local area.  Local parents use the nursery even though they are not students or staff at the college, and with a deadline of June for closure, parents have been left with no ability to get places somewhere else in time for next year.

DRS: It’s All Lorna’s fault

            says waste firm Biffa, who are claiming £150 million from the Scottish government for money they invested to prepare for the collapsed Deposit Return Scheme, relying on personal written assurances from Slater to invest £55million in vehicles and equipment.  They are particularly dismayed that nothing was said about needing UK Internal Market Act approval.  The £150 million is to cover its equipment cost of £55 million, plus anticipated profits over the 10-year deal they got with the Scottish government.

Finally,

Will Argyll be crowned Scotland’s Sailing Capital

            In July the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is due to stop in Oban, the first stop the race has ever made in Scotland in its 27-year history. Argyll and the Isles is indeed unique, with sailing enthusiasts raving about its sheltered anchorages, moorings, harbours and marinas, as well as its environmental sustainability.  It suits both aspiring and experienced sailors of all abilities, boasting stunning coastal retreats and opportunities for relaxation. 

           It is currently launching its bid to become the Sustainable Sailing Capital of Scotland.

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