Author Archives: Peter Bellarby

A Positive Response from Oil & Gas Industry

Responding to today’s announcement by Oil and Gas UK, Liberal Democrat member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, Sir Robert Smith MP said,

“This positive response from the industry justifies the decision of the Treasury to engage in constructive talks on how best to ensure we maximise investment in obtaining our remaining oil and gas resources.”

As a long standing advocate of this approach Sir Robert added,

“As the North Sea matures we are going to have to ensure continued dialogue between the Treasury and investors especially about delivering certainty on decommissioning relief.”

See full copy of Oil & Gas UK’s press release below.

Wednesday 3 October 2012
UK Oil and Gas Tax Regime Now Working to Boost Production and Growth, Says Oil & Gas UK
Oil & Gas UK’s economics director, Mike Tholen, today (3 October) told a London audience of over 150 that recent changes to the UK oil and gas tax regime will promote investment to the benefit of British jobs, oil and gas production and tax revenues. He was speaking at an Oil & Gas UK breakfast briefing sponsored by Herbert Smith and The Royal Bank of Scotland.

Presenting a paper entitled ‘Eighteen months of fiscal progress: reflections on recent changes in the UK’s North Sea oil and gas tax regime’, Mr Tholen highlighted how the tax regime has a powerful influence on investor sentiment and explained how the fiscal levers recently acquired by the Treasury will have a profound impact on all aspects of the exploration and production cycle business.

Mr Tholen said: “The UKCS holds up to 24 billion barrels of oil and gas; hydrocarbons that are central to boosting not only Britain’s tax revenues but also jobs in the high technology supply chain, the balance of trade and energy security. Constructive engagement with HM Treasury over the last 18 months since the 2011 Budget has resulted in the introduction of a range of tax measures which have allowed global investors to consider projects on the UK continental shelf (UKCS) in a new light.

“Finally, the Government has the levers to provide certainty and promote investment at all phases of a field development plan and, as such, can more directly help arrest production decline. Measures to promote investment in new fields, whether small, shallow-water gas or large deepwater, or in existing brown-fields, are enabling investors to give the ‘green light’ to large and small projects alike which in the short-term boosts jobs in the supply chain and in the medium-term, increases production and tax revenues.”

Mr Tholen continued: “Securing certainty on the amount of tax relief available on decommissioning costs, the subject of a Treasury consultation that closed on 1 October, will reduce one of the risk factors for companies, leaving the industry to focus on managing other operational risks such as those geological or technical. This will allow the UKCS to be managed as a long-term asset, not simply a source of short-term cash flow.”

Nigel Hares, chief operating officer of UK exploration and production company EnQuest, reflected on how the tax changes have affected his company’s assets, both those currently producing and new investments. He said: “EnQuest welcomes the recent announcement from HM Treasury in support of investment in mature oilfields. The new brown-field allowance is expected to lead to the approval of projects which will extend the lives of fields and increase reserves, employment and tax receipts. Indeed, we are actively working towards approval of the Thistle life extension project.”

The official opening of the Craws Nest with it’s new layout and mosaic installations

I was very pleased to be present at the official opening of Craws Nest with it’s new layout and mosaic installations. It is really good to see so many organisations and people working together to produce a transformation of what, at one time, was just a lump of concrete.

The ceremony was performed by George Swapp OBE DL MA who cut a ceremonial ribbon.

The Craws Nest is next to the footbridge over the river Cowie at the seafront at Stonehaven.

Trevor Bradley, Project Manager – Craws Nest Project (2009 to 2012), reported:
“A lot of hard work has gone into this Project, all from people in this area, but in particular Stonehaven. This is most certainly Art in the Community, by the Community, for the Community.

“My sincere thanks to Pauline Ord and the children of Stonehaven Primary Schools (Arduthie, Dunnottar, and Mill O Forest) who attended P5 and P6 classes last year and the 4 students at Mackie Acadamy who, between them, created 8 of the most lively, colourful and scenic mosaics for this installation. Members of the adult art classes ran by Mike Samson provided 3 of the designs and also helped in the installation. The members of the Mearns Camera Club who supplied the photo’s for the notice board and the 3 members of Horizon who organised the creation and delivery of the notice board did a tremendous job. Members of the Council who made the operation of getting consents and planning were very helpful and constructive. Also to the Nicholson family and in particular Julia, who designed and installed the large RW Thompson commemorative mosaic. Finally, to the stalwarts of the Horizon Volunteer Group, without whose help and hard work this Project would not have been finished on time and in budget, I give a warm and thankful tribute.”

Members of the Area Committee visit the New Care Home at Stonehaven

Members of Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee paid a visit to the new care home at Stonehaven on Tuesday. The new care home will replace the existing Edenholme in Arduthie Road and, following the wishes of residents, will also be called Edenholme. The new home is a purpose built facility for 60 frail older people and people with dementia. It provideds twice as many places as the existing Edenholme. There are also 8 one bedroom bungalows on the site suitable for those more able to look after themselves.

The new home will meet all the standards required of a care home today with en-suite bedrooms, something not possible in the existing building. The new home will be registered with the Care Inspectorate as a care home with nursing. Trained nurses will form part of the 24 hour staff team. This is a significant change from the present Edenholme.

Residents are expected to move into the new home at the end of November. The official opening will be in the Spring of 2013.

Stonehaven and Lower Deeside councillor, Peter Bellarby, said: “I was really impressed with the new home. There is ample space and outside there are landscaped gardens for the residents to enjoy. I particularly like the idea of organising it in five “households”. Each household will have a range of facilities and be largely independent so providing smaller, more cosy units than if it was organised as one big unit. There are some shared facilities that allow the residents of different households to come together if they wish.

“The involvement of local schools is also great. Local schools have taken part in a competition to name, design a logo for and adopt each of the five households. I look forward to hearing pupils from the schools presenting their ideas at Edenholme to residents and local councillors.

“The new care home is one of the achievements of the previous council administration. I am very pleased to see it coming to fruition.”

Stonehaven fails Pollution Safety Limits

Stonehaven is one of only two resorts to fail pollution safety limits this summer, the other being Heads of Ayr in South Ayrshire. These were the only two out of 83 beaches which breached the European Union Bathing Waters Directive according to statistics just published. Failure to meet the requirements put bathers at risk of serious infections. Stonehaven and Lower Deeside councillor, Peter Bellarby, said: “I am disappointed that Stonehaven has failed to meet the requirements. Stonehaven is a prime tourist destination and the locals too have every right to expect that the sea water is safe. I am glad that electronic signs were put up warning bathers when pollution levels are high but this only happened after there had been a pollution problem on the Maxie Burn. This is the likely cause of the failure to meet the bathing waters standards. It has been most unpleasant for residents with properties alongside Maxie Burn as they have been exposed to raw sewage. Scottish Water has been working to remedy the problem on the Maxie Burn but this does involve putting a new pipe under the railway line. I realise that this is not an easy task but I have urged Scottish Water to complete the works as soon as possible.

“It is particularly unfortunate that this failure to meet the bathing waters standards has come at a time when we are seeking to improve tourist facilities and attractions in the town such as a greatly enhanced caravan park. I very much hope and expect, though, that Stonehaven will meet the bathing waters stand next season. Scottish Water and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency do need to be vigilant and respond quickly when a problem arises.”

Improvements to Train Services from December

Reacting to the news that ScotRail is to introduce improvements to the railway timetable in North East Scotland from Sunday, December 9th, Peter Bellarby, Councillor for Stonehaven and Lower Deeside, said: “I am pleased to see that ScotRail and Transport Scotland are improving the train service between Aberdeen, Stonehaven and the south. At the customer forum held in June I called for more trains to call at intermediate stations between Aberdeen and Dundee so it is good to see some progress on this with Stonehaven getting an additional service to Glasgow Queen Street and more calls being made at Laurencekirk and Portlethen. The additional service on Sundays leaving Edinburgh at 16.05 for Stonehaven and Aberdeen is very welcome as it fills a gap in the timetable and should help relieve the overcrowding that often occurs on trains coming north from Edinburgh on Sunday evenings.

“These timetable changes are a step in the right direction but I will continue to press for further improvements so that we have a service that fully meets the needs of both long distance travellers and those on more local journeys.”

Crowds turn out to celebrate Olympic & Paralympic achievements

Thousands of people turned out on Sunday for the celebration of the athletes, volunteers and organisers from the north-east of Scotland who helped make this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games such a success. They lined Castlegate, Union Street and Golden Square in Aberdeen, gathered en masse in Westhill and braved the rain showers at Haddo Park. The event, organised by Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council, took place on Sunday, September 16.

Following a private breakfast reception at the Town House in Aberdeen, the public event began at the Castlegate where people had a chance to see the athletes and volunteers and take photos, as they gathered at the gold post box of Katherine Grainger. Rower Katherine Grainger, canoeist Tim Baille and cyclist Neil Fachie were able to show off their gold medals. They boarded an open-topped bus which paraded through the heart of Aberdeen, visiting the post boxes painted gold in their honour. They were joined by swimmers Hannah Miley and Robbie Renwick, and Paralympic cyclist Lora Turnham.

The bus paraded down Union Street was led by the Portlethen & District Pipe Band, and be followed by dozens of Torchbearers, Games Makers and other volunteers. The bus made a detour round Golden Square to the gold post box which recognises the achievement of Paralympic cyclist Neil Fachie.

The bus made its way at normal speed to Westhill, for the next leg of the tour, at Tim Baillie’s gold post box on Westhill Drive. From there, the athletes, volunteers and Torchbearers joined other guests for a civic reception at Haddo House.

Peter Bellarby was amongst the councillors from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire who were present at the receptions. He said:
“I was delighted to be there to pay tribute to all the athletes from the North East who took part in the games, the Grampian Police officers who went to London to help, all those volunteers who went down to London and elsewhere to help at both games and to the torchbearers.

“I talked to many of them and it is clear that it had been a thrilling experience for all of them. I hope that there will be a lasting legacy from these games in the encouragement it gives to people to enjoy a more active lifestyle and to participate in sport. It can only be good for health and contribute to the enjoyment of life. The Paralympic Games, in particular, has a very powerful message to those with a disability. Don’t let the disability stop you doing things! There is much that you can do and much enjoyment to be had.”

RENNIE: STATEMENT ON DRAFT SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT BUDGET PLANS

Commenting on Scottish Government draft Budget plans to be published this week, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie MSP said:

“The Liberal Democrats will closely scrutinise John Swinney’s plans and make a detailed assessment in due course. We will be looking to protect the budgetary commitments we fought for and won last year in the areas of colleges, house building and early intervention support for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“I agree that the Finance Secretary should maximise every penny he has available to him. That is why he should use the budget as an opportunity to unlock £1.5 billion of Scottish Water funds. This could be used to boost job creation and provide 100,000 employment opportunities in areas such as science, energy efficiency and broadband.”

“The support for sport also needs consideration to build on the enthusiasm created by the inspirational Team GB.”

RENNIE: TIME FOR ALEX SALMOND TO BRING HONESTY TO THE TABLE OVER EU ADVICE

The Scottish Information Commissioner has asked the Court of Session for an urgent hearing on Alex Salmond’s refusal to reveal legal advice on the status of an independent Scotland in the EU.

Commenting, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said:

“Many will be pleased that Alex Salmond’s dislike for open government will now be challenged in a legal forum. The SNP government has gone to great lengths to control the debate about its independence plans and hush the facts. It’s time for Alex Salmond to come clean and bring honesty to the table.”

RENNIE: SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT MUST REVISIT SPORT PLANS IN BUDGET

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have called upon the Scottish Government to harness Olympic fever in its upcoming budget. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is calling for the SNP government to revamp its sporting plans in light of the unanticipated swell of support for the London Olympic Games.

The Liberal Democrats have backed calls from Scotland’s sports bodies asking the Scottish Government to rethink its sports policy and secure a lasting Olympic legacy.

Commenting, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said:
“I think everyone underestimated the impact of the London Olympics. Politicians and commentators alike never imagined how much the Games would capture the nation. The great British sporting summer was given the perfect ending when Andy Murray won his first Grand Slam. It is only right that the Scottish Government revisit its plans for sport.

“Alex Salmond misjudged the potential impact of the Olympics before the Games but he has the opportunity to correct that now. He must make the changes to the programme and budget needed to make the very most out of Olympic fever in Scotland. It is not too late to ensure that Scotland benefits from the brightest Olympic legacy possible.

“This is a chance for the First Minister to seize an initiative, to change his plans and create a new emphasis for sport in Scotland. Scotland’s sporting bodies have already called upon the Scottish government to fund a sports revolution. I think people would want the Scottish Government to harness that drive and passion to make the most out of this great British sporting summer.

“There was no mention of the Olympic legacy or sport in the First Minister’s statement on the Government Programme last week, or in the Government’s spending review and budget. It wasn’t even mentioned in the Sport Scotland corporate plan.

“I want the First Minister to rise to the occasion and make the very most out of the Olympics. The Scottish Liberal Democrats will be pushing for more sporting opportunities for Scotland in this year’s budget.”

LARGE INCREASE IN SHARE OF VOTE FOR LIB DEM CANDIDATE

Commenting on the Campsie and Kirkintilloch North by-election result, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie MSP said:

“This is a great result for the Liberal Democrats. We have increased our share of the vote ten-fold since the local elections in May.

“Our superb local champion Susan Murray fought a fantastic campaign and the level of support she attracted reflects the fact she is a dedicated community campaigner.

“Liberal Democrats have local champions in communities right across Scotland and this result shows that Scottish Liberal Democrats offer something that people want.”

MP for East Dunbartonshire Jo Swinson added:

“I have known and worked with Susan for ten years and her dedication to championing the local community is hugely impressive.

“She would have been a fantastic local representative for Campsie and North Kirkintilloch. I know Susan will continue to serve the many local causes she has put so much time into with the same energy and vigour she brought to this campaign.

“Big thanks go to everyone who supported Susan and her team over the election campaign.”

And congratulations to Susan from Peter Bellarby: “A magnificent result”.

Susan Murray received 693 1st preference votes in the first round, or 25% of the vote. This is up from 2.4% of 1st preference votes in the same ward in May’s local elections.

Full results of 1st round of voting below:

Greer (Green) 65 2.3%

Hutchison (SNP) 743 26.9%

Murray (Scot Lib Dem) 693 25%

Reid (Independent) 274 9.9%

Sinclair (Con) 141 5.1%

Welsh (Lab) 851 30.8%