Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has called on Argyll & Bute Council to show “urgency and intelligence” in tackling the issue of depopulation and has called for some “big thinking” on infrastructure, backing the work of a group in Dunoon which has been investigating a fixed link between Cowal and the central belt.

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Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has raised the plight of local dairy farmers in the Scottish Parliament and obtained a commitment from Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, to meet with them and to intervene with the banks to seek support for the local dairy industry.


Mr Russell was also very critical of First Milk, which has cut the price per litre to its 51 suppliers in Argyll and Bute by 12.5 pence a litre since June.  On the 1st of February 2015, those under contract to First Milk will be receiving five and a half pence per litre less than the next lowest price from a milk company, and seven pence less than the very lowest cost of production.

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Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has secured a Topical Question in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday) about the First Milk crisis which is affecting over 50 dairy farmers in the Argyll & Bute Constituency.

Mr Russell will ask the Scottish Government “what action it is taking to assist dairy farmers contracted to First Milk who have been notified over the weekend of a further reduction in price and the postponement of payments due?”

Mr Russell said: “I have been contacted by a number of dairy farmers over the past few months who are in grave difficulty but developments in the last few days have made their situation even worse.

There is an overall problem in the dairy industry with an over supply of milk internationally but for First Milk contracted supplier things are even worse The price they are getting has fallen by 14 pence per litre since the 1st June which has resulted in over £6 million coming out of the Argyll & Bute rural economy. This loss is clearly not sustainable and if the situation is not rectified then dairy farming in Bute and Kintyre where 51 farmers have First Milk contracts will be a thing of the past.

I know that Richard Lochhead is very concerned about the problem but this weekend’s developments including todays postponement of payments due for a further fortnight have created a full blown crisis and those contracted to First Milk need help as a matter of urgency.”

A series of drop-in events is being held across Scotland to share information about Marine Scotland’s consultation on statutory management measures for Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas and Special Areas of Conservation. The consultation is seeking views on possible management approaches which may be implemented for protected areas in Mull waters, and elsewhere around Scotland.

This is an opportunity to share your views, from a local or national perspective, directly with Marine Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage representatives and to help decide how protected areas are managed in the future.

Tobermory Drop-in Event:

Thursday 15th January 3pm to 9pm
Tobermory Harbour Building

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell has released a letter he has written to Argyll & Bute Council Leader Dick Walsh asking him to refer the refusal of a discount for the sale of Castle Toward back to a Council committee on the grounds that the original motion proposed by Council Deputy Leader Ellen Morton and supported by Cllr Walsh was incompetent and should have been ruled out of order.
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Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has expressed his concern about the speed of reaction to the break in the Jura electricity cable after it took six months to have the connection restored.

Questioning Scottish Government officials at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament Rural Affairs and Environment Committee discussing the Scottish Government’s draft Marine Plan, Mr Russell drew attention to the break in the cable and asked senior officials if the plan would have led to a faster response from any of the agencies involved. However although the officials claimed that the process of issuing a licence for replacement would be better understood as a result of the publication of the Marine Plan they failed to indicate that any delay would be reduced or eliminated.
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There is a traditional toast to “the year that’s awa” and looking back 2014 was a momentous, action packed year in Argyll & Bute and across the country with the independence referendum, the Commonwealth Games, and many Homecoming events.

I have been in every part of this very large and diverse constituency over the past 12 months and I have found an overwhelming sense of optimism about the future. Argyll & Bute is a good place to live and work but we could make it even better in 2015.
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