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  1. #11
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    Default SNH urges fishermen to participate in SAC consultations

    http://www.fishnewseu.com/latest-new...ultations.html

    Quote Originally Posted by fishnewseu
    Thursday, 25 November 2010 11:53

    SCOTTISH Natural Heritage (SNH) is offering reassurances over its role in marine environmental designations and how these relate to local fishing interests.

    The move follows recent claims made in relation to a proposed marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC) around 13 kilometres east of Mingulay in the Western Isles. There are concerns locally that fishing could be affected.

    However, it is understood that the vast majority of current fishing activity in the area poses no threat to the Mingulay reefs, and therefore should not be affected. Also the most effective way to influence the future of the designation is to take part in the public consultation currently underway.

    David Donnan, senior fisheries advisor with SNH, said: "There are currently 34 marine SACs in Scottish waters and just two - the Firth of Lorn and Loch Creran SACs - have specific fishery orders in place. We understand that the majority of fishing in the vicinity of the proposed Mingulay SAC actually occurs outside the proposed boundary, and will therefore remain unaffected.

    "The key point for us is that if fishing is not a risk to the reef habitat there is no problem. We would like to have open discussions with fishing interests to confirm our understanding of fishing activity there so we can strike the right balance between conservation and fishing activity."

    The East Mingulay reefs is home to the only known example of coldwater coral reef in Scottish territorial waters. A new species of sponge, Cliona caledoniae, was identified there in 2009.

    David Maclennan, SNH area manager in the Western Isles, explained: "The Mingulay SAC is proposed primarily to recognise and protect rare coral reef habitat. Our understanding is that local fishermen avoid fishing this area due to the risks to their gear."

    The East Mingulay SAC was proposed to help the Government meet its European obligation to recognise and protect specified rare and vulnerable species and habitats. Last week SNH began a formal consultation on the proposals on behalf of the Scottish Government.

    A series of drop-in sessions throughout the Western Isles are planned to allow people to find out more about the proposals and to express any concerns they may have. One session took place in South Uist last week. The event planned for Barra had to be cancelled due to adverse weather, but another will be organised in the next couple of weeks.

    David Maclennan added: "We would urge people to come along to the drop-in sessions if they can, or give us a call if they have any questions about the proposal.

    "We are carrying out this consultation on behalf of Scottish Ministers. It is a genuine opportunity for people to comment on the scientific justification for the SAC and on the social and economic aspects of designation. It is our duty to report back to Ministers at the end of the consultation with details of all submissions we receive. Ministers can then decide whether or not to confirm the site."
    Details of the proposed SAC at Mingulay are available on SNH's website, and in paper form from SNH's office in Stilligarry, South Uist. Local staff will be available to discuss the proposals during the consultation period. They will gather responses from a variety of sources including letters and emails and report the findings to Ministers following the consultation.

  2. #12
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    Default SHAMED request formal public meeting on East Mingulay SAC

    http://www.fishnewseu.com/latest-new...gulay-sac.html

    Quote Originally Posted by fishnewseu
    Wednesday, 08 December 2010 11:46

    A GROUPING formed in opposition to the proposed designation of East Mingulay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is calling for open public meeting with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

    SHAMED – Southern Hebrides Against marine Environmental Designations – says that while SNH are now to hold a surgery drop-in session as their effort at a public consultation, the communities of the Southern Isles have shown strong support in many forms for the campaign against these designations and deserve better than these informal chats.

    Chairman of SHAMED, Angus MacLeod explained: “Many people require questions to be answered and we request that SNH hold an open public meeting which should be chaired and minuted. We do not want a repeat of meetings in 2000-2002, when SNH went off and lied stating that there was no opposition to the Sound of Barra SAC proposal.”

    He continued: “SNH's recent offer of reassurances over its role on environmental designation will not have any standing under EU law. When an area is designated, it only takes one claim from an individual that the area may be damaged from a practice and this practice will be stopped pending research! It is then up to those being accused of damaging the habitat to prove they are causing no harm. This has been the case in Arisaig & Firth of Lorn, where shortly after the conservation areas were set up, fishing was closed.

    “If SNH were serious about discussions with fishing interests to confirm their understanding of fishing activity, they should have undertaken this before submitting their consultation document. For example, they indicate that fishing activity has already caused damage to the Mingulay reef without concrete evidence and continue to mislead Ministers and the public.

    “SNH correctly understand that the majority of fishing activity in the area poses no threat to the Mingulay reef but as we have seen in other SAC’s, the areas adjacent also come under the Habitats Directive which does not define adjacent! Satellite Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) has been used to determine the fishing activity in the area. It would appear that the reference period is very small and it does not record vessels under 15 meters and activity prior to 2005. This would hugely under-estimate the real figures of activity.

    “David MacLennan, Western Isles manager for SNH, claim that they have been clear and transparent on this issue. This is not what was displayed at a meeting in Barra Oct 2009. Prior to this meeting he was informed that the community required questions to be answered on the proposed SAC designations. At the meeting Andrew Thin, SNH chairman, stopped BBC & local cameras from recording the event and when over one hundred concerned residents attended, he stated the subject was not open for discussion. School children were given the opportunity to show their opposition to the proposals by applying their hand prints on a large banner at the community school during their lunch break. This children's "opposition" prompted a complaint to the Council’s Education Dept and Andrew Thin paying a visit to the school’s head teacher.

    “Although local politicians have given some indications of support, Angus Brendan MacNeil MP has made no comment since the decision was taken by the Minister to proceed to consultation. Alasdair Allan MSP continues to harp on about possible infraction proceedings that the EU may impose on the Scottish Government, whilst other options that would have a lesser effect on coastal communities, have not been considered. It would appear that we are being paid lip service by our elected representatives, in order to protect the SNP Government. The Isles of Barra, Eriskay & Vatersay are the only communities in the Outer Hebrides that are retaining their population. From the continuing onslaught of environmental designations that are detrimental to the economy of the West Coast, we can only conclude that SNP government are making great efforts to revive the highland clearances.”

    SNH have invited people from Barra to attend two open surgeries run by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) on Wednesday 15 December.

    The first session at Barra Learning Centre runs from 2-5pm, with the second from 7-9pm.

    The East Mingulay SAC has been proposed to help the Scottish Government meet its European obligation to recognise and protect specified rare and vulnerable species and habitats. The site has been selected for its reef habitats and is the only site in UK territorial waters that supports the coldwater coral Lophelia. SNH started the formal consultation on the proposals on behalf of the Scottish Government three weeks ago.

    David Maclennan, SNH area manager in the Western Isles, stressed: "The consultation into the proposal has been running for a few weeks now and we are keen to see as many folk from Barra as possible during these two sessions.

    "We will have SNH staff on hand to deal with questions over the two sessions and we would encourage people to get involved and come along. We are committed to ensuring that local people play their part in responding to the consultation."

    SNH will report to Ministers at the end of the consultation with details of all submissions received and it is for Ministers then to decide whether or not to confirm the site.

    Details of the proposed SAC at Mingulay are available on SNH's website, and in paper form from SNH's office in Stilligarry, South Uist. Local staff will be available to discuss the proposals during the consultation period.

  3. #13
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    Default SHAMED calls for an enquiry over East Mingulay SAC designation process

    http://www.fishnewseu.com/latest-new...n-process.html

    Wednesday, 23 February 2011 11:13

    THE pressure group, Southern Hebrides Against Marine Environmental Designations (SHAMED) has asked Scottish Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead for an enquiry into the circumstances behind what they claim has been a flawed consultation process over designation of East Mingulay as a marine Special Area of Conservation.

    Angus MacLeod, Chairman SHAMED explained at a meeting on Barra at the end of January that the group was formed in response to the announcement by SNH that the Scottish Government intended to designate the Sound of Barra and the Mingulay Reef.

    MacLeod claimed that SNH had withheld information from the group saying that their request for background correspondence was "manifestly unreasonable", given the number of documents involved and, presumably, the time and cost of fulfilling the request.

    MacLeod explained: “David MacLennan's recollection of this is different according to the letter he wrote last November. He said, ‘It is clear that at every step of the way we have, to the best of our ability, cooperated with Cllr Manford and SHAMED...’"

    “Let me say to Mr MacLennan, SNH and the Scottish Government : we still wish to see all the information going back to the year 2000 that relates to the Sound of Barra and Mingulay SACs.”

    The group also claims that the proper process for consultation and designation has not been followed.

    MacLeod said: “The proper procedure – and remember it is based on science - is that (1) SNH submits a scientific site selection document recommending the site to the Scottish Government. At that point (2) the site becomes a draftSAC. (3) Having considered the scientific evidence, the Minister moves the site to public consultation and it becomes a possible SAC.

    “We have evidence to show that things were done very differently in the Mingulay Reef case. The Scottish Government took the decision to go to consultation on Mingulay certainly by May 2008 and possibly earlier. That is at least 15 months before SNH had sent the Government the scientific case for designating both sites.

    “The Government decision to consult is supposed to be the last step not the first step in this part of the process and it should only be taken after the scientific case has been made for selecting the site. This means this Government gave an instruction to publicly consult using flawed procedures and it did not use science as the foundation of that decision.

    “At every step of the way through the consultation, Ministers, politicians and SNH have been assuring us all that no decision had been made on putting the Mingulay Reef out to public consultation and the current position as regards the Sound of Barra is that no decision has been made. But we now know that the decision to consult was taken at least 2 ½ years ago.

    “Roseanna Cunningham is worried that Scotland is going to be hit with very expensive infraction proceedings unless Mingulay is added to the Natura 2000 suite. Why then did she permit both the Sound of Barra and Mingulay sites to be specifically named at the EC Moderation Seminar in March 2009 when at that point SNH had not even officially recommended the two sites to her for designation? Or is it standard practice for chunks of the country to be bargained at EC level many months before the people who actually live and work on them are informed of what is going on?
    “Who would want their future to lie in the hands of this process? And yet, if we do not stand up and fight these designations, this is what our future will look like. We should now consider what this amount of conservation at sea will do to our community's future.”


  4. #14
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    SHAMED says Scottish Government needs to adhere to its own principles on marine SACs

    http://www.fishnewseu.com/latest-new...rine-sacs.html

    Tuesday, 01 March 2011 10:43

    THE pressure group, Southern Hebrides Against Marine Environmental Designations (SHAMED) has submitted its objection to the Scottish Government's Consultation on a possible Special Area of Conservation (pSAC) in East Mingulay.

    The consultation, run by Scottish Natural Heritage, closed for comment on 22nd Feb. SHAMED focussed on what the campaign group view as Scottish Government and SNH failure to "Adhere to the agreed UK designation process for marine SACs" and consequently a collective failure to "Consult fairly and meaningfully with the public".

    Evidence obtained by SHAMED under a Freedom of Information request revealed that the Scottish Government had asked SNH to consult on pSACs for both East Mingulay and the Sound of Barra by May 2008. That was at least 15 months prior to formally receiving scientific advice from SNH recommending both sites as SACs in Aug 2009. Since the decision-making process at all stages of SAC designation requires scientific evidence, the conclusion is that the Government's decision was procedurally flawed.

    In what can now be viewed as a process designed to deceive the public, "informal" consultation by SNH began in Aug 2008 and ended on 29th Oct 2010 when the Minister for Environment announced a formal consultation for East Mingulay (at which point the site automatically became a pSAC).

    All of the effort put in by the community during this time to try and stop designation was therefore meaningless since the Government had already made up its mind to designate both sites.

    Campaign chairman, Angus MacLeod, having participated in good faith throughout the process, feels a sense of betrayal.

    He said: "The Scottish Government and SNH gave constant assurances up to 29th October 2010 that no decisions had been made. The evidence, however, points to them having already made decisions behind closed doors and without following correct procedures. In Lewis and Harris, the Scottish National Party has quite rightly championed the views of local communities. They have done so again recently by overturning a decision by Comhairle nan Eilean to close 4 schools in these islands. The grounds for overturning the local decision were that the Comhairle's public consultation procedure was flawed."

    MacLeod added: "If the Government can reverse a decision taken by a democratically elected local authority, it can do the same on its own patch and instruct SNH - a quango of bureaucrats - to halt all progress on SACs for East Mingulay and the Sound of Barra. The grounds for doing so will resonate with the people of the Southern Isles. If any consultation process is flawed and if procedures are not correctly followed - in this case by the Government itself, then decisions should not stand."

    SHAMED argue that there is a clear alternative course laid down in procedure for the Government to take and that is to instruct SNH to find alternative sites for the habitats and species the EU requires us to protect.

    Angus MacLeod concluded: "Our MSP, Alasdair Allan, is on record as supporting the Scottish Government's decision to reverse the Comhairle's school closures. SHAMED and all the people who are opposed to SACs in our waters now look to him and his colleagues to take forward our evidence on flawed procedures and public consultation to the Government in Edinburgh.
    “We are not going to be fobbed off any more with the finger of blame for conservation designations being pointed at Europe. We are looking for action in these islands to ensure that public consultation and processes of law in all spheres of Government are adhered to, and not just in those areas where politicians feel they have the most to gain."

    Donald Crichton has supported calls by Southern Hebrides Against Marine Environmental Designations (SHAMED) for the Scottish Government to abandon plans to designate East Mingulay and the Sound of Barra as special areas of conservation. 
 
The Labour candidate for the Western Isles said that not only would the designations have a devastating impact on the local fishing industry but that the process embarked upon by the Scottish Government was flawed as campaigners against the plans had now proved.

    Mr Crichton said: " It is now very clear that while all along blaming the European Union for the designations the Government had in fact triggered a consultation process for both sites long before any scientific evidence was formally received from SNH. This indicates a determination on the part of the Government to railroad these designations through and making token gestures to the community of Barra in the form of a flawed consultation process."

    He continued: " This whole exercise has been a disaster for the Government and they should abandon it. They have lost the trust of the people of Barra who feel betrayed. I am now urging Alasdair Allan to call on Roseanna Cunningham to abandon this flawed process and take steps to meet with local campaigners immediately. They should first of all apologise to local campaigners and look at ways in which these ill conceived plans can be avoided so that the local economy is not devastated."

  5. #15
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    http://www.fishnewseu.com/latest-new...this-week.html

    Lochaber sea loch survey underway this week

    Wednesday, 03 August 2011 11:40

    EXPLORATION of Loch Linnhe and surrounding sea lochs will get underway this week to confirm the presence of some of Scotland's most important marine wildlife.

    A team of marine scientists from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and Heriot-Watt University will be surveying underwater wildlife and habitats of high conservation importance, known as priority marine features.

    Covering Loch Etive, Loch Eil and Loch Leven as well as Loch Linnhe, the aim of the survey is to update existing knowledge about marine life in the sea lochs. The findings will be used to provide advice to Government and others on conservation and development in the marine environment. Previous surveys have revealed the presence of several of the features of interest, including horse mussel beds, spiny lobsters, deep sponge communities, the northern sea fan and the rare and beautiful fireworks anemone.

    Research work carried out by Heriot-Watt University suggests that the flame shell bed in this area is possibly the biggest in UK waters.

    The survey team will cover a large area, which ranges from two to more than 200 metres deep. It will be carried out from several different research vessels - Sir John Murray, operated by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Seol Mara, operated by the Scottish Association for Marine Science and RV Serpula, operated by Heriot-Watt University. A drop-down video camera will be used to capture undersea footage, with divers carrying out detailed surveys of specific features and taking "grab" samples from the seabed for analysis.

    The Loch Linnhe survey is one of a series taking place in Scotland's seas in 2011 as part of the Scottish Marine Protected Area (MPA) Project, a joint initiative between Marine Scotland, Historic Scotland, SNH and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). Marine Scotland is funding the surveys.

    Other areas to be surveyed in 2011 include the Sound of Canna, the Minch and the Southern Trench, north of Fraserburgh and Banff.

    Colin Trigg, SNH's project manager for the survey, said: "These surveys are helping us better understand the distribution and extent of the wildlife and habitats found in the seas around Scotland. This means we can provide up-to-date information when advising Government and others on future marine developments and how best to meet our international commitments to designate a network of Marine Protected Areas."
    The survey work will take about a month. A report on the findings will be published in 2012.

  6. #16
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    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotlan...lands-14596039

    Scots ministers back East Mingulay seabed designation

    Scottish ministers have approved plans to designate an area of seabed off East Mingulay, in the Western Isles, as a Special Area of Conservation.

    The European Commission will now be asked to place it among the European Union-wide Natura network of protected areas.

    Ministers said the move would help protect a rare coral reef about eight miles (13km) out to sea.

    The plan for the designation was put out for consultation in 2010.

    Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson said the special area's proposed boundary had been "refined" following consultation.

    The islands' SNP MSP Alasdair Allan said people on Barra, close to the seabed involved, had "clearly indicated their concerns" about the designation.

    Worries had been raised about the impact on fishing.

    Mr Allan said: "My constituents have expressed their opposition to both proposed designations, which come under the European habitats legislation.

    "The campaign by people in Barra has, I hope, had an impact on some of what was announced today by the environment minister.

    "Today's announcement indicates that the East Mingulay marine Special Area of Conservation will be 8% smaller than originally proposed."

    The MSP added: "I would like to think that this reflects representations made by fishermen."

    Mr Stevenson said East Mingulay was part of Scotland's unique natural environment.

    He added: "Making fisheries management advice available at this stage provides more certainty to the local fishing industry regarding both proposals, while also making clear that creel fishing can continue in the Sound of Barra to help ensure that the local communities continue to derive economic value from the area."

  7. #17
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    Nothing like slipping something like this out on a Friday night when no one can challenge them , this will destroy a lot of the ability of the local boats there to fish and make money , yet again SNH's lies and bullshyte has been believed by our elected "members" , aye members a'right d1cks

  8. #18
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    http://www.fishnewseu.com/latest-new...d-manford.html

    Barra mSAC designations still opposed by locals say Allan and Manford

    Wednesday, 24 August 2011 11:39

    NA H-EILEANAN AN IAR MSP, Alasdair Allan, and SNP Councillor for Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay and South Uist, Donald Manford have reacted to the Scottish Government’s decision to designate a marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC) near Mingulay and to open a scientific consultation on a similar designation in the Sound of Barra.

    Dr Allan said that people in Barra had ‘clearly indicated their concerns’, and he would be seeking further information from the Government regarding these. However, he welcomed the advice to Ministers that creel fishing, amongst other things, should not be affected by any designation in the valuable fishing grounds in the Sound of Barra.

    Donald Manford said that the shocking announcement from the Minister for Environment and Climate Change is a bitter disappointment to the campaign group and the community which has to come to terms with the detrimental impact these designations inevitably have.

    Alasdair Allan said: “My constituents have expressed their opposition to both proposed designations, which come under the European habitats legislation. The campaign by people in Barra has, I hope, had an impact on some of what was announced today by the Environment Minister.

    "Today’s announcement indicates that the East Mingulay marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC) will be 8% smaller than originally proposed. I would like to think that this reflects representations made by fishermen.

    "More significantly, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have today indicated their advice to ministers on how the SAC should operate at East Mingulay. This recommends that creel fishing should only be restricted above specific reefs. Demersal trawling and dredging would be prohibited within the site boundary.

    "As local MSP, I have asked the Environment Minister to recognise that the creel fishery in east Mingulay is a valuable resource, and one which is doing no harm to habitats.

    "A scientific consultation period will now open on a possible SAC designation in the Sound of Barra. Again SNH have already offered advice to ministers about how any designation might operate.

    "They advised that there should be no impact on creel fishing. The Environment Minister has also indicated that demersal trawling and dredging could be allowed to continue if they occur away from the most sensitive areas of habitat.

    "I have asked for a meeting with the Environment Minister, Stewart Stevenson, seeking more detail about the management of the East Mingulay mSAC, now that it is going to be designated, and to continue to make clear my constituents’ opposition to a designation in the Sound of Barra."

    Donald Manford said: “Following complaints to the minister regarding SNH and Marine Scotland failing to abide by due process, withholding information and failing to provide answers to questions, the minister indicated that he would meet with the campaign group to address our concerns. It is with a deep sense of betrayal that this information is received.

    “We are now to endure a further shameless sham of consultation on the determination to designate the Sound of Barra. This is an area which contains a large fishery, a major fishery harbour and processing plant, two ferry ports, the electricity link to Barra and Vatersay and the island’s airport, with the potential to ruthlessly cripple the island’s economy and community.

    “During a time when services are being cut through lack of resources, it is an enduring scandal that ever increasing resources are being directed to designations and organisations which inflict demands and requirements that destroy enterprise and jobs.

    “What is so distressing is the remorseless attacks which makes the very environment and wildlife which is so precious to us, the symbol of tyranny.”

  9. #19
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    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotlan...medium=twitter

    Western Isles fishermen lock out invited SNH staff

    Staff from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) were invited to and then locked out of a meeting with fishermen.

    Three representatives had gone to the AGM of the Western Isles Fishermen's Association in Lochmaddy on North Uist.

    Islands fishermen have been angered by moves to designate an area of seabed as a Special Area of Conservation.

    Association members said they had decided SNH was not listening to them. SNH said it was disappointed its staff were barred from the weekend meeting.

    Last month, Scottish ministers approved plans to designate an area of seabed off East Mingulay, in the Western Isles, as a Special Area of Conservation.

    The European Commission will be asked to place it among the European Union-wide Natura network of protected areas.

    Ministers said the move would help protect a rare coral reef about eight miles (13km) out to sea.
    'Weekend plans'

    The plan for the designation was put out for consultation in 2010.

    The islands' SNP MSP Alasdair Allan said last month that people on Barra, close to the seabed involved, had "clearly indicated their concerns" about the designation.

    Worries had been raised about the impact on fishing.

    SNH said its staff were invited to attend the association meeting.

    A spokesman said: "They had changed their weekend plans to allow them to attend the meeting to deliver a presentation to the association as requested.

    "However, as they arrived the staff were informed that they could not get in.

    "We are disappointed that our staff did not have the opportunity to make a presentation, as they had been asked."

    The spokesman added: "We are committed to the consultation process and we are committed to talking to all those involved."

  10. #20
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    http://www.fishnewseu.com/latest-new...decisions.html

    SHAMED voices anger over marine SAC decisions

    Tuesday, 13 September 2011 11:09

    THE campaigning group SHAMED, which opposes plans to designate two marine SAC's in the sea east of Mingulay and in the Sound of Barra has said it is time to name and shame those who have conceded two marine Special Areas of Conservation (SAC's) in the Southern Hebrides.

    In a press statement SHAMED said that the recent announcement from Environment Minister, Stewart Stevenson, that the Government has approved a marine SAC at East Mingulay and that the site will be forwarded to the EU for approval, has prompted an angry reaction from its members.

    The Minister has also stated that proposals for the Sound of Barra will be going out to public consultation in the near future. SHAMED has noted the political statements simultaneously issued by the MP and MSP for the Western Isles alongside the Minister's announcement.

    Reacting to these statements, Angus MacLeod, chairman of SHAMED and a crofter-fisherman from Barra, said: "It is with utter disbelief that I read what Angus MacNeil MP has again been saying about EU requirements. He has been quoted as stating that once the EU 'have decided on a course of action, governments in either Edinburgh or London or their attendant civil servants are powerless to do much about it.'

    "Early in 2009, our MP issued a press release saying he was writing to the EU to demand that Brussels bureaucrats come to Barra to explain to us why the designations were needed. At the same time, our MSP went to Brussels to tell EU officials face-to-face that the designations were not wanted. Both were clearly told by the EU that the selection and designation of SAC's is up to the member states and regions within member states, a fact that was well known within the community. So, whatever spin politicians try to put on this, the decision to consult on East Mingulay and now the Sound of Barra is entirely a Scottish Government matter."

    After almost three years of research and campaigning, SHAMED says it has gained an insight into how the SAC designation process works and, thanks to information received under Freedom of Information, it can be seen that it is SNH that drives the selection process in Scotland.

    "Certainly it is true to say that the EEC Habitats Directive of 1992 compels Member States to set aside areas as SAC's but how this is handled within the UK and how UK policy affects Scotland is a local issue but one that has never been raised by our parliamentary representatives or, indeed, the Scottish Government," added Mr MacLeod.

    SHAMED says that as Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, has been prepared to speak out for Scottish fishermen and farmers at UK and EU level, they can only speculate as to why no-one in power is prepared to do the same over environmental issues.

    "It is now apparent," continued Angus Macleod, " that the SNP government has bowed to pressure from environmental lobbies, with the local MP and MSP making empty promises in the run-up to elections. Clearly their policies are no different from any previous government. Thankfully at least our local SNP councillor, Donald Manford, has the backbone to stand up and publicly voice his dissatisfaction; for this we applaud him and for giving us the proper representation that this community deserves."

    As to what the group's next steps would be, Mr MacLeod explained that SHAMED has twice been refused a meeting with Richard Lochhead but that in the Cabinet Secretary's last response, he confirmed that the Environment Minister would meet with them and that a date will be set. One of the issues for discussion with the Minister and Marine Scotland officials would have been evidence previously submitted to them showing their data on vessel activity within the Mingulay site was inaccurate.

    "We were under the impression that the Minister was to be supplied with the corrected data and that we would have had the opportunity to discuss the issues with him before he made his decision. We therefore feel betrayed by the Scottish Government for taking such a misinformed decision," added Mr MacLeod.

    He confirmed that SHAMED was stepping up its fight and that no stone would be left unturned in order to expose what the campaign group feels are the irregularities within the designation process for the two SAC's.

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