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  1. #21
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    http://www.fishupdate.com/news/fulls...sultation.html

    SNH launch Sound of Barra SAC consultation

    A 12-week consultation exercise started on Friday (16 September) on a proposal to designate a marine area off the west coast of Scotland as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

    The location within the Sound of Barra has been proposed for its qualifying features of reefs, subtidal sandbanks and common (harbour) seal.

    The Scottish Government has asked Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to carry out the consultation. This provides anyone with an interest the chance to comment on the scientific justification for the proposed designation. SNH will also collate views on social and economic aspects, which can be used to inform any future management proposals. The final decision on designation of the proposed SAC lies with the Scottish Government.

    SNH will hold two public meetings in the Outer Hebrides as part of the consultation process. The first takes place at Castlebay Hall, Barra, at 7:30pm on 3 October; the second public meeting will be held at Eriskay Hall, South Uist, at 7:30pm on 4 October.

    David Maclennan, SNH's Hebrides' manager, said: "We are committed to the consultation process we are carrying out on behalf of the Scottish Government.

    "I would therefore urge everyone with an interest to either attend the meetings or take part in the consultation by contacting the local office or responding to the consultation e-mail at sound-of-barra-consultation@snh.gov.uk. "

    "There are obviously concerns which have been expressed in some areas, and we would urge those who may have opposing views to take part in the consultation process. The boundary of the recent East Mingulay SAC was changed after meetings between fisherman, Marine Scotland and ourselves, and this shows that consultation and a frank exchange of views can lead to significant and positive changes."

    Details on the consultation and of the proposed SAC are available on SNH's website at http://www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-sco...ound-of-barra/, 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. SNH will gather responses from a variety of sources including letters and emails and report the findings to Ministers following the consultation.

    Another sham "consultation" that will leave the fishermen ignored and forced out of the area, Davie

  2. #22
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    http://www.fishnewseu.com/latest-new...ign-group.html

    Petition setback for Hebrides campaign group

    Wednesday, 21 December 2011 11:14

    A PETITION calling for an investigation into procedures used by bureaucrats to select and designate marine Special Areas of Conservation in the Hebrides has been rejected by the Scottish Parliament.

    Barra-based group SHAMED - Southern Hebrides Against Marine Environmental Designations - has been opposing plans for conservation sites in the waters of the Southern Hebrides. In November 2008 members of the community joined to fight Scottish Natural Heritage’s proposals to designate the Sound of Barra and East Mingulay as SACs.

    Two petitions were set up locally asking the Scottish Government to abandon its plans and the proposals were also condemned at public meetings hosted in Barra and Eriskay by Scottish Natural Heritage earlier this year. Last month SHAMED submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament asking for an enquiry into the way in which SNH and Scottish Government officials went about selecting and progressing the sites up to the point of public consultation.

    The Public Petitions Committee has now declared the nature of SHAMED’s petition outside its remit as it cannot set up investigations, nor “intervene in the operational decisions of another public body such as Scottish National Heritage”.

    The Assistant Clerk’s letter ends by stating: “The role of the Parliament as a whole is to hold the Scottish Government to account with regards to its policies and guidance.”

    Angus MacLeod, SHAMED’s chairman, said: “Although it is a major disappointment and setback to receive an outright rejection from the Public Petitions Committee, the response is not altogether unexpected. We spent a lot of time drafting our text, knowing that it was not going to be easy to comply with the committee guidelines in view of what we were looking for.

    “However, we will now work on submitting a new petition as we are sure that this is a matter in principle for the Scottish Parliament. Our petition specifically requested an investigation into the conduct and actions of the bureaucrats at SNH and Marine Scotland, the very people who carry out the policies of the parliament. As far as the process for designating Special Areas of Conservation is concerned, there is absolutely no public scrutiny of the way in which policies are being implemented by these organisations until it is too late for the public to call a halt. Basically, the implementation of the Habitats Directive is designed to keep democratic scrutiny out.”

    Current petitions listed on the Scottish Parliament’s website include pleas for the Scottish Parliament to promote policies to encourage the growing of fruit trees in school playgrounds and to prevent the inbreeding of Staffordshire bull terriers.

    “These petitions reflect the concerns of members of the public elsewhere in Scotland and we're glad to see that the Public Petitions Committee is able to give them a fair hearing,” said MacLeod. “However, we are in the unfortunate position in this community of fighting against something that the politicians locally and nationally find immensely embarrassing: we want to reject European conservation designations because they will have a dramatically negative effect on the current and future economic prospects of this area. But conservation, as far as the politicians are concerned, is a vote winner. No party wants to go up against the green vote.”

  3. #23
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    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotlan...lands-16908063

    Clan chief speaks out in Barra conservation area row

    A clan chief has accused ministers and Scottish Natural Heritage of ignoring concerns about a proposed marine special area of conservation (SAC).

    The Sound of Barra SAC would give protection to habitats and species such as harbour seals and seagrass.

    Rory MacNeil, chief of Clan MacNeil of Barra, said locals had worked with the environment for hundreds of years.

    The Scottish government said there has been consultation about the proposed SAC and no decisions have been taken.

    Islanders have raised concerns that the designation would restrict access to fisheries and damage the Western Isles' economy.

    Western Isles SNP MSP and Minister for Gaelic, Alasdair Allan, said opposition to the SAC would be made "very clear" at a Holyrood debate on Wednesday.

    Mr MacNeil, a venture capitalist based in Edinburgh, told BBC Alba that the SNP had followed a previous Labour government in proposing the SAC.

    But he said: "I don't think it has anything to do with if it is the SNP or Labour.

    "The fundamental issue is the same - they are not listening to the people in the area, the people who have been living very happily with the environment for hundreds of years.

    "They are not respecting their ability to take care of the environment.

    "Instead both Labour and SNP governments have decided to let a bureaucratic entity run wild and in effect upset what is a very natural existing system."

    Mr MacNeil became clan chief in 2010 following the death of his father Iain MacNeil, who was 80. The late Mr MacNeil taught a young Barack Obama a course on contract law while a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.

    'Caused grievance'

    Ahead of Wednesday's debate in the Scottish Parliament, the Conservatives and Labour have put forward motions against the designation.

    The motions have support from Liberal Democrats and independents.

    Mr Allan said he would be making clear his opposition to the designation during Wednesday's debate.

    He said: "The whole process around these designations, which exist under the European Habitats Directive, has clearly caused grievance in Barra.

    "The process legally excludes the community from having anything other than scientific arguments considered - meaning the whole argument about the fragility of the island economy is sidelined.

    "I believe more recognition needs to be given to the fact that the Western Isles has the environment it does because generations of islanders have used it responsibly."

    He added: "For over three years I have been arguing as local MSP that the designation serves no useful purpose but has caused real anxiety locally."

  4. #24
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    http://www.fishnewseu.com/latest-new...demnation.html

    Barra SAC gets cross-party condemnation

    Monday, 06 February 2012 12:10

    ON February 8 Jamie McGrigor’s motion opposing the designation of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in the Sound of Barra will be heard in the Scottish Parliament. The motion is supported by Liberal leader Willie Rennie and independent MSP Margo MacDonald. Last week, Rhoda Grant, Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, lodged a motion with Holyrood, calling on the Scottish Government to halt the designation until further information can be given, including the possible socio-economic impact any designation would have.

    SHAMED (Southern Hebrides Against Environmental Designations) will hold a demonstration outside the Parliament on the 8th. Angus MacLeod, the organisation’s chairman, will lead members of the local communities which will be affected by the proposed designation – including children from the communities whose future is being put at risk, and representatives of Scottish fishing groups – in the protest. The centrepiece of the protest will be a large banner showing hand-prints of many of the island’s children who are in opposition to the SAC.

    The cross-party Parliamentary motions follow opposition to the proposed designation from the Comharlie nan Eilean Siar and 31 individual councillors, as well as many individuals and scientific bodies. Angus Campbell, Convener of the Council, said the show of unity: "demonstrates the strength of feeling across the Outer Hebrides to this unwanted and potentially economically devastating designation. It would appear that Scottish Natural Heritage have been highly selective and arbitrary in choosing the Sound of Barra. It is nothing short of scandalous that the views of our community, our economic representative bodies, and that of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, can be ignored and that these unwanted, unnecessary and highly-damaging designations can be foisted on our community against their express will."

    The proposed conservation area accounts for some of the most productive shellfish grounds around the Western Isles, which provide long-term employment for the crews of over 25 locally-based vessels, employing 50 fishermen who have pioneered self-introduced conservation schemes to help preserve the future of these traditional fishing grounds.

    Four local companies – Aurora Shellfish, Kilbride Shellfish, Barratlantic and Kallin Shellfish – are also dependent on shellfish from this area. These provide work for 60 employees in the processing sector, plus additional spin-off jobs for haulage and engineering services. The area also holds great potential for offshore wind and wave energy.

    SHAMED feel that, based on SNH's “past record of bureaucratic and unsympathetic micro-management of designated areas”, the imposition of an SAC is likely to have a severe negative impact on both the community's current economic lifeblood and its future potential – offshore energy. The area also includes the famous airport beach runways, vital ferry services and sub-sea power supplies.

  5. #25
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    http://news.stv.tv/scotland/highland...-step-forward/

    Controversial plans for Barra conservation area take step forward

    A controversial proposal to create a special conservation area at the Sound of Barra has taken a step forward.

    Residents on Barra are worried about potential impact of plans to designate the area - known for their rich fishing grounds - as a special area of conservation (SAC).

    Scottish Natural Heritage is drawing up a management plan for the proposal, it has emerged.

    The Scottish Government says it expects to receive the report by the end of the summer, after which a decision will be made.

    The SAC proposal has received opposition from local residents and fishermen, all 31 councillors of Western Isles Council and more than 40 scientific bodies and personnel.

    The draft management plan will take account of local economic, social and cultural requirements.

  6. #26
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    http://www.fishnewseu.com/index.php?...tish&Itemid=54

    Barra boys fight SAC

    Monday, 27 August 2012 10:43

    THE Southern Hebrides Against Marine Environmental Designations (SHAMED) group has launched a fresh attempt to block plans for the establishment of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in the Sound of Barra.

    The organisation understands that SNH is due to send its final, post-consultation recommendations to the Government today, but feels that: “there is little doubt that SNH will be unmoved by the scientific and legal objections which were submitted to it during the course of the consultation and that they will be advising Scottish Ministers to confirm this site also.”

    Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on February 8, Environment Minister, Stewart Stevenson, explained his intentions towards the Sound of Barra and, according to SHAMED, the Minister’s key point was as follows:

    “If I designate the Sound of Barra, my objective is to do so when three conditions are fulfilled. First, I will invite local interests to participate in the development of a management plan that has the objective of protecting those interests…I am asking my officials to bring forward proposals that address the issue of management.”

    SHAMED now asks how Mr Stevenson can imply, on the one hand, that he has not yet decided to designate the Sound of Barra as an SAC when, on the other hand, he refers to setting up a management plan in order to protect it and deployment of officials to promote such a step.

    One of SHAMED’s objections to both marine SAC’s is their conviction that previous Environment Ministers, Michael Russell and Roseanna Cunningham, repeatedly stated to the public that they had not yet come to conclusions on whether to notify the sites. In private, however, they were instructing officials to progress the designations and doing so well in advance of receiving SNH’s scientific cases on which their ministerial decisions should have been based.

    Mr Stevenson is, as SHAMED sees it, similarly trying to give the impression that his final decision is still under debate. And yet his officials are currently engaged in negotiating a management structure for the Sound of Barra.

    SHAMED chairman, crofter-fisherman Angus MacLeod, said: “There are three aspects of Mr Stevenson’s statement that I want to highlight. In the first place, there is no basis in law for the Minister to attach such conditions to his decision to designate the Sound of Barra. This decision must be based on science alone, not on whether local interests agree to participate in a management plan for the site. Pre-designation discussions on management agreements are not new but, as far as I am aware, no Minister has the right to say that the decision to designate is actually dependent on them taking place.

    “Secondly, SHAMED is nevertheless of the view that for the same avoidance of doubt it is vital that we do not take up any invitation ‘to participate in the development of a management plan’. To do so could allow the Minister to say that he had fulfilled this first and most important condition. He has created the condition. If we can ensure that it remains unfulfilled, the designation cannot go ahead. ”

    SHAMED’s concern is that the meetings between officials and local interests have not been held in public. As a result, people are possibly unaware that their participation in discussion could be construed as supporting the SAC’s progress. This participation, Angus MacLeod believes, could give the Minister the green light that he is looking for.

    Mr MacLeod continued: “The third aspect concerns the definition of ‘local interests’. We are confident that no democratically elected representative or organisation in Barra and Vatersay supports the designation of an SAC in the Sound of Barra. But we are very aware that Eriskay and South Uist will also be affected by the imposition of this marine SAC or Regulatory Order and that these communities also fall within the definition of ‘local interests’.

    “I would therefore ask Storas Uibhist, the principal landowning interest in Eriskay and South Uist, to enter into this open debate. I hope they will feel able to inform us on whether they have been engaged in discussions with Government officials on the Sound of Barra SAC or RO.”

    Mr MacLeod concluded: “If this is indeed the case, it would be useful to know whether these discussions pre-date the Minister’s parliamentary statement. More importantly, it would be helpful to know whether any financial inducements have been offered by the Government in order to secure ‘local interest’ support for a management plan structure for the Sound of Barra because this helps the Minister to fulfil his first condition.

    “If that is the case – but I sincerely hope it isn’t – I believe it will strengthen the arguments we have put together in order to mount a legal challenge against the imposition of the marine SAC’s at East Mingulay and Sound of Barra.”

  7. #27
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    http://www.fishnewseu.com/index.php?...tish&Itemid=54

    SAC allegations refuted

    Tuesday, 28 August 2012 10:34

    THE chief executive of StÚras Uibhist, Huw Francis, has denied allegations made by SHAMED campaigners that the island’s council has been in cahoots with the Scottish Government over the latter’s attempts to create a marine SAC in the Sound of Barra.

    In an open letter addressed to SHAMED campaigner Angus MacLeod, dated August 27, he wrote:

    Dear Mr MacLeod,

    It was unfortunate that you did not speak with StÚras Uibhist in advance of issuing your press release which seemed to go so far as to imply StÚras Uibhist was holding secret discussions with Scottish Government and seeking financial inducements to support the proposed Sound of Barra SAC.

    The Board of StÚras Uibhist met with an SNH representative on November 10th 2011 to fully understand the Government proposals for the SAC.

    StÚras Uibhist then held an open meeting for the community on November 15th 2011 and met with fishermen and others with an interest in the pSAC from Grimsay, South Uist and Eriskay to discuss how StÚras Uibhist should respond to the consultation on the pSAC.

    The November 10th meeting with SNH was reported to those attending the meeting of November 15th and the information from SNH was shared with those present.

    StÚras Uibhist subsequently made a submission to SNH on the proposed SAC. The submission of December 8th 2011 was strongly against the approval of the SAC and reflected the views of the people who attended the open meeting held by StÚras Uibhist, and had the support of the local fishing community.

    As you are aware, an official from Marine Scotland then visited Uist and Barra in April 2012 and met with a number of people to discuss a proposed ‘Management Plan’. StÚras Uibhist met with the official on April 24th and this meeting was reported to our Members at the AGM in June 2012.

    All of the above meetings and the submission to SNH were reported to our Members and recorded in the published minutes of the StÚras Uibhist Board Meetings. No ‘inducements’ have been offered to, or accepted by, StÚras Uibhist to support the pSAC.

    StÚras Uibhist also met with Stewart Stevenson during his well-publicised recent tour of the islands in August, as did many other organisations. StÚras Uibhist took the opportunity to raise a number of issues with the Minister during that meeting, including, crofting development, land drainage, coastal protection and goose management. Whilst we also took the opportunity to press for improved ferry services for all island communities, we certainly did not come to an accommodation on the pSAC.

    The implications in your press release are untrue and unhelpful to addressing the very real challenge faced by our communities of protecting the fishing grounds for fishermen from both sides of the Sound of Barra, and we trust they will not be repeated.

  8. #28
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    http://www.fishupdate.com/news/fulls..._proposed.html

    Five new Scottish offshore Special Areas of Conservation proposed



    The Scottish Government has submitted proposals to the EU that include plans for Europe’s largest marine area of nature conservation in waters west of Scotland.

    The designation of Hatton Bank as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), located approximately 500 km west of Lewis, would cover an area of 15,694 square kilometres – more than 10 times the size of Fife.

    Hatton Bank would form part of a package of five new SACs in offshore waters to the west and north of Scotland. The new sites would collectively cover an area larger than the entire Highlands region and contribute to the Marine Protected Areas network, an EU requirement under the Habitats Directive.

    The five SACs proposed for designation are:
    • Hatton Bank in the North East Atlantic: a volcanic bank that stretches almost 500 km and up to 1,000 m in depth and is home to a wide variety of soft and hard corals
    • Anton Dohrn Seamount, 200 km West of Scotland: a former volcano with steep cliffs descending 2,400m, which includes cold-water coral reefs and is a hotbed for marine biodiversity
    • East Rockall Bank, 320 km west of Scotland: a stony reef with steep canyons descending more than 1,000 metres, which supports rare sea slug, sponges and lace corals
    • Pobie Bank Reef, 20 km east of Shetland: a stony and bedrock reef that supports many species, including cup corals and a unique sponge only found on the reef
    • Solan Bank Reef, 50 km north of Cape Wrath: an ecosystem supporting many corals, sponges and brittlestars

    Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said: “Scotland’s seas provide rich and diverse ecosystems that are home to a wide array of plants and animals, including internationally important species. It’s our duty to protect this precious environment and these five SAC designations are a big step towards our commitments under the international Marine Protected Area networks.

    “The Scottish Government and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee has carried out extensive and productive engagement with stakeholders – including the fishing industry – before these proposals were submitted.

    “We are fully committed to getting the balance right between marine conservation and use of the seas to support economic growth. We will continue dialogue with stakeholders to ensure that any future management measures are well designed and appropriate.

    “Underwater landscapes such as Hatton Bank and Anton Dohrn are stunning and unique places, with dramatic crevasses and reefs that are home to thousands of species. We need to ensure these sites are protected for the benefit of both the marine environment and future generations.”

    Marcus Yeo, Chief Executive of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, the UK’s statutory nature conservation body, said: “This landmark submission of marine SACs means that over a twelfth of UK seas are now within Marine Protected Areas and is a major step forwards in the conservation of our precious sea life.

    “These sites will protect substantial areas of colourful bedrock, stony and cold water coral reefs. People think that coral reefs are only found in exotic, tropical locations and don’t realise that we have these fragile habitats right here on our doorstep as well.”

    The EC Habitats Directive aims to conserve natural flora and fauna across the European Community. One of the measures to achieve this is by establishing the Natura 2000 network of Special Areas of Conservation sites for rare, endangered, vulnerable or endemic species. Find out more at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/En...edareas/NATURA

  9. #29
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    http://www.fishnewseu.com/index.php?...tish&Itemid=54

    Boundary dispute over SACs

    Friday, 02 November 2012 14:28

    THE chief executive of the Scottish Fishermenís Federation has claimed that, despite general consensus between fishermen and the Scottish government over the proposed marine SACs, some of the boundaries have been poorly drawn up.

    Speaking today, Bertie Armstrong said: ďThe Scottish Fishermen's Federation has participated fully in the workshops and discussions leading to the submission of these Special Areas of Conservation.

    ďThe very fact that these special marine features are still there highlights the fact that interaction with fishing has not been a problem. We support the process of sensible protection and as the principal stakeholder will always continue to engage in the process.

    ďHowever, in some of the areas, particularly the East Rockall Bank, the boundaries are incorrect, despite the fishing industry supplying precise, detailed and verifiable information on where the features to be protected actually are. This has led to the inclusion in the Government proposal of areas where there are no notable marine features.

    ďThis is a disappointing element of the outcome, but the crunch time for us will come when practical management measures and restrictions are set. The Cabinet Secretary has promised stakeholder involvement Ė we will be looking for protection of features to stand alongside proper protection of sustainable production of food from the sea.Ē

  10. #30
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    http://www.fishupdate.com/news/fulls...servation.html

    SFF comment on Scottish government announcement on proposals for Special Areas of Conservation



    Commenting on the announcement by the Scottish Government on Friday November 2 that it has submitted proposals to the EU for five new Special Areas of Conservation.

    Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “The Scottish Fishermen's Federation has participated fully in the workshops and discussions leading to the submission of these Special Areas of Conservation.

    “The very fact that these special marine features are still there highlights the fact that interaction with fishing has not been a problem. We support the process of sensible protection and as the principal stakeholder will always continue to engage in the process.

    “However, in some of the areas, particularly the East Rockall Bank, the boundaries are incorrect, despite the fishing industry supplying precise, detailed and verifiable information on where the features to be protected actually are. This has led to the inclusion in the Government proposal of areas where there are no notable marine features.

    “This is a disappointing element of the outcome, but the crunch time for us will come when practical management measures and restrictions are set. The Cabinet Secretary has promised stakeholder involvement - we will be looking for protection of features to stand alongside proper protection of sustainable production of food from the sea.”

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