Tuesday, 26 April 2016 05:05

SWINNEY sets course on food & drink and community energy

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 Deputy First Minister John Swinney has set out the SNP’s plans to place food and drink production and community energy at the heart of his party’s ambition for rural Scotland if re-elected to government on 5th May.

 On a campaign visit to Pulteney Distillery in Wick, with Caithness, Sutherland and Ross constituency candidate Gail Ross, John Swinney has highlighted the party’s focus on supporting food and drink producers and building on its success in growing exports over the next parliament. The distillery has received international acclaim with their ‘1989 Vintage’ whisky recently declared the best single malt in the world.
 Mr Swinney, who serves as the SNP’s Holyrood campaign director, also visited the nearby Wick Harbour Trust to hear about diversification plans for the harbour, to better support development of offshore renewables in the North of Scotland.  
 A pledge to build and support a thriving rural Scotland forms a key component of the SNP’s manifesto launched last week – with particular focus on creating opportunities for young people across a range of industries, including food and drink and renewable energy. John Swinney has today emphasised that only by voting Nicola Sturgeon for First Minister can all of Scotland’s diverse communities realise the benefits of the SNP’s empowering and transformative plans.
 If re-elected, the SNP has pledged to support rural Scotland’s food and drink sector by:

  • Implementing the Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan, to further increase the value of food and drink to our economy by targeting key markets
  • Using upcoming CAP negotiations in 2017 to focus on getting a fairer return for producers in the food and drink industry
  • Creating a £5 million fund to promote regional and island food and drink brands

 Building on significant progress in community energy, the SNP will:

  • Deliver 1 GW of community and locally owned energy by 2020, growing to 2 GW by 2030
  • Explore the potential of a government owned energy company to boost growth of local energy projects, to realise greater community benefit from renewables
  • Further commit to meeting 100% of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020

 Commenting, John Swinney said:
 “The SNP will always stand up for the interests of rural Scotland, supporting the people who live and work here and creating opportunities for communities to thrive.  
 “We have seen food and drink exports rocket in recent years and recognise that there’s still huge global appetite for Scottish produce. In our manifesto, we set out plans to further increase the value of this multibillion pound sector to our economy – by targeting key markets such as North American and Asia.
 “By investing £5 million in promoting regional brands we will help local food and drink flourish, and as we approach crucial talks over the future of CAP support next year we will make it a priority to secure a fairer return for Scotland’s farmers.
 “Last year Scotland powered through our ambitious targets on energy, achieving 57.7% of electricity from renewables in 2015. The SNP is upping that ambition to 100% of our electricity from renewables by 2020.
 “Communities across Scotland should form the foundation of our renewables revolution – that’s why we’ve committed to producing one gigawatt of our power from community and locally owned sources by 2020, and doubling that amount by 2030.
 “No other party can match the SNP’s vision to keep rural Scotland moving forward and we have the only credible candidate for First Minister in Nicola Sturgeon. The only way to ensure that we can deliver our bold, ambitious and transformative vision for Scotland’s communities in the years to come is by using both votes for the SNP on May 5th.”