As usual a mixture of welcome and disappointing news over the last couple of weeks.
Firstly, I was delighted that, in his Budget Speech, the Chancellor committed £20 billion for carbon capture projects across the UK, in a move expected to create up to 50,000 jobs and support the UK's target to capture 20-30 million tonnes of emissions per year by 2030.
As readers will know, I have been a strong advocate for the Scottish Cluster, centred on the Acorn Project for Carbon Capture and Hydrogen at St Fergus.
Despite the SNP's attempts to talk down the project and play divisive political games, the Scottish Cluster has never actually stopped being developed and is in a good place to be operational in 2027.
The SNP also continue to repeat ‘demands’ for funding for the project from the UK Government.
They don’t seem to realise that the UK Government has already invested more than £40 million to the Scottish Cluster already.
The Scottish Government have offered £80 million that was previously ‘on the table’ but has since been withdrawn.
I continue to echo calls from industry for more certainty and a more precise timeline for award of future licences and this funding commitment is very encouraging.
The UK Government also continues to help with cost of living in this budget.
The Energy Price Guarantee, keeping bills for a typical household at £2,500 will be extended for another three months.
Costs for 4 million households on prepayment meters will be brought down to be comparable with those on direct debits.
The fuel duty freeze (including the 5p cut) has been extended to save the average car driver in the UK £200 over the next two years.
Parents on Universal Credit will be helped into work or to increase hours with support for childcare costs up front as well as an increase in maximum childcare support to £950.92 for one child and £1,630.15 for two children.
A range of other measures encouraging enterprise and employment were announced as well as a several public service improvements which, because they are devolved, will mean an additional £320 million to the Scottish Government through the Barnett Formula.
The Scottish Ambulance Service have informed me that a second ambulance at Banff is being upskilled to a full accident and emergency vehicle but is delayed due to recruitment issues.
I have therefore called for sustained and systemic action from the Scottish Government to overcome recruitment barriers and ensure ambulance services.
If anyone is interest in a career in the ambulance service, they should contact them on www.scottishambulance.com/join-our-team/
I have also written to The Scottish Government challenging them on their recent confirmation that the A90 north of Ellon will not be dualled.
This comes as a huge blow to my constituents.
This particular stretch of road is a vital commuter route as well as a busy route for commercial traffic, mainly serving Peterhead and Fraserburgh.
Unfortunately, the road is also an accident black spot – with seven fatalities and forty nine injuries in the last three years alone.
On the subject of roads, I have also sought a meeting with Aberdeenshire Council to discuss improvement plans for the A947.
This is another key strategic route in my constituency and may be a candidate for UK Government financial support, with which I am keen to help the council obtain.