Since my last column, I’ve had the pleasure of attending local agricultural shows in New Deer and Turriff
These shows are always a highlight of the agricultural and rural social calendar and all my life I have been a regular attendee to Turriff Show in particular.
I’ve said this so many times in the last couple of years but it has been so good to be out and about meeting people face to face again since the lockdown that was caused by Covid-19.
Without a doubt, the most common topic that came up at the recent Turriff Show was the news that Virgin Money bank branches in Turriff and Ellon are to close in November.
That customers first heard this news on social media before being contacted by the bank is nothing short of a disgrace.
The news first came out on Friday 21 July, with most customers not receiving a letter from Virgin Money until the following Wednesday and Thursday.
I met with senior Virgin Money staff last week and expressed the concerns raised by my constituents – including the loss of a valuable local service on which many people depend.
I was pleased to learn that of the sixteen members of staff affected, there was to be no enforced redundancies.
But that doesn’t make the impact on customers any less disappointing.
A public meeting on the matter has also been arranged at the Royal British Legion in Turriff, 6:30pm for 7pm, on Wednesday 10 August.
It won’t have gone unnoticed that Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, paid a visit to my constituency last week.
I joined him at the St Fergus Gas Terminal as part of the announcement that the Acorn Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) Project was selected as one of the four CCUS clusters across the UK to be operational by 2030.
This announcement comes from an ongoing commitment by the UK Government to deliver 20 to 30 Megatonnes of carbon capture by the end of the decade.
Acorn, as part of what is known as the ‘Scottish Cluster’ was previously announced as the reserve cluster to the two sites – in north west and north east England, which were announced in Track-1 of the cluster sequencing.
Along with Acorn, another cluster – Viking – in south Humberside was selected as part of Track-2 of the sequencing.
Meanwhile, local SNP politicians have repeatedly and deliberately misrepresented this sequencing approach – intended to ensure that the largest quantity of carbon emissions are captured at the soonest opportunity – claiming that somehow, ‘Scotland was snubbed/ignored/abandoned’ for their own narrow political point-scoring purposes.
The truth is work on the Acorn Project has never stopped.
It was always a question of when, not if, this announcement would come.
And this news isn’t the end of the process either, which is why I look forward to continuing to work with the project team and UK Government ministers to support Acorn’s ongoing development.
Unlike the SNP who continue to talk down this fantastic project and the great opportunity for the area that it presents.