28 June 2012

(S4O-01182) Raptor Populations

Alex Johnstone (North East Scotland) (Con): 4. To ask the Scottish Executive how it assesses the population of raptor species across Scotland and how this information is recorded and published. (S4O-01182)

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): Information on the number and breeding performance of the 19 species of raptor and owl that regularly breed in Scotland is co-ordinated annually by Scottish Natural Heritage and collated under the Scottish raptor monitoring scheme. There is a link to the information from the SRMS on the Scottish Natural Heritage website.

Alex Johnstone: I thank the minister for that answer and for the written answer that I received yesterday on a related subject. The minister will be aware that there is a growing number of reports of attacks by large avian predators on livestock. That was brought home to me by a constituent, Mrs Moyra Gray of Glendye, who successfully filmed a golden eagle attacking a lamb—although, happily, the attack was fought off by a particularly vociferous blackface ewe. Will the minister give an undertaking that, in what is a difficult situation, he will ensure that there is accurate and independent recording of populations of large avian predators and of reports of attacks on livestock to ensure that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we begin to address the issue of how farmers might be appropriately compensated for what I believe are increasing losses?

Stewart Stevenson: I take the member’s general point that any actions that Government takes should be evidence based. No one would disagree with that. We certainly want to understand the nature of the issue. It was interesting that, yesterday, a film was released of a buzzard taking an osprey chick, which shows that sometimes there are issues between raptor species and not simply issues for animals for which humans are responsible. I am certainly always interested to have more information so that we can better inform our decisions.

14 June 2012

(S4O-01138) Water Framework Directive

Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP): 10. To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making towards meeting the goals of the water framework directive. (S4O-01138)

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): The directive requires member states to have river basin management plans to manage the water environment. We are halfway through the first cycle of producing plans and 63 per cent of Scotland’s water bodies are at “good” status or better.

Nigel Don: I welcome the progress that has been made. How will improving water be considered in the context of the review of spending priorities for the Scottish rural development programme?

Stewart Stevenson: Improving water quality is one of the key objectives for the next SRDP. Water policy officials are fully engaged in the development process to ensure that we deliver on improving Scotland’s water quality objectives.

(S4O-01137) Seafield Waste Water Treatment Works

Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (Lab): 9. To ask the Scottish Government how many complaints were made about the Seafield waste water treatment works in the monitoring year following completion of the odour improvement plan. (S4O-01137)

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): In the monitoring year that ended on 1 June 2012, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency received one complaint, Scottish Water received 21 complaints and City of Edinburgh Council received 243 complaints. Many complaints related to a specific incident in March, in relation to which remedial measures have been put in place.

Malcolm Chisholm: Given the large number of complaints, despite the fact that option A in the odour improvement plan was supposed to take more than 90 per cent of the local community out of the odour zone, and given the particular failure of option A to deal with peaks of solid effluent coming into the plant, does the Government accept that further investment will be required, and is it ready to take account of that in future financial allocations to Scottish Water?

Stewart Stevenson: Scottish Water has been receiving some £110 million each year, which is a substantial investment. The most recent odour problems have been caused by a winter that was substantially drier than normal, which led to a build-up. A specific issue to do with incorrect storage of sludge in contravention of the site’s odour management plan has been addressed.

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