Michael Russell MSP

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Michael Russell MSP

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  • Member for: Argyll and Bute
  • Region: Highlands and Islands
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Michael is a member of the following Committees:

Michael is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Michael Russell

Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Michael Russell

I certainly think that it would be worth while.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Michael Russell

How do you ensure that the general principles are understood as the things that people should think about, while the rest is what helps them to think about something? That does not come across in the plan; instead, what comes across is, “The general principles are great—now let’s get on to the detail on page 95.” There might be an issue with the drafting, approach or promotion that will require strong guidance if we are not to get bogged down by the infrastructure.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Michael Russell

The discussion raises considerable concerns with regard to a point that I raised earlier and which I will press a little further. Having a national marine plan is entirely commendable, useful and desirable but, when we get into the detail of what activity is being undertaken where—I am looking in particular at page 95, which Alex Fergusson referred to—and I see that we are endeavouring to give indications nationally and create regional marine plans locally, and when I hear the words “regional marine planners” mentioned, I think that we are in danger of creating a cat’s cradle of regulation and guidance. The further that gets from Government, the more restrictive it will inevitably become.

What thinking is being undertaken in the Government to ensure that the plan will be a simple framework for decision making and will not produce some unconscious move towards the accrual of all sorts of prescriptive powers that will make development, living and activity much more difficult? I say with the greatest respect that I have heard nothing today that makes me less worried about that; indeed, I have heard a great deal that makes me much more worried. As the plan moves forward, it will be important that those who are responsible for it put that point at the heart of their thinking. If they do not, their good intentions will become complex and restrictive at the local level.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Michael Russell

Will you consider listing the exemptions? If I were a developer, I would try an exemption and see what happened, so will you issue guidelines on what exemptions there might be?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Michael Russell

I want to press you on the point. My constituents, and all constituents who live in rural or island areas, will judge anything that the Government does on the basis of improvement in their lives and to where they live. There is a high level of improvement here, in the sense that it is better in marine safety and environmental terms to bury cables than to leave them unburied—although there are some issues with things such as plumes. However, that being the case, I do not see that replacing a cable that fails is going to happen any quicker.

You may not think that the generator in Bowmore is inconvenient, but I assure you that it is. I am happy to lead you to the man who lives next door to it, who found it extremely inconvenient for the six months that the process took. There was also a fear in the community that, should the generator fail, there would be no alternative supply. That would be quite a problem for an island community in the middle of a winter storm.

Can you tell me how our constituents’ lives will be improved, in relation to this or any other issue, as a result of the marine plan?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Michael Russell

You may have inadvertently made my point for me by describing that lengthy process. How will the national marine plan improve that process?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Michael Russell

Mr Palmer, you will expect me to raise the Jura cable issue with you. I do so because it is a concern that is an exemplar of the issue, and I am not reassured by what I read in the cable section of the plan.

I will explain the situation for those who are not familiar with it. The sub-marine electricity cable that feeds Jura, Islay and Colonsay and takes electricity from renewables generation failed six months ago. It has taken six months for it to be replaced because Marine Scotland’s licensing regime has been, it seems to me, confused and because SSE was not keen on burying the cable—it had never buried its previous cables—whereas the fishermen wanted parts of the cable to be buried.

That could simply be to do with the start of a new regime, but if it takes six months to replace an emergency cable, what will happen in future? This is not about high-level planning for lots of cables; it is a practical thing that needs to be done to serve communities. Paragraphs 14.4 and 14.6 onwards of the plan have tremendous high-level objectives, but they do not deal with how we go about putting a cable down below when that needs to happen quickly because people need electricity.

I would like to know your response to that, and I would like you to tell me the optimal time for getting a replacement in place through the licensing regime.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Michael Russell

We often hear concerns about clarity—indeed, we heard them in evidence just two weeks ago in other circumstances. Nobody could deny the clarity in the marine plan but, by the time that it has gone through interpretation in local authorities, let alone the iteration of 11 regional plans, a sort of cloudiness will have entered into it as a result of that interpretation by one official or another, so clarity in relation to what the minister and the Government are seeking to achieve will be diminished substantially. Is there a case for less being more in such circumstances? Could we have something that is much shorter and simpler to ensure that it is replicated on a local basis and that there is no lack of clarity about what should happen? The more words there are, the more interpretations there can be, which could create problems. I will come on to an example of that later when I ask about cables.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Michael Russell

There is no doubt that the plan is an impressive document. I have a fairly simple question, which I will put in two ways. The simplest way to put it is this: you drafted the plan, but who are you writing it for? We know why you are writing it, but I am not entirely sure who you are writing it for. To put it slightly more flippantly, in what circumstances would somebody say to themselves, “Ah, I must reach for the national marine plan”?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Michael Russell

It would be useful to draw attention to the fact that it might be helpful to consider wider issues in any covering documentation with such an SSI, such as the needs of those who grow plants.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
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NoDefeated

S4M-11901.1 Mary Scanlon: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
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YesCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11763.3 Margaret Burgess: Private Sector Rent Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-11763 in the
>> Show more
YesCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Michael Russell
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11934: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11924: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11839: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11804: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11304.3: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10645: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10643: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07108: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/06/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06843.2: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06059: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/03/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Michael Russell
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-23731: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23732: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23729: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23730: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23726: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23728: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23727: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23709: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23708: Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S1W-34790: Michael Russell, South of Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/03/2003 Show Full Question >>

Further information

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