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In brief – 5 February, 2010

MP pays back excess expenses

NORTHERN isles MP Alistair Carmichael has been ordered to pay back nearly £500 in expenses to which he was not entitled, it emerged yesterday (Thursday).

Following the investigation into MPs expenses by Sir Thomas Legge following revelations in the Daily Telegraph, nearly half of the country’s MPs have been told to pay back money.

The £480 Mr Carmichael must return is for duplicate payments of telephone bills and TV Licences, an unauthorised legal bill for non payment of council tax and service charges in 2007 and 2008.

The MP said the overpayments were entirely due to mistakes on his part, which he described as “unfortunate” and “embarrassing”.

“As far as I am concerned that is the matter now done and dusted, but anybody who ever wants to talk to me about it again is more than welcome to do so,” he said.



SHETLAND does not feature in a report on building the manufacturing and operational base for offshore renewable energy in Scotland over the next 10 years.

The National Renewables Infrastructure Plan drawn up Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise proposes 11 centres for the manufacture and maintenance of wind turbines and marine devices at Leith, Dundee, Nigg, Methil, Aberdeen, Hunterston, Arnish, Cambeltown, Ardersier, Peterhead and Kishorn.

Orkney is regarded as the focal point for tidal and wave developments.

The government believes there is business worth up to £18 billion over the next decade in Scotland in the offshore renewables sector, with a target of 30 gigawatts to be generated off the UK coast.


Locator beacon

PERSONAL locator beacons are to be reintroduced on helicopter flights in the North Sea, industry body Oil & Gas UK announced yesterday (Thursday).

The Sea Marshall AU9-HT safety beacons are being brought back after a major technical operation following safety concerns.

The beacons will be introduced in Aberdeen on Monday, in the southern North Sea the following week and finally at Scatsta airport the week after that.


Planning simplified

THE SCOTTISH government is trying to simplify the planning process by replacing 17 policies with a single document that is easier to understand.

The document covers housing, wind farms, flooding and the natural and built environment. A circular also updates guidance on sorting out planning arguments.

Infrastructure minister Stewart Stevenson said: “By consolidating planning policies into one, single document, we are providing a shorter, clearer and more focused statement of national planning policy. And our new circular spells out the importance of speeding up the planning agreements process, enabling swifter issuing of planning permission.”