THE ‘GREEN credentials’ of SNP candidate Tom Wills have been called into question after he showed his support for a transition to a zero-carbon economy while also wanting the benefits from the oil and gas industry to be “maximised” for Shetland.
Wills wrote in a letter about environmental issues: “New Scottish legislation commits us to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest. But we have to do this in a way that protects jobs without undue local impacts: a just transition.
“We will need fossil fuels to make this change and as long as oil and gas extraction continues, I want to see the benefits to Shetland maximised.
“But we need to work towards a future where we are self-sufficient in clean energy and can also export clean power for the benefit of this community.”
This prompted a backlash from the Scottish Greens, who claimed Wills was being hypocritical by wanting to see oil and gas benefits maximised for Shetland.
Scottish Greens candidate Debra Nicolson said: “I’m pleased Tom Wills recognises the climate emergency, but Shetland needs to start building a sustainable future and create new jobs, not rely on a dwindling resource that is damaging the planet.
“The SNP can talk about a just transition, but they need to back it up with action. Whatever his personal values, as an SNP backbencher Tom will be whipped to vote for maximum fossil fuel extraction and continuous growth in high-carbon transport.
“If elected, I’ll push for a Scottish Green New Deal that will secure our future.”
In response, Wills said: “The Greens should pay more attention to what I have actually said.
“The oil and gas sector is a major employer here in Shetland so it’s no surprise that while extraction continues I want to see the benefits to Shetland maximised.
“We need to come up with a plan for transitioning to zero carbon in a way that protects jobs and livelihoods. The sooner and smarter we make the transition, the greater the benefits will be.
“We need to turn the skills and expertise in our energy industry to focusing on renewables, clean energy and carbon capture. My plan is to help Shetland become a global leader in the fight against climate change and kickstart a renewables boom in the isles.”
LIBERAL Democrat hopeful Beatrice Wishart said “people should not be kept in the dark” over the Scottish Government’s plans to deliver high speed broadband to every household in the country by 2021.
She echoed recent worries from Orkney MSP Liam McArthur over the apparent dropping of the target year ‘2021’ in a new update on the R100 broadband programme.
“The delivery of the R100 programme is a real concern for many of the people I have talked to in Shetland, and this publication will do nothing to reassure anyone that the broadband needs of island communities are a priority for this Government,” Wishart said.
“If, as it seems, there is going to be a significant delay, people should not be kept in the dark. Ministers have a responsibility to be accountable, and their silence is not acceptable.”
TORY candidate Brydon Goodlad has written to all of the by-election candidates to join him in signing the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation ‘Sea of Opportunity’ Brexit pledge.
The pledge supports the UK having full control of its waters, calling for this opportunity to be maximised.
Goodlad said: “The SNP and Lib Dem candidates in particular have been silent on the issue of fisheries, which is disappointing.
“I am inviting them to join me in welcoming the opportunities that awaits our fishermen once we leave the EU and are out of the hated Common Fisheries Policy.
“Surely all of us in Shetland can find common ground in supporting a brighter future for our fishing industry; a future which could generate new jobs and prosperity here in Shetland as we become an independent coastal state again.”
LABOUR candidate Johan Adamson has called for the scrapping of primary one testing in Scotland’s schools.
She said the assessments are “confused, bureaucratic, stressful for pupils and of limited diagnostic value”.
“The SNP should bring back the trusted Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy and ditch discredited testing for P1 pupils, while reviewing testing of others at P4, P7 and S3,” Adamson added.
“These tests are further evidence of bad policy making from the SNP in education at a time when we have so many other problems in schools to deal with. When it comes to education, you simply cannot trust the SNP to deliver.”
SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has called on the UK Government to prioritise protecting Scottish produce like Shetland lamb and wool post-Brexit.
He said during a visit to Shetland on Tuesday that a no-deal Brexit could leave traditional produce exposed to cheaper imports.
“The lack of clarity coming from the Tory government, who seem to view Scotland as an afterthought, will be a real cause for concern for Shetlanders,” Smith said.
“Scottish exports are at an all-time high – with world-renowned goods like Shetland wool and Scottish salmon being consumed across the globe at record levels.
“However, a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for the industry, local crofters and Shetland’s economy as a whole.”
ANTI-austerity independent candidate Ian Scott has warned voters that “words and promises come very cheaply”.
He took aim at both the Liberal Democrats and the SNP in a letter published on Tuesday, claiming that they have not kept to their word in the past.
“Our young people may well be gulled by these promises of a rosy future, motherhood and apple pie, but sadly we have heard it all before,” the Scalloway councillor said.
“And what, you may ask, do I bring to this cluttered table. As everyone is surely aware, an individual is virtually helpless in such political company. I know from my own experience in the local council, that even at that level, an individual counts for little.
“However, all is not lost, for if nothing else individual voices can be heard, not stifled and controlled by the chief whips. The one promise I will give you is that I will never lie to save my skin. I am asking you to give Holyrood a bloody nose and tell Scotland that there is an appetite for a fight.”
FELLOW independent candidate Ryan Thomson has claimed that voting again for the Lib Dems in the 29 August by-election “means absolutely nothing will change for Shetland”.
“When are the Scottish Liberal Democrats going to tell us what they would offer the people of Shetland?” the councillor said.
“So far, their message has been ‘Vote Lib Dem to keep the SNP out’.
“The Lib Dems have, however, refused to enter into any negotiations with the Scottish Government until another independence vote is ruled out. In other words, voting Lib Dem in the Shetland by-election means absolutely nothing will change for Shetland.”
There are ten candidates contesting the Shetland by-election on 29 August.
They are in alphabetical order: Johan Adamson (Scottish Labour), Brydon Goodlad (Scottish Conservatives), Stuart Martin (UKIP), Debra Nicolson (Scottish Greens), Ian Scott (independent), Michael Stout (independent), Peter Tait (independent), Ryan Thomson (independent), Tom Wills (SNP) and Beatrice Wishart (Scottish Liberal Democrats).
Read more about all ten candidates at our special Shetland by-election page at: https://www.shetnews.co.uk/category/features/election-2019/