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Committees Sessions 1, 2 & 3

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This page provides links to information on certain key items of business carried out by the Environment and Rural Development Committee in session 2.

Marine environment inquiry

The Committee held a short inquiry on the marine environment and considered evidence at its meetings on 9, 17 and 24 January 2007.  The Committee published a report for the inquiry on 12 March 2007.

Find out more about the inquiry on the marine environment inquiry homepage.


Sustainable development

Following the Committee's commissioned research report on sustainable development, the Committee agreed to follow up by considering how bills are assessed for their impact on sustainable development.  The Committee took evidence on this issue at its meetings on 13 December and 19 December 2006.  Committee papers and Official Reports for these meetings are available on the Committee's web pages.

Following this evidence, the Committee produced a report on its activity to date on this subject as an annexe to its legacy paper in order to assist a successor committee in deciding how to pursue this issue.


Petition PE749 by Geoffrey Kolbe, on behalf of Newcastleton and District Community Council on the spreading of sewage sludge

The Committee has considered PE749 which calls on the Parliament to seek a moratorium on the spreading of sewage sludge pending a full inquiry into its safety by a parliamentary committee and, depending on the outcome of that inquiry, as a minimum, initiate legislation at the earliest opportunity to discontinue the current exemptions for spreading sewage sludge and to ensure that it is subject to planning control, including a public local inquiry.

On 16 November 2005, the Committee agreed to defer detailed consideration of the petition until Scottish Water had published its sewage sludge disposal strategy, a draft of which was being consulted on at that time. The strategy has yet to be published. Scottish Water wrote to the Committee in February 2007, indicating that it is presently working towards business sign-off of the strategy, but giving no firm timetable for its completion and publication.

Scottish Water correspondence to the Committee (February 2007) (PDF)

Further information received from Scottish Water (17KB pdf)

The Committee has noted in its legacy paper that a successor committee may, therefore, wish to consider how this petition can be taken forward.


Petition PE799 by the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) on creating a marine protected area in Lamlash Bay, Arran

Members of the Committee undertook a factfinding trip to Lamlash Bay in August 2006.

The Committee then took evidence on the petition at its meeting on 20 September 2006 . The Committee agreed to write to the Minister for Environment and Rural Development to request that the Executive use the remainder of 2006 to establish urgent negotiations with interested parties to develop the proposal, with a view to implementing a scheme in 2007.

Further correspondence from both the Minister for Environment and Rural Development (PDF) and COAST (PDF) was considered by the Committee at its meeting on 19 December 2006. The Committee agreed to write to the Minister, welcoming the progress being made on the proposals for Lamlash Bay and noting the petitioners’ concerns regarding an application for a fishfarm development in the area. The Committee agreed to continue to monitor progress on the petition.

The Committee received a further update from the Minister (PDF) in February 2007.


Petitions PE956 and PE982 - Ship to ship transfer of oil in the Firth of Forth

The Committee considered the petitions on 19 December 2006 and agreed to take evidence from interested parties in February. The evidence session took place on 7th February 2007.  Following evidence, the Committee agreed:

• to continue to monitor progress on the proposed ship-to-ship oil transfers;

• to write to Forth Ports plc to request that it provides the Committee with a copy, when completed, of the appropriate assessment under the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 of the implications of the proposed activity for European protected sites;

• to write to the Executive to request that it keeps the Committee informed of relevant developments in connection with the proposed ship-to-ship oil transfers; and

• to consider and report on issues raised by the petitions in relation to governance and regulation of activities in the marine environment as part of its report on its marine environment inquiry.

At its meeting on 28 February 2007, the Committee considered correspondence from Mr Mark Ruskell MSP on evidence submitted by SPT Marine Services Ltd in regard to the Committee’s consideration of petitions PE956 and PE982 .


The Committee agreed:


• to write to SPT Marine Services Ltd seeking its comments on an oil spill incident in the Gulf of Mexico in 1995;
• to write to Forth Ports plc seeking clarification on whether it became aware of an oil spill incident in the Gulf of Mexico in 1995 during its research into the safety record of ship-to-ship transfers; and
• to copy the letters to the Scottish Executive and seek its comments on the issues raised.

Letter dated 2nd March from the Convener (56KB pdf)

Response from Forth Ports plc

Response from SPT Marine Services Ltd

Response from the Minister for Environment and Rural Development (16KB pdf)


Petition PE1011 by Ian MacKinnon of Action Against Marine Park

The petition seeks an amendment to the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000 to require the approval by a majority in a local referendum before any national park can be established. 

The Committee considered the petition on 14 February 2007 and agreed to write to the Minister for Environment and Rural Development seeking comments on the petition, and further information including in particular—

  • details of the recent consultation processes on proposals for a coastal and marine national park, including
    • who was consulted, the criteria for identifying those to be consulted and, specifically, why community councils did not appear to be included in the consultation process; and
    • the steps which have been taken during the consultation processes to explain the benefits of a coastal and marine national park to communities in the relevant area;
  • comments on the petitioner’s concerns about the consultation process to date, and clarification on what further opportunities there will be for consultation should proposals for a coastal and marine national park proceed;
  • the lessons which have been learned from previous consultation processes on the establishment of national parks, and any respects in which the consultation process for the coastal and marine national park has differed from such processes; and
  • clarification of the effect that the establishment of a coastal and marine national park may have on existing industries in the relevant area such as sea fisheries and aquaculture.

A reply of 15 March 2007 has been received from the Minister, but has not been formally considered by the Committee. A successor committee may wish to consider how this petition can be taken forward.


Subordinate Legislation - The Sea Fish (Prohibited Methods of Fishing) (Firth of Clyde) Order 2007 (SSI 2007/63)

At its meeting on 28 February, the Environment and Rural Development Committee agreed to seek further information on how the boundaries of the closed area in the Firth of Forth set out in SSI 2007/63 had been determined

Response from the Minister for Environment and Rural Development (31KB pdf)