SHAMED continue to attack SAC plan

mingulayTHE Southern Hebrides Against Marine Environmental Designations (SHAMED) group has launched a fresh attempt to block plans for the establishment of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in the Sound of Barra.

One of SHAMED’s objections is their conviction that the current and previous Environment Ministers – Stewart Stevenson, Michael Russell and Roseanna Cunningham – have repeatedly stated to the public that they had not yet come to conclusions on whether to notify the sites whilst at the same time instructing officials to progress the designations.

SHAMED chairman, Angus MacLeod, said: “There are three aspects of Mr Stevenson’s statement that I want to highlight. In the first place, there is no basis in law for the Minister to attach such conditions to his decision to designate the Sound of Barra.  This decision must be based on science alone, not on whether local interests agree to participate in a management plan for the site. Pre-designation discussions on management agreements are not new but, as far as I am aware, no Minister has the right to say that the decision to designate is actually dependent on them taking place.

“Secondly, SHAMED is nevertheless of the view that for the same avoidance of doubt it is vital that we do not take up any invitation ‘to participate in the development of a management plan’.  To do so could allow the Minister to say that he had fulfilled this first and most important condition. He has created the condition. If we can ensure that it remains unfulfilled, the designation cannot go ahead. ”

Mr MacLeod continued: “The third aspect concerns the definition of ‘local interests’.  We are confident that no democratically elected representative or organisation in Barra and Vatersay supports the designation of an SAC in the Sound of Barra. But we are very aware that Eriskay and South Uist will also be affected by the imposition of this marine SAC or Regulatory Order and that these communities also fall within the definition of ‘local interests’.

“I would therefore ask Storas Uibhist, the principal landowning interest in Eriskay and South Uist, to enter into this open debate. I hope they will feel able to inform us on whether they have been engaged in discussions with Government officials on the Sound of Barra SAC or RO.”

Mr MacLeod concluded: “If this is indeed the case, it would be useful to know whether these discussions pre-date the Minister’s parliamentary statement. More importantly, it would be helpful to know whether any financial inducements have been offered by the Government in order to secure ‘local interest’ support for a management plan structure for the Sound of Barra because this helps the Minister to fulfil his first condition.

“If that is the case – but I sincerely hope it isn’t – I believe it will strengthen the arguments we have put together in order to mount a legal challenge against the imposition of the marine SAC’s at East Mingulay and Sound of Barra.”

Category: Other Organisations

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