Climate Change: Lord Rothschild will make it all go away!
DEAR LORD ROTHSCHILD, IF SCOTLAND, ENGLAND, IRELAND AND WALES, SELL ALL OUR NATIONAL ASSETS TO YOU FOR YOUR EXPLOITATION AND CONTROL, WILL YOU PLEASE ENSURE CLIMATE CHANGE DOES NOT EFFECT THE BRITISH ISLES?
Jacob: YES MY SON.
Jacob: YES MY SON.
Jim Hume (Liberal Democrat)
Needless to say, I am delighted to participate in the debate, which highlights the success of the Lib Dem-led campaign to save our forests. Roseanna Cunningham showed excellent timing when she announced the U-turn on the morning of the upbeat Lib Dem conference, so I thank her for that.
As Sarah Boyack was correct to say, it is time to move on, and the Liberal Democrat amendment does so constructively. What we witnessed in the past few months was not about new inventive ideas to tackle climate change or being creative, although those terms were drummed into us; rather, a brazen and reckless attempt was made to undermine one of Scotland’s most valuable assets by selling it off to the highest bidder.
Throughout the discussion, the Government resorted to petty personalised attacks on the Liberal Democrat campaign and treated industry, individuals and organisations—indeed, anyone who disagreed with its so-called great proposal—with contempt. Mike Russell even accused others of being theatrical. Such an attitude from a minister is shocking and, considering the potential impacts of leasing on Scotland and the scale of what was proposed, it was sheer arrogance to assume that the proposal could be pushed through Parliament by piggybacking on the simplistic idea that it would solve all our climate change problems.
Throughout the debate in January, Mr Russell accused the Liberal Democrat contribution and response to the consultation of being “fact free”. He said:
“There is nothing so dishonourable as politicians who don’t do their homework while confidently trotting out wildly inaccurate statements for political benefit.”—[Official Report, 29 January 2009; c 14498.]
In fact, the Liberal Democrat response has proven to be entirely accurate and has reflected the views of land-based organisations, tourism providers, foresters and wood processors at every stage. Those businesses have been in serious limbo since last November and, in January, 19 of the main wood processors sent the minister a letter stating exactly that. That limbo was due to the Government’s mad proposal and to the Tories, who did not stand up against it initially and made their U-turn only after their Scottish National Party masters. Mike Russell ignored everyone, decried their expertise and passed them off as scaremongers who did not do their homework—what arrogance and ignorance.
Throughout the debate, references were made to the Stern report, but nowhere in that document did Lord Stern conclude that 100,000 hectares of Scotland’s most commercially viable forests should be sold to the Rothschild banking group for a notional sum of up to £200 million for 75 years. In that same debate, Mike Russell pronounced in prophetic fashion:
“Although leasing is not a new idea, I believe that its time has come.”—[Official Report, 29 January 2009; c 14497.]
Its time had come—its time to be buried with all the SNP’s other misguided flights of fancy.
Who would have thought that, within a month, Mr Russell would be removed from his minister’s position, obviously for flogging that dead horse? I welcome the new minister’s U-turn, even though Ms Cunningham had thought the leasing proposal a “cunning plan” in January. I am sincerely relieved that sense has prevailed: the decision has removed the guillotine of uncertainty that was hanging over rural communities, which can now invest for the future.
It is now time to move on. We have an opportunity to implement, under the Forestry Commission’s stewardship, sensible measures that will generate income for renewables, access, tourism and new tree planting and will guarantee the wood supply for our businesses. The Government should now concentrate on doing its best for Scotland through real and tangible measures to tackle climate change.
I move amendment S3M-3727.4, to insert at end:
“and further calls on the Scottish Government to introduce a comprehensive sustainable land-use strategy, taking into account the strategic economic, social and environmental impacts and benefits of forestry, agriculture, recreation and other land uses and setting out, where appropriate, the contribution each can make in dealing with the consequences of climate change.”