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Alison Hay

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The Caledonian Mercury has invited some of those in the election firing-line to send regular bulletins about the personal side of campaigning. Alison Hay is the Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Argyll and Bute.

    Monday 25 April
    Disaster! My campaign manager has strained a tendon doing DIY at the weekend and will have to rest his foot for a few days, My husband John has gallantly stepped into the breach and will help me with leaflet delivery over the next couple of days, so I’m back on the campaign trail after having a rest on Sunday afternoon.

    We’re on Lismore this afternoon with my husband driving. Mixed reactions, with ferries and roads the main issues.

    Tuesday 26 April
    Today it has been agreed that we meet at Cairndow Oyster Bar which is about 30 minutes from where I live. Argyll and Bute’s MP Alan Reid is joining John and me to deliver leaflets in Cairndow, Strachur, St Catherines, Tighnabruaich and Kames on the Cowal peninsula. Again, the weather is wonderful and I’m beginning to develop a tan. Campaigning is great in weather like this.

    This evening is the Dunoon hustings and I’m not looking forward to it. Mike Russell and the SNP are in difficult water! They promised the Dunoon residents two new boats in exchange for votes, in 2007. They have failed to deliver and the Dunoon/Gourock ferry service will become passenger-only from the end of June. Dunoon residents are not best pleased.

    Wednesday 27 April
    The time is 9am and I’m in Connel near Oban. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott is paying a visit to Connel post office to promote our support for rural post offices. The owner is Rosie Stevenson. She has diversified her post office into a grocer’s shop.

    She opens early to provide filled rolls, papers, etc to the workmen on their way to work. She is very happy with the progress she is making and is happy with the help she has had from Alan Reid.

    Also with us this morning is George Lyon MEP, the Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign manager. A happy time was spent talking to the press and drinking tea supplied by Rosie. We leave about 10am and head down towards Kennacraig to catch the 1pm ferry to the island of Islay. My campaign manager Tony is back, hobbling, assuring me he is better but I’m sceptical.

    We spend the afternoon on the island of Jura and drive 18 miles to Ardlussa over the worst roads I’ve been on yet. At Ardlussa a surprise awaited: visitors can use a small walkie-talkie to send their order to a house about 400 yards away and the lady will bring out your order of tea and you can sit on the beach to drink it. In this weather I can think of nothing nicer.

    Thursday 28 April
    Leafleting in Islay, particularly Port Ellen which we had not done during our previous visit. Then drove to Portnahaven and spoke to another postmaster who has a problem with planning. Back to Port Charlotte and visited the Museum of Islay Life and the local café.

    Then back to Bowmore for the evening’s hustings at the High School. Mr Russell does his usual and tries to blame the school closures on me; he doesn’t get away with it this time. His infamous email was quoted from and his interference as education minister with council business was commented on. He is behaving outrageously and keeps denying he said eight or nine schools “could be taken through with little difficulty”.

    Why the people of Argyll and Bute believe the SNP wouldn’t close schools if it didn’t happen to be election time is a mystery.

    Friday 29 April
    On the ferry back to Kennacraig, then leafleting in Tarbert. Tomorrow is a walkabout in Dunoon. Only four more working days to go to “E-Day”.

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    Aberdeen Central <em>Picture: Richard Slessor</em>

    Aberdeen Central Picture: Richard Slessor

    The second in our series on key swing seats for the 5 May election.

    Aberdeen Central
    Labour’s Lewis Macdonald has represented the centre of Aberdeen since the parliament opened in 1999. However, his majorities have been going down with each election as the SNP has chipped away at the Labour vote.

    At the last election, Mr Macdonald only secured the seat with a majority of 382 over the SNP – and, according to one authoritative assessment, this has been eroded even more by boundary changes so that the SNP now actually has a notional majority of 349.

    Either way, this is a very tight contest. Mr Macdonald has worked very hard to keep this seat, but in Kevin Stewart he is up against the deputy leader of the city council.

    If even a small fraction of the pro-SNP swing detected in national polls is translated through into this constituency, then Mr Stewart will be elected on 5 May.

    Also standing: Sheila Thomson (Liberal Democrat), Sandy Wallace (Conservative), Mike Phillips (National Front).

    Prediction: SNP gain from Labour.

    Argyll and Bute
    There is one issue dominating the election in this west coast constituency – school closures.

    The council proposed a series of school closures a year ago, which caused a massive backlash. Then the SNP group on the council (after taking advice from Mike Russell, the education secretary) decided to start opposing the cuts.

    Mr Russell – whose wife is a teacher in the area – is now the SNP candidate. The issue of school closures – which ones will actually close and who is to blame – is still swirling around Mr Russell and the SNP and has the potential to damage the SNP vote.

    However, this seat did elect an SNP MSP in 2007 in the popular Jim Mather, and Mr Russell will be hoping that he can take over where the retiring Mr Mather left off.

    He does face a strong challenge, though, from Alison Hay of the Liberal Democrats. Privately, senior Lib Dems have been talking up her chances, but she will have to buck the national trend of anti-Lib Dem voting to take this constituency.

    Also standing: Jamie McGrigor (Conservative), Mick Rice (Labour), George White (Liberal), George Doyle (Independent).

    Prediction: SNP hold.

    Caithness, Sutherland and Ross
    The Liberal Democrats have a very good record of getting elected then working an area so well that they guarantee their re-election for many years to come.

    That happened here with Jamie Stone, the Liberal Democrat MSP from 1999 until his decision to retire from politics this year.

    Without that personal vote for Mr Stone, the Nationalists believe this seat is vulnerable, and although an assessment of the boundary changes gives Lib Dem Robbie Rowantree a notional majority of 2,500, SNP strategists believe that is vulnerable.

    The SNP candidate is the experienced list MSP Rob Gibson, who is well known in the area.

    The Liberal Democrats expect their vote to decline, but are hoping enough of their supporters stay with them to keep the SNP at bay.

    Also standing: John MacKay (Labour), Edward Mountain (Conservative).

    Prediction: SNP gain from Liberal Democrats.

    Edinburgh Central
    This appears to be one of the most open constituencies of all in Scotland. All four of the main parties now appear to be within 3,500 votes of each other, so – conceivably – it could go to any of them.

    Labour’s Sarah Boyack is the sitting MSP, but she holds a notional majority of just 719 over the SNP.

    Nationalists have been suggesting that Ms Boyack knows she is vulnerable: why else, they ask, would she put herself on the regional list as well?

    But it appeared to Labour before the campaign started that the Liberal Democrats would be their main rival in Edinburgh Central, and that was why Ms Boyack was worried about her position.

    With the Lib Dem vote falling away, Labour managers hope they will attract enough wavering Lib Dems to head off Marco Biagi’s SNP challenge.

    Also standing: Iain McGill (Conservative), Alex Cole-Hamilton (Liberal Democrat).

    Prediction: Labour hold.

    Edinburgh Southern
    This should be one of the most comfortable Liberal Democrat seats in the country. Sitting MSP Mike Pringle enjoys a notional majority of nearly 4,000 – but, ever since the campaign started, Labour strategists have been insisting that their canvass returns show a big swing from the Lib Dems to Labour.

    Labour leaders believe it will be enough to send Paul Godzik, their candidate, to Holyrood for the first time, while the Lib Dems think that Mr Pringle has a strong enough personal vote to confound the national anti-Lib Dem voting patterns.

    Labour will need to start picking up seats from the Lib Dems in Scotland’s urban areas if they are to match the SNP’s success in doing that in rural Scotland. This would be as good a place as any for them to start.

    Also standing: Gavin Brown (Conservative), Jim Eadie (SNP).

    Prediction: Labour gain from Liberal Democrats.

    Want to discuss other issues? Join the debate on our new Scottish Voices forum

    Jobs dominated the political communications yesterday, as first minister Alex Salmond outlined the SNP’s vision for reindustrialising Scotland by meeting the party’s target of 130,000 jobs in the low-carbon sector by 2020.

    A word cloud showing the most common words across all of yesterday's press releases. The larger the word, the more it was used.

    A word cloud showing the most common words across all of yesterday's press releases. The larger the word, the more it was used.

    Speaking on a campaign visit to Steel Engineering Ltd in Renfrew, Mr Salmond said:

    “By 2020, our target is to have 130,000 jobs in the low carbon sector. That is a goal which will see the reindustrialisation of Scotland on a huge scale – and just as our shipyards were the workshop of the world in the 19th century, the green energy revolution gives us the chance to become the hi-tech workshop of the world in the 21st century.

    Also raising jobs profile, SNP candidate for Aberdeen Central, Kevin Stewart, said Ed Balls had blundered by exposing Labour dishonesty on the issue of changes to offshore oil taxation.

    Mr Balls is quoted in the Press & Journal saying the oil tax changes were a mistake but when a vote to oppose those tax changes was held in the UK parliament on 29 March 2011 he failed to vote against them despite voting in two other divisions.

    Commenting Mr Stewart said:

    “Ed Balls came north to lecture Scots about their country but has now been caught out being dishonest about Labour’s position on oil tax. It is hypocrisy for him to say he now opposes a tax on oil jobs when he failed to try and stop it in a key vote.

    “It yet again shows why no-one can trust a word Labour says – that the rhetoric doesn’t meet the reality.”

    Labour accused the SNP of the same, however, as it emerged that a flagship SNP council has been forced to admit that compulsory redundancies have not only been made in the last year, but the option cannot be entirely ruled out.

    The SNP manifesto states that the party is “committed to a policy of no compulsory redundancies”.

    However, documents released by Fife council reveal that the SNP-led administration in Fife made 191 compulsory redundancies last year alone.

    As part of plans to axe around 500 staff in a bid to save £16 million over the next year, SNP council leader Peter Grant has admitted that “there will be occasions when compulsory redundancies can’t be avoided” and Sharon McKenzie, Fife council’s human resources manager, has said that “redundancies can’t always be confined to the volunteer pool.”

    Scottish Labour’s candidate in Mid Fife and Glenrothes, Claire Baker, said:

    “This latest revelation comes as a humiliating blow to one of the SNP’s key election pledges. It speaks volumes that one of the SNP’s flagship councils has already made almost 200 compulsory redundancies and is now admitting that more are on the table.”

    Next on the word cloud are the two largest parties’ leaders with Alex, Salmond, Iain and Gray placing unusually highly. The appearance of both leaders’ names is linked to the rather odd appearance of asda, and supermarket – both of which appear on the right of our cloud – as the supermarket’s Ardrossan branch was the site of a clash between the two parties.

    Both men were campaigning in Ardrossan last night, when Iain Gray and his campaign team stopped at an Asda supermarket to pick up some provisions on the way to a public meeting in Ardrossan Civic Centre.

    Unbeknown to them, Alex Salmond was campaigning in the same supermarket – but Labour claim that he was ushered up the aisles and kept shielded from Mr Gray.

    Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray said:

    “If I’d have known Alex Salmond was there, I’d have gone up and asked him why he is hiding his date for an independence referendum. Sadly he was kept well hidden until I’d left.”

    The SNP tell it differently, claiming that it was Iain Gray, not Mr Salmond who fled the store after being approached by the local newspaper.

    SNP campaign manager Angus Robertson commented on footage taken by Kevin Paterson, reporting for the Ardrossan Herald, which shows Iain Gray leaving the store, turning to avoid an SNP activist and ignoring a question from someone in the shop asking “are you not hanging about?”

    Mr Roberston said:

    “This footage makes an absolute mockery of the claims in a Labour press release issued this morning and raises serious questions about the negativity, dirty tricks and misinformation at the heart of Labour’s “re-launched” campaign.”

    Mr Gray’s comment referred to Labour’s call for the SNP to name the date of their proposed referendum on independence. The Scottish Labour leader called for the SNP to reveal their date saying:

    “Don’t hide your plan for independence. Tell Scotland the date you want to hold the referendum and tell us today.

    “Don’t hide behind the pathetic excuse that it would be a ‘mistake’ to reveal the date you already know. If Labour forms the next government, we will not be distracted by a constant campaign to break up the UK. It will be jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs again.”

    Services, local and communities appear as Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott joined Alison Hay, Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Argyll and Bute and Alan Reid, Liberal Democrat MP for Argyll and Bute at Connel post office in Oban to campaign on the party’s plan to continue the Post Office Diversification Fund.

    Commenting, Tavish Scott said:

    “The Connel post office is a local store, cafe, paper shop and a post office. We want to see more post offices growing their businesses and cementing their place at their heart of their local community.

    “They are a genuine lifeline for many vulnerable and older people in particular. We need to protect these services.”

    Scottish Greens dismissed this claim, however, pointing to the privatisation of Royal Mail being championed by Vince Cable.

    Legislation to enable Royal Mail to be privatised is just weeks away from completing its passage through Westminster. Greens argue that the Royal Mail is a vital public service that should stay in public hands.

    Patrick Harvie, the Greens’ top candidate in Glasgow, said:

    “It’s bare-faced cheek for Liberal Democrats to be posing outside post offices pretending to care about them while Uncle Vince in Westminster is getting ready to sell off the Royal Mail for a short-term profit. It’s time for the Lib Dems to understand that we are talking about a genuine public service, not just some indistinguishable commercial operation, and that if they had any principles whatsoever they’d be opposing these daft plans.”

    Also campaigning for better local services, Scottish Conservatives unveiled plans for another round of town centre regeneration funding, totalling £140m over the course of the next Scottish parliament.

    In the last parliament, Scottish Conservatives delivered a £60m Town Centre Regeneration Fund, which benefited communities the length and breadth of Scotland.

    Speaking from Peterhead Harbour in Banffshire & Buchan Coast, where she was joined by local candidate Michael Watt, Annabel Goldie, Scottish Conservative leader, said:

    “Scottish Conservatives pledged a Town Centre Regeneration Fund in our last manifesto and we delivered. We delivered £60m of help to town centres and high streets across Scotland, despite Labour and the Lib Dems trying to vote it down.

    “That is real help in these tough times and, because we have taken difficult decisions, we can do more to boost local economies and give people more pride in their community.”

    Iona Abbey cloisters <em>Picture: David P Howard</em>

    Iona Abbey cloisters Picture: David P Howard


    The Caledonian Mercury has invited some of those in the election firing-line to send regular bulletins about the personal side of campaigning. Alison Hay is the Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Argyll and Bute.

      This week sees me continuing my “overseas” travel, interspersed with some council business but with ramifications on the campaign.

      Monday 18 April
      What a beautiful Monday morning – where better to be than on a CalMac ferry heading to the Island of Bute, the shortest crossing in Scotland from Colintraive to Rhubodach, time roughly ten minutes.

      I have a date with Bute FM at 10am. They‘re asking all candidates the same question: why should the people of Bute vote for them? Easy question, how long have your listeners got?

      In the evening it was the Bute hustings, and with Argyll and Bute council proposing to put North Bute primary school out to formal consultation the evening looked set to be a bit of a bumpy ride for yours truly – as it turned out to be. The SNP education minister denying he had interfered with the process and me saying he had, entertainment for all.

      Tuesday 19 April
      Education meeting at the council, where the council decides to put 11 schools out to formal consultation – a 12-hour meeting which ended at 10:55pm. Not a good day and all councillors very unhappy to be in this situation, but the education department needs to take its share of the pain of the cuts.

      Wednesday 20 April
      Today I’m stuck at my computer writing answers to questions from the Oban Times, the Argyllshire Advertiser and the Campbeltown Courier. Don’t these journalists realise I’ve got an election to win?

      I just make the deadline with two minutes to spare, raised blood pressure all round. In the evening off to Oban for a visit to Atlantis Leisure, Oban’s swimming and sports facility. I’m there for the opening of the new children’s soft-play area, a great success.

      Thursday 21 April
      Back on the high seas again, this time to Mull and Iona. This evening in Craignure, where Lesley Riddoch will host the Mull hustings, and before that Alan Reid MP, Tony my campaign manager and I have a great day. I meet an old friend on Iona who takes me round and I spend time speaking to the Mull and Iona Community Trust and seeing round their new community and charity shop and centre.

      The hustings evening went better than I feared: the issues discussed were sustaining rural communities and infrastructure, eg roads, health care, fairer ferry fares and inevitably schools.

      Friday 22 April
      Weather continues to be bright and sunny, Argyll and Bute at its best, no midges yet! I caught the 8:45am boat back to Oban and drove home. I have to be at Auchindrain museum today for the opening of the refurbished tearoom and visitor centre.

      The museum is taking down a tattered old saltire flag and replacing it with a new one. The old one is being respectfully folded and cremated. The new tearoom looks fantastic and the museum is now set for a good summer.

      Saturday 23 April
      Went with my husband to Bridge of Orchy to knock on some doors. Bridge of Orchy is tiny and is at the extreme edge of the constituency, and is often forgotten about. I think it important to try and visit every town and village at least once, and the towns more than once, during the election. It’s amazing the number of times people have said to me “You’re the first candidate we’ve seen”. As it’s Easter weekend, I’m having this evening off to visit relatives in Taynuilt.

      Only ten days to go and the pace is hotting up. Next week Oban, Mid-Argyll, hustings in Dunoon on Tuesday evening, across the seas to Islay and Jura with a hustings on Islay on Thursday evening, back to Tarbert, finishing the week back in Dunoon on the Saturday. I’ll write again on Sunday next.

      Want to discuss other issues? Join the debate on our new Scottish Voices forum

      Alison Hay

      Alison Hay

      The Caledonian Mercury has invited some of those in the election firing-line to send regular bulletins about the personal side of campaigning. Alison Hay is the Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Argyll and Bute.

        The week saw me travel to some of the remoter parts of the constituency and at times it seemed as if I were on holiday. (Only joking.)

        Tuesday 12 April
        Down to Dunoon for a meeting arranged by the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union on the possible ramifications for Caledonian MacBrayne following the Scottish Ferries Review.

        This meeting was a little disorganised. Frankly, if these are the people representing hard-working union members then I would want my registration fee back. A grand total of 19 people attended, most were political candidates and agents or union reps. The evening achieved nothing.

        Wednesday 13 April
        This is the start of my island-hopping. Up at 5:30am to be at the ferry terminal for 7am, leaving at 7:45am for the island of Colonsay. The good thing, among many others, about CalMac is the wonderful breakfasts they do – maybe not very healthy, but if you have a hard day ahead then just the job.

        Today is a long trip of about three-and-a-half hours. I could have flown, but firstly I don’t like flying and secondly the time on the island is not long enough. My visit consisted of my husband (recently retired) driving round the island with me running up and down the long accesses into the houses. By the time the evening and the boat arrived to take us home I was exhausted.

        The issues on Colonsay were a mixture of the coalition, fairer ferry fares and fuel costs. On the island, the price of a litre of petrol is £1.63, which is 22p more per litre than I have to pay in Lochgilphead. This reflects on the cost of everything that comes on to and goes off Colonsay. Home at 11:45pm.

        Thursday 14 April
        Up at 5:30am and drove to Oban to catch the 8:15 ferry to the island of Coll this time. Another good breakfast and arrived in Coll about 11am. Same procedure as yesterday, with my husband driving and telling me not to spend so much time talking to people if we want to get round the island today! I ignore him, like all good wives.

        The island is a series of three dead-end roads with wonderful views at the end of each. Again, the issues on the island are fuel costs, the coalition and the fact that hauliers to the island are not passing on the fare reductions to their customers they are getting under Road Equivalent Tariff. Home by midnight.

        Friday 15 April
        Today sees me on Bute, but first I have to go to Wemyss Bay to meet George Lyon MEP, complete with a press entourage. We go to see the local newspaper, The Buteman, for an interview and then go around the local shops. George disappears back to Wemyss Bay and I visit local post offices on the island.

        Saturday 16 April
        I’m in Dunoon for a march in aid of the hospice, which is closed and the people of the town want it back. I keep fairly hidden as this is not a political march and that is appreciated. In the afternoon I talk on Dunoon FM alongside the organiser of the march. Quite a successful day. Head to Oban in the evening for a cheese-and-wine fundraiser

        Want to discuss other issues? Join the debate on our new Scottish Voices forum

        Alison Hay

        Alison Hay

        The Caledonian Mercury has invited some of those in the election firing-line to send regular bulletins about the personal side of campaigning. Alison Hay is the Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Argyll and Bute.

          Let me introduce myself – I’m Alison Hay and I’m standing for election in the Scottish parliament on 5 May, as a Scottish Liberal Democrat.

          The campaign for the election is split into two chronological sections. The Long Campaign extended from January 2011 until the parliament was dissolved on 22 March. The Short Campaign runs from 23 March to polling day. An insight into my campaign story in Argyll and Bute follows in the coming weeks.

          Argyll and Bute, is the most beautiful constituency in Scotland. Don’t just take my word for it, ask anyone, ask my opponents!

          It has 25 inhabited islands within its borders, and covers over two million acres of land. The constituency is what is termed a four-way marginal. I think this means that the four main parties all think they have a chance at winning the seat. This is of course nonsense, there is only going to be one party winner. Seriously, though, this will be a very closely contested seat and the winner is anyone’s guess – although I hope it will be me.

          Campaigning in earnest all began with the run-up to the long campaign before Christmas. However, in Argyll and Bute, this largely meant not doing much, because the weather was terrible, people were busy with Christmas present-buying and I would have been, in good Glaswegian terms, hunted! (Told to go away politely!)

          I spent my time organising and planning how I would travel around this vast county, not a simple task and I may as well not have bothered, since everything appears to take on a mind of its own. Take last week, for example.

          My campaign manager and I were meant to be leafleting in and around the Mid-Argyll area, places like Tayvallich, Crinan, Achnamara. Did this happen? No! I ended up in Dunoon on the Tuesday, Campbeltown on Wednesday – at an opening of some new allotments – and on Friday I was at Auchindrain museum near Inveraray.

          Anyone looking at a map would see these places are not exactly close together. Buses were not handy, so I’m afraid the mileage on my Renault Modus rose considerably. This has not been an isolated incident and as you will see next week my journeys will combine the feelings of a cruise ship to paradise with a full work day.

          Today (Sunday 10 April), my husband and I drove to the Cuan Ferry and, as foot passengers, sailed over to the island of Luing. Luing has a total of 93 houses on it, nestles in the Firth of Lorn about 30 miles south-west of Oban, and little has changed here for 200 years.

          The island is about six miles long and one-and-a-half miles wide. The main centre of population is Cullipool with its whitewashed cottages. These were originally the homes of the slate quarriers, and at its height there were 170 men employed at this.

          For our day on Luing we walked to the primary school which has opened as a café during the holidays. We had lunch, walked some more, had afternoon tea then walked back to the ferry and home. We had nothing but sun glorious sun, Argyll at its perfect best.

          I’m signing off now, tired but content with how the week has gone. I’ll write again next week.

          Want to discuss other issues? Join the debate on our new Scottish Voices forum

          <em>Picture: TheTruthAbout</em>

          Picture: TheTruthAbout

          The Scottish Government has published a new paper that it is calling its Zero Waste Plan. The 59-page document details its thinking on how to manage waste for the next 10 years.

          Amongst the proposals is confirmation that a proposed 25% cap on energy-from-waste should be scrapped.

          The Plan comes three years after the Government said it wanted to turn the country into a ‘zero waste society’. It has ambitious plans to recycle 70% of municipal waste by 2025 and send just 5% to landfill.

          The paper says that “Energy-from-waste has an important role to play and could contribute to 31% of Scotland’s renewable heat target and 4.3% of our renewable electricity target. The Scottish Government will develop a new regulatory approach to energy-from-waste, based on categories of resources which may be treated this way.”

          Richard Lochhead, the Environment Secretary, said he was “proud of the significant progress made in our journey to becoming a zero waste society, but there are still a number of hurdles in our path. This new plan can help us overcome them and re-energise and refocus our efforts.”

          He went on to suggest that the Zero Waste Plan could potentially lead to the creation of 2,000 jobs and help Scotland’s environmental credentials, describing it as a “…call for action from every individual and sector to do what they can. Scotland can be a cleaner, greener place to live with a thriving low carbon economy, and we must all work together to make it happen.”

          Both the public and private sectors have expressed their support for the plan. The Policy Convener of the Federation of Small Businesses, Andy Willox, said that it was “appropriate that Zero Waste Scotland is going to start by recycling FSB advice and streamlining the number of different bodies that compete to give environmental advice to firms.”

          Mr Willox added that the FSB looked forward “to working with the Scottish Government to develop better waste support for business. A long-term strategy which focuses more on business waste is good news – a disproportionate amount of time has been spent in the last decade on household waste, which accounts for only 15% of total produced.”

          The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities welcomed the Plan. Councillor Alison Hay, who speaks on regeneration and sustainable development said, “Scottish councils have a long-standing commitment to the zero waste agenda. Authorities are now focusing on the delivery of infrastructure and other services which are required to help achieve a Zero Waste Scotland.”

          Edinburgh and Midlothian Councils were also quick to back the Plan. They are jointly working on a £500 million joint contract for residual waste treatment in the Lothians, and have identified a suitable site at the marshalling yards at Millerhill.

          The two councils say that the paper will allow them “…to go to the private sector to secure a waste treatment facility, safe in the knowledge that our approach is endorsed by the Scottish Government’s Plan.” They added that they would “…deliver facilities that offer both an environmentally sound solution and value for Council tax-payers.

          In a statement, the waste management company Viridor said that the test would now be “whether Scottish Government will move to unlock vital projects such as the Dunbar Energy from Waste and Portobello Road-to-Rail. Such moves would provide Viridor, and the sector, with the confidence to accelerate investment to support this welcome policy.”

          The Portobello scheme is strongly opposed in the area and is currently the subject of a planning inquiry.