Connectivity 200 times slower in isles than in cities demands a real universal service obligation

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has highlighted the “chasm” in connectivity between cities and island communities in a speech to Parliament. Mr Carmichael highlighted a factor of 200 between many islanders’ connections and those found in cities in calling for a recognition of market failure for rural and island connectivity. Highlighting outrageous quotes given to connect households under the “Universal Service Obligation”, he also called on the national and devolved governments to work together and reduce confusion and competing programmes for high-speed internet.

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Carmichael calls for clarity over promised support on sheep

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has written to Michael Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal planning, to ask him to give full detail on promised support for sheep farmers in the event of a no-deal Brexit. When Northern Isles food producers met last week with Gove and the DEFRA Secretary, George Eustice, they were told that ‘mechanisms’ were in place to support farmers and crofters in the event of disruption caused by a no-deal scenario or price collapse.

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Carmichael welcomes confirmation on isles vaccine capacity

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has welcomed news today that the first Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the UK and will be rolled out starting next week. Mr Carmichael said it was “encouraging” that officials had already confirmed that island health boards would be ready to store the vaccine locally.

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We walk away from the right to peaceful protest at our peril – Carmichael

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has voiced renewed concern about the ban on protests put in place during the current lockdown in England. Speaking in Parliament during a debate on renewed restrictions and under his remit as Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson, Mr Carmichael highlighted the importance of the right to protest even during the pandemic, saying that “we walk away from that at our peril”.

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Alarm bells should be ringing at Ofgem after isles meeting – Carmichael and Wishart

Isles representatives Alistair Carmichael MP and Beatrice Wishart MSP have called on energy regulator Ofgem to take a more “proactive” approach to supporting energy customers in the isles after a meeting this week. Mr Carmichael and Ms Wishart presented a range of evidence from constituents frustrated by poor customer service, inconsistent access to competitive tariffs and price hikes in the past few years. The isles team agreed to share their full set of evidence with Ofgem ahead of a second meeting in the coming weeks but warned that there should be “alarm bells” at the regulator given the range of problems identified.

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Clarity needed on future agricultural scheme funding – Carmichael

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called for clarity over the future funding mechanism for agricultural payments across the UK. The Government confirmed this week that the initial Scottish budget for the post-EU agricultural scheme would be £595m but has not confirmed how future budgets would be determined in the longer term.

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PM’s U-turn on fishing visas shows little understanding of issues – Carmichael

Northern Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, has criticised the Prime Minister for an apparent U-turn on fishermen’s access to skilled deckhands, after the PM made a commitment to tackle the issue earlier this month. The Prime Minister met and discussed the issue with isles fishermen in July and more recently told Mr Carmichael he would instruct Home Secretary Priti Patel to “seize the matter”.

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Government support needed to ensure isles lead on commercial rollout of marine renewables

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has spoken in a parliamentary debate on the report of Climate Assembly UK, advocating for government support in the commercialisation of marine energy. Mr Carmichael highlighted the Northern Isles’ long history of supporting UK energy needs and its potential as a hub of marine renewables, and pressed the Government to introduce further support to encourage green growth. The MP also wrote to ministers this week in light of a draft EU report planning an uplift in marine energy capacity through to 2050.

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SNP “sitting on their hands” on fish landing Brexit preparations

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has said that there is “no excuse” for the Scottish Government being short on vital health inspectors needed for post-Brexit checks of fishing catches. After 31 December all landed fish to be exported to the EU will require an official health certificate, but the Press and Journal has reported that the Scottish Government has not recruited sufficient inspectors for demand, with just over a month to go.

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Isles food producers secure ministerial commitments on export concerns

Following a meeting today chaired with Michael Gove, George Eustice and Northern Isles food producers on the upcoming end to the EU transition period, Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael welcomed the opportunity for business leaders to put their concerns directly to ministers. In the meeting Mr Gove and Mr Eustice reiterated that they were making all efforts to secure a trade deal with the EU and that UK food standards would not be reduced.

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