no more roaming

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has today welcomed the announcement that the abolition of data roaming charges across the EU is a step closer. Following a deal between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, it is likely that data roaming charges will end in Europe starting from 15th June 2017. This will help to open up internet access to EU citizens travelling between member states.

The informal deal to ban surcharges ("roaming fees") for making mobile phone calls, sending text messages or using the internet while abroad in another EU country from 15 June 2017 was struck by MEPs and EU ministers in the small hours of Tuesday morning. MEPs also inserted guarantees that all internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination. To enter into force, this informal deal needs to be formally endorsed by the full Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

However, Angus MacDonald has highlighted that during the independence referendum campaign last year, the No camp claimed that with independence Scots would face roaming charges for using mobile phones in the rUK. However, it soon emerged that plans to put in place a process of abolishing roaming charges across the EU were already underway. 
Commenting on yesterday’s deal in Brussels Angus MacDonald said: 
“News that a deal has been reached on this issue is very positive indeed. The abolition of data roaming charges will help to open up internet access to EU citizens travelling between member states, ensuring people across the EU can stay connected.
“Being able to enjoy the same data conditions at home and in Europe is an undoubted benefit of being part of the European Union.

"As long as the Tories insist on gambling people's jobs on their obsession with a referendum on ripping us out of Europe, the SNP will continue to make the positive case in favour of EU membership. 
“And the SNP’s plan for a 'double majority’ will ensure Scotland - or any other UK nation - cannot be dragged out of the EU against its will. The opposition parties must back this common-sense amendment to ensure the democratic will of the Scottish people is respected.”


Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has welcomed a new £4 million fund that will help bring abandoned homes and empty high street spaces back to life.

 The Scottish Government’s “Town Centre Empty Fund” will help to revive empty homes and convert unused commercial spaces into new affordable homes.

 Funding will be administered by Scottish Empty Homes Partnership to registered social landlords and developers in Falkirk district and throughout Scotland.

Since 2010, the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership has brought over 900 homes back into use and encouraged 17 of Scotland’s 32 authorities to appoint empty homes officers.

Details on how to apply for funding can be found here:

The deadline for applications is 21 August 2015.

SNP MSP Angus MacDonald said:

“I am delighted that the Town Centre Empty Homes Fund has been launched and that Falkirk district and the rest of Scotland will benefit from it. I would encourage registered social landlords and developers in Falkirk district to apply for funding so that we can begin to see empty homes being filled with those who need them and commercial spaces can be revamped for public use.

“Transforming more unused spaces into comfortable homes will help provide more affordable housing in Scotland. There are currently an estimated 27,000 long-term private empty homes and it makes sense to put these properties to good use to ensure more people have access to high quality, affordable housing.”



Sewage Sludge 1

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has taken the opportunity in the Scottish Parliament today to quiz officials from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Water on the issue of sewage sludge which has been a problem in the Upper Braes area of his constituency for some time.

The representatives from the two public bodies were giving evidence to the Public Petitions Committee, which Angus MacDonald is a member of, on a petition lodged by Doreen Goldie on behalf of Avonbridge and Standburn Community Council.

The petition calls on “the Scottish Government to ban the use of sewage sludge on land and to look for alternative acceptable methods of disposal as adopted in other European countries”.

Quizzing the SEPA and Scottish Water representatives at the Committee this morning Angus MacDonald said:

“As Members are aware I have a constituency interest in this issue, which has plagued my constituents in the Upper Braes area for a number of years. The fact that the petition originates in my constituency highlights the seriousness of the issue in Falkirk East.

“The recent decision by Scottish Water to re-direct sewage sludge away from Falkirk district is welcomed by local residents, and the ongoing sludge review coupled with the implementation of the Regulatory Reform Bill will, I’m sure, see improved regulatory controls.

“Clearly, some operators flout and abuse current regulations and there is definitely a need for a ‘fit and proper person’ test in the future, to ensure contractors are competent in waste management.”

Angus MacDonald went on to ask what checks Scottish Water undertakes that sludge is stored and applied in accordance with regulations and whether Scottish Water takes into account the effect on local communities of storing and spreading sludge.

He continued to quiz the officials by asking what role SEPA have in inspecting the storage and application of sludge and what steps Scottish Water and SEPA take if they discover a problem.

Mr MacDonald went on to stress the need for more incineration of sewage sludge. Currently Scotland sends 33 per cent of sewage for energy production (incineration) however he highlighted that in Sweden the figure is 50%. Mr MacDonald has lobbied the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, to consider increasing the amount of sewage sludge used for energy in Scotland.

In addition, open air disposal of treated sewage sludge is actively discouraged in Sweden through a 250 Swedish Krone/tonne sludge tax. Mr MacDonald has pledged to urge the Scottish Government to investigate the feasibility of such a tax in Scotland.

In the meantime, in response to local concerns, the Scottish Government is currently undertaking a review of sewage sludge spreading which is due to report later in the summer. Depending on the findings of the review and any recommendations the Scottish Government may order a full consultation.

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2015

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