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DAVID DUGUID: Column – Carbon capture, boat festival, gene editing and our armed forces

By David Duguid

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The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy returned recently after a two-year Covid hiatus.

A packed harbour to watch the raft race. Picture: Allan Robertson
A packed harbour to watch the raft race. Picture: Allan Robertson

It was great to see so many people enjoying the boats, food and stalls.

There were lots of visitors from far afield – even on Sunday, when the weather was less than favourable.

The festival kicks off a host of regular summer events we have missed across Banff and Buchan, with the New Deer and Turriff shows later this month.

Energy transition continues to play a huge part in the north east’s economy.

I was delighted to welcome representatives from the Singapore government to Peterhead Power Station and St Fergus to discuss ongoing Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) plans.

Following my ongoing engagement with government and industry, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, agreed to come to Aberdeen to meet with oil and gas industry leaders to discuss current and future challenges and opportunities.

The Chancellor and key stakeholders from across the sector discussed the risks and incentives to investment in the North Sea.

He took the opportunity to reinforce the UK government’s ongoing support of the industry in their vital contribution to energy security as well as in the transition to net zero – including £41 million already invested into the Acorn CCS and Hydrogen Project at St Fergus.

I was sad to hear the chief executive of Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), Deirdre Michie, announce she will step down at the end of this year.

Deirdre has been a powerful and balanced voice for the industry, reinforcing the sector’s critical role in making the energy transition a reality.

I was pleased to work with her during my time as a minister in the UK government Scotland Office in negotiations on the groundbreaking £16 billion North Sea Transition Deal.

She will be a tough act to follow. I wish her all the best for the future and thank her for the tireless support she has given.

Last weekend marked Armed Forces Day when we celebrate and commemorate the invaluable job our armed forces do, 365 days a year, defending our country.

As the UK continues to lead the effort to support Ukraine against the bloody aggression of Putin, this is a poignant reminder of what we owe to all service personnel.

I was pleased to speak in the recent second reading of the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill and join the Legislative Committee for the bill.

Gene editing is different from genetic modification because it does not involve the introduction of DNA from other species.

Precision breeding techniques like gene editing creates new varieties similar to those that are traditionally produced more slowly by natural breeding processes.

The current legislation, based on retained EU law, is more than 30 years old and has not kept pace with scientific developments.

Scientific technologies which are being developed in world-leading programmes at Scottish research institutes such as Roslin and James Hutton.

I hope the SNP Scottish Government will change their position and join the UK government – in the interest of farmers, food producers and researchers.

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