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Fish Processing Industry

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:35 pm on 2nd July 1999.

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Photo of David Davidson David Davidson Conservative 12:35 pm, 2nd July 1999

That was a nice speech for the south of Scotland. Earlier, I said that, although this item of members' business was about the north-east, it applied to other areas of Scotland. I welcome the intervention, which highlights the problem that the sector faces.

The water authorities have been heavy-handed in their approach, but it should be borne in mind that they are under constraints as to how they are funded and how they raise capital costs. It would be good for the environment if we set up schemes to take effluent straight out to sea as a natural product. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency would control such a scheme, and the process would not be covered by the urban waste water directive.

I am concerned that the water authorities are seeking to mix the fish processing effluent with human waste. The fish processing effluent is then contaminated, which causes unnecessary additional expense. I am asking for time for NOSWA and others. A wonderful report by the environmental consultants Cordah will be published in August. The minister may insist that everything is dealt with by a certain date-there has been due warning-but evidence will be in the public domain as a result of on-going scientific reports.

This chamber must insist that an indigenous industry that is a major part of our economy-it is a way of life in many communities-is dealt with in a less heavy-handed way. We are too quick to gold-plate European regulations. We need time, clear and unbiased thought and professional input. I have given permission for many members to speak; I hope that, collectively, we can get the message across to the new ministerial team about the importance of the matter and the need for a year's delay.