Politics: Centre funding is huge vote of confidence in seafood sector
Last week saw Storm Babet hit the country, with parts of north-east Scotland particularly badly impacted.
A rare Met Office red weather alert – which means there may be "risk to life" – was in effect for parts of southern Aberdeenshire, Angus and East Tayside last Thursday and Friday, returning to the Angus area on Saturday.
Tragically (at time of writing) a 57-year-old woman who had been swept into the Water of Lee in Glen Esk and a 56-year-old man whose van was hit by a tree both lost their lives during this extreme weather event.
My thoughts and sympathies of course go out to their family and loved ones.
Residents in Brechin were urged to evacuate as the River South Esk level threatened to exceed flood defences
More than 400 properties faced evacuation orders, with HM Coastguard knocking on doors in Brechin as late as 10pm Thursday night amid the dire conditions.
At the time of writing, I am informed by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) that 27,300 customers had their power restored with 3878 remaining to be restored, but with majority of customers having their power restored in less than 24 hours.
I trust that by the time this column is published, all outages should have been restored and of course I encourage anyone who has not had their power restored after this time to please contact me and let me know.
I was also informed by Aberdeenshire Council that services they run, including leisure facilities, bus transport and burials, should also be reinstated by the start of the week.
As we recover from last week's storm, I want to thank all those who worked tirelessly to keep us safe – from first responders and road crews to SSEN teams restoring power, but also all the volunteers and community groups who come out to help in these difficult situations.
In better news, I’m delighted to report that the additional ambulance that has been based in Banff since June, will finally be located in its stand-by location at Turriff Fire Station from next month.
This milestone has been long-awaited by residents frustrated by higher than average ambulance wait times in the area.
The new resource will help paramedics react faster to local needs in the town and the large surrounding rural area.
When people call 999, they rightly expect emergency services to respond swiftly, and additional capacity like this will help ensure they can.
Finally, and after many years of championing this project, I’m delighted that the UK Government has awarded £3 million towards a world-class Scottish Seafood Centre of Excellence in Fraserburgh.
This investment, part of the £100 million UK Seafood Fund, will help transform our fishing industry.
The new facility will enable research, training and technology demonstration to support the seafood supply chain.
This latest award follows £6.5 million in UK Seafood Fund grants earlier this year to modernize processing facilities across Banff and Buchan.
With its focus on innovation and skills, the new Seafood Centre of Excellence will establish our area as the heartland for fisheries science and management.
Investments like this are a huge vote of confidence in our seafood sector.
Congratulations to The Scottish Whitefish Producers Association and everyone else involved in this project.
I look forward to continue working with them to deliver benefit to our seafood sector and coastal communities.