SUP Newsletter – May 2019
SUP is helping the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SoSEP) with its latest round of consultation events which start this week. Next year, the new South of Scotland Enterprise (SoSE) will become a reality and, all being well, it will make a significant difference to the rural economy of South Scotland. There is still an opportunity to shape the way it will work, so try to get along to one of the consultation events and have your say and please let your networks know as well. Please note that the events are free but places need to be booked in advance. The press release about the events is below.
South of Scotland Economic Partnership to hit the road for series of new community engagement events
One year on from the South of Scotland Economic Partnership’s community engagement events across the region the Partnership is hitting the road again.
The events, taking place from May 9 and running into July, will enable businesses, organisations, communities and individuals to find out about the progress the Partnership has made in its first 18 months of operation, as well as the future of a dedicated Enterprise Agency for the South of Scotland.
Prof Russel Griggs, Chair of the Partnership, said: “One year ago we held 26 events across the South of Scotland, having conversations about the challenges and opportunities we have and the potential powers and focus of a new agency.
Twelve months on much has changed – a Bill is progressing through the Scottish Parliament to establish South of Scotland Enterprise and over £10 million of funding has been distributed by the Scottish Government through the Partnership for a wide range of projects.
It is important now for us to go back to communities, businesses and organisations and explain what we heard, what we’ve done and, on the back of the progress to date, get a feel for what everyone thinks of the future.
I’d encourage anyone who has an interest in the future of the economy and skills and training in the south of Scotland to attend one of the upcoming events.”
In addition to general SoSEP engagement events, a number of sector-specific events will take place, and business breakfast meetings to increase engagement with firms across the region.
The stakeholder events are being managed by the Southern Uplands Partnership on behalf of the South of Scotland Economic Partnership. Places can be booked at www.sup.org.uk/sosep.asp
The membership of South of Scotland Economic Partnership is made up of a wealth of business experience across sectors, sizes and locations relevant to the south of Scotland, as well as representatives from education, the third sector and the public sector.
As well as bringing together key partners to boost the economic performance of the south of the country, the Scottish Government has provided a significant investment package to assist the Partnership.
Back in January the Crichton Carbon Centre organised a get together of the environmental groups in Dumfries and Galloway with the aim of improving communication between them and agreeing environmental priorities for the region. This was agreed to be important at a time when the new economic agency was being established as well as the pending Borderlands Initiative and the uncertainty of Brexit. It was a constructive meeting and it was agreed that a parallel meeting should take place in the Borders to see if the issues were similar. This meeting was hosted by SUP on 22 March and was equally positive. The result of the two meetings is a shared report which can be read on the SUP website. The report has been shared with SoSEP and the team working on the Bill that will establish the South of Scotland Enterprise.
South West Scotland Environmental Information Centre’s Wildlife Recorders’ Gathering 2019
Wildlife recorders from around the region gathered in Dumfries on Saturday 30 March to learn about and celebrate the region’s special wildlife. SWSEIC’s Wildlife Recorders’ Gathering 2019 was the first full-day wildlife recorders’ conference in Dumfries and Galloway for 10 years, and it was nice to see a broad mix of new and familiar faces. A fantastic total of 129 people attended the event which was hosted in the Dumfries Baptist Church Centre in Georgetown – less than a year old, the Centre provided excellent modern facilities and made a superb venue for the day.
Brian Smith of North Solway Ringing Group kicked off the conference with a close-up look at bird ringing in Dumfries and Galloway. Brian’s passion for birds, and his beloved Pied Flycatchers, shone through and he showed many examples of how bird ringers operate to help us gain a greater understanding of our local wildlife. Ellen Wilson of RSPB and Chair of the Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum then talked about the recent review of the biodiversity information infrastructure in Scotland, and the potential changes that the review might bring about – we await eagerly the response of Scottish Government to the recommendations. Following a short break, the programme moved into a series of short talks: Philip Munro introduced the work of the South Scotland Golden Eagle Project which aims to reinforce the Golden Eagle population across southern Scotland; Mark Pollitt, SWSEIC Manager, highlighted the progress on an updated moth website for Dumfries and Galloway: Sarah Cooper from Scottish Wildlife Trust talked about Red Squirrels and the ongoing work to monitor and manage Grey Squirrels in south west Scotland; and finally Peter Norman, SWSEIC Project Officer, provided an introduction to the National Plant Recording Scheme, highlighting opportunities for volunteers in Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire.
After lunch, Paul Kirkland from Butterfly Conservation got the afternoon session underway with a look at some of the special butterflies in the region, focusing in on the Northern Brown Argus – a small, brown butterfly found on the Dumfries and Galloway coast – which carefully selects Rock-rose plants to lay its eggs on. The potential threats posed by invasive non-native species found in the marine environment around our coast were highlighted by Clair McFarlan of Solway Firth Partnership – from Skeleton Shrimps to sea squirts and much more. The River Cree was spotlighted by Courtney Rowland of Galloway Fisheries Trust who introduced a wonderful video of Sparling, a rare migratory fish which returns to spawn in the Cree on just a few nights each year. The underwater footage was fantastic. Matthew Cook from Peatland Action presented the valuable work that has been carried out restoring some of the region’s peat bog habitats, and Kirkcudbrightshire county plant recorder David Hawker wrapped things up by describing the value of recording our wild flowers.
Numerous local organisations had stands and displays, which gave participants the opportunity to find out about how they can get involved in recording wildlife or support the work of local conservation groups. A challenging wildlife quiz was won by local dragonfly expert Barbara Mearns, and a Certificate of Appreciation was presented to Katie Shellard who has been volunteering at SWSEIC for over 10 years.
SWSEIC is grateful to Scottish Natural Heritage whose support for the Centre helped to make the event possible.