Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has responded to the announcement by the Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse that he will now ask the European Commission to consider the designation of a Marine Special Area of Conservation (mSAC) in the Sound of Barra.
The designation is to be managed, not by the Government, but by a group the majority of whom will represent the local community.
This is the first time that a local community will have been given such a direct say in the management of such a designation.
Alasdair Allan commented: “This has been a very long running saga indeed, and it is of course no secret that people in Barra made very clear their opposition to this designation.
“These are views which as the constituency MSP I conveyed in the course of parliamentary debates and consultations on this matter.
“There are things in the announcement today which reflect a great deal of hard work by the community. This culminated in a meeting in Barra at which Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse accepted that any mSAC should be managed, not by officials in Edinburgh, but by a local group composed primarily of local people.”
He continued: “It is welcome to see this confirmed in his statement today, along with the revised boundary, which will ensure that the airport is excluded from the mSAC.
“Local management will be the best way to minimise impact on the creel and other fisheries which are so essential to Barra’s economy.”
Dr Allan added: “There is now a wide recognition, on the Government’s part as well as in Barra, that in the course of this consultation, there was a breakdown in the community’s trust in the consultation process itself.
“The whole episode makes a case for a fairer EU system in which communities have a much more direct say.”