Local MSP shortlisted for community award

A local MSP has been shortlisted in the prestigious "Politician of the Year" awards for her campaign against gas extraction in Canonbie.

Joan McAlpine of the SNP impressed the judges who nominated her for the ‘Community MSP of the Year’ award for fighting plans by Buccleuch Estates to extract coal bed methane around the Eskdale village.

During the course of the campaign it emerged that Buccleuch estates chief executive John Glen had tried to silence Ms McAlpine by appealing to the energy minister Fergus Ewing.

However Ms McAlpine refused to back down and said "I answer to my constituents first."

The campaign in Canonbie contributed to the Scottish Government announcing a moratorium and public consultation into the controversial technology.

The Scottish Politician of the Year Awards, launched in 1999, is run by The Herald newspaper to celebrate the best and brightest in the Scottish political scene.

Ms McAlpine said:

"It’s a real honour to be nominated for Community MSP of the Year – although representing constituents is what MSPs are elected to do!

“The Canonbie campaigners, particularly Bill and Loraine Frew, who have dedicated so much time and effort opposing the plans, are the ones who deserve recognition."

Igas, the company working with Buccleuch to explore the potential for unconventional gas extraction in the area, surrendered its exploration licence for Canonbie area last week.

Ms McAlpine commented:

"The fact that the Scottish Government introduced a moratorium on unconventional gas extraction, and now Igas has surrendered its exploration licence, just goes to show that you really can make a difference if you fight hard enough.

"Now I would urge Buccleuch estates to abandon its destructive plans once on for all."

MS McAlpine, who will contest Dumfriesshire for the SNP in next year's Holyrood election, is also celebrating coming top of the SNP's regional list ranking this week. SNP members in South Scotland voted her first out of 22 candidates vying for a place.

She recently took on another mining company with links to Buccleuch, Five Quarter, when she campaigned against their plans for underground coal gasification beneath the Solway at Gretna.

That campaign also paid off last week when the Scottish Government announced a separate moratorium on UCG, which involves igniting coal seams deep below ground, then capturing the gases produced.

The results of the Politician of the Year Award are announced at a ceremony at Edinburgh's Prestonfield House Hotel on November 19.

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