Fisheries grant delay hampering business development, warns MSP
A delay in the announcement of the next round of European Fisheries Fund (EFF) grants is hampering business development in Shetland, according to isles MSP Tavish Scott.
He called on fisheries minister Richard Lochhead to act on the recommendations of a specialist committee which he has been in possession of for more than a month and let firms know whether they have been successful in their applications or not.
Mr Scott said: “A number of Shetland businesses have come to me saying that they had been expecting to hear in September whether their EFF grant application had been successful. They are still waiting for this vital news.
“Shetland seafood businesses cannot move on important investments until they hear if their grant application has been successful. I have pursued this with Richard Lochhead, the fisheries minister. His office says that the EFF Project Assessment Committee met on 10th September. Recommendations were then passed to the fisheries minister for his approval. But all the government say on this is that they ‘anticipate’ that the minister will make the grant announcement before the end of October.
“There can be no justification for this stalling of the announcement. Richard Lochhead has been sitting on the assessment committee’s recommendation for over a month. That is just not acceptable. He must make the announcement without any further delay.
“Shetland’s marine industries are worth £200 million to the local and national economies. That can grow, but only if the government stop prevaricating and get on with making a decision.”