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Sea grab condemned in Parliament             15/3/11




As debate on the Scotland Bill continues, the SNP will today press for amendments relating to Scotland’s seas and maritime safety – including devolution of coastguard services and the Crown Estate from the Tory government in London and a new clause seeking the return of 6000 square miles of Scottish territorial waters appropriated to England in 1999.


The 'Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order' in 1999 moved the maritime border between Scotland and England giving away thousands of square miles of fishing waters and moving the border from Berwick to 60 miles off the coast of Carnoustie.


Speaking ahead of the debate, MP Angus MacNeil, said: “Scotland has been short-changed by the Scotland Bill and short-changed from benefiting from our natural resources with Labour astonishingly supporting the Tory government in London keeping power over a range of policy issues.


“By devolving the Crown Estate we can ensure that Scotland’s natural assets can be managed in the interests of the Scottish people, not the Tory Treasury bank account in London.


“We are now in the beginnings of an offshore energy boom that requires effective management of our seas and our shores, support for our ports and our harbours and the leasing of our seabed in a way that brings long term benefit to the people and economy of Scotland.


"The removal of 6,000 square miles of Scottish Waters in 1999 by the last Labour government was clearly a political move to undermine the Scottish Parliament that would even have embarrassed even the anti-Scottish Tories. Moving Scotland's border with England to just off the coast of Carnoustie was an utterly illogical and absolutely disgraceful move.


“The axing of thousands of square miles of fishing waters at the stroke of a Whitehall pen caused a great deal of anger in 1999 and now is the time to put this right. This is a real test for Scottish Labour MPs over whether they want Scottish seas controlled under English or Scottish Law - under a Scottish Govermment or under a Tory-led government in London.


“Our amendments are about safety too, and that is why we are pressing for devolution of our Coastguard services which are currently threatened with cuts from Westminster.


"Scotland's seas are busier than ever through oil and gas, offshore renewables, fishing and tourism. The shortsited proposals of the UK Government to slash coastguard stations in Scotland put lives at risk.


The UK Government's plan to leave Scotland with just 25% of the coordination centres in the UK despite having 60% of the sea area is unjustifiable.


"Westminster is making really bad decisions for coastgaurd services in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament should have the ability to make better choices regarding the safety of Scotland's maritime sector and I'm calling on MPs to get behind my amendment today to make this happen."