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Highland MSP Maree Todd sets sights on Ross-shire constituency

By Scott Maclennan

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Maree Todd
Maree Todd

HIGHLANDS and Islands MSP Maree Todd has resumed her campaign to succeed Gail Ross in the Caithness, Sutherland and Ross seat in the Scottish Parliament.

The Strathpeffer-based MSP said that if given the chance to contest the seat at the next election it would be “the privilege of my life to represent my own constituency and the people I grew up with and know and care about”.

To do that, she first has to pass the SNP’s strict selection process and convince party members before seeking the support of the electorate.

She has released a public letter and spoken exclusively about some of the key issues affecting the far north, outlining what she stands for.

Ms Todd, who is Scotland’s minister for children and young people, praised Mrs Ross – who announced in February that she is to step down as an MSP next year – and highlighted the work they have done together.

“Gail and I have worked together championing the people and addressing the concerns of those living here and I want to take this opportunity to thank Gail and wish her all the very best for the future,” Ms Todd said.

She is well known in Ross-shire, having her office base in Dingwall where she championed causes like working to get a replacement for the dilapidated St Clement's special school in the town.

Amongst the many challenges facing the north is employment and retaining young people, particularly in face of impact Covid-19 could have on the Cromarty Firth.

“There are many issues facing the constituency as we look to recover from the economic impact of Covid-19. We must protect and create jobs, support businesses and invest in the industries of tomorrow,” Ms Todd said.

Some projects may be able to deliver for communities faster than others, but onshore wind remains contentious with many feeling the Highlands already has more than its fair share of wind farms.

Ms Todd was undaunted, however, saying: “Scotland is leading the way when it comes to renewables. Onshore wind is the lowest cost of electricity at scale and remains vitally important to our decarbonisation ambitions.

“We know that onshore wind can bring great community benefits, from enabling superfast broadband to providing cheaper electricity, but I’m also aware of the long-standing debate on onshore wind projects within the constituency.

“We must ensure good stewardship of the incredible resources we have. It’s crucial that community members are consulted when it comes to these major projects. We must strike a balance to ensure that local communities are involved in accessing the benefits.

“A real and sustainable benefit of renewable energy projects is job creation, which helps repopulation – an area of vital importance as the Highlands prepares to bear the brunt of Brexit and a hostile, points-based immigration system.

“In total, 55.9 per cent of Highland workers would be ineligible to stay if they had to apply under that system. Without migration, Caithness, Sutherland and Ross could face a demographic crisis. Public services like the NHS suffer a double whammy – an ageing population leaves Scotland with fewer working-age taxpayers and there are fewer young people in our communities to take care of us as we age.”

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