Westminster has just returned from Easter recess which has allowed time to get out and about in the constituency.
I want to highlight three such public visits I made to very different locations but each one in its own way very important to the constituency and vital to our day-to-day lives.
The first of these was to meet with Scottish and Southern Energy Networks on-site at some resilience work taking place near power lines in a woodland and hear more about the work which is still ongoing to recover from last year’s storms and ensure security of our power supply.
It’s always helpful to meet the people at the sharp end and get their perspective on the damage caused by the recent storms.
I was also allowed in the cab of an impressive and highly-efficient piece of machinery called a TigerCat which makes short work of any trees in the way of the power lines. It’s also very expensive which, presumably, was why it was switched off while the local MP clambered all over it.
It’s clear that thought has been given to how the resilience of the electricity distribution network might be affected by climate change, and that a great deal of work has taken place since the storms, which is ongoing, in order to try and minimise the chances of trees causing major damage to the lines in future.
Another visit was to ASCo’s head office to see their new operational control centre in action.
Maintaining energy security has never been more important and the North-east has a critical role to play in that, both in meeting oil and gas demand as well as in helping deliver the just energy transition that we need. The work that ASCo does is integral to supporting our energy sector both now and in the future.
Finally, on Good Friday I attended a cattle sale at Thainstone Mart at the invitation of ANM Group and met with board members to hear more about their ‘ANM beyond 150’ initiative. The mart is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and is marking the occasion with a number of charity initiatives. I was pleased to be able to add to the commemoration by tabling a Motion at Westminster on the subject.
The North-east has been an area where, for centuries, livestock rearing and marketing has been a source of pride, prestige and considerable financial investment and Aberdeen and Northern Marts have long been an important part of that.
Between them, these three visits encompass vital elements for the North-east’s economy and, as I alluded to at the start of this column, also impacts on our daily lives.
The necessity for resilience in our communities, as was so dramatically underlined by Storm Arwen last year; the vital importance of energy security, particularly in light of recent events in Ukraine; and the need to protect and promote food security and locally-produced food – all of these things are happening right here and right now.
It’s very reassuring in many ways that they are, but it serves as a reminder that these things don’t just happen on their own nor can they be taken for granted; in one case, it’s been 150 years in the making. It requires constant servicing, innovating and nurturing and the companies, communities and people involved in that should have our support.