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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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WHITEFORD WELCOMES SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT CLAMPDOWN ON RED TAPE COST FOR BUSINESSES AND FARMERS

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the news that over 5,000 businesses have saved a total of over £1.5 million during 2008-09 after Scotland's environment agency waived many of the fees it normally charges.

Fees for many environmental permits, agricultural licences, and fish-farming licences were cancelled by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

In partnership with the Scottish Government, SEPA acted to ease the financial burden on its customers in the current economic climate.

SEPA waived fees for applications for new environmental permits, saving 3,326 businesses over £1.2 million. In addition fees totalling £290,000 were waived for farmers (including 1,600 sheep farmers) and fish farmers.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"This is very good news indeed for farmers and businesses, particularly at this difficult economic time.

"In opposition, the SNP pledged to rein in the bureaucratic excesses of agencies such as SEPA which had been introduced by the Conservatives and left to grow unchecked the previous Labour/Liberal Executive.

"As I meet local businesses around Banff & Buchan, one of the things they tell me is how much of a boost to them the SNP Government's Small Business Bonus Scheme which reduces or abolishes rates for small businesses has been.

"I am therefore delighted that this drive is carrying over into agencies such as SEPA, who are now having to focus on customer service and delivering value for the customer."

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham MSP said:

"Our economic recovery plan is focused on helping hard-pressed businesses through these difficult times. Every part of the public sector must do its bit to promote economic development and SEPA is to be commended for the huge role it has played so far.

"Many of the 5,000 customers SEPA has helped will be in rural industries such as agriculture and fish-farming, which can be particularly vulnerable during tough economic times. The savings generated by SEPA will assist not only the businesses themselves but the communities and families they in turn support."

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