Saturday, 17 September 2011

McGowan Makes An Impression At Inverness

A master of comedy.

No, not impressionist Alastair McGowan - after dinner entertainment at a swish bash I attended last night - but Climate Change minister Stewart Stevenson.

Stewart famously had to resign amid criticism of his inability to stop snow falling in Scotland in winter. He's actually a really nice guy although his pre-dinner speech had me stifling chuckles.

In almost the same breath he trumpeted Scotland's ambitious carbon reduction targets and said what a wonderful thing the new Inverness-Schipol air route is and how we should use it or lose it. Cut carbon by taking more international flights? An intriguing strategy! Maybe because you land in Holland the CO2 doesn't count towards Scotland's footprint...

In truth it's always going to be difficult for the Highlands to resist the temptation to maintain and try to grow its airlinks given its distance from other hubs of business, as well as the tourism potential. Personally I'd like to see a real push on rail - I've only taken the Sleeper once and it was wonderful. We really should make the least environmentally damaging options the cheapest, easiest and most pleasant.

As for McGowan, he was in excellent form: "Aberdeen is lovely. Just like Manchester. Except in black and white."

We learned he's a keen environmentalist, a patron of Sustrans (a cycling cause close my own heart - maybe I should have badgered him about the Inverness-Nairn cycle link campaign), doesn't have a car so travels by train and loves wind farms.

He praised the Highlands for having turbines but wondered why some people, especially his near neighbours in the south of England, don't like them yet they love olde worlde windmills. They're doing the same job - turning wind into energy. What's the answer?

"Clad the turbines in wood and open a f***ing gift shop at the bottom."

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