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To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to support Scottish exports to international markets.

Answered by Keith Brown (07/02/2018):

Scotland’s international exports (excluding oil and gas) increased by £460 million to £29.8 billion in 2016. Whilst it is encouraging to see international exports continue to increase the Scottish Government recognises that more must be done to improve Scotland’s export performance and is committed to enabling more businesses to export.

We have established a Trade Board, we are taking forward the First Minister's Four Point Plan, including, continuing to enhance SDI's presence in Europe and establishing new international hubs in Berlin and Paris in addition to those in London and Dublin. We have recently appointed four Trade Envoys to champion Scottish interests at home and abroad. We are providing up to £400K to the Scottish Chambers of Commerce for five local/regional Export Partnership pilots across Scotland to support SMEs. The Enterprise and Skills review has committed to developing an enhanced and more focused international presence which will improve Scotland’s international visibility and promote opportunities for Scottish businesses.

Current Status: Answered by Keith Brown on 07/02/2018

To ask the Scottish Government how the forthcoming combined alcohol and drugs treatment strategy will provide targeted prevention, intervention and treatment for women, in light of the 169% increase in drug-related deaths in the last decade among women, which was recorded in the report, Drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2016.

Answered by Shona Robison (09/01/2018):

The Scottish Government’s refreshed Substance Misuse Treatment Strategy will recognise the need to develop appropriate high quality, person centred service responses to meet the specific needs of those most at risk from substance use who we know face wide ranging and complex social and medical issues.

Recognising that there has been an increase in the number of female drug related deaths in recent years, we have commissioned work that is currently being undertaken to examine this rise, the potential reasons behind it, and consider what actions can be taken. The findings will inform the Substance Misuse Treatment Strategy as well as future work.

Current Status: Answered by Shona Robison on 09/01/2018
To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the UK Government regarding establishing schemes that aim to attract more seasonal skilled labour across all sectors, such as the former Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme.

Current Status: Taken in the Chamber on 13/12/2017

To ask the Scottish Government what recent discussions the Minister for Local Government and Housing has had with councils regarding the sustainability of services.

Current Status: Taken in the Chamber on 06/12/2017

To ask the Scottish Government by what date it will publish the consultation on the introduction of compulsory video recording of slaughter at abattoirs, as set out in its programme for government.

Answered by Fergus Ewing (30/11/2017):

As announced in the Programme for Government, the Scottish Government will consult, by the spring of 2018, on the introduction of compulsory video recording of slaughter at abattoirs in Scotland to aid enforcement of welfare requirements by abattoir management and Food Standards Scotland.

Current Status: Answered by Fergus Ewing on 30/11/2017

To ask the Scottish Government what impact the illegal release of beavers could have on flood mitigation measures in the River (a) Tay and (b) Earn catchment area.

Answered by Roseanna Cunningham (29/11/2017):

The presence of beavers is not thought likely to have a significant impact on flood mitigation measures in the River Tay and Earn catchment areas. In the event that beaver activity such as burrowing or damming threatens flood mitigation measures, there are a number of management actions that can be taken. Detailed guidance on these is being developed by Scottish Natural Heritage, through a Scottish Beaver Forum which was established in May 2017.

Current Status: Answered by Roseanna Cunningham on 29/11/2017

To ask the Scottish Government what consideration the ongoing planning review is giving to surface water management and infrastructure.

Answered by Kevin Stewart (22/11/2017):

The planning review aims to strengthen and simplify the planning system, and to ensure planning better serves Scotland’s communities and economy. It brings a greater focus on delivering the developments Scotland needs, with the infrastructure to support it.

Reducing flood risk is a priority for this Government and we will continue to work to support responsible authorities to deliver actions that protect our communities; as well as raising awareness amongst the public and businesses.

Local Authorities and Scottish Water are working together to understand how drainage and sewerage systems perform in storm events. This information is essential to the delivery of infrastructure which delivers better value for money and creates healthier, safer and more prosperous cities that are fit for the future.

The increasing importance of water management and flooding issues is already set out in National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy. We will issue a fuller, collaborative programme for preparing NPF4 in due course, but currently expect its preparation to commence in 2018 with a view to adoption in 2020, and for the Scottish Planning Policy to be reviewed in parallel.

Current Status: Answered by Kevin Stewart on 22/11/2017

To ask the Scottish Government what recent discussions it has had with VisitScotland regarding tourism in Ayrshire.

Current Status: Taken in the Chamber on 15/11/2017

To ask the Scottish Government whether it has invited any research institutions to evaluate the work of the University of Queensland with regard to methane reduction in cattle by including seaweed in their diet, and to assess whether a Scottish application might be found for this research.

Answered by Fergus Ewing (25/10/2017):

Experts at Scotland’s Rural College were invited to consider these findings and advised that the reductions observed were based on laboratory based tests only, using seaweeds which are not native to Scottish waters. We remain keen to see how this research progresses and shall continue to monitor developments in this emerging research area.

Current Status: Answered by Fergus Ewing on 25/10/2017

To ask the Scottish Government what evaluation it has made of the claim made by the University of Queensland that including a certain type of seaweed in the diet of cattle can reduce their methane output by up to 90%.

Answered by Fergus Ewing (25/10/2017):

The Scottish Government is aware of this work as part of a wider assessment which it has undertaken on the potential for reductions in GHG emissions to be made through changes to livestock diets.

Current Status: Answered by Fergus Ewing on 25/10/2017