This event is always an absolute delight, as guests enjoy a delicious meal and the opportunity to meet some of the most commitment environmentalist in Scotland.
The award categories were wide ranging, and it was very exciting to see a number of people and initiatives from my region of South Scotland among the nominees. Congratulations to all those shortlisted and the winners.
It was fantastic to see the Clyde Valley Orchard Co-operative and Whitmuir Farm – Modelling a Sustainable Food System both nominated for the Food and Farming Award. These organisations do incredible work recognising the value of our natural environment, and the social and economic benefits that accompany that.
I was also particularly inspired by the focus on the marine conservation this year. The Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism, and External Affairs gave a speech in which she revealed 2020 will be the year of Scotland’s coasts. The nominees for the Marine Conservation Award were all innovative and inspirational, and congratulations to the winners from East Lothian – the Great Nurdle Hunt – a voluntary programme removing plastic nurdles from our shorelines. I must also commend the North West Highlands Snorkel Trail, which won the Nature Tourism Award and is well worth looking into.
I was personally delighted to be nominated for Political Advocate of the Year. I must pay tribute to the winners of this category, Logan Steele and Andrea Hudspeth, who have been environmental campaigners for decades. Together they were instrumental in gathering support for a petition to introduce a licensing system for gamebird hunting, which is now under consideration by the Government after gaining ECCLR committee support.
Once again, congratulations to all winners and nominees, and thanks to the RSPB for an excellent evening. I encourage you all to look up the nominees and see how you can get involved in protecting your local environment.