Body Image, Climate Emergency, Empty Homes and Local Commercial Radio

After time for reflection, Tuesday’s business in the chamber began with a topical question from Jamie Greene about the recent finding that a third of adults in Scotland are anxious about their body image. Clare Haughey, the Minister for Mental Health, informed members that one of the Government’s actions in the area was the setting up of an advisory group on healthy body image for young people that would make recommendations after carrying out a six-month review.

Topical question time was followed by a statement from the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, on Scotland’s response to the global climate emergency. The statement came in the wake of the advice that the Scottish Government received earlier in the month from the UK Committee on Climate Change, which was itself a response to last year’s warning by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the world needs to act now because, by 2030, it will be too late to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

The cabinet secretary took questions on a wide variety of areas, including one from Stewart Stevenson on Scottish participation in international research

“to identify breeding changes for bovines that should, ultimately, reduce their methane emissions while protecting their meat yield”.

On Wednesday, the Local Government and Communities Committee began its inquiry into empty homes in Scotland by taking evidence from the Scottish empty homes partnership and Rural Housing Scotland. Andy Wightman asked about the council tax levy, whereby owners of homes that have been empty for more than 12 months are charged 200 per cent. Other subjects that were covered included the question of why there are more empty homes in rural areas and the extent to which compulsory purchase is used.

On Thursday morning, the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee held an interesting session on local commercial radio. The committee heard first from a panel from Ofcom, whose decision last year to amend the relevant guidelines to provide greater flexibility for media companies in the area sparked questions from members who were concerned about the potential loss of local content.

Among the many issues that were addressed by the second panel, which comprised representatives of Bauer Media and D C Thomson, was the expansion of FM, which Tavish Scott asked about, George Adam’s argument that

“DAB is the Betamax of radio formats”,

and the suggestion from Ross Greer that greater deregulation of commercial radio disadvantages small local stations and benefits the larger players.

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