AN SNP MSP has become the second to announce he is not to seek re-election next year.

Rob Gibson confirmed he would not contest his seat of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross on May 5.

Mr Gibson, 69, said he had 'relished' the opportunity given to him by voters after he handed in his notice to officials.

His decision comes after local government minister Marco Biagi has said he does not intend to stand again for Edinburgh Central. He plans to pursue an academic career.

Mr Gibson said: "I have relished the opportunity to represent people across the Highlands and particularly in my huge north mainland constituency.

"It has been an honour to ensure that I was their voice in Holyrood since 2003.

"As I reach the age of 70 in October this year I believe it is time to hand over the banner to a younger candidate.

"There are many high notes to recall and of course moments of regret. Standing down is such a moment as it the greatest privilege to be entrusted by voters to speak up for them in our national parliament at Holyrood."

Mr Gibson said he plans to produce ideas for land reform and would support efforts to give Scotland greater powers.

He first contested Inverness-shire in the February 1974 General Election. He ran for Ross, Cromarty and Skye in 1987 and in 1992 for Ross, Skye and Inverness West.

He was elected in 2003 to be an SNP Regional MSP for Highlands and Islands which he continued to represent till 2011 when he was elected MSP for the expanded Caithness, Sutherland and Ross seat. He overcame a LibDem majority of 2,323 in 2007 to gain an SNP majority of 7,458 or 48.4 per cent of the votes.

In 2012 he was awarded Scottish Green Energy Politician of the Year by Scottish Renewables. He convenes the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment committee at Holyrood.