Scotland’s budget for the environment has been declining over many years and the long-term impact of this is concerning, says a Holyrood Committee today.
In a letter to the Scottish Government, the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee comments on environmental spending in advance of the draft budget for 2019/20.
Within the letter, the Committee highlights the health and economic benefits of environmental spending and concerns about the diminishing budget for biodiversity, the marine environment, environmental research and environmental agencies. For example, Scottish Natural Heritage has seen its budget reduced by 40% in real terms over the past eight years.
Some of the other key points include…
- The finance received from Europe is considerable and the Committee remains gravely concerned that there is still no certainty as to what will replace this.
- As a matter of extreme urgency, the Committee recommends the Scottish Government work closely with agencies and partners and the UK Government to identify replacement funding streams.
- The Scottish Government should ensure carbon impact is at the heart of all budget decisions, spend is focused on low carbon projects and Scotland ‘locks in’ the transition to a zero-carbon future now.
- There is scope for more innovative thinking on preventative spend and the wider benefits of environmental expenditure. For example, improving air quality or promoting cycling or walking also has significant health benefits.
Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Convener, Gillian Martin MSP, said:
“Our Committee is concerned that the budget for the environment, climate change, land reform, research and relevant agencies has been declining in real terms for a number of years now.
“These cuts to the environment budget become particularly apparent when looking at Scotland’s environmental performance and goals. If we are to reach our ambitions we need the funding to match.
“We’re all becoming more aware of the very real damage caused by climate change, carbon emissions and the staggering amount of plastics floating in our seas. Now is not the time to drawback from vital investment in these areas – particularly when there is still such uncertainty on Brexit and what will replace the substantial amount of EU funding Scotland currently gets.”