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SNP and Greens join forces over environmental policy

Words: Roger Milne

The Scottish Government and the country’s Green Party parliamentary group have agreed to work together over the next five years to build a green economic recovery from Covid-19, respond to the climate emergency and create a fairer country.

A shared draft policy programme – the Bute House Agreement – has been agreed. It details collaboration on the climate emergency, economic recovery, child poverty, the natural environment, energy and the constitution.

The agreement commits the two parties to deliver an NPF4 that actively enables renewable energy, supporting repowering and planning for the expansion of the grid, with local community input throughout the planning process, and which recognises the global climate emergency as a material consideration for appropriately located renewable energy developments.

The shared programme includes an ambition to deliver, subject to consultation, between eight and 12 gigawatts of additional installed onshore wind by 2030, furthering the ambitions for up to 11GW of offshore wind.

This will be supported by the changes in the planning system needed to permit the growth of this essential zero-carbon sector. All renewable energy projects over 50MW are in line to be designated as a national development in NPF4, together with supporting electricity grid transmission infrastructure.

The deal also includes commitments to:

  • increase investment in active travel and public transport, including a so-called Fair Fares review to provide a realistic and affordable alternative to car use;
  • a strengthened framework of support for the marine renewables and offshore wind sectors;
  • take forward a 10-year £500 million Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray;
  • designate at least one new national park by the end of this parliamentary session;
  • enhance marine environmental protection;
  • deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032; and
  • invest at least £1.8 billion over this parliamentary session in energy efficiency and renewable heating.

Alongside the draft policy programme, the draft cooperation agreement sets out the way in which the government and the Scottish Green Party will work together. This will include the nomination of two Green MSPs to be government ministers.

The pact also lists a number of areas that are outside the scope of the agreement, where both sides have agreed to differ.

The draft agreements will now be considered by the respective political parties involved and ministers will provide an update to Parliament following the summer recess.

Image credit | Oliver00-Shutterstock