Campaigners welcome “greenest programme for government in history of Scottish Parliament”
Programme for Government includes plans to phase out new petrol and diesel cars and vans from Scotland by 2032 and develop a deposit return scheme for drinks containers
Environmental campaigners have welcomed the scale of ambition contained in the SNP’s Programme for Government, with Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon describing the statement as the “greenest programme for government in the history of the Scottish Parliament”.
Outlining the Programme for Government for the coming parliamentary year, Nicola Sturgeon unveiled plans to phase out new petrol and diesel cars and vans from Scotland by 2032, the eight years before the rest of the UK.
The First Minister also announced plans to establish Low Emission Zones in every Scottish city by 2020 and to all Air Quality Management Areas by 2023.
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Sturgeon pledged to develop a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, to be introduced across Scotland.
Gina Hanrahan, acting head of policy at WWF Scotland said: “The benefits of today’s announcement will continue to be felt across Scotland for generations to come, as we build on the huge successes of renewable electricity, to create new jobs in clean transport and deliver a thriving economy”.
The FM also announced plans to establish an advisory group on reducing waste, including consideration of a possible levy on single use coffee cups, double investment in active travel to £80m per year from 2018-19, introduce a Transport Bill “to provide local authorities with flexible options to improve bus services in their local areas” and identify a public body to bid for the next ScotRail franchise contract.
Transform Scotland Director Colin Howden said: “The Government’s commitment to double the active travel budget to £80 million from 2018-19 is very welcome. With strong leadership at the local level, and a commitment to continuing this investment over the coming years, this will help to develop quality walking and cycling infrastructure in Scotland.
“Whilst the doubling of the active travel budget is obviously great news, it is a fraction of the £150 million annual subsidy that the Scottish Ministers intend to give to the most polluting form of transport by cutting Air Departure Duty.”
The Scottish Government will also establish a £60m Innovation Fund to deliver wider low carbon energy infrastructure solutions across Scotland, such as electricity battery storage and sustainable heating systems and electric vehicles charging.
Dr Richard Dixon said plans to phase out new petrol and diesel vehicles was “a big step forward for tackling air pollution and climate change emissions”.
He said: “Setting a date of 2032 puts Scotland among the most ambitious countries in the world on vehicle electrification, and the announcement of an A9 electric superhighway also sends a very important signal on the future of motorised transport in Scotland."
“Low Emission Zones, which restrict the most polluting vehicles from the most polluted places, are a lifesaving intervention which will improve people’s health and help urban centres thrive. It is great news that the Scottish Government has committed to introducing LEZs in every major city in Scotland by 2020. Now we urgently need details of where the first LEZ will be otherwise the 2018 deadline promised earlier this year will not be met.”
The decision to introduce a deposit return scheme follows work from a Scottish Parliament Environment Committee sub-group on the subject.
Gina Hanrahan welcomed the move. She said: “The plastic bag charge has already proved a roaring success so it makes sense to encourage people to reduce the growing mountain of disposable coffee cups.
“We already know that deposit return schemes for bottles work in other countries, and would be popular with people in Scotland. If everyone used as many resources as we currently do, we’d need three planets to survive. Reducing, reusing and recycling is essential if we’re to limit our use of precious resources to sustainable levels.”
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Climate Challenge Fund’s grants for 2018-20 are worth £15.3m, with £14.3m from the Scottish Government and £1m from the European Regional Development Fund
Expert panel on plastics was established following the Programme for Government to explore ways to reduce circulation of single-use plastics